LA’s City Council Rejects the ‘Wiener’ Bill … Leaving Us With the Question: What’s Next?

ALPERN AT LARGE--First things first: Thank you LA City Council for unanimously rejecting SB 50 (the Wiener Bill). 

But ... what's next? 

For starters, I began my most recent CityWatch article with the following: 

Do we want Sacramento to run roughshod over the cities and counties of Los Angeles with respect to overdevelopment and abandoning environmental law?  

But isn't the same question now rightfully posed to the LA City Council? Certainly that question can be, and should be, posed to our Mayor. With good reason, the feds aren't exactly too pleased with our City Council and Mayor right now with respect to any "quid pro quo" with developers... 

... and the citizenry who pays attention is really steamed about that. We can have appropriate development and compromise, and yet tell BOTH the NIMBY's and the YIMBY's to wake up and smell the coffee about an environmental mess we have. 

Because reasonable Neighborhood Councils do what we (and presumably other NC's) at the Mar Vista Community Council do: we raise concerns about height and impacts upon neighbors, and when developers do outreach and establish compromise, we reward them.  

But megadevelopments with insufficient mitigation, regardless of the screaming of those who stand to benefit financially from those developments, should be denied and the rights of the citizenry respected. 

Now we must also ask the City Council, and not just Sacramento: do we want the LA sun to be blocked out by endless high-rises meant solely for Downtown, and perhaps along Wilshire Blvd. and other corridors, where they were meant to be? 

Do we want single-family neighborhoods only for the very rich? Can we avoid creating "Manhattan by the Sea" and push for appropriate small lot sub-developments to densify AND preserve the neighborhoods? 

(On a similar note, when DO we have the right to tell those wanting to transform neighborhoods--against the will of its longstanding, taxpaying residents--to go pound sand, instead of the other way around?) 

Do we want to give middle-class individuals and families a shot at living with a quality of life that their parents had? 

(On a similar note, what shall we define the middle-class as? Shall $200,000/year or more now be defined as middle-class...because that is insane!) 

Do we want to ignore the fact that foreign investors have gobbled up 10-15% or more of California real estate, and are jacking up the rents to Californians who otherwise would love to buy a home? 

(On a similar note, when DO we ask the LADWP to start tabulating vacant residences, apartments, condos, etc. to determine how to focus on our housing shortage ... or to confirm that the shortage is as it's been narrated to date?) 

Finally, are Mayor Garcetti and any quid-pro-quo developer City Council stooges any better than the President Donald Trump they keep decrying? 

Again, compromise and discussion are what we need to do things right in the City of the Angels. It's downright painful and miserable, sometimes, but that's life in the adult world. But too often Downtown acts like children (and yet we keep electing them, don't we?) when addressing adult issues. 

What the City Council needs to do is put their money where their collective mouth is. 

In short, show that they are NOT just a gaggle of our own local Wieners. 


(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of both its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure and Planning Committees. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. 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 Dr. Alpern.)