Lyle Lanley stopped by. He has a monorail to offer us.
It’s official. Two consortiums have been hired to submit plans to LA Metro for the decades-in-discussion Sepulveda Pass Project. Numinous configurations have been proposed over the years but the finalists are:
1) A $6 billion monorail above ground from the Expo Line in West LA to the Van Nuys Amtrak station, splitting the 405, or:
2) A $10 billion heavy rail line (think NYC) running underground from UCLA to Sherman Oaks, coming up for air just south of Valley Vista, then becoming an aerial over Sepulveda Blvd.
Stranded in traffic, we are to weep in envy as it zips over our heads.
Both plans terminate at the yet-to-break ground East Valley Metro line on Van Nuys Blvd. Both hang a hard right at Raymer Street and claim to reach the Bundy Expo Line station in 20 minutes.
All that infrastructure headed right for Mr. UpintheValley’s backyard. Who knew? I would feel like a rather cunning real estate buyer if I didn’t know how long this will take.
It would be the biggest public works project in California since…High-Speed Rail from Bakersfield to Modesto. The 405 in the Sepulveda Pass is the most congested stretch of freeway in the United States. In a reasonable and rational world we would have built this instead, built it 20 years ago, or at least during the four years we spent widening the roadway, but here we are.
The Raymer Street angle fascinates me, having walked through this low rise industrial neighborhood for years: granite yards, supply houses and weed shops. The Favela sprouting at the edges. The two rail lines need to intersect somewhere and the Amtrak/Metrolink station would make it a 3-for-1. But there is no getting around the fact the train would be going to a location which for now lacks housing.
To make it pencil out, the area will have to be rezoned mixed-use residential. What am I saying? Nothing has to pencil out. We are in the uncanny valley of architectural renderings and near-futurism. Wait till the Sherman Oaks and Bel Air Homeowners associations get into the mix.
We were already an unhealthy people in March 2020. Fat, sedentary, drug taking and prone to melancholy. In 18 months we have become significantly unhealthier on direct instructions from the government. Stay home. Wear a face diaper. Live in isolation. Here’s some money, order in. Be alone. Pestilence is all about. You are the vector of pestilence. Hide your murder breath. Don’t gather in one place like the idiots of MAGA country. Are you unhappy? Here’s a pill. Live in your underwear. Keep a pair of door pants at the ready for delivery people. Don’t go to school. See your sad reflection in a Zoom grid. Stare at your face for hours every day while pretending to learn. Here’s another six months of checks. Hit the app. Have the little people bring you things. Give Silicon Valley control of your headspace. Stream everything. Pay people to talk to you to fight the sad.
93,331 overdose deaths in 2020. Three more on the floor in Venice this weekend, plus the wonderful Michael K. Williams in New York.
Since the pestilence from the Wuhan Institute of Virology reached our city, Los Angeles has handed down edicts in the name of our collective safety like a factotum from a Terry Gilliam movie. Masks. Social distancing. Disinfecting surfaces. The utility of these measures in preventing infection are marginal. Airborne coronaviruses find a way. They burn through the population in a given area in a two-month conflagration then wither for want of new hosts. New variants come along later and we repeat the process. Sweden is the best real-time experiment we have lockdowns may not significantly alter the ultimate outcome.
What would have helped us? Hardening one’s immune system. Dropping to a healthy weight. Improved lung function. Cardio. Vitamin D. Among people under 65, obesity is the greatest co-morbidity, 78% of hospitalizations.
Two words: Runyon Canyon. Get on the trail. Clear your head. Enjoy the eye candy. Stand on the ridge top like a philosopher king and contemplate the city of your youth. Turn and face the Valley of your now. Be anti-fragile. De-mask yourself and smile at your passing brethren. Give them your face so they may give you theirs and you both may carry each other home and know you are not alone.
What a headf**k it is to discover this week L.A. is doing all it can -still!- to restrain the public from walking there. Is it closed? Not exactly. The parking lot is closed. Most of the street parking on Mulholland has been taken away. The main gates are closed. There are two doors, one at the top, the other on Vista, that are left unlocked. So it’s not like you literally can’t enter but the City sure makes you feel its disapproval.
What free people would stand for this? Where did this deference to grasping bureaucrats come from?
Everyone from Fauci to power-tripping LA County Health Director and fake MD Barbara Ferrer should have been pushing vigorous immune health from the beginning. How much would that have cost? Bupkis. For lack of profit it is a solution that dare not speak its name. What would be the downside risk? There isn’t any. One can still become sick, of course, but the ability of the virus to overwhelm you is greatly diminished. You can still push vaccines. But first, build the foundation. Much can be accomplished in 18 months through incremental persistent changes in diet and exercise.
Here’s a data point for you all. Since Wuhan began, I have had over 2000 people in my car in various states of masking: correctly, incorrectly, hanging below the nose, under the chin, discarded altogether, talking, coughing, burping and laughing. I lower my mask to sip water. I chew gum. I talk to people. The odds I have not come into contact with aerosolized Wuhan particles, that my lungs have not been breached, are remote. Negligible I would argue.
