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Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Guy in LA

Your Mayor Tony finds nothing wrong with a vision of LA as another dystopic and dense Asian city, the fishwrap of record reported this morning.

Christopher Pak, a 건축가-slash-developer masquerading as a civic luminary, has had permitted three tall, upscale midrises in Koreatown in recent years, in various stages of contemplation/completion.

Pak develops the kind of buildings that pitch increased density and pricey development as a solution rather than a problem, and which ironically put units on the market more likely to be sold to people from out of town rather than people who actually live here. In short, these buildings, built for people who aren't even here, create growth rather than address it.

El Alcalde's take in the Times is simply this: "Chris is an innovative, creative architect who has his pulse on the community and the wherewithal to make things happen."

One of the buildings is to be developed by South Korea's top real estate developer, Shin Young Corp. Most of the new units will be priced between $650,000 and a million.

In short---forget buying in if you don't already own something here. And why would anyone who already owned here buy into a condo in that price range? Pulse on the community? If the community is Irvine, or San Diego, or Seoul---sure. But let's not kid ourselves---these luxbox condos don't help check growth---they contribute to it.

° ° ° ° °

That's one end of town. Here's another: George Garrigue's Palms Letter this morning presents his readers with this promising quote from a Planning Department doc, via City Zoning Admin Daniel Green:

"Professional planning advice has been supplanted in this city with politically engineered compromise. Decades of this behavior have produced a reticent Planning Department that bends freely to both elected officials and fellow departments. We must alter this culture by standing strong for one thing at all times: advocacy of sound planning."

Well...let's actually see it. Let's not make people drive until they qualify anymore---let's qualify them with the kind of structures they can afford right around here. That would be sound planning.

Garrigue is the prez of the Palms Neighborhood Council. Which had approved a 40 unit "mishmash" at Regent and Overland before the Planning Dept. itself, facing strong public protest, shot it down. So in this case, the Planning Department itself availed a higher hurdle than the Neighborhood Council.

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Our city is changing fast, the fishwraps don't want to cut themselves out of the the ad revenue, and our best and brightest are...increasingly self-absorbed, and the blogosphere is their tool of choice for that.

I went to a blogger reading last night at Tangier and listened to some younger and largely distaff LA voices read narratives about themselves. (A highlight for me was Bonnie Gillespie, who has a comedienne's timing.) While the narratives were largely more clinical sexual than steamy sexy, often erring more on the side of anger than of love, what I noticed most was that not only did none hit on any single dimension of local politics---they didn't even touch much on any sense of place. The posts these bloggers chose, in fact, were largely self-oriented, with little room for landscape, cityscape, or backdrop. LA, when it was featured, was most often featured as a place to flee.

Is our sense of city so loosely defined as to be irrelevant to the personal narratives of young talented writers?

Even so, the format was intriguing---bloggers at microphones, reading posts, stating what they know. Their blogs are read, their networks in place, and I'd love to read one of these voices stating loud and clear what they think is right and wrong with the City on occasion.

° ° ° ° °

Regional aesthetic visions tonight: Hammer Bash! at the Armand Hammer Museum, 7-11 with a DJ and a cash bar; a largely scenester event that if you're Westwood adjacent you may like to check out. We're getting near the end of the exhibition Eden’s Edge: Fifteen LA Artists, and it's time to go see what kind of City our artists are responding to. Unlike some other group shows---summer's the time for group shows, as galleries trot out lots of fresh faces, to get a feel for what will sell later---this one is fairly LA-centric, or at least regional, and seems worth noting here. The one at LA Louver at the beginning of summer was awful; the one at Chinatown's L2kontemporary rather better; the show at the Hammer is top drawer, at least as top drawer as LA's artists get these days.

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Blogger Bonnie said:

Wow! Thanks, Joseph. *blush* *blush* 'twas my first time, so I really appreciate the shout-out. Hee! Maybe I'll do it again! And I'll see what I can do to bring a little more LA to the mic. Gosh, how I love this place!!

August 23, 2007 5:50 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Joe, I don't often totally agree with you, but whenever I've check the site have generally found it intelligent.

You ought to start your own site, and make it a real forum for discussion.

August 23, 2007 6:49 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Pak is a con-man. Whenever those monstrosities are built they look nice up front. But, they quickly deteriorate. They're never adequately maintained. And crime proliferates since they're very lightly policed.

Make these developers contribute yearly funding in place for cleanups, security, policing, etc. Require these funds to be adequate and put into condo association fees that cannot be worked around!!!

August 23, 2007 9:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Blogger, what is the matter with you. This city will not be able to successfully "smart grow" with it's current gang violence/crime problem. People won't move to mixed-use, crime-ridden LA with this extend of crime, random murders of whites and blacks by Mexican gangs.

What you will see is an expansion of poverty, slums, and crime in a vertical living space.

August 23, 2007 9:47 PM  

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