Thanks for your coverage of arguably the most important story in L.A. right now: the high-density-development plans being quietly implemented throughout the city, as focused on in the “Doomscraper” piece [May 2–8]. These schemes are badly thought out and shoddily executed by people who do not have to live, work and commute in the areas affected. They are plans no one wants, except the developers and the politicians. Thanks for zeroing in on pro-growther Eric Garcetti, a wolf in environmentalist’s clothing if ever there was one. As for the viability of the high-density concepts, one need look only to the ghost town erected around the North Hollywood Metro station: the football-field-size How’s Market that is perpetually empty; the half-sold condos, far too expensive for their bleak location; the alienating, uninviting vistas of concrete — greed made tangible. The Weekly has been doing solid — indeed, solitary, for it is hard to find coverage of these issues anywhere else — service in its continuing coverage of the stealth-development plans being rammed through with no consultation of the people they affect most. Also, belated thanks for your coverage of the illegal billboards that pollute our skyline.
I am disappointed that L.A. Weekly portrayed City Council President Eric Garcetti in completely negative terms. Although [reporter Patrick Range] McDonald pointed out some very critical issues around land use in Los Angeles, his article was so extremely one-sided that his arguments appear biased as well as unbalanced.
Is Councilman Garcetti at fault because Mr. McDonald couldn’t find more people who oppose this project? It would seem, according to those quoted in the article, that many people support it. Every community has varying levels of participation based on readily available information and a choice to engage in a particular issue. Projects of this magnitude usually take years before breaking ground, and during that entitlement process there are many opportunities for the community to voice their support or organize their outrage. So it’s not helpful to perpetuate the myth that this is a done deal when it clearly is not. At this point, the proposal for a 40-story skyscraper is just that: a proposal.
Development proposals come and go all the time, as they have in my community and throughout the city. It’s been my experience with Councilman Garcetti and his staff that they send developers to interact directly with the community. Time and again, they have facilitated the involvement of community members, supporters and critics alike, in the decision-making process that affects my neighborhood. The results of their policy to engage the community at the beginning of the process have produced a broader consensus of support for those proposed developments.
Columbia Square and the questions of density and height are more examples of the tension our city will continue to face as we demand more housing in a region where open, developable land is all but gone. This debate must be had. But we should avoid oversimplifying the issue by framing it as a fight between prodevelopment and antidevelopment forces, as some sources in the “Doomscraper” story suggest. The truth is that we need more housing, and building it requires a delicate give and take.
City Council President Garcetti should be lauded for not abandoning smart-growth principles and for not abdicating his responsibility for the current and future housing needs of Angelenos — as evidenced by his record of supporting development that can be sustainable near transportation corridors and his championing of the city’s housing trust fund. Now he should be allowed to do his job and work with the community and all parties involved, to mitigate negative impacts, extract fair concessions and ensure that whatever project emerges is worthy of a true Hollywood renaissance.
“Nikki Finke Is a Badass” ... and Other Judgmental Comments
It’s the season for journalism awards, and over the past two weeks L.A. Weekly has emerged with a significant number of fresh honors in four different contests.
In the AltWeekly Awards, jointly administered by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, L.A. Weekly came away with more finalists than any other paper in the country (placement of winners will be announced next month at the AAN national convention). Our finalists are David Zahniser, for Long-Form News Story (“The End of Murder”); Scott Foundas for Arts Criticism (various movie reviews); Nikki Finke for Media Reporting/Criticism (her Deadline Hollywood column) and Blog (Deadline Hollywood Daily); Jeffrey Anderson for Investigative Reporting (“The Town the Law Forgot” and follow-up stories) and Short-Form News Story (various pieces); the entire staff for Website and Special Section (“L.A. People 2007”); and, in the Cartoon category, Max Kornell (Los Angelopolis) and Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish).
In the Best of the West contest, administered by First Amendment Funding Inc., Nikki Finke won first place for Special Topic Column Writing. The line to remember from the judge’s comments — soon to be on a T-shirt near you: “Nikki Finke is a badass. Period.” Tim Foley, also won first place for Illustration (cover art for “The Case of the Dogged Detective”). David Zahniser won second place for Growth and Development Reporting (“What’s Smart About Smart Growth?”); in the Immigration and Minority Affairs Reporting Category, Christine Pelisek won second for “What Really Happened at Fire Station 5?” and Matthew Fleischer won third place for “Watani’s Legacy.”
From the Western Publications Association, L.A. Weekly won three “Maggie” awards, including Best Consumer Tabloid for the entire Sept. 7, 2007 issue with Jodie Foster on the cover. Best News Story/Consumer went to David Zahniser for “The End of Murder” and Best Fiction/Trade & Consumer was won by Etgar Keret for his short story “100 Percent.” In addition, the Weekly had several finalists in the contest: Sandi Tan (“Thwack”), Stephan Clark (“Topsy the Elephant”) and Katherine Karlin (“The Good Word”) for Best Fiction; Christine Buckley for Best Feature Article (“From Hunter to Hunted”); Jeffrey Anderson for Best Series of Articles (“The Town the Law Forgot”) and the 2007 People issue for Special Theme Issue.
Finally, the L.A. Press Club announced its finalists this week: Nikki Finke is up for Entertainment Journalist of the Year, Entertainment Hard News and Online Entertainment News/Feature/Commentary as well as Entertainment Reviews/Criticism/Column. Also up for Entertainment Reviews/Criticism/Column are Scott Foundas for his film criticism and Jonathan Gold for his restaurant reviews. Four writers are nominated in the News Feature category: Christine Buckley (“From Hunter to Hunted”), Matthew Fleischer (“Children of the Revolutionary”), Peter Landesman (“Nine Miles and Spreading”) and Christine Pelisek (“Flying High With the Vicious Ladies”). In the Signed Commentary category are Marc Cooper (Dissonance column, “East Versus West”) and Jervey Tervalon (“The Slow Death of a Chocolate City”); Cooper is also a finalist in the Columnist category. Daniel Hernandez (“The Art Outlaws of East L.A.”) and Judith Lewis (“Chaos Control” and “The Way He Lives Now”) are up for Entertainment Feature. Other nominations: Ross Johnson in the Business category (“Wendy’s Posse”), Jeffrey Anderson for Sports (“The Boras Factor”), Libby Molyneaux for Headlines (“A Scary Home Companion”); Ryan Ward for Design (“Jonathan Gold’s 99 Essential L.A. Restaurants”); Dwayne Booth for Editorial Cartoon. The staff of the Weekly is up for three awards: two in the Special Section category (“L.A. People 2007” and “Best of L.A. 2007”) and one in the Investigative/Series category for gang coverage.
In last week’s “L.A. People” Issue, the start date for Elsa Longhauser’s directorship of the Santa Monica Museum of Art was listed incorrectly. She assumed the position in 2000. In the same issue, regarding Helen Stickler’s profile, her episodes of Smash Lab aired on Discovery Channel. And Rena Kosnett’s byline was omitted from her profile of Danny DeVito.
In the May 2-8 issue, Gene Aguilera’s name was misspelled in the article “Throwing a Hook (and Chorus).”