BACK TALK--In a recent CityWatch article on congestion pricing, Jack Humphreville railed against our city leader's proposed "money grab" in the guise of addressing our ever-worsening traffic woes.
He pointed out, and rightly so, that the impact on ordinary citizens is not a consideration of the proposed plan...and it is exactly that concern that needs to be highlighted.
Congestion Pricing is intended to solve our traffic issues for the rich at the expense of the poor. The proponents of this plan could care less about working people. It is, in fact, the goal of all Congestion Pricing Plans to get the little inconsequential people out of their cars, off the roads, and out of the way of the important people, the people who matter, those who can afford to pay. Congestion Pricing is the selling of our infrastructure to the rich ... plain and simple.
Increasing the cost of car ownership does not affect the well-heeled in our city. High priced parking, toll roads, and the new proposed road and area taxes only affect the working class and the poor people in our city.
If our city planners were truly concerned about traffic congestion, they would stop building high-rise apartments, hotels, and condominiums that install 300 families and 600 cars on a single corner. Traffic is the result of density and density is not the concern of our leaders. In fact, they want more people for the trains that are not here yet and have no limit to density within their plan for the future of Los Angeles.
I asked a city planner, "how many people per square foot is enough?” I asked, "how many people per square foot is too many?" Her answer: "People are coming to Los Angeles and they have to live someplace." In other words; there is no density limit in the eyes of city planners, and it follows that traffic congestion will continue to get worse with no possible way to mitigate the problem for everyone. But then our leaders really don't care about everyone...they only care about the important people...the folks who can afford to pay!
If it were up to me, I would outlaw all toll roads and Congestion Pricing Plans. They only serve the financially advantaged among us at the expense of everyone else. I would limit high density building projects that exacerbate our traffic woes and deteriorate the quality of life for those of us who already live here. Quality of life should be our priority as we plan for the future of Los Angeles. Building people on top of people is more about a bigger tax base for our politicians than it is about building a wonderful city to live in.
Where will new people live, you ask. I don't know. Not in my house and I suspect not in yours. Suburbs happen because it is no longer practical to live in the center of town. Newcomers may have to be further from the center of town. Maybe we need trains to the suburbs. Again, I don't know.
Right now, Los Angeles is morphing into New York City West without the 24x7 mass transit to serve us. To be fair, light rail is being built and buses are doing their part, but Los Angeles is a very different city than New York. We are spread out in ways that make individual vehicles a necessity for most of us at this time and many of us in the future. I was born and raised in Los Angeles...City of the Angels...a wonderful, beautiful City. I would like to think my grandchildren will feel the same way when they are adults. I fear the won't.
(Charles Turlow is a long-time community activist living in the mid-city area of Los Angeles.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.