Updating LA’s Community Plans Begins with Infrastructure

ALPERN AT LARGE--Okay, folks--it's not too hard to figure out. If you want to increase capacity, "overriding considerations" sooner or later isn't going to cut it.

We live in a time where we all seem to be living beyond our means in one way, shape, or form, but faith alone isn't enough to support the City of the Angels.

Of course, a stronger infrastructure and utility base is the perfect way to support our Economy, our Environment, and our Quality of Life.

As other regions beyond that of my own (the Palms-Mar Vista-Del Rey Community Plan) addresses how to update itself after decades of overdue spot-zoning and building beyond our means, the question of if we're really going to confront the laws of biology, mathematics, and physics remains unanswered.

A few quick ideas come to mind, passed not only by the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) and other neighborhood councils, and advocated by almost every educated planning and transportation advocate with a modicum of common sense:

1) We can't build without sufficient water and electricity to allow for the health and economic survival of current and future residents of a given region.

2) The need for clean water and a larger electrical grid has never been more necessary--and with current unmet needs of draught-prone California (which, naturally, is a desert), and with increasing brownouts throughout the City, the question of how to build and rebuild lies without any long-term answer.

3) Affordable housing is critical, but the amount of new housing has led to FEWER affordable housing, threatens the viability of creating new middle-class jobs and access to those jobs.

4) Expensive, multi-story developments in single-neighborhoods are anything BUT transit-oriented (or even transit-accessible), anything BUT affordable, and anything BUT neighborhood-preserving.

5) Diminishing the access to, and capacity of, rapid-transit access using buses and trains, is anything BUT encouraging mobility.

6) Automobiles remain the mobility of choice for most commuters in far-flung Southern California and diverting traffic flow AWAY from residential regions has been sacrificed for a tolerance of cut-through traffic that threatens children and their families.

7) Only telecommuting has had the ability to reduce traffic and pollution of our air and water, but has the electrical grid and Internet access throughout our City been sufficiently expanded to accommodate the telecommuting to work and school (and to neighborhood/city council meetings!) which will be part of our lives for many years to come, pandemic or no pandemic?

8) Families and children are real--and they are our future. Have our open spaces in our schools, river/flood control channels, and parks been utilized for the benefit of a few, or for all of us who live and work in Los Angeles? 

9) Do both small and large developments pay directly into funds that allow for transportation, infrastructure, open space/recreation initiatives, and environmental necessities, or are they forced to contribute into a City of Los Angeles "general fund" that has little to no connection (or "nexus") to the needs of those who live and work at these developments?

10 Finally, and with the understanding that our City's needs go far beyond these suggestions, is the transparency of the Mayor and City Council, and the Department of Planning, compatible with legally-required and mandated City and State ethics to ensure that our Community Plan Updates will be legally and scientifically valid for the next few decades? 

To the Department of Planning performing its Community Plan Updates, including that of the Palms-Mar Vista-Del Rey Community Plan, consider this input that requires addressing for the Update initiative to be successful, and free of future court challenges.


(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 was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 8-9 years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach and Planning Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of the MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)