Another Monstrosity Going Up in West L.A.
I live just a couple hundred feet south of U.S. Route 66, the “Mother Road,” as it comes close to ending by the shore of the Pacific Ocean. In my neighborhood, it is called Santa Monica Boulevard, which joins with Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood and runs some ten miles from there to the Ocean. There is a mile-long stretch of Route 66 near me in which the old low-lying buildings are being replaced by high-rise apartment buildings mostly intended for filthy rich tenants.
There may be a few apartments in each building reserved for low-income tenants, but knowing the power of unscrupulous real-estate developers, most are not. And many of the units will be empty for years to come, especially as the coronavirus depression takes hold.
Martine and I cynically note the endless FOR LEASE signs on newish buildings. At the same time, there is a real shortage of housing for non-millionaires throughout the metropolitan area. Every month, it seems there are more tents with raggedy bums, more weather-beaten RVs, and more genuine homeless who have been turned out of their housing by greedy, unscrupulous landlords. The units in the building shown above will, no doubt, house only the well-to-do.
At the same time that multi-tenant units are springing up all over West L.A. (and other parts of the city), little attempt is being made to face the traffic problems that will inevitably ensue. Mayor Gil Garcetti thinks everyone will take the bus or rise the MetroRail trains; but I think that most of the people who can afford the new units would be afraid to take public transportation, as it brings them face to face with homeless turnstile-jumpers, and—oh horrors!—black people.
There will be a reckoning in the years to come—one that will topple the political ambitions of Garcetti and his associates who are altogether too cozy with the developers. And the developers? They will have moved on to cause problems elsewhere, as they always do.
Why Is There So Much Construction Going On in L.A.?
What with the plague raging in the streets, I continue to be surprised how much commercial and residential construction is going on. It is as if, when the coronavirus finally goes away (if it ever really goes away), there will be people to fill those new offices, apartments, and condominiums for whatever top dollar figure the owners intend to charge. There will be talk of the city insisting on affordable units, but we all know that no one wants to build affordable units. My fearless prediction is that there will be a large number of vacancies and —given that the homeless population is growing by leaps and bounds—there will be a big problem with squatters.
Mayor Gil Garcetti of Los Angeles is being either naive, or is selling out to real-estate interests—a time-honored Southern California practice. In West Los Angeles, I see scores of new buildings going up, side by side with scores of old buildings that have been red-tagged and scheduled for the wrecking ball, and, in the meantime, occupied by bums.
Another interesting point: I do not see any corresponding effort to accommodate the increased traffic flow that will result if the new building space is occupied. My feeling is that the mayor feels that the construction of the Expo Light Rail Line will solve all problems. I don’t mind taking public transportation, but I am very clearly in the minority. Most people I know think that terrible things happen on those trains. Even Martine is hesitant to ride them. Me, I have no problems.
Also, Garcetti thinks that the thousands of homeless will be delighted with the housing the city will supposedly furnish for them (by reconverting old motels, hotels, etc.). But most of the homeless are not interested in following any rules such as not drinking, taking drugs, or smearing shit all over the walls.
Interesting times lie ahead.
Los Angeles Mayor Gil Garcetti
Although Los Angeles Mayor Gil Garcetti is a Democrat, I see him as something of a failure. I take issue with him on two counts:
- He is one of those weepy progressives who are unable to deal with the burgeoning population of the homeless because he doesn’t know how to talk about it. “Let’s build housing for the poor homeless” is no answer when most of the homeless are unable or unwilling to follow rules because it violates their independence.
- He is a tool of the real estate interests as he embarks on a spree of building high-rise housing along the light rail lines. You can be sure that very few of those units will be reserved for the homeless.
Artist’s Rendering of High Rise Housing Project
In the end, the streets of L.A. will continue to be littered with homeless encampments and the streets will be clogged with increased automobile traffic that no one seems to be planning for. And no, most of the people who will live in these high-rise Garcetti-Villes will probably not be interested in taking public transportation to work or entertainment.
Politicians like to make common cause with real estate developers because of the myth that tax revenue will thereby increase. Far from it: The city will be stuck with older apartment structures that will be vacated to move into these new high-rent districts, turning them into largely vacant slums, while the streets will be choked with cars.
Of course, I like the new light rail lines and the subways. But then, I am not a typical Angeleno.