Los Angeles

The Urban Bike Tribes of Los Angeles

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A recent Los Angeles Times article chronicled a showdown between drivers and bicyclists, inspired by the installation of bike lanes and — more significantly — the reduction of auto traffic lanes on a San Fernando Valley boulevard. The change was clearly intended to encourage cyclists, but I had to wonder: Which ones? In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, even the bike riders are divided, loosely, into different tribes.  read more »

Decade of the Telecommute

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The rise in telecommuting is the unmistakable message of the just released 2009 American Community Survey data. The technical term is working at home, however the strong growth in this market is likely driven by telecommuting, as people use information technology and communications technology to perform jobs that used to require being in the office.  read more »

California’s New Grassroots Movement: High-Speed Rail on the Peninsula

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In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 1A to allocate $9.95 billion of the state’s money to a high-speed rail system. Just two years later, many of these same voters are yelling and screaming at the High-Speed Rail Authority to revise their plans. Why have Californians turned against this project so quickly?  read more »

California's Failed Statesmen

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The good news? Like most rock or movie stars, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with California. It's still talented, and retains great physical gifts. Our climate, fertility and location remain without parallel. The state remains pre-eminent in a host of critical fields from agriculture to technology, entertainment to Pacific Rim trade.  read more »

Suburbia Evolved: Glendale Then and Now

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The classic picture of suburbia is that of white picket fences, the family Chevy in the driveway, and Mom in an apron beckoning her children to abandon the baseball and glove for a home-cooked dinner. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this picture, per se. Nothing wrong except for the fact that it is now becoming more of the exception than the rule among American suburban communities, memorialized best in cultural artifacts like reruns of "Leave It to Beaver."  read more »

Time to Hate Those HOAs (again).

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The foreclosure crisis has been devastating for millions of Americans, but it has also impacted many still working as before and holding on to their homes. Even a couple of empty dwellings on a street can very quickly deteriorate and become a negative presence in the neighborhood, at the least driving down prices further, sometimes attracting crime. Untended pools can allow pests to breed. Many animals have been abandoned and shelters report overflowing traffic.  read more »

A Pill For Los Angeles? Medicating the Megacities

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Los Angeles — and other modern megacities — conjure increasingly unique genetic profiles that point the way to a new medical industry: Call it urbo-pharmaceuticals. Investors are needed.

Is there a pill that might inoculate us from smog?
Is there a gene we can target that would make us resistant to resurgent infectious diseases?
And is there a way to use genetic data to insulate new immigrants from some of the metabolic challenges of living in a new land of plenty?

Welcome to the slowly emerging world of environmental medicine and its inevitable outgrowth, environmental pharmaceuticals: compounds specifically suited for mitigating the physiological challenges of mega-city life in the 21st century.  read more »

Mass Transit: The Great Train Robbery

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Last month promoters of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Los Angeles rail projects, both past and future, held a party to celebrate their "success." Although this may well have been justified for transit-builders and urban land speculators, there may be far less call for celebration among L.A.'s beleaguered commuters.

Despite promises that the $8 billion invested in rail lines over the past two decades would lessen L.A.'s traffic congestion and reshape how Angelenos get to work, the sad reality is that there has been no increase in MTA transit ridership since before the rail expansion began in 1985.  read more »

The Decline and Revival of an American Suburb

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In 1952, a white Protestant couple from Pasadena, California along with their newly born first child, moved 22 miles east to a small town called Covina. There, among acres of open space and endless rows of orange, lemon, and avocado trees, the young family was able to purchase a plot of land and build a brand-new home with swimming pool for a total of $20,000.  read more »

Stagnation in the City of Angels: Whatever Happened to Ideas?

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It’s only been a couple of years since a red-hot real estate market had our city riding high. The market turned out to be a bubble, of course, and it eventually burst. Gone is the giddiness that comes when folks convince themselves that real estate or high tech stocks or any other trend or commodity can defy gravity and continue upward forever.

Yet giddiness isn’t the only thing that’s been lost. Ideas have disappeared from the political landscape of Los Angeles.  read more »