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Special to CityWatch: Can Jorge Ramos Save The American Immigrant Dream?

Tony Castro
TONY CASTRO’S LA- President Barack Obama’s disappointing failure to champion immigration reform, what The Washington Post called his “immigration train wreck,” may be the consummate example of the failure of the Obama presidency on Latino issues. It is also a tell-tale sign of the potential trouble the Democratic Party could find itself in…

Museum Row’s Billion Dollar Block Party

Tim Deegan
EXCLUSIVE TO CITYWATCH--City planners, developers, community members and other stakeholders are having a block party in the Miracle Mile: no champagne but plenty of stress served to order, depending on who you're aligned with. Issues with development: take a seat. Raising hundreds of millions of dollars for development, take several seats. Here…

What Is It About The Homeless That Makes Us So Angry?

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD--It was a long public hearing at my neighborhood council the other night. Outraged, obviously frightened homeowners were pitted against advocates for the homeless. At least that's how it started, but it's not how it ended. It's curious, but in this contentious culture of ours, it turned out to be possible to have a meeting of the…

Kill the Transit Tax, Kill the Olympics

Ken Alpern
ALPERN AT LARGE-You know, it's indeed possible that there will be enough voters who won't remember (or care about) the current shenanigans and budget games in the City of LA--enough to allow a 2/3 vote to pass a new sales tax measure in November 2016. Then again, maybe enough voters will remember, and the initiative will (like its predecessor…

Headlines Don’t Lie – LA Needs Leadership

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-I’m talking to you as a man who policed Los Angeles streets for over 30 years and established policy for another 14 years -- two years as an elected Charter Reform Commissioner and 12 years as an elected Los Angeles City Councilman. Take a look at the latest Los Angeles News and Breaking Headlines. They tell a frightening story…

Airbnb Just Floats by the PLUM Committee

Tony Butka
THE CITY-I was going to do my usual flip and cynical kind of a piece on the Airbnb hearing, but the issue is too important, and just maybe, all is not lost. The Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee hearing was scheduled in the Public Works Hearing Room, but so many people attended that they had to move it to City Council Chambers…

Bikeshare Comes to Los Angeles … Sort Of

Richard Risemberg
WAITING ON LA--Here’s photographic confirmation that bikeshare has arrived in LA: Not the City of Los Angeles, though; not quite yet. That’s a live bikeshare station in Santa Monica, on Main Street, next to one of the two bike corrals that grace the block south of Ashland. (There’s another and very busy bike corral two blocks north.) This is a…

The Summer of My Discontent ... LA Version

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN--I think there is such a thing as the "Dog Days of Summer" since my usual sunny disposition ... glass half full demeanor ... seems to be out of sorts of late. There is a litany of things that are annoying me, aside from the heat. I am disappointed in our local government ... not all of them, but a majority. Like many of you I studied the…

Marilyn Who? Ask Councilman Krekorian or Mayor Garcetti

Richard Lee Abrams
PRESERVATION POLITICS-Who doesn’t like Marilyn Monroe? Councilmember Krekorian, that’s who! Why else would Councilmember Paul Krekorian support the demolition of one of the most significant homes of Marilyn Monroe? With the blessings of Mayor Garcetti, who believes in eradicating as much of Hollywood’s history as possible, and with the support of…





Record Breaking! Josh Groban sings Trump


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The Billionaire Developer and the Reimagining of LA

COMMENTARY - Rick Caruso - billionaire developer of retail romance - made money by reimagining Los Angeles one shopping center at a time. He may get a chance to reimagine the entire city if he decides to run for mayor in 2013. (Mayor Villaraigosa is term-limited out.)

Recasting the city's image has been the collective "art" of Los Angeles from the moment its American occupiers settled down to run their small, vulgar, and dangerous town. In 1847, the image of Los Angeles was "our Mexico."

In the boom years around 1900, it was "our Spain" and then "our Italy" and a romantically exotic retreat in the sunshine. Los Angles became "our future" around 1945 as the region transformed itself into the suburban everywhere of modern America.

By the mid-1990s, the city, marginalized by its suburbs, had become the sum of the suburbs' greatest fears.

The image of Los Angeles today merges all of these places: barrio, suburban bunker, Blade Runner stand-in, and threatened paradise.

To these, Rick Caruso would like to add regional mall - an amalgam of the Grove and The Americana at Brand, including a street trolley. Here's how Tim Rutten put it the other day in the Los Angeles Times:

“Last week, Caruso spoke to a San Fernando Valley audience and repeated not only his familiar critiques -- opposition to the subway, a desire to break up the Los Angeles Unified School District, a call to abolish the gross receipts tax -- but also a sketch of the city's future as he envisions it.

Speaking from "the developer's point of view on how to make Los Angeles more livable," he envisioned neighborhoods each organized around its own shopping center, all of which would be connected by an above-ground light-rail system.”


A developer's image of the city - safe, leisurely, and entertaining - isn't far from what Los Angeles wanted to make of itself in 1900, when electric railways, street trolleys, funiculars, and even cable cars connected the city's neighborhoods.

Los Angeles succeeded in mirroring its early developers' image at least until the 1930s, but at the cost of civil liberties, racial equality, honest politics, labor solidarity, adequate public recreation and so much else.

What the cost of recreating that image might be troubles Rutten:

“Perhaps that is what people want: a Los Angeles in which the last distinctions between public and commercial spaces are swept away; a new sort of city in which the old American notion of lives lived in pursuit of happiness is redefined as an endless chain of convenient commercial transactions.”

Businessmen who run for office are fond - as Caruso is - of redefining citizens as "customers." That shows their lack of imagination. Customers have no moral obligations to each other; citizens do.

(Mathew Fleischer takes a look at these issues from a public transit perspective here.)

(D. J. Waldie, author, historian, and as the New York Times said in 2007, "a gorgeous distiller of architectural and social history," writes about Los Angeles every Monday and Friday at 2 p.m. on KCET's SoCal Focus blog. This commentary was posted first at KCET.org) Photo credit: flickr user R.E.  –cw

Tags: The Grove, Rick Caruso, DJ Waldie, developer, Los Angeles, barrio, Blade Runner, street trolley




CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 49
Pub: June 21, 2011

 

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