For decades, City Hall experimented with a bizarre form of municipal socialism, enriching the rich, impoverishing the poor and driving away the middle class.
The 2000 census showed that white flight in the 1980s had become middle-class flight, cutting across racial and ethnic lines with the poverty rate in the San Fernando Valley — once the largest enclave of middle class families in the nation — soaring by 50 percent.even as home ownership rates plummeted by more than a third.
Today, the situation is far worse. LA has become a city of rich and poor. The result is declining neighborhoods, public schools overwhelmed by the numbers of children with special needs and a workforce that is largely unskilled and competing for the shrinking number of service and laborer jobs.
It is largely the result of misguided public policies that have turned city government into a jobs program, not a services provider, while the roads, sidewalks, water and power systems have deteriorated.
And now City Hall is about to deliver the coup de grace to the middle class.
No longer able to afford the cost of salaries and benefits in the public sector and forced to shed thousands of city workers, the mayor and City Council have slashed core services to the general public like parks and libraries and building code enforcement.
The city’s shrinking resources are focused instead on “revenue generating” services like those that those that impose escalating fees, penalties and rates on the public in the name of “full cost recovery.”
Beyond those policies, First Deputy Mayor and Interim DWP General Manager Austin Beutner is the
architect of what amounts to a desperate attempt to save LA by turning
city government into a profitable business without the burden of providing services other than police to the public.
City Hall, in the name of becoming “business friendly,” is moving rapidly to buy jobs in the private sector.
Tax holidays and discounted DWP rates for new businesses will shortly be matched by tax breaks and discounted DWP rates for existing businesses.
The city’s cash cows — DWP and the Community Redevelopment Agency — are being milled for subsidies even as they squeeze money out of the pockets of residents and tax dollars out of the city treasury.
The death blow to the middle class is now being delivered by Beutner’s hand-picked Planning Director, Michael LoGrande who is all but eliminating public input and involvement in the planning process to speed up the approvals of new projects.
In the sweltering days of August with many on vacation, LoGrande — untrained as a planner but quick to obey orders from above — is pushing through radical changes in the policies that control development in the city.
Just two weeks ago, community activists Lucille Saunders and Cindy Cleghorn found the Planning Department was proposing to the revise the General Plan Framework with far-reaching “Urban Design Guidelines” that set the zoning rules on density throughout the city.
The proposal — which wasn’t made public — was exempted from requirements to meet the state environmental laws and concerned citizens only given to Aug. 25 to comment on something that wasn’t even available to them except by appoing.
Saunders and Cleghorn made an appointment and met with planner Michelle Sorkin. It was days after their meeting that they learned also was including changes in the .
“Community Design Overlay” policy in the same short-circuited process.
LoGrande’s response to community concerns and the flurry of viral emails is to extend the deadline for comment until Labor Day.
No involvement of Neighborhoods Councils, homeowner or other groups allowed. No honest debate. No information.
The outrage of many was captured by Ken Alpern in a City Watch LA article in this sentence in all capital letters:
THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES IS ABOUT READY TO END
PUBLIC INPUT ON A HUGE SERIES OF GUIDELINES THAT WILL DETERMINE FUTURE
DEVELOPMENT THROUGHOUT LOS ANGELES RIGHT AFTER LABOR DAY WITHOUT HARDLY
ANYONE KNOWING WHAT’S PRECISELY IN THOSE GUIDELINES!!!
If they get away with this, they can do anything they want whenever they want.
The public will be completely disenfranchised and the result will be virtually instantaneous approval of nearly all development projects no matter what their impact on the quality of life, on traffic congestion, on the drain on limited water and power resources and the availability of public services.
These policies may be “business friendly” but they are a disaster for the residents of the city.