In 1869 L. U. Reavis spoke for many when he made the case for moving the nation’s capital from, as he put it, “the banks of the Potomac to the banks of the Mississippi.” Citing St. Louis’s location in the exact center of the nation, the growing population of the Mississippi Valley, the presumably temporary expediency that had led leaders to place the capital in Washington in the first place, and the commercial advantages of a capital city on the Mississippi River, read more »
There is much speculation among economists and others about how close we are to the bottom of the collapse of housing prices. This is, of course, an important question, and goes to the heart of the wisdom or folly of the proposed $700 billion government bailout of financial markets, which is a consequence of their own profligate lending practices. read more »
The current discussion in Washington can either lead to a rapid processing and recovery at the local level or a long drawn out destruction of local economies. This is particularly true of regions – Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Bernardino-Riverside, much of Florida – that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. read more »
A big going-out-of-business sign on the Rite-Aid store at 7th and Los Angeles streets tells a bigger tale—a story I’ll call “Hype Happens.”
The Rite-Aid opened a few years ago with fanfare, arriving at just about the high-point of the hype over the “Residential Renaissance” of Downtown. Rite-Aid set up shop in the Santee Village project, an ambitious effort that saw a developer get plenty of help from various government agencies in order to convert a collection of mid-rise buildings from garment shops to residential lofts. read more »
What makes a place “authentic”? In places we cherish, we look for something unique and tangible. But personal experience of a place is not merely a product of the landscape and “built environment.” It is also shaped by myths and perceptions.
As City Manager of two California towns, I’ve grappled with the treacherous crosscurrents of reality and myth, of change and preservation. read more »
The obsession started before the earthquake.
I was driving on Manchester Road, and something about the slant of light off the car dealerships, the particular combination of Mexican-food diner/meat market/bank/shoe store/train-whistle-in-the-distance, and the unending nature of my errand was enough to take me back. I was on San Fernando Road, and for a just a split second, I was happy – happy to be in traffic, happy to have the glare of the sun in my eyes, happy, even, to be hopelessly late -- because I thought that I was back in Los Angeles. read more »
My eldest child tells me that when she arrived at an East Coast college her classmates—many of whom had never visited LA—would ask, “Does your family live in the city, or outside of it?” Her answer, she says, was always long — really long — and of eye-glazing complexity.
Anyone who has raised kids in the middle-class neighborhoods of multipolar LA might chuckle at the thought of trying to define urban or suburban. read more »
To read the popular press, one gets the impression that the collapse of the housing market is concentrated largely in the suburbs and exurbs, as people flock back to the cities in response to the mortgage crisis and high gas prices. A review of mortgage meltdown “ground zero” California indicates the picture is far more nuanced. read more »
I found myself in separate, private discussions with a couple of high-ranking city officials recently. They were pleasantly challenging exchanges, especially because both of my conversation partners displayed intellectual curiosity and willingness to consider divergent viewpoints. Those are wonderful qualities in general, and encouraging when found in individuals who have some influence on public policy. read more »
There is reason to think again about the now-current idea of dispersing the population of poor folks in the Skid Row district of downtown Los Angeles and similar precincts in other cities across the U.S.
There’s cause to pause over notions such as mixing “affordable housing” that’s priced in the range of working-class or poor folks alongside spiffy market-rate units. read more »