Sun, Jun

My State of the City


MY CITY-Watching Mayor Eric Garcetti give his eloquent State of the City address from the Valley Performing Acts Center at Cal State Northridge got me thinking about my own performance this past year when it comes to key indicator data like public safety, water, transportation, homelessness, housing & urban redevelopment, economic development, Great Streets and bike lanes. 

So now, live from La Casa de Joel, I am pleased to bring you my State of the City address.

First the good news: 

Public Safety-No one in my family has been arrested this year. As a result, there was no need to add officers to my police force. With the savings realized we are going out to dinner. Looking forward, we hope to reduce the late night flyovers by Air LAPD and KTLA. Wasn't there something in the news recently about the City tackling the proliferation of helicopters over our neighborhoods?


The news on reducing our consumption of water and the drought is also good. This year we gladly took advantage of LADWP's offer of $3.75 a square foot, and have now removed all of our grass, replacing it with low-water landscaping that is already saving us money on our water bills. Indoors, though showering quickly without tripping over the bucket in the tub has taken some practice, we are making progress as well. So far, the succulents and other xeriscaping don't seem to mind the shower runoff and dishwater.   

Hold the applause. It goes downhill from here. 

Transportation-Mea culpa. Curiously, I am not doing very well in the department I probably write the most about. I am ashamed to report that I still drive too much rather than ride the train and bus, bike and walk. 

In my defense, I am teaching my youngest to drive which of course skews the data. Still, I am giving myself a C- in Transportation as this year I have added another driver to our clogged road and freeways. Of course with my other two kids away at college out of state, I could argue that I have a net gain of one in the transportation department. 

But let's stick with the low pass and use it to motivate us to do better going forward. I can't point to a single new transit line under construction while the Mayor and Metro boast five plus the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit line and the multi-billion dollar rebuilding of LAX. 

Homelessness-Sadly, again this year I have done nothing that actually reduces homelessness in our community. I have alerted Council President Herb Wesson to the growing favela on the northeast corner of Serrano and 8th Street in Koreatown but personally I have not found any of the men who live on the corner a permanent residence. Instead, no thanks to me, they spend the day drinking and fighting and moving around the corner like the hands of a clock as the sun moves across the sky. 

To the Council President's credit, his deputy is on it, though he wasn't encouraging giving the IMHO misguided activism of homeless "advocates" who make it hard for the City and citizens to help out the sans-abri and stem the growing epidemic of homelessness in LA. 

Housing & Urban Redevelopment-I am also earning a failing grade in the infill development department. You see, even with a housing shortage in this city, my neighbors and I really don't believe the owners of the lot at 3390 San Marino Street, a historic-cultural monument, have earned the right to build on the site after the suspicious fire and illegal demolition of the property. Wish us luck Tuesday at 201 North Figueroa, Room 900 at 9:30 am at the hearing concerning the owner's appeal of Building and Safety's Scorched Earth ruling barring construction on the site for five years. 

Economic Development-I am also not doing very well in the economic development department. I have yet to hire anyone, other than a landscaper, and I add far less to the tax base than Google or Paramount. 

Great Streets-I am giving myself a B+. Finally a good grade. While I have yet to open a business that serves as an anchor for any neighborhood's redevelopment, I am doing what I can to keep things tidy around my area. Last week for example I once again won the MyLA 311 Service Request competition for sending in the most Couch of the Week bulky item pickup requests.  

Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one in Koreatown and Mid-City who knows about this exceptional, free City service for old furniture pickup and other city services like graffiti removal. 

Bike Lanes-Nope. Not a one. I can't say I have added any protected bike lanes to my street as LA has done on Reseda Boulevard in Northridge. 

This is depressing. 

What did Ed Koch used to say? "How'm I doing?" 

What grade have I earned? I give myself a C. There's so much more I might have done to improve life in Los Angeles. All right, all right, he's a better mayor than I am. I said it. 

I am no Eric Garcetti. 

How did you do this year? What was your grade on the State of the City? 

Yours in transit,


(Joel Epstein is a senior advisor to companies, law firms, foundations and public initiatives on communications strategy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), recruiting and outreach. He is a contributor to CityWatch and can be contacted at [email protected].)  





Vol 13 Issue 32

Pub: Apr 17, 2015

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