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Future Shock 

Thursday, Jan 20 2011
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Our website comment section lit up last week after Steven Leigh Morris — surely the Earth's only combo theater critic and growth-and-development specialist — wrote about the city's attempt to quietly push through a major planning change ("L.A.'s Church of Our Holy Density," Jan. 14). In the name of updating its zoning code, Los Angeles is on the verge of overriding community plans across the city by carving out "overlay" neighborhoods in which city employees can approve — by decree and without a hearing or Environmental Impact Report — residential and commercial projects of far greater density than now allowed.

Commenters are of two minds. Some think opponents of the code revisions fail to recognize that Los Angeles will continue to grow and must prepare for higher density. Others see the revisions as a power grab by the city and developers that mostly cuts the public out of the process.

Reader Rick Abrams writes: "These zoning changes have one goal — to hasten the mega-densification of Los Angeles. Council President Eric Garcetti's and Councilman Tom LaBonge's New Hollywood Community Plan calls it Vertificalization. The Prop. X — Inventing the Next L.A., to which the article referred, called 'yards' a waste. They wanted apartments in people's backyards. They also proposed building Public Housing Projects over all the wide medians along various L.A. streets. They see this green space as waste.

"Prop. X — Inventing the Next L.A. requires destroying the old L.A. — that means destroying paradise. These zoning codes, the new Hollywood Community Plan, Prop. X — Inventing the Next L.A., the TODS, all have one goal — destruction of Los Angeles and our homes, our personal paradises — so that mega-conglomerates and their Wall Street backers like Goldman Sachs can make literally trillions of dollars off our destruction."

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Commenter Ray S has a broader view: "It sounds like more than anything, (a) the city charter needs to be changed to take the Planning Commission appointments out of the Mayor's Office, and (b) we need a citywide referendum prohibiting overrides to community plans.

"And while we may not be able to limit the amount of $$$ developers can contribute to City Council members for their election campaigns, we can certainly force the full and prominent disclosure of those contributions anytime said council members vote on any city business benefiting those contributors."

Reader Christopher Eaton is on the other side of the debate. "Low-density advocates are almost always living in the past or are on the extreme left or right. ... On the left they are anti-development, on the right anti–Community Redevelopment Agency/no-public-subsidy types. All generally obstructionists and never visionary about much."

And Will Wright writes: "Every Angeleno I've ever spoken with values protecting our vibrant districts of single-family homes. We are committed to protecting these neighborhoods, especially since they form the backbone of our legacy. Single-family residential will not be converted (or lost).

"We must evolve our behavior as citizens and we must evolve our land-use decisions if we wish to remain economically and environmentally sustainable. If you are against the idea of increasing density in select areas, you might as well be driving a bright-yellow Hummer with a hole in its gas tank.

"Making our zoning code more efficient and transparent will save time, money, energy and resources and will allow for greater clarity. If you're against that — then you're either against mother nature and apple pie, or you have a trick up your sleeve and you can't be trusted."

Wright also says the Weekly has become "a right-wing, reactionary, anti-environmental National Review–type rag. It's misanthropic and deceptive."

Misanthropic? Us? But we love humans. Haven't you seen our adult ads?

HOME, BEAT HOME

Our story about the plight of a Hacienda Heights homeowner facing foreclosure elicited many comments from homeowners with similar stories ("Loan Mod Hell in Hacienda Heights," by Martin Berg, Jan. 14). The story reported JPMorgan Chase implied to the homeowner that if he stopped making payments, the bank would start considering his request for a loan modification. The homeowner indeed stopped making payments, and the bank, after considering his situation, started foreclosure.

This comment from "MD" sums up the situation: "Say you got a loan that was fixed for five years and after five years it would 'reset,' meaning the terms are now adjustable. You had put a 20 percent down payment so you figure no matter what, you will have equity. But then the market crashed in historic proportions.

"You can afford your house in current terms but want to lock your rates in before the 'reset.' Too bad. The banks will not work with you. They will let the loan reset, which will likely lead to the house being unaffordable and eventual foreclosure.

"Why? My loan was with Countrywide, then sold to BofA for pennies on the dollar. So if they foreclose, they will make a profit on the resale because they have equity on the loan. Then FDIC insurance will also cut the bank a check. Many of us are not irresponsible homeowners. We are stuck with ruthless banks who profit from our demise."

MIND THE GAP

Gene Maddaus' story about the city's proposal to sell its parking garages to help close the budget gap ("City Council Fears Driver Backlash," Jan. 14) brings this response from Ronwall: "Let's break this down. You are underwater on your house, you lost your job, your [credit cards] are maxed out, you need food. You decided to sell your oven for $300 — a one-time cash infusion. No financial adviser would agree that this is a good idea."

WRITE TO US

Send letters to Comment, L.A. Weekly, 3861 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Or you can reach us at laweekly.com. Full name and contact information preferred.

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