Mr. Garcetti, Please Rebuild This City

POLITICS - There are a few reasons why it’s evident that only you, Councilmember Eric Garcetti, should be our next Mayor—

first and last, however, it’s the need to restore that critical Vitamin C (Credibility) to Downtown with its interactions with the rest of the City, and the accompanying reconciliation of the Neighborhood Councils with the powerful City Government that is supposed to represent ordinary Angelenos. 

As for Wendy Greuel, I think that former mayoral candidate Jan Perry had it just right with respect to Ms. Greuel’s dangerous ties with the public sector unions that are putting their foot down on getting more unaffordable raises—even if that means that foot is coming right down on the collective neck of the beleaguered, miserable and frustrated taxpayer. 

I’ve no gripes with unions—and can even suggest that this new era of the 21st Century is one where a new revolution for worker’s rights involving health care benefits, profit-sharing, and incentives for greater productivity is long overdue.  I’ve also no gripes with raising taxes, when the case can be made and the spending is shown to be transparent and cost-effective. 

Yet the Credibility of Downtown and our current Mayor, to say nothing of Council President Herb Wesson (or is “Boss Wesson” a more accurate term, in light of the manner in which he rammed through Redistricting?) has been thoroughly shredded with the sudden revelations that came out in the days after Proposition A was rejected by the voters that cuts to public safety and City services aren’t needed, after all. 

Well, whaddaya know?  All the gloom and doom from Police Chief Beck, and all the advertising paid for by the unions and developers that this City will go straight to hell if we don’t all cough up more sales tax revenues with Proposition A? 

Not gonna happen—Proposition A appears to be more of “protection money” from uniformed union thugs, rather than a prudent need to fill an unfillable budget gap. 

And we need a new Mayor who won’t merely pander to the latest political trend or talking point, but who will reach out and address the fears of legitimately-frightened residents of South L.A. who feared public safety cuts if Proposition A didn’t pass, and who will reach out and address the equally-legitimately fears of other Angelenos who knew they were being taken for a ride and being exploited by Proposition A

In short, we need a Mayor who will recognize that “working Angelenos” is a term that refers to a group of people that is far, far, far greater than those DWP employees, police officers, firefighters and other City workers whose union leadership has betrayed their members, and represented the public sector as one willing to repress the taxpayer base into a serfdom which “owes” them a great living, early retirement and a pension that the taxpayers will never have. 

That said, we owe some City workers both promotions and raises, and we equally owe Neighborhood Councils and taxpayer constituents the ability to have representation in all contracts involving the expenditure of public funds. 

Wendy Greuel once told my Neighborhood Council, the Mar Vista Community Council, she and other elected City officials are the true representatives of taxpayers in budgetary negotiations.  Right—good luck with that, considering all the hiring she wants to do. 

So I’m asking you, Mr. Garcetti—someone who I look forward to calling Mr. Mayor—to be that special person, Rhodes Scholar that you are, to bring both public sector representatives elected by their unions, as well as Neighborhood Council-elected taxpayer ombudsmen to all negotiations so that there is sunshine and transparency on expenditures of all public funds. 

And, while we’re at it, I’m looking for you to continue the effort of Mayor Villaraigosa to build a Citywide and Countywide freeway, road and rail transportation system by coming up with a specific list of goals you would provide as someone who would bring four votes to the Metro Board. 

That said, a reversal of Mayor Villaraigosa’s allowance of the City Planning Commission and Planning Department to destroy the credibility of the grassroots efforts to plan, fund and build the Expo Line is in order after those entities (forgetting entirely who they work for) rammed through a politically-connected and absolutely non-transit-friendly “Casden-stein Monstrosity” at Exposition, Sepulveda and Pico next to the future Expo Line station. 

Ignoring the concerns about the size, environmental and legal impacts of the project, even when it came from the co-chair and founder of Friends4Expo Transit Darrell Clarke?  No problem. 

Ignoring the concerns about an utter lack of transit amenities and placing families within 500 feet of the freeway?  No problem. 

Ignoring the issues regarding a project FAR ratio that used the publicly-owned Metro right of way to calculate allowable size for the project?  No problem.  (Hey, why did we even bother with that Mansionization Ordinance?) 

Building a project with 10-16 story towers in a region that is almost all 1-2 stories?  No problem. 

Preventing regional access to the Expo Line by creating a traffic nightmare that the LADOT would probably never approve if it had the ability to do so, and which even those of us who fought like hell for the Expo Line all oppose?  No problem. 

All that mattered is that the Casden developers probably overpaid for this property, and we have to suffer the consequences, even if it means that the Planning Department probably broke City Charter and CEQA laws aplenty in its strange, breath-taking and rushed approval for this project—one which, if passed, will probably kill public support for further mass transit. 

Mr. Garcetti, you care as much for the Westside as you do for the Eastside, and as much for the Valley as you do for South Los Angeles.  There are places that we need to megadensify—Downtown, much of the Wilshire and Century Blvd. corridors, and there are places we need to moderately densify—Pico, Olympic, Sepulveda, La Brea, etc. 

We need Los Angeles, from LAX to Downtown, to be a beautiful architectural example for the nation and the world

We need orderly and legally-appropriate Community Plan updates, and we need responsible mitigation funding from developers and redevelopers to provide open space, beautiful parks, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares for families—including and especially those families with children. 

Please, Mr. Garcetti, be that bold leader who can rebuild this fine City…starting with the Credibility Downtown needs to galvanize the collective will and resources of all Angelenos and bring this City into a wonderful 21st Century future.


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember 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 is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) 





Vol 11 Issue 21

Pub: Mar 12, 2013