Driving through through Koreatown, along 6th St. in particular, one nearly expects hard hat checkpoints. The bulky new, blots out the never before considered quaint, old. Steel frames emerging, Transformer-like, from parking lots, mere cracks in the pavement.
As one of my readers noted (under Those Dangerous White Suburbs
comments), the United States has long held an anti-urban bias, freely associating the city (as opposed to the rural or suburb) with moral and social ruin (the impact of ever more intensive urbanization and immigrant tensions). This association may finally be kaput, steamrolled by the interest of builders, a full, mature generation of suburban expats, and an era of remarkable urban safety.
The 1950's status image of cookouts, huge, glistening slabs of meat, cocktails and a backyard putting green has been replaced by another developer led mirage: burghal immediacy, cosmopolita, laptops, a universe of sexy singles (albeit in office inappropriate clothing), and faux fro-yo, or what I call "cutsie commerce".
On cue, Los Angeles transformers herself from a collection of villages, from a pioneering city of neighborhoods, arguably the
20th century model, into the next overstuffed Gotham.
Money is the answer. The question being why promote new housing, so much new housing, as a social necessity? There's plenty of housing after all--cheap housing, in Detroit, St. Louis, and Baltimore (to name very few). While the employment market in those places may be less stout, and perhaps that's the role government should play (better incentivized federal enterprise zones, like the sort in the Gulf), in some places there aren't the jobs because there aren't the people.
This isn't Nimby-esqe gatekeeping, rather a question of asset management. Is Los Angeles losing herself, her essence, to subsidize the growth machine? Hoarding the financial frankfurter while Flint, Gary, and Buffalo starve?
The unimpinged, free flowing Los Angeles of Woody Allen's Annie Hall has been replaced, perhaps to the Manhattan mahatma's chagrin, by the new strata. Super-sized buildings and developments, schools, malls, single family dwellings, swell to fill available land and air space. Citizenry and the political elite brainwashedly champion the cause, and the steady accretion of downtown continues as convergent boundaries overwhelm. Neighborhood groups meet, fret, and hand-wring, hoping to install developer resistant measures, fingers in dykes.
Labels: The Modern World