All Pudding, No Meat – Put the Brakes on LA’s ‘Sky’s the Limit’ Over-Development with Measure S

ELECTION 2017-I heard the director of the Downtown LA BID (Business Improvement District) say to Doug McIntrye on his KABC radio show that, "the sky's the limit, regarding downtown Los Angeles real estate development." McIntyre noted how New York City has a lot of endless skyscrapers, and downtown LA is where all the skyscrapers should be, adding that the city has a lot more room to grow. 

I am usually in lock-step with McIntyre on LA municipal issues, so listening to him agree that, "the sky's the limit" on the LA skyscraper issue, made me wonder if I am being too extreme in my belief that LA is “skyscrapered” out. I'm not sure we should be The Eagles of LA real estate developers, taking it to the limit, one more time. Just because we, as a society (or municipality) can do something, doesn't mean we should. Technology and the ability to achieve and accomplish more does not mean we should just do it. 

You can walk up to an all-you-can-eat buffet and eat as much dessert as you want. Keep piling it on your plate, then go back for more and more and more. The manager won't tell you to stop, because it's all-you-can-eat. And, you're an adult now, so your parents can't tell you to stop either. You can do whatever you want to do. So what if you don't want any veggies or meat? You may only want the pudding. But in case you haven't heard, here in LA, you shouldn’t have any pudding until you finish your meat. Unfortunately, though, LA City Hall doesn’t understand this: it’s all pudding (giant, upscale luxury projects) and no meat (affordable housing for homeless and middle-class.) 

How does that apply to LA development? It's not, "the sky's the limit," it’s “the infrastructure's the limit." All this pudding has LA's infrastructure clogged up like a bad artery. Because City Council keeps going back for more and more skyscrapers we’re having problems with EMS/Fire response times. And we can't recruit enough cops for the streets. The local exit ramps don't get any wider. And the streets don't get any wider either. Water is scarce and getting more expensive. Can't jam any more parking spaces onto the same city street, just because someone paid off city officials to stick up another twenty-story, mixed use project in that area. (See Caruso's project for Koretz's district.) And, though not a City Hall issue, it’s hard enough to manage the LAUSD administration and its students. 

The city can no longer enforce itself. These developers know they can get away with more than has been permitted and no one is gonna stop them. In Venice, someone built a McMansion house out into the sidewalk. In other words, the home cut off sidewalk access. Whoops! House already built...too late. 

So, the lesson of LA City development is a lot like the lesson of life itself. It’s all about moderation, which takes discipline and that is not what’s being used at LA City Hall. Though it wasn't my intent as I started this piece, looks like it just became a "Yes on Measure S" article. So, let’s roll with it, like Steve Winwood (with some additional considerations) and vote "Yes on Measure S." 

Mayor Garcetti and LA City Council want to protect non-documented immigrants from deportation, but what about their eviction onto the streets that a skyscraper city will cause? Getting pretty competitive for sidewalk space to put up any more encampments. 

And, the evictions don't affect just immigrants. American citizens will be forced from their homes by foreign (Chinese) developers building a mega city for us lucky Angelinos! It's called “Chinafication” or “Garcettification” or "The Sky's the Limit.” 

Shanghai has geological conditions that are sub-standard to LA and yet they have some of the tallest buildings in the world. Not too difficult for us to achieve that too when our current mayor has basically thrown out building height regulations saying they were a "stupid rule.” Remember Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's press conference, held on the flat roof of the city's 32-story AT&T Center, where he announced the law's demise, describing it as "one more stupid rule in Los Angeles?" 

On March 7, the people get to pass a smart law that Garcetti is certain to find stupid. He may think he's smarter than the rest of us, but a city's success is measured, in large part, by the amount of homeless on the street. Garcetti himself has declared a homeless emergency for Los Angeles. He’s had more say, sway and influence than anyone -- first as council president, then as mayor. So, don’t be (Shangai) suprised if Garcetti is against Measure S, and takes the China developer money. LA is one big “all you can eat” luxury condo buffet. Take another huge bite. 

Sixty-story high rises on average? No problem since "6" is a lucky number to Chinese developers! (Eighty stories is probably too high, but sixty is cool to heavenly sky proponents.) 

We could build out DTLA to accommodate a 10-12 million person population. And maybe it is a very good idea to build out DTLA as a skyscraper mega-city. The land is cheap and City Hall is easy. 

Only downside is the fate of the less fortunate: those earning less than $200,000 per year will have to move on and move out of their own neighborhoods. And you'll have to leave for work two days before you have to be there, due to traffic gridlock. 

Once the mega luxury skyscrapers go up, everything becomes more expensive. Mom and Pop mini-marts and cheap eateries are replaced with upscale, expensive counterparts. Five dollar burritos are replaced by $17 sandwiches at fancy sandwich places. Just apply that concept to everything else. If you used to own a store, now you can work for a big national chain as a clerk or maybe even a manager. 

It’s a simple choice for the voter: vote for the status quo and re-elect all City Hall incumbents. Then get half the value of your property through eminent domain, and be forced to move to Riverside. Or…vote them all out and vote Yes on Measure S.


(David (Zuma Dogg) Saltsburg is a candidate for Los Angeles mayor. He has been a community activist in Los Angles for more than 10 years successfully taking on City Hall on numerous occasions. Learn more here.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.