Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, suddenly realizing his populist appeal to hike the minimum wage might trigger businesses to leave the city and relocate in nearby areas, is pressuring cities near Los Angeles to impose a hike in their minimum wage, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Garcetti wants the wage to rise from its current $9 an hour to at least $10.25 in 2015, $11.75 in 2016, and $13.25 in 2017. He spoke Friday at the Monterey Park library with mayors from surrounding cities, intoning, “We are stronger as a region. While we will always have some friendly rivalries, we should get past the days of, ‘Oh, don’t go to Long Beach, come to L.A.,’ or ‘Don’t go to L.A., go to Long Beach.'”
Neighboring cities are weighing their options, the Times notes. In Santa Monica, for example, legislators are considering a minimum wage hike, but are waiting to see if it is implemented in Los Angeles first.
There are dissenters: El Segundo Mayor Suzanne Fuentes was quoted by the Times: “The city of El Segundo is very business-friendly. That’s something we pride ourselves on. I don’t want to tell a business what they have to pay an employee–the market will determine what the wages are.”
Carol Schatz, chief executive of the Central City Assn., which represents businesses in downtown Los Angeles, addressed the possible flight of businesses directly: even if local businesses agreed with Garcetti, “you still have the competitive disadvantage of L.A. versus Orange County or Ventura, or other cities in California. And there are many other concerns with this,” she told the Times.
One concern for Garcetti could be the flight of the apparel industry, which employs many people making minimum wage. Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Assn., warned, “It’s 10 blocks to Vernon, another 10 blocks to El Monte, El Segundo, the City of Commerce. They could very easily move.”