February 28, 2009

LA and California- Teetering on the Edge

I am a rare breed, a native Angeleno. Born and bred in the City of Angels I am none too pleased to read stories like Death of the California Dream and The Decline of Los Angeles.

It is not because I am fiercely protective of home, I am. But because it is bad for my friends and family and I'd argue bad for America.

I suppose that after making such a statement I should spend some time elucidating why this is so. And in truth I had every intention of doing so but I find myself struggling to do so. It is not that I cannot provide the support, I just don't have the inclination. I find myself fighting through a bit of a funk and the analysis portion of the evening is suffering.

So let's compromise and I'll do my best to give it a shot. We'll work backwards and spend a few minutes talking about Los Angeles. In spite of the stereotypes about here, there is much more than Hollywood and a million plastic surgeons.

People may claim that LA lacks culture but the reality is different. There are museums, there are theaters, there is a symphony and a gallimaufry of restaurants to choose from. And of course there is the proximity to the beach, the mountains and the desert.

The end result is that the city has some amazing things to offer and I feel privileged to have partaken of so many different things.

Kotkin is correct that a dysfunctional city government has made it very tough for businesses to survive here to our detriment. It is not an impossible situation. It is not something that we cannot recover from, but some it is going to take some doing.

And part of that doing has to do with what happens in Sacramento. The governor be it Arnold or whomever has to find a way along with the legislature to stop the bleeding. The exodus of business from the Golden State is a symptom of the disease.

In addition to devising a viable solution to the business issue the state needs to reaffirm its commitment to education. As a public school graduate I was part of a school system that was considered to be among the best in the nation. That is not the case now.

These are not insurmountable challenges, but they are formidable ones. My recipe for success is simple. What I want to see is:
  • Stop existing businesses from leaving the state.
  • Encourage entrepreneurs to start the next Google here in California.
  • Provide affordable housing near outstanding public schools.

The bigger question is how to make all these things happen. We have the raw tools and resources to fix things, I wonder if we'll do it.


therapydoc said...

The survivors (Holocaust) in my hood are all acting like, "What? This is a problem?" They predict it will take a couple of years, but it's all going to be okay. Even in California. ESPECIALLY in CA.

Jack said...

I expect that we'll get through it and turn it around. I really do. The question in my mind is not how will it happen, but how long will it take and at what cost.

Ben-Yehudah said...


I like LA. I don't love it, but I like it. It gets a bad rap.

I lived there from 83-87 and then again from 96-97.

When I moved to the SF Bay Area for grad. school, I heard nasty things about LA all the time. The only thing which saved me from wrath and discrimination was that I was from San Diego.

Most of those despising LA had never even visited. Go figure.

Jack said...

Most of those despising LA had never even visited. Go figure.

So very true.