The Expo Line extension to the sea opened on Friday, to much fanfare. Yes, it is slow, yet it did feel like a watershed moment for car-dominant Los Angeles, and lots of people were excited for what seemed like the dawn of a new era.
But not everyone was so pleased. Freelance writer Alexandra Cheney penned an essay for the website Thrillist L.A. titled "Unpopular Opinion: The Subway to Samo Is a Bad Idea." (Note: The Expo Line is very much not a subway.)
Cheney's central argument is that the Expo Line will bring to Santa Monica certain undesirables, who will unleash untold amounts of crime on the "semi-private quiet beachside hamlet" (actual quote):
There's no question that this new train is going to be bringing new people to Santa Monica — and that raises the possibility of crime, accidents and the pitfalls of mass amounts of tourists with access to a part of the city that was at least geographically difficult to access before.
It's hard to know where to begin — perhaps with the fact that Santa Monica has long been served by multiple bus lines, not to mention streets and a giant freeway, making the city the very opposite of "geographically difficult to access." (This is Santa Monica, not some mountain fortress in Game of Thrones.)
She goes on to write:
That's a lot of people from a lot of places who didn't previously have easy access to Santa Monica. And that makes the “what if” possibilities that much more frightening.
Oh my. Just ... oh my.
The Donald Trump–esque suggestion is that people who aren't from Santa Monica will inevitably prey upon Santa Monicans, because those outsiders are poor and uncivilized.
Cheney quotes a South Pasadena police officer who says "several alleged criminals" once used the Gold Line to make their getaway. She also writes that Santa Monica Police Department spokesman Saul Rodriguez told her (and she's summarizing him here):
[T]he two crimes police are most expecting to increase are bike and car burglaries, followed by a rise in traditional traffic accidents as well as train-to-car accidents.
We reached out to Rodriguez; he says the essay misinterpreted him.
"I said we have no idea what to expect at this point," Rodriguez says. "At no point did I ever say we can attribute an increase in crime to the train." He adds: "Most cities are experiencing an increase in property crime."
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Anyway. Shortly after the essay got posted, in the morning, Cheney started getting excoriated on Twitter.
Congratulations @alexandracheney for living in fear, and spreading xenophobic misinformation to anyone within an ear shot.— Mauricio Chavez (@MauricioAChavez) May 24, 2016
A few hours after the post went up, it was taken down, without comment or explanation (you can find a cached version here). Thrillist has yet to get back to us about all this. Same with Cheney.