04
Mon, Mar

San Francisco Is Dying. Is LA Next?

VOICES

MARK, MY WORDS - I find it ironic whenever I read “Disaster Preparedness” emails from our LA City Council offices being that they are, in most cases, the source of LA’s disasters. From homelessness, to preventing crime prevention, to welcoming State attacks on local zoning without so much of a sigh, there seems to be no end to the damage our municipal representatives are willing to allow or directly inflict. Here are some of the examples I am referring to. I have included links along the way to provide context for each section.

HOMELESSNESS

2021: NPR LA Dedicates $1 Billion To Fight Homelessness.

“….but it continues to get worse because of housing costs.” (Referring to homelessness)

What??? So, expensive housing markets are the cause of LA homelessness? If this were the case, every affluent neighborhood in the country would be flooded with homeless people wandering the streets of those communities. It is only in cities that believe every person should by right, be able to buy a house wherever they wish and if they can’t, it is the fault of the people who can.

When I was a struggling musician, my bandmates and I never bothered looking for apartments in Beverly Hills nor did we expect to be given one. We were following a dream and were very happy to pay the price of that dream. Alcohol and recreational drugs were consumed by some but no one asked the State or the city to pay for them! Choices were made and prices were paid. Rent day would come, nevertheless. It was inevitable and one’s own responsibility, so the band pitched in and piled into whatever we could afford and were happy to do so.

2022:  NBC: Los Angeles agrees to spend $3 billion to house homeless residents.

“The money would pay for up to 16,000 beds over the next five years, while more than 41,000 people currently live on the streets.”

$3 Billion for 16,000 beds in a city with a homeless population of 41,000 (2022) and growing. That is a cost of $187,500 per person in the first five years. This does not take into account the billions more that it would cost to sustain these programs beyond the five-year proposal. Addiction services, mental health care, job training, etc. This cannot currently be accomplished without devastating LA’s lower and middle classes. And as the elephant wanders around the room trampling furniture and begging for peanuts, his name is never spoken for fear of being attacked by fanatical murder-hornets protecting their political talking points with their lives.

Honestly, we are talking about significantly more than $6 billion dollars to bandage the wound and pray for a miracle that our LA homeless will somehow beat the overwhelming odds and be able to get sober, stay sober, successfully medicate or overcome mental illness and financially support themselves long-term. The housing market is not empathetic or open to accommodating our problems, so please stop buying and selling that argument. The world is full of expensive places and cheaper ones too. When people cannot afford the expensive places, they live in the less expensive places until they can.

The world is often unfair but it is not within the right of municipal government to uplift one group by taxing another into poverty. Is there room for charity and funding for those who desperately need it? Of course. A civilized society demands it. But bankrupting a city in order to repeatedly pursue failed or untested programs should have never been and cannot ever be an acceptable option.

PREVENTING CRIME PREVENTION

2020: Los Angeles Magazine

“There are city officials embracing calls to #DefundthePolice who have accepted big donations from the Los Angeles Police Protective League...”

The day to day job of a police officer is to stop criminals from committing crimes. According to a long history, aside from vigilante justice, nothing else will, so let’s leave that job to the police and have intelligent and robust debates on the systemic causes of crime. Poverty, racism, education, incarceration …all of these are ripe for examination or reform but none of them necessitate the de-funding of, or participation by, officers responding to calls on our streets. As those calls come in, they need immediate responses with no time to philosophize about their systemic causes.

The LA City Council appears to legislate by every other means short of using common sense. The above quote highlights the hypocrisy or general lack of understanding of what police on the street do every day. At the risk of man-splaining to the city council: police arrest criminals and stop crimes in real time. Your job, as an over-paid public servant, is to make LA livable for the majority of her residents, not to fund sociological experiments with our money.

