Sun, May

Neighborhood Integrity: For the Sake of All Angelenos


ALPERN AT LARGE--Whether it involves initiatives ranging from the Expo Line to the Green Line/LAX connection to local Planning and Transportation issues, being fair and honest and credible is everything.  When someone does good, they deserve credit...and vice versa.  Hence, for the benefit of all Angelenos, we have to pass a Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (LINK: http://2preservela.org/) this spring. 

All ethnicities, all regions, and all socioeconomic groups of fair-minded, open-minded, and civic-minded Angelenos are being attacked.  Our services are lower than ever, our economy is producing a two-tiered rich/poor divide that no minimum wage diversion can prevent, and a wealthy and connected few are thriving while most of us who (gasp!) want to play by the rules and laws of LA are being told that WE are the problem. 

Maybe it's "affordable housing", and maybe it's "transit-oriented development", or maybe it's "urban infill", but Los Angeles has the ability to perform the "elegant densification" of Former-Mayor Villaraigosa without shredding environmental laws that were passed for a reason (actually a lot of reasons, but livability is at the center of them all). 

Angelenos are all about REAL affordable housing, transit-oriented development and urban infill--but they're also into sustainable, neighborhood-preserving and neighborhood-enhancing rules that are the hallmark of a modern, civilized, and kind-hearted society. 

The former mayor of Los Angeles, by the end of his tenure, was rightfully-perceived as bought out, a sell-out, and corrupt to the core.  Our current mayor is more affable and friendly...but Mayor Eric Garcetti and his Planning Politburo are killing Los Angeles in the same way his predecessor is doing, and it gives me no joy in saying that. 

As a human being, I kind of like Mr. Garcetti--but his actions are really turning LA into a Wild Wild West, whether they were under his watch as LA City Council President or under his watch as a man who really has the ability to rev up the City Bylaws and the Community Plan effort.   

As fellow CityWatch editor and transit advocate Damien Goodmon posted recently, there is just NO reason why we need a Cumulus skyscraper at Jefferson/La Cienega. 

Damien Goodmon and the Crenshaw Subway Coalition are rightfully, along with the Friends of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, filing a lawsuit to stop this 320-foot skyscraper...which raises a host of issues and talking points that are as timely as we could ever hope for. 

It's no secret that Mr. Goodmon and myself (and a host of others) had different visions of the Expo Line--he wanted more of it to be a subway, while others (like myself) recognized the costs and need for the Expo Line to be at-grade or elevated for a light-rail trolley of 100,000 passengers maximum.  

But we both wanted an Expo Line. 

And neither of us wanted bad planning and neighborhood destruction throughout Los Angeles as a result of the transportation initiatives we fought for.  Adhering to the law is something that African-Americans in the Mid-City, Latinos in the Eastside, and Whites in the Westside all want.  And it's pretty darned tough to be pro-transit when there's all sorts of people who will use that effort, and other venerable ideas like affordable housing to ... 

... BREAK ... THE ... LAW! 

There are plenty of ways we can have lower and slightly-densifying building throughout the City, but if we create Downtowns here, and there, and everywhere, we'll end up with the same disjointed traffic problem that the Expo Line and other lines were built to mitigate. 

There already IS a Downtown, and the Downtown Light Rail Connector offers a host of new options for high-rise residential and business endeavours.  Another "Downtown" is Wilshire Blvd., and maybe another is Century Blvd.   

There ARE places for high-rises, but otherwise it's just it's just a battle against Common Sense, Common Decency, and Common Cause, as I recently opined to make Los Angeles one big Downtown and a new, 21st-Century traffic hellhole.

But let's be honest, Mr. Mayor--you may smile while the rest of us rule-abiding taxpayers are getting hurt, and threatened, and name-called when we call out law-breaking for what it is--we're still being hurt.  If you're going to be Antonio Villariagosa with a smile and kind-hearted face, then why wouldn't threatened citizens push back? 

Hence we have the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, with all sorts of volunteer neighborhood advocates like Dick Platkin and others weighing in. 

I also again call for a new part of LA City government where LA citizens can go to inquire as to whether they can take legal action against any Downtown efforts that violate the bylaws and policies of our City.  My guess is that it should be part of the Neighborhood Councils, or a change in the rules of what the City Attorney is with respect to the job description of that office. 

There is no legal office to protect citizens against their elected officials when that latter group goes rogue--the City Attorney is for the City Council, and NOT for the rest of us ... especially those of us who don't have tons of money and time to sue for our rights. 

But for now, we've got a City to take back.  And if THIS Mayor is going to behave like our LAST Mayor, then we've got no choice but to slam through a Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.


(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.



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