Sat, Apr

Beware More Government Overreach … Big is NOT Always Better


POLITICS--It's a surefire way to keep us troglodytes in check.  You know, us backwards-type cave-dwellers that presume the happiest way to make Los Angeles family-friendly, environmentally-sustainable, and ripe for a first-rate economy is to preserve neighborhoods (including single-family neighborhoods), have great schools, parks, and libraries, and to keep LA right-sized?  Well, the enlightened lawmakers have fortunately found an answer to THAT Neanderthal form of thinking! 

Get past us country bumpkins and fast-track the skyscrapers!  Yep, as the Times reports, the state is considering a bill, SB 734, to fast-track expensive and high-rise developments and receive more defense against potential lengthy litigation. 

You know, that awful, AWFUL litigation to allow citizens their rights to ... have rights?  

It's certainly merited to avoid prolonged, wasteful, costly, lengthy legal battles, but is there a defense fund to allow ordinary, non-uber-wealthy citizens the ability to sue and pay the legal bills to fight the 1%-uber-wealthy types in court?  Will THIS be part of the SB 734 to ensure speedy trials, too? 

I'm guessing ... well ... NO! 

But for the City of the Angels, HERE are some ideas whose time has come. 

Rather than voting in a gazillion new taxes and bonds (I'm probably leaning towards making an exception of Measure R-2, because it's going to ensure transportation funding in a world where we need that more than ever), maybe we can just vote NO and instead: 

1) Vote in favor of this spring's Neighborhood Integrity Initiative--it's favored by pro-growth moderates who just want to have a coherent, law-abiding method of Planning and Development that's truly environmentally-sustainable, doesn't harm Angelenos, and/or force them to leave to avoid living in a City that's apparently desperate to turn itself into a hellish urban "hive". 

2) Encourage those supporting the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative to come up with similar initiatives, including a Neighborhood Council Legal Advocate, to be funded by the City, as a new but actually helpful part of City Government.   

The City Attorney does NOT represent the citizens of LA but rather the City Government (look it up), but who has the ability to counter the City when its government violates its own Charter and Bylaws?  Where can Neighborhood Councils and citizen groups go when they need to have a lawyer represent them?   

Having paid (and, potentially, pro bono) lawyers as part of LA City Government is as timely as it is morally--and legally--appropriate.  Frankly, this potential office should also have the ability to sue the State if it's violating its own laws, and/or federal laws.  And it would be paid for by OUR tax dollars, and for OUR own benefit and protection. 

And, as in my last CityWatch article, there are all sorts of tongue-in-cheek humor about why we should tax and hurt ourselves in the name of "progress", but we can also come up with a few good answers to boot. 

Because Neighborhood Councils are also a form of progress, and one where the "little guy/gal" has a place to go.   

We NEED a Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. 

And we also NEED a good lawyer or two to help us defend ourselves against governmental overreach, whether it’s from Downtown LA, the County, or even Sacramento.


(Ken Alpern is 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 is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  [email protected]. 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 Mr. Alpern.)