I have not had so much as a sore throat. I am neither superhuman, nor exceptionally lucky. What I am is healthy (also vaxed, as of May). I spent much of the past year working outside, hiking and biking and on occasion, running. This was a choice any of us can make. I’ve been the overweight guy, prone to melancholy. That didn’t work for me.
Our solution is not a pill. Nor is it the defenestration of the CEO of Sweetgreen for daring to say the hospitalization rate of Wuhan was driven by the “underlying problem” of obesity, then abase himself in a forced apology. Nor is it wishing Joe Rogan an early death for stating on his podcast he overcame the Delta variant in three days using Ivermectin and monoclonal antibodies.
Coronaviruses are endemic. They are with us now and will be for the rest of the lives. We have flu strains floating around dating back to 1918. The real questions before us are not viral ones. They are matters of social control.
How much liberty are we going to yield to those who would prefer us fat, sedentary and compliant? America was not designed to be a bio-medical security state, but we are building one now.
What are we going to do about it? You will be put to the question, like it or not. It will find you, even when you are out riding your bike.
If we build it, they will come. If we fund it, they will stay. If we tell them there shall be no rules about flammables, there will be five encampment fires a day.
We are four decades into abatement schemes and the more money we throw at the favela, the greater the number of tents we have, the larger the encampments. We have multi-story structures now, cobbled out of scrap wood and plastic, kitted out with big screen TVs and slash pools, generators and barbecue grills. We spend a billion dollars a year now in LA County, not including police and fire, to service the unhoused. Let’s call it what it is: a business, an industry, farming people like a crop.
Ugly metaphor? Perhaps. Inaccurate? You tell me.
Here is the Raymer Street pedestrian bridge, an ADA compliant right-0f-way for students atttending Fulton Middle School. This is what 11-year-olds have to walk through twice a day. At either end people smoke crack openly, within grabbing distance of passerby. This state of nature has been in place, uninterrupted, for over a year.
Would you let you kid walk here? Probably not. This is known as adverse possession. A public conveyance now belongs to the favela, managed by Homeless, Inc., the key participants whom feed off the giant tit known as the City of Los Angeles, then go home to sleep in the neat orderly satellite cities like Glendale, where no one is allowed to camp or park overnight.
Don’t look now, but change might be brewing in Los Angeles. In July the City Council quietly altered Municipal Code 41.18 as follows:
“The ordinance prohibits sitting, sleeping, and keeping belongings within ten feet of a driveway or loading dock, within two feet of a fire hydrant, or in a way that obstruct sidewalks or right-of-ways. It also gives council members the ability to flag encampments near sensitive sites in their districts—daycares, schools, parks, libraries, freeway underpasses and on ramps—without establishing a blanket ban on camping in those places. Enforcement in those locations can’t take place until the City Council has reviewed the location and voted to approve action being taken.”
Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the ordinance, says it gives he and his counterparts the freedom to “take action as deemed appropriate” when a problematic encampment has been identified in a sensitive area.
Yay, fiefdoms! Mr. UpintheValley approves.
There are two interpretations of 41.18: it’s either A) Kabuki theater, unenforceable by design. What is the criteria for “obstruction”? If its statutory, why should each eviction require a vote? I see opportunity for the Council to masquerade as responding to public outrage while pretending their hands are tied by others.
Or B) Leverage. 41.18 has usable teeth and each council member will now have the ability to establish how much chaos will be tolerated in his/her district, and act accordingly. Nury Martinez, in theory, could turn Van Nuys into the Glendale of LA by enforcing anti-camping laws within her district. Mike Bonin can continue to hand over the beaches and parks to temporary™ housing solutions and answer to his voters. Performance discrepancies between districts will no longer be off-loaded to “systemic complexities” of the issue.
Self-responsibility is not a burden I see the council taking on willingly. So I suspect the answer was going to be A. Or would have until recently.
Now there is a wrinkle. A big one. The recall elections in District 4 and 11. Don’t know about Nithya Raman, but Bonin might be toast. I work his district every weekend and hear the loud talk of people determined to speak freely and to cast ballots in anger.
There are lots of angry homeowners in the Valley as well, but we are too busy subdividing amongst ourselves over Trump or BLM or personal grievances to organize. Besides, who would listen to us? Venice eats up all the good press.
Tellingly, the last non-machine candidate elected to the City Council was also from Venice, Ruth Galanter in 1987. Since then, the uniparty has gone approximately 120-0 in local races. With dominance comes disregard. The recalls might alter that calculus.
About thirty years ago a revolution took place in urban policing, beginning in New York. Precinct captains were required to stand in full dress before their peers and answer for the crime stats in the neighborhoods under their watch. No longer could one shrug: don’t blame me. It’s Snake Plissken country out there.
It’s time for each Councilmember to be made the sheriff of his district.
The most impactful structural changes come in under the radar. Has anything done more to increase housing supply within the zoning footprint of LA without distorting residential neighborhoods than the ADU law? It has added to the tax base, put additional equity onto homeowners balance sheets and didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.
If successful, the Recalls + 41.18 might, might, set in motion an era of accountability. What a delicious irony it would be if the first blow against the machine occurred as an expression of tribal solidarity by upscale white liberals.
*Historical photos courtesy of LA Herald-Examiner Collection