When The Valley Was Resistance

Court-ordered school busing lasted two years in Los Angeles, 1978-80.  Like all busing schemes, it ended, for practical purposes, the moment the first white kid was ordered to get on a bus to a black neighborhood.    

As the repository of white students in Los Angeles, the Valley was at ground zero of resistance.  Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys) wrote Proposition 1, a state constitutional amendment prohibiting court-ordered desegregation based on residential patterns.  It passed in 1979 with 70% of the vote,  a greater showing than even Prop. 13.

That was a different Van Nuys, California.

In fairness to the parents, this macrame of red lines, each representing a bus caravan of kids driven over the hill and back, starting in kindergarten, was LA Unified’s fever dream for achieving racial integration.

Today the argument is academic. There are few white kids left to bus in LA. They live in Santa Clarita now. Or Portland. If they’re here, they’re in private schools.

1978 California was bland food and free-range kids and no seat belts and no China and no Google and cheap neglected starter homes and tacky retail to the horizon.

1978 California also had a broad middle class culturally homogenous enough to forge a consensus against the edict of a judge from Laguna Beach.

*Historical photos courtesy of Los Angeles Herald-Examiner Collection

3 thoughts on “When The Valley Was Resistance”

  1. So what’s the take-away?

    Globalization and porous borders have overwhelmed the old black/white divide in America’s gateway cities. The forty year wave of poor unskilled Latino immigration effectively ended in 2008 – in spite of endless media visions of caravans on the southern frontier. You can thank a radically lower fertility rate in Latin America that kicked in during the 1980s. Today Mexican women have about as many children as Americans and Canadians
    so there are far fewer hungry sons looking for work in El Norte.

    Now the majority of new immigrants are Asian – and statistically wealthier and better educated. You can’t walk to California from Malaysia and the poorest people can’t afford airline tickets. LA molted into a salad bar of Iranian, Korean, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, Turkish, Armenian…

    The old fair-to-middling white middle class may have moved to Santa Clarita (or more likely out of state) but the whites with money are highly concentrated along the waterfront communities.

    Today the “bussing” drama is all about where to relocate the army of homeless camps. The polyglot home owners of The Valley – a rainbow coalition of NIMBYs – are unified in their distaste for officials dumping tent cities in their neighborhood.

    1. Except, the very diversity which makes LA so delicious to live in today also makes it difficult to achieve critical mass politically on an issue like homeless remediation, even when there is high uniformity of opinion.

  2. The Sepulveda Basin Favela has recently made the local news. It stretches approximately 1.5 miles along a small riverbank just south of Burbank Boulevard and north of the 101 Freeway, then from the 405 Freeway to Havyenhurst Avenue.
    some tents are so big, they appear like warehouses. Locals frequenting the area say they’ve seen the people who live here – some in what they call “tree houses” and using titles among themselves like “mayor” and “governor” of the encampment.

    Maybe they have a Councilwoman too?

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