A Message from Jim O’Sullivan, President of the MMRA:
Like many of you, we lost power at my house during the two wind events last week. I say “wind event” rather than wind storm because occasional wind gusts do not equate to a full-fledged storm. I have no idea what exactly caused these particular power outages – but I’m sure it has something to do with our aging and neglected infrastructure in Los Angeles. Our sidewalks are being buckled by untrimmed trees, our streets are an obstacle course of potholes, our aging water mains have become time bombs, hit and run accidents go uninvestigated for lack of properly trained traffic investigators, and budget cuts have slowed the response times of paramedics – the critical systems that support the quality of our lives are in a free fall.
Why would those of us who don’t live in Hollywood get involved in criticizing and/or opposing the recent update of the Hollywood Community Plan? The answer is: infrastructure. Because what happens in Hollywood doesn’t stay in Hollywood. Mayor Villaraigosa calls the super-sized developments recently proposed for Hollywood “elegant density,” but the residents call the plan the “Mahattanization” of Hollywood and find very little elegance in a plan that calls for adding an additional 50,000 residents without addressing the strain it will impose on the already collapsing infrastructure.
The new Hollywood Community Plan does not allocate funds to pay for fire and police services, water main and sewer maintenance, street and sidewalk repair, tree trimming, and the like. The City will have to borrow from Peter to maintain Paul, so to speak. In lieu of sensible long-term budgeting and planning the City will continue to deal with our infrastructure needs on a crisis basis: deferring routine maintenance and repairs in the Miracle Mile and every other community in Los Angeles to deal with the problems of the hour.
High-density-mixed-use-development-along-mass-transit-corridors is the new mantra of city planners and private developers. Build it big, the bigger the better; don’t sweat the details, it will work out somehow. The residents in the Miracle Mile are all for development, more jobs, reduced carbon footprints, subway extensions, and bike lanes, too – but we also like good old fashioned infrastructure. Infrastructure is the foundation of our city and it is folly to renovate, remodel, or expand a structure with a sinking foundation.
Like Hollywood Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard is a mass transit corridor. In the years to come, the Miracle Mile will have two subway stations and the city planners and private developers already have visions of yet another Manhattan dancing in their eyes. They will want to do to the Miracle Mile what they are doing to Hollywood and, once again, they don’t seem inclined to let the lack of funding for proper infrastructure impede their goals.
Many of us love the real Manhattan (I do), but the real thing has a public transit system that actually takes you where you want to go and its famous density is a result of being an island. Manhattan is also a very expensive city with an ever-shrinking middle class being squeezed out by the high cost of living. Development and gentrification in Hollywood has already driven away thousands of working class Latino families. (LA Weekly; Hollywood’s Urban Cleansing.)
All this brings me back to the so-called “wind events” which seem to constantly knock out our power in the Miracle Mile. Councilman LaBonge has told me he will find out what happened and I know he will, but that won’t solve a basic question I have, which is: Where does all the money go?
Los Angeles has a $7 billion budget (which doesn’t include the Department of Water and Power, LAX, or the Port of L.A.), so what are they spending that $7 billion on and why do they keep wanting to increase our fees and taxes? Something very wrong is going on here and before the City turns Los Angeles into Manhattan they need to explain how they are going to fix our infrastructure – or, in other words, how they will keep the lights on at my house.