By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
David R. Henderson, an economist and research fellow with Stanford’s Hoover Institution, says glitzy taxpayer-subsidized projects like L.A.’s convention center and adjacent luxury hotel also start to take precedence over policies that might benefit stable neighborhoods. The “fatal flaw” comes when planners believe they “know better than people on the ground .than the rubes out there,” he says.
Today, L.A., with its litter-strewn, billboard-cluttered boulevards, its business-unfriendly reputation, its lack of green space and its congestion — even on residential streets now jammed with development — is driving out many who can vote with their feet. And the data show that L.A. excels at drawing in the poor.
“It’s not a matter of moving out to Lancaster, they’re moving out of California altogether,” Turner says of the multicultural, middle-class flight to Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle and beyond. It’s “having a huge impact on Southern California.”
Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center’s executive vice president and lead author of “Inside the Middle Class: Bad Times Hit the Good Life,” says the Valley has undergone a fundamental “compositional change in the population itself.” It is increasingly made up of generally lower-skilled Latinos who are much poorer than those moving out. More than 40 percent of Valley residents were born outside the U.S.
In Panorama City, as aeronautic and other industries fled in the 1990s to places like Texas and Georgia in search of educated workers, cheaper land and livable neighborhoods, a domino effect ensued in which highly skilled residents fled, too. Today, block upon block of apartment complexes approved by City Hall tell the story: Where apartments predominate, the poverty rate can reach about 33 percent.
Only 24 middle-class neighborhoods survive in the Valley, characterized by strong home-ownership patterns, high levels of racial diversity — and a powerful, critics say NIMBY, resistance to City Hall’s urban planners. In one Granada Hills community, 90 percent own their homes in a neighborhood that has transitioned from heavily white to about 25 percent Hispanic and more than 10 percent Asian.
Neighborhood councils in Granada Hills, West Hills, Woodland Hills and other strong pockets are vociferous critics of City Hall, which they say feeds the congestion, crushing development and poor air quality eroding neighborhoods.
Wayde Hunter, of the Granada Hills North Neighborhood Council, says Valley taxpayers have long subsidized costs for “the trash, the power, the water, all the gas, all the infrastructure that makes the damn thing run — and [City Hall] wants Staples, Grand Avenue and things like that, to make them look good.”
Woodland Hills, West Hills and Granada Hills attract home buyers who increasingly are Latino, black or Asian — including East Indians who have inspired Fallbrook Mall’s Laemmle Theatres to offer fare from Bollywood.
Joyce Pearson, chairwoman of the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council, says new and old residents take it upon themselves to strengthen the area. “Everything is watched . there is incredible participation, it’s amazing how many people shoulder the burden in Woodland Hills.”
Recently, City Hall posted higher speeds on its family-oriented streets, oblivious to the fact that, “We want to create greater community in Woodland Hills. People should want to walk, but it’s not safe to walk when everyone drives so fast.”
J.J. Popowich, whose Winnetka Neighborhood Council represents the most ethnically diverse middle-class area of the Valley, says simply, “If they don’t stabilize the middle class, the city will collapse.”