Trying to sell the public on the idea that “hugs for thugs” can replace actual law enforcement is grossly irresponsible and naive. Hoping that criminals and habitual law breakers will voluntarily stop committing crimes after being politely asked to do so is the stuff of grade school fairytales. Law enforcement is there to protect the law-abiding citizen from those who do not abide. History demonstrates, they do not go willingly.

2023: Los Angeles Times

LA Council Members Want To Give The Police Chief More Power To Fire Officers For Misconduct

“Soto-Martinez is a self-described abolitionist who has called for the eventual elimination of L.A.’s current system of policing, saying it should be replaced by services that focus on ‘the actual root causes of crime’.”

How about instead, we replace our current city council members with others who have a basic understanding of how society works? I will say this again and again; there are good cops and bad cops. If our city officials cannot find a solution that doesn’t involve throwing out perfectly good babies with the bathwater, then they are dangerously unqualified for public office.

Soto-Martinez also suggested that we replace the three civilian Board of Rights panel with two LAPD officers and one civilian. To what end? A board can be inept with three people from any background, civilian or otherwise. How about ensuring that the people on the board are objective and fair with no allegiance to the LAPD or the City rather than crafting statements that are void of substance and only good for pandering to the voting public?

TWILIGHT ZONING

2020: San Francisco Indy Bay 

...“Scott Wiener has called yards and single-family homes ‘immoral’.”

“...’fast-track’ apartment complexes that get around the environmental protection law, CEQA.”

Scott Wiener has all the makings of a single-family home serial killer. He is the dark prince of zoning abolition and he is generously supported by corporate developers and political extremists. A toxic politician hailing from San Francisco, a once shining city now dying a slow death on the hill, Wiener is unabashedly bent on the destruction of the middle and working classes fueled by what seems to be a bitter resentment of traditional California living.

Putting aside his ridiculous ideas about child autonomy of their own sexual identities and the disregard of parental rights, he is laser focused on replacing single family neighborhoods with multi-family dwellings and anything else his sycophantic developer buddies want to build. I single him out because he is the driving source of the Sacramento housing and zoning bills that are designed to replace single family housing and neighborhoods, stating that they are “immoral.”

When I researched Scott Wiener for this article, the fist eight hits were sponsored articles praising Wiener and his apocalyptic bills. Scrub much Scott? (Examples: SD11.senete.ca.gov, billtrack50.com, calmatters.org, leginfo.legislature.ca.gov, ...you get the idea)

2021: Livable California

With a goal of ending home ownership, Wiener and his minions refused to accept defeat when SB9 and 10 were voted down in flames by an outraged public. Rather, they simply renamed, rewrote and re- submitted them over and over until one passed, hidden in the bowels of a Trojan horse to be s#*$ back out again and made into law. All this while our council was busy arguing about how to de-fund the police, over fund the homeless and undercut Angelenos.

When does it end? How does it end? More riots and protests to sew division between Angelenos while fanning the flames of bureaucracy? Perhaps it ends with a resigned populace beaten down by endless political gas-lighting, having been left with no recollection of a sense of individual purpose. More and more swindled voters participating in a manufactured ceremony thinking, hoping, assuming that their misguided vote will make a difference. It’s not their fault, at least, not totally. The voter is lied to from campaign bully pulpit to ballot box with endless and useless bits of information designed to reduce them to unwilling puppets of a corporate master.

This city is not perfect. It never was or will be, but with hard work, one used to be able to carve out a little corner for oneself without a constant barrage of demagogic political chicanery. Whether there is a plan in place or simply a preponderance of morally bankrupt politicians unwilling to serve the public good, matters not to the residents of LA. Either way, we are all left holding the bag and perpetually cleaning up someone else’s mess.

(Mark Dutton is a lifelong musician, music producer, and writer. He was arguing politics with his parents since he was a pre-teen. Majored in psychology and left college in his 3rd year on a 30 year magic bus trip around the world playing and writing music with some of the best in the biz. Mark is a contributor to CityWatchLA.com.)