10 Critical Keys to Unlocking a Better and Happier Los Angeles in 2018

ALPERN AT LARGE--There are many things for Los Angeles (and, of course, its citizens) to be proud of as we enter this Brave New World of 2018.  But the unhappiness of those who live in our ever-more-risky, ever-more-complicated reality is contrary to any suggestions that we are doing just fine in the City of the Angels.  So in no particular order, here are a few hopeful resolutions to consider: 

1) Mayor Garcetti and the City Council SHOULD crow about the 2028 Olympics, but will it be a financial and political boon, or a bane, to current and future Angelenos?  We ARE one of the few cities best-equipped to have an Olympics, but will the preparations and operations leave us in the financial dust, or more ready than ever to be a vibrant and ongoing tourist/business destination that ranks high among our national and global peers? 

2) One can be kind, liberal, and smart ... and tough (!) in addressing homelessness!  We passed Measure H, and HHH, to combat homelessness, but what is our goal...to make it worse?  To become a homeless magnet for the nation?  Do we have the ability and moral fortitude to reach out to those with ties to our communities...while demanding that others not be drawn here for "free stuff"?  What about the rights and responsibilities of ALL of us? 

3) Will we provide that magic path to solving the illegal immigration problem, or just do the political and economic dance that rewards lawbreaking while ignoring the very human needs of those here legally and illegally?  Shall we reward employers who knowingly break the law?  Can we provide a tough list of demands for those here illegally to show they're willing to fight and earn their way to true American citizenship, and unite us all? 

4) If Metro gives us a slow ride to nowhere, as opines Susan Shelley of the Daily News? then it's up to our civic and elected leaders to show the way.  Expedite the rail lines through Downtown and to LAX so that there is the critical backbone and logic to our countywide mass transit system. 

5) When we will grow up and recognize that neither cars nor trains nor buses are "bad", and that they work best in tandem?  All worldwide cities have and employ all forms of transportation to provide options...so neither parking, bus stops, sidewalks, nor bicycle amenities are "bad".  All must be first-rate, and all must be respectful to those who use those forms of transportation. 

6) Developers and enabling political and bureaucratic leaders, when they build without necessary supportive infrastructure, aren't being "woke" or "progressive"... they're just being irresponsible and environmentally-horrible. 

7) "Affordable housing" requires common-sense and better definition to the average Angeleno:  there's student affordable housing, there's senior affordable housing, and there's workforce affordable housing.  Otherwise, it's just MORE housing, and if we're overbuilding near the ocean to make more money, then call it what it is: gentrification. 

8) We have a City Attorney whose job it is to represent the City Council and the Mayor (and their staffs), and we have NO city position to allow ordinary Angelenos of lower to middle-class status the financial means to defend themselves against the City and developers when the latter breaks the law.  We don't need an ACLU ... we need an agency or legitimate lawyers and paralegals to represent the Citizenry. 

9) We have a pathetic, underfunded, and unempowered City entity called DONE, aka Empower LA.  Many heroes work within that entity, but the understaffing and overreliance on volunteer efforts taxes and prevents these individuals from allowing the representation for which this entity was originally intended.  Shall we continue this unsustainable pattern, or truly empower our civic leaders? 

10) Both the private and public sector need the tools, guidance, and opportunities to achieve and sustain middle class status ... including retirement benefits that should be available to ALL Angelenos.  How long can our City leaders defend and sustain the public sector on the backs of the taxpaying majority ... and will we NEVER see an incentivized system to allow private-sector individuals and businesses a better system than, and supplemental to, Social Security, the way we see with our public sector employees? 

Here's to a vibrant and innovative, and to a happy and healthy, 2018!!!


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)