Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Can someone please tell me what new housing the Coalition to Preserve LA supports? I mean it.

They oppose tall buildings. They oppose short buildings. They oppose homes that would be built near highways. They oppose homes that would be built in neighborhoods and away from highways. They oppose homes that would replace surface parking lots. They oppose homes that would replace strip malls. They oppose homes that would replace auto dealerships. I mean, they even oppose homes that would replace completely empty, vacant land!

What do they support?

I'm completely, 100% serious, and this is 100% serious business. It's serious business for those of us who worry about our childrens' ability to buy or even just rent a home someday. It's serious business for our businesses, who are contemplating leaving LA to find places where they can pay their workers wages that actually cover housing and transportation costs. It's serious business for those of us worried about climate change and our ability to live in a way that's less destructive to the environment. It's serious business for those of us who just want to be able to walk, bike, or take transit instead of having to get in a car and become traffic along with the other 85% of Angelenos doing the same thing every day.

I ask this question seriously, because for as much as people like C2PLA and others who align with them will complain about any (and apparently nearly every) new proposal to build new housing, I've yet to see one single project that these same folks would support. Not one. This isn't hyperbole. Just go to their website. Please. Go now. Please: Find a single post in support of new housing. Go on. It might take you a while because they post a lot. I promise the rest of this post will still be here when you come back.


Find anything supporting new housing? Any "So here's something that we like!" or "Here's how we *should* do new housing in LA." You know, anything that basically provides an example to show how they think things could or should be done? Yah, that's what I thought. Na-da.

See, for all their talk about what they don't like, C2PLA (and, frankly, almost anyone who shows up to oppose new housing) doesn't want to say what they would support. Why? Because then they'd be offering an alternative that could splinter their coalition that is organized solely around opposition.

While I'd rather not assume that C2PLA and its cohorts think we're just fine adding no new housing while our city grows by 50,000 people every year, that's basically what they're saying. While I'd rather not assume that C2PLA wants us driving more and walking/biking/transiting less, that's effectively what they're arguing when they call for downzoning of our city neighborhoods. While I'd rather not assume that C2PLA cares not a whit about our city's ability to address the climate crisis at a time that our planet is blasting through heat records like the Kool-Aid Man through walls, they never so much as even nod to our climate or to our responsibility to leave our planet better than it was given to us.

Instead we hear about how LA won't be able to create spaces for children to play if it gets any denser. Meanwhile a quick check of cities two and three times as dense as Los Angeles could show anyone that cities not only find a way, but when you have spaces that kids can safely walk or bike to, that creates even more opportunity.

Instead we hear over and over and over about how there's not enough parking, in a city that requires more parking per home than any other close to its size and which has more parking in its urban core than any other city in the country. (Truly - how much parking is enough? I don't know the answer to that, but I would venture a guess that we only get the answer when people no longer want to be somewhere.)

Instead we hear about how the city is cozy with developers; you know, the same developers who go through years of procedures and hoops and hurdles to provide a fraction of the new homes that we actually need. Meanwhile, anyone who isn't a well-financed "greedy" developer (you know, the schmucks like you and me) will probably have about a 1% chance of ever being able to run the same ridiculous gamut to provide even just a few more homes here and there (and this is the kind of thing that could actually do much more on a large scale to address our overall housing affordability challenges than the one-off larger projects we see right now). And C2PLA's proposed NII would take that 1% chance for the schmucks and drop it to about 0%.

Sometimes I wish the C2PLA would just come out and say it: They're in this only for themselves. They don't care about Los Angeles. They absolutely do not care about our city's future. Their only interest is in protecting what they have, not because they care about LA but because they care about themselves: their property values, their perception of a neighborhood's "character," and their ability to park wherever and whenever at no perceived cost to themselves. This fervent, self-interested "protection" comes at the expense of the city's ability to change, to adapt, and to grow over time. I mean, fer chrissakes, C2PLA's NII would deny our children and their children the opportunities to live in the same city that our grandparents and great grandparents provided for us. When you don't give two flips about your kids' ability to rent or buy a home, then how dare you even claim to care about the city?

Here's a reminder: The city of LA didn't use to be here. Even not much more than a century ago, it was mostly ranchos and cattle grazing lands with a few small pueblos scattered across the river basin. Then the 1910s and 1920s hit, and we built massive amounts of streetcar-accessible new homes up and down our streetcar lines. And then the 1950s and the 1960s hit, and we built massive amounts of car-accessible new homes in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, and in West LA. Since the 1960s? Mostly we've grown outward, into the farther reaches of Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, generating millions more car trips and choking ourselves on our own fumes.

The very people who are now the beneficiaries of all the home-building largesse that preceded them - these people who are seeing their home values skyrocket while wages stagnate - these people whose children are seeing their purchase power (and that of future generations) subsequently decline - these people who believe that LA can be no safer for pedestrians or better for bike and transit accessibility - these people whose primary concern is their ability to drive a car all by themselves and park easily without so much as a second-thought about the traffic or pollution or social costs they create in the process... these are the same people who now want to lock up the city and throw away the proverbial key for the rest of us.

You know what? I oppose them.

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