THE VIEW FROM HERE - Neither righteousness nor evilness rest in inanimate objects. Rather, men’s motives are crucial. Men of greed and ill-will know that the masses love myths more than facts. When it comes to rapid mass transit, voters engage in mythological thinking. The politicos promise that it will reduce traffic congestion. People say, “Hurrah. Spend $10 B and my commute will be faster.” Traffic always gets worse and taxes increase. We’ve seen this relationship for decades.
The Fraud Behind Rapid Mass Transit
The purpose was not to reduce traffic congestion. The politicos were financially committed to more density construction in the Basin. Developers and politicos conned the public into accepting more high-rise construction by promising that subways etc. would make auto traffic smoother. Virtually, no car owner had any intention of taking a subway. Lawyers and businessmen who lived in the Hollywood Hills and Los Feliz would not walk down to Hollywood-Western to take the subway. They wanted their secretaries and other poor people to take the subway so that Sunset Boulevard or the Hollywood Freeway would be less congested.
As soon as a subway is approved, the city then acts surprised to learn that the system will run an operational huge deficit. Thus, they claim that LA has to construct higher density along the subway routes to gain more ridership. The Hollywood Freeway’s last stop in North Hollywood opened in 2000. Hence, the destruction of old Hollywood was priority one.
Without the Hollywood Subway, There Would Be No Homeless Crisis
Densification and mass transit form a vicious circle. The developers overbuild in downtown areas with public money, e.g. Bunker Hill, and locate workers in bedroom communities far away. A 5th grader could figure out that as thousands of commuters converged on DTLA each morning, there would be horrible traffic congestion. Subways do not solve traffic congestion despite people’s false belief that subways and light-rail will handle all the extra commuters. (The backlash of tele-commuting makes mass transit a financial disaster and threatens financial ruin for all the dense areas like DTLA, Bunker hill, and Century City.)
Since developers had purchased property not only in DTLA and also Hollywood, the destruction of thousands of rent controlled apartments [RSO units] could not be averted. Millions of dollars of advance money had been spent not only to buy land but to construct the subway. Destroying the homes of tens of thousands of poor was a foregone conclusion -- the consequences be damned!
Only grandiose myopia would not foresee that destroying RSO units would cause a homeless crisis since the evicted people would have nowhere to live. The laws of Supply and Demand are beyond human comprehension. People think that if someone needs something (demand), the commodity will magically appear (supply). No rational person makes a product for which there is no market. People may want Rolls Royces, but if people lack the $460,000 starting price for a Rolls-Royce Phantom, it does not matter how many are produced. The same with apartments. One Thousand new apartments which cost three times the employee’s monthly income will remain vacant.
One irony is that thousands of homeless now live on the subways. It’s a type of equity justice – the city destroyed their homes and now they’re destroying the subway system. It will cost tax payers $3.2 Billion to construct multi-unit poverty projects in the R-1 neighborhoods. If the city issues bonds, the taxpayers’ cost will be about $7 Billion.
Subways Are Slow, Dirty, Dangerous
Politicos relegate the poor to the underground tunnels based on lies. Subways and light rail do not, as the city proclaims, help the poor people find work. There are far too few jobs within the reach of fixed rail transit for the subways or light rail lines to connect people with jobs. The mode of transportation, which most helps people climb out of poverty, is a car!
A car takes people wherever they need to go when they need to go. The city will pay up to $1 Million per unit, but not one cent for the poor to have a car. The city conspires with developers to make it impossible for poor people have cars by declaring that poverty projects (Affordable Housing) will not have off-street parking. Developers save a lot of money by omitting parking. Because on-street parking is very limited, poor people who have no off-street parking cannot own a car. The city believes that by providing no off-street parking, they can force poor people to use the subways and light rail. This type of social engineering is evil.
A car owner does not have the “first ½ mile, last ½ mile” problem. Anyone dependent on the subway - light rail has to walk to the station and then walk to their destination. This fact is particularly unpleasant in bad weather.
With a car, a person can stop off on way home from work to shop. With a car, buying a week’s worth of groceries is easy as one loads up the trunk. Same goes with buying in bulk. Try bringing 50 lbs of dog food and a mega role of Charmin home on a bus. People reliant on mass transit have a more arduous life and that harms their families.
While Los Angeles has become more dangerous for everyone, a woman in her own car is safer than riding the subway. Quality of life for poor people matters naught at city council. All that counts is increasing profits for developers. No councilmember gives a hoot how many people suffer and die. They still unanimously approve each density project and each mass transit project.
If councilmembers cared about anything other than themselves, they would break with the criminal vote trading system and vote “No” on destruction of RSO units and vote “No” on every project which increases density. That alone would stabilize housing costs in Los Angeles. No LA councilmember will put his/her life on the line by stopping the hundreds of billions of dollars flowing to the top 1% via the vicious cycle of densification, mass transit, densification, mass transit, etc. We see what happens to any councilmembers who buck the corruption – the FBI raids their homes and offices and they are subjected to Soviet style show trials from the 1950's. Former Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye’s rule for attorneys and judges applies to all Angelenos, “Go along to get along or else you’re gone.”
(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor. You may email him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed by Mr. Abrams are not necessarily those of CityWatchLA.com.)