LA Out of Town
What the heck is your beef with development and planning lately. Planning is a science, but like Medicine, its not exact. Growth happens, just like continental drift. Suburban growth outwards is no better than urban infill. both increase traffic, both strain civic and physical resources. But the planning department has to offer proactive solutions that to the best of their knowledge will create a healthy balance.
Here are a few of my problems:
Gail Goldberg's Planning Department does not address growth and density, it creates them. Look at the condos being built in Koreatown; they're for people who don't currently live here. Look at the eighty-unit "smart growth" job on the corner of your nearest bus-stop; that's the one for people who are already here, and the people who move in will leave behind an empty apartment to be filled by someone from out of town who formerly would have simply moved to Hollywood, a community that has been absorbing transitional residents of every point of origin for years. Making every community the out-of-town gateway, rather than a handful of communities, is working to congest LA everywhere, as ever-higher percentages of renters pour in from elsewhere into many neighborhoods rather than a few.
Look at all the projects downtown that were obliged to flip from owner-occupied to leased; they're now contributing to the worst planning problem LA has, which is too few home-owners. Our homeowner-renter ratio is completely out-of-whack compared to other cities, and the top priority should be in addressing that.
Look at the Planning Department's Preservation office's latest idea: protected status for the City's bridges. I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time a bridge was demolished by the City. Public Works and Street Lighting were already doing a great job with the bridges, and were proud of the job they did; the measure is merely a costly slap to rank and file in these departments who were already doing a great job. The status may land a few more dollars from elsewhere, but that's just laziness and fluff: maintaining bridges adequately is already very popular with voters in quakey California, who are only anxious to give State and Municipality alike all the money for bridges they need.
A news conference for protection for bridges? You know, they really don't issue too many demo permits for bridges that thousands of people drive across every day. It took an office of six to come up with that proposal, even though the City only has two planners working on Master Plans. For the past decade, Ken Bernstein, first at the Conservancy and now in Planning, has misallocated resources on quixotic, failed projects like the Ambassador and HPOZs, and that's the kind of person Gail Goldberg rewards with a big new department, even though the City already has a Cultural Heritage Commission.
Look at all the projects at the CRA now stalled because the developers know to hold out for more money.
And look at this article this morning in the former fishwrap of record on the way growth is straining the City everywhere. The Master Plans are supposed to integrate the will of the community; but the will of the community is being thwarted everywhere. (Amazingly, it's Yaroslavski, sounding more like a mayoral candidate every day, who touts himself as a slow-growth guy from the eighties, and the Times scribe bought it; I guess none of the Times scribes or eds were around when the Westside Pavilion was developed).
San Diegan Gail Goldberg is here not because she's strong, but because, like Gloria Jeffs was, she's weak, a pushover for developers and for Council alike. She's beholden to the developer-dependent Mayor, and Antonio's narrow and further narrowing political ambitions have sold out this City to out-of-town interests at the expense of the people who have lived here for decades. Out-of-town Department heads like Ed Boks, Goldberg, and Jeffs were calculatedly weak appointments who guaranteed giving the Mayor's office and Council, rather than the experts, the strongest hand in Planning, Animal Reg, and Traffic.