Walkable Smart-Hub Hollywood Only Dead in Reality

Proving that even The New York Times understands Los Angeles better than the town’s own politicians do, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tells off Times-man Adam Nagourney for accusing the City of Angels of "being the city of sprawl and…not like New York and other cities that are more vertical." 

At issue: a plan by Villaraigosa and grotesquely ambitious City Council President Eric Garcetti to tear down Hollywood and rebuild it as – what else? – a transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, smart-growth hub. 

As I noted a year ago, the squat chief executive has been gorging on local, state and federal funds so he can turn the people of Los Angeles into "guinea pigs in the New Urbanists’ experiment to create a newer, better Homo Angelicus." 

That has not been working out, because Los Angeles is bankrupt and has ground to a halt under Villaraigosa’s misrule.

Yet the mayor never misses a chance to repeat his rail-hub-polycentric-anti-car flapdoodle. Here’s what he had to say to our own Paul Detrick after the epic nothing that was Carmageddon

And here’s the tinhorn potentate describing his year-zero Utopia to the Times

“From the beginning, I said we are going to move away from our single-passenger automobile system,” [Villaraigosa] said. “We are going to remake what the city looks like.”

Mr. Garcetti said that building guidelines in this 25-square-mile zone had not been changed in 24 years. “If there was a moment in time to freeze Hollywood, it would not be 1988,” he said. “The average tourist stay in Hollywood then was 23 minutes. Crime was at its peak. And things like the subway just weren’t in the area.”

Yet while the plan has considerable institutional support — business groups turned out to testify for it at the Tuesday meeting — it has stirred anxiety among people who live in the neighborhood and have long been loyal to its unique charms and hidden treasures. To opponents, the plan is a sop to real estate developers who see an opportunity to make fast money.

“It’s gotten kind of nasty here in Hollywood in the last few days,” said Richard MacNaughton, a lawyer who has lived in the area for 40 years and is one of the opponents of the effort. He said the changes would result in a real estate free-for-all. “You’ll destroy the flatlands, you destroy the quality of life. Tourists come here to see the dream. They don’t come to see some high-rise.”

As it happens, I live in flat Hollywood, and I have no idea why any tourists come here at all. I also don’t see any reason people can’t build tall buildings provided they pay for the buildings themselves. But big dreams need big money, and L.A. has experienced negative economic growth under Villaraigosa. Adjusting for inflation and comparing BEA numbers from the beginning of Antonio’s administration [pdf] with the most recent numbers [pdf], it looks like Los Angeles has experienced almost a 10 percent decline in real GDP by metropolitan area. 

L.A. County’s population has also flatlined over the same period, and I’m still seeing plenty of for-sale and for-rent signs in Hollywood itself. So where are all the happy pedestrians going to come from to fill up these tall buildings? It’s not like you have to travel far to find a counter-example: After spending billions of taxpayers dollars in an effort to turn Downtown L.A. into New York West, the city is now stuck with an overbuilt, largely vacant downtown and a rate of public transit usage that is actually declining

The saddest part is that his enthusiasm for this debacle in the making will not have any effect on Villaraigosa’s fortunes. The mayor’s survivability rises in direct proportion to his unimpressiveness. A few years back he garnered only 55 percent in what was effectively a Venezuela-style unopposed re-election. The national Democratic Party, against all evidence, still treats him as a rising star. And he somehow managed to avoid having to give Corina Raigosa back her half of the last name in his divorce settlement. For all other Villaraigosa questions, refer to Adam Carolla

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  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I hate to be grumpy, but haven't the people of California had enough notice that they should have moved out by now? AFAICT, they must love what they're getting.

  • Appalachian Australian||

    Enough people figured it out for California to stop gaining congressional districts. It'll probably lose one or two at the next census.

  • BakedPenguin||

    It's 5 PM, and you are listening to... Los Angeles

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You know who else wanted to get people on trains?

  • Pip||

    James J. Hill?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Miguelito Loveless. Think about it.

  • ¢||

    Robyn Hitchcock.

  • BakedPenguin||

    WH Vanderbilt?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Pip only beat me by 49 minutes.

  • Anacreon||

    Marilyn Chambers?

  • ChrisO||

    Apparently, Eric Garcetti is not a big Guns n' Roses fan. Nobody would write great hard rock songs about cutesy mixed-use developments.

  • ChrisO||

    That's a reference to Garcetti's "1988" comment, BTW. Hollywood was a hell of a lot more in the national consciousness in 1988 than it is now.

  • shrike||

    Better dead than Red

  • ||

    Well, Tony Villar will be ex-mayor next year. Not soon enough, but there isn't a whole lot he can do with a bankrupted city. I wish him well on his next step of Democratic Party ascendancy. Please keep him as far from Los Angeles and California as possible.

  • el Commentariosa||

    Adam was robbed on Celebrity Apprentice

  • ||

    I've lived in L.A. now for a year and am amazed this town could go broke. Indeed, whole state of California amazes me.

    I mean, fucking gold rolls down from the hills, oil oozes up under your feet, it has a valley so fertile it can feed the whole continent and human capital of scale and diversity perhaps never seen before in history. Silicon Valley and L.A. are techno-culture centers of the Universe, etc.

    It'd take thousands of morons decades to bankrupt such intrinsic treasure...oh, wait.

  • ||

    Get rid of zoning laws and let people work near where they live.

    I work at a Fortune 500 company in a suburban location. Twelve minutes in the morning, 15 evenings.

  • juris imprudent||

    Why do I find John Carpenter's vision of future Los Angeles more believable than El Mayor's?

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    They want to build skyscrapers on top of the San Andreas fault?

    On second thought, go nuts.

    ... Hobbit

  • JB||

    Nobody walks in LA and only tards live in LA.

  • Lucretio||

    The esteemed mayor of Los Angeles graduated from The People's College of Law, an establishment so prestigious they have to keep people out by having iron bars in their windows.


  • دردشه عراقية||


  • YJ Draiman||

    The Mayor of Los Angeles needs to follow these guidelines

    A Mayor is an elected official, a leader who must serve all the people in the City of Los Angeles, not just the select few.
    The same guidelines apply to all elected officials at LA's City Hall.

    Yet servant leadership challenges all of this. It calls us to higher levels of leadership where the self is no longer king, and others become the priority. It stands in stark contrast to the sense of entitlement we often assume. Given today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, each of us has more power readily available than ever before. Yet the irony is that this individual empowerment has disconnected us in a sense; we have become somewhat removed from our sense of community. Servant leadership encourages us to face this – to take the focus off ourselves and to truly put others’ needs first as we nurture relationships and foster community. In fact, it calls us to love and to serve others so much that out of that a desire for leadership is born…not the other way around.

    YJ Draiman

    http://bit.ly/draimanformayor2013 youtube


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