City Watch: LA Has Become the LA of Bladerunner

GUEST COMMENTARY – Hello Mayor Bass.

Congratulations on keeping your promise — it looks like you’ve made an impressive dent in the homeless problem in Los Angeles. But let’s not rest on our laurels. There’s a lot of other problems in this city that need attention:

Crime: We need more police on the streets, not less. But the quality of those officers needs to be improved — they need to be better educated, have betters training in their relations with citizens and, maybe, to use a “knee-jerk” term, need sensitivity training. More, better cops!

Ad pollution: There are so many electronic ads on buildings, billboards and vehicle that I don’t know how drivers can keep their eyes on the road. And now bus shelters will be hosting moving, electronic ads. LA has become the LA of “Blade Runner.” There’s just too many ads floating around our cityscape and they need to be more strictly regulated.

Traffic congestion: There’s just too many cars on our city streets and mass public transit is just not working to alleviate the problem. In March 2021 the city implemented an automated traffic control system to control the city’s (then) 4,400 traffic lights to facilitate traffic flow. It doesn’t work. We need more traffic control officers to monitor busy intersection to prevent cars from getting stuck in the middle of intersections, blocking traffic flow (and setting off a chain reaction of congestion on other streets). The DO NOT BLOCK INTERSECTION signs do not work.

Dirty streets: LA street cleaning (both streets and sidewalks) needs to be improved. Though streets are supposed to be cleaned on a biweekly basis, that’s just not happening. COVID is over and there’s no reason that the city can’t keep itself clean. Hire more workers.

Potholes and street damage: LA has some of the worst streets in the country and despite the promises of our last two mayors, improvement has been marginal. Whenever there is new construction, new pipes and conduits are laid under the streets; asphalt is damaged by big trucks and construction vehicles. Unfortunately, the streets are never returned to their original condition. For example, at the intersection of Wilcox and Willoughby Ave., severe damage to the streets was caused by new apartment construction in early 2019. Despite many complaints to the Bureau of Street Services, the damage remains to this day. Other potholes and street damage arise from the everyday movement of thousands of vehicles over our streets, and are to be expected. But you would expect that they would be repaired in a timely fashion. Not so.

And the recent rains have opened up hundreds of new potholes citywide — according to a recent report by LAIST, “the weather prompted a lot more pothole reports. Between Feb. 22 and March 1, people called in 1,362 potholes in the city of L.A. That’s roughly 194 reports a day — a big leap from the storms in December and January. Back then, even the 133 reports a day knocked out the 30-a-day average that the BSS has had in the past.”

But, for some reason, the BSS sometimes can’t get things right. For the last seven years, I have complained about the horrible condition of the pavement in front of the Mosaic Church at 7107 Hollywood Blvd., just west of La Brea. This is a busy intersection as people come onto La Brea south from Franklin and then turn West on Hollywood Blvd. Right there, in front of the church, there’s rough and broken pavement, crocodile cracking and even small sinkholes. Recently the rains have made things worse, adding potholes to the menu. I filed a BSS Service request recently and this is the response I got on March 7: “Status: Closed. Appears safe at time of inspection. REPAIRS IN PLACE AT TIME OF INSPECTION.”

Oops. On March 8 I drove over that stretch of road and nothing was done — my car lurched back and forth like a ship in a storm. Yes, the rain has wreaked havoc with our streets, but here’s a stretch of road that has been in disrepair for years. (As of March 16, the BSS has filled some of the holes with asphalt but the road there is still horrible. I can only hope that a proper street repair will be undertaken after the rains end. But I’m not holding my breath). I can only imagine the state of disrepair throughout other busy intersections in the city. By the way, BSS, you need to update your website: there’s still references to ex-Mayor Garcetti.

Rent Control: It’s about time that LA’s s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) be applied to all rental units in the city, not just to rental properties that were first built on or before October 1, 1978. Given the economic effects of COVID and incessant inflation, working people who are renters need better protection — especially as older units are knocked down to make way for “upscale” rentals.

LA’s educational system: a topic for another day.

Well, Mayor Bass, I hope your next 100 days will see you working on some other of our city’s problems.

Sincerely yours,

Harley Lond