Tag Archives: Urban Theory

Sarah Besley, Urban Planning, Freeway Overpasses, Moral Panics, Confirmation Bias, Idées Fixes, and Sitcom Nazis in Hollywood

Pollyanna and her cynical, unhappy mirror self encouraging their own cognitive bias by gazing into reflections rather than the world around them
Pollyanna and her cynical mirror image encouraging their own cognitive biases by gazing only at reflections rather than seeing the actual world around them
Pollyanna, the most famous optimist in American literature, is known and celebrated as the originator and primary evangelist of “the just being glad game.” Listen, O citizens of Hollywood, as she explains it to Nancy:1

“Why, it’s a game. Father told it to me, and it’s lovely. We’ve played it always, ever since I was a little, little girl…the game was just to find something about everything to be glad about—no matter what ’twas.”2

Now, Pollyanna gets a bad rap these days, but she’s our hero, really. We haven’t the space to defend her, though, because we have to analyze a May 2014 blog post by Sarah Besley, evidently the Associate Executive Directrix of the Hollywood Property Owners Association and stuff.

Check it! Sarah Besley is scared of freeway overpasses:

In Los Feliz, even the goddamned overpasses are cute, cute, cute!
In Los Feliz, even the goddamned overpasses are cute, cute, cute!

[An overpass] may be one of the worst statements EVER to anyone who visits and certainly to anyone who lives in or around it – especially if their community has been severed in half. An overpass literally says: this community favors cars over people and I dare you to walk underneath me and emerge on the other side alive. This is the message I’ve been getting for the past couple years as I commute from Los Feliz, along Franklin Avenue, down Argyle…3

But wait! Maybe Los Felizites are scared of freeway overpasses because they don’t have any there?4 The terror of the unknown is formidable and possibly overwhelms slurbians when they come to the big town.5 Hollywoodies, living in raw urban splendor in the very heart of the city, surely just take them in stride, don’t they? The answer would appear to be yes, even on Sarah Besley’s testimony:

I’ve started noticing the unexpected number of pedestrians walking from the hills north of Franklin into downtown Hollywood with their yoga mats, shopping bags, or strollers in tow. I’m struck by the fact that people seem to walk so confidently underneath what seems to me like a very scary place.
Continue reading Sarah Besley, Urban Planning, Freeway Overpasses, Moral Panics, Confirmation Bias, Idées Fixes, and Sitcom Nazis in Hollywood

Kerry Morrison: Hollywood Businesses too Feeble to Survive Free Market Without Municipally Enforced Draconian Anticompetitive Pinko Racist Regulatory Capture

Street vendor in Manhattan destroying the prosperity of the city, laying waste to the comfort and privilege of rich white people, and generally ruining EVERYTHING!!
Street vendor in Manhattan destroying the prosperity of the city, laying waste to the comfort and privilege of rich white people, and generally ruining EVERYTHING! And now the city of Los Angeles intends to forcibly convert Hollywood into a cultural and economic wasteland like New York City by allowing such miscreants to operate with impunity on our streets. “Not on our watch,” say BIDs.
Street food is one of the signature pleasures of the great cosmopolitan cities of the world. Practically alone amongst its peers, though, Los Angeles forbids vending on its public rights of way. This is because there are really no bounds to the willingness of the economic elites of this city to prohibit anything that normal human beings enjoy if by doing so they can stick a dagger in the neck of the poor. They will certainly destroy the village in order to save it.
Hollywood BIDs destroying the city of Los Angeles in order to save it from its own misguided sense of sanity
Representative of the Hollywood BIDs metaphorically destroying the city of Los Angeles in order to save it from perceived (albeit delusionally) unintended consequences of an all-too-rare outburst of sanity with regard to its street-vending policy.

Case in point: the City Council recently began to discuss legalizing street vending in Los Angeles. Sane people everywhere rejoice at this attempt to allow civilization to flourish and also bring an estimated half-billion dollars worth of economic activity out of the shadows and onto the bottom line. There’s a hot dog in the public manger, though.

The BIDs and their minions have leapt into coordinated action! They are in a cyclonic tizzy, explaining fast and loud how the unintended consequences of the sane and harmless choice to legalize street vending will ruin everything. It will e.g. impoverish small businesses, encourage crime, cause the unauthorized commercial use of public trash cans, cause the unauthorized non-use of public trash cans, provide increased funding to criminal street gangs, encourage armed robbery, cause diseases, and even more stuff too weird to list here. Think we’re exaggerating? Read on!
Continue reading Kerry Morrison: Hollywood Businesses too Feeble to Survive Free Market Without Municipally Enforced Draconian Anticompetitive Pinko Racist Regulatory Capture

Kerry Morrison Frets About the BID’s Public Drinking Problem. We Have the Solution!

Conde Nast TagID: cncartoons029960.jpg/Photo via Conde Nast As of October 2014 the Hollywood Entertainment District BID and the Sunset-Vine BID had made over 600 arrests for drinking in public. Annualized this is over 700 arrests for 2014. By that point they’d made 945 arrests, which we’ll annualize to 1000 for ease of calculation. Thus around 70% of the arrests that BID security makes are for the simple act of drinking alcohol in public. In 2013 the Entertainment district seems to have spent about $1,600,000 on security.1

Thus we can estimate that the BIDs pay about $1,600 per arrest (about $1,120,000 per year) to arrest people for drinking in public. This is around a third of their annual budget and, of course, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The BID is really in a tizzy over this. In this issue of their newsletter you can read as Kerry Morrison frets and frets about what to do:
Continue reading Kerry Morrison Frets About the BID’s Public Drinking Problem. We Have the Solution!

Besley, Morrison: Hollywood’s Not Pleasant Cause it Ain’t Manhattan; TED-Talking Visionaries Will Fix Everything

Visionaries converging on Hollywood in order to fix EVERYTHING.
Visionaries pouring out of a Kool-Aid drenched TED talk on their way to Hollywood to fix EVERYTHING, especially stuff that ain’t broke.
At the November 11, 2014, meeting of the Central Hollywood Coalition, kommisariat of the Sunset-Vine “Baby BID,” there was some discussion of visionaries doing something or another to do with “mobility”6 in Hollywood.2 One of the visionaries mentioned was Janette Sadik-Khan,5 late of the erstwhile nouveau-Napoleonic Michael Bloomberg NYC empire, who now works for Bloomberg-the-corporation spreading Bloombergian bullshit around the world as fast as they can shovel it out and also gives TED talks.1
Kerry Morrison about 36 minutes before she pronounced Hollywood "not pleasant."
Kerry Morrison about 36 minutes before she pronounced Hollywood “not pleasant.”

Bloomberg is one of these pezzonovante self-styled “reformers” like Eli Broad who thinks that because he’s a zillionaire he understands everything. Sadik-Khan is his Charlie McCarthy.4 These people’s zombie clones brought Los Angeles, among countless other horrors, Dr. John Deasy, who finally left this city with a stake through his heart and unsettling thoughts of Mark Berndt’s cookies dancing through his jug-like head. They’re probably up in the hills right now scheming to bring Michelle Rhee in to replace the guy. Of course, this kind of the-wealthy-gonna-fix-everything