If one has noticed during the two years in which my blog has existed, my true passion has come out not when talking about war or national elections, but rather when talking about urban policy and development. What is the point of debating the funding of a strong military or business taxes if there is nothing worth protecting or an infrastructure capable of supporting the business? The most important thing about any nation is its metropolitan centers (aka cities). Cities are the cultural, economic, and political hubs which drive a nations pride and standing in the world. Villages and towns come and go, but cities can last for thousands of years because of large pool of talent which resides within them and the ability to adapt to the times in which they exist. This last part has been the theme of my “urban blogs” where I either praise or chide a city for how it responds to the word “new”.
Los Angeles has done somewhat well in this regard but it still faces some of the greatest SELF IMPOSED problems that a city can endure. One of the greatest annoyances which I have noticed in my day to day life is the snail’s pace at which EVERYTHING takes place. One news site/blog site which has helped foster my understanding and knowledge of urban related issues is curbed.com. I came upon the website about a year ago and it has now become a daily destination for my search engine upon returning home from school. One of the things which makes CurbedLA so valuable is that gives users access to a myriad of other related sources. One of these sources is a online newspaper called The Architects Newspaper. A recently published editorial seemed to be written solely for me as it discussed the very causes of this snail pace world and provided possible solutions which I have fully endorsed.
I have mentioned it before in my blog posts and it was the first thing to come up in this editorial that the greatest issue which plagues Los Angeles is its overwhelming bureaucracy. We as citizens complain so much to our elected officials when the sad truth is that often time they have very little say. The author puts it bluntly that “It’s the system, stupid.” One example is the runway expansion at LAX; it has been “approved” 4 different times by 4 different government agencies and is still in limbo because there are still yet more “approvals” that must go through. While this may be beneficial for something controversial and potentially dangerous like giant A380’s flying over heads, it is utterly disastrous for other things which need attending. This type of divided power was set up with the very intention that it would slow things down and divide the power to move things along among many different entities. And while this may have worked in its inception 100 years ago it has no place in the modern 21st century world where it is all about efficiency and streamlining.
A second issue slowing progress in the city is the abuse and misuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). While this is a state law and more of a state issue rather than one reserved solely for L.A., this city tends to be the focus of this law as it takes advantage of it the most. While it is important that the environment should be taken into consideration, there is a limit to how much the environmental concerns of a few should hold up the benefits that development can bring to millions.
The picture I have as the centerpiece of my blog is an example of “What could be” if the city government worked to the best of its ability. Every transportation system on this map has been planned and is ready to go, it is however bogged down in the great paperwork, hearing, and study void that is Los Angeles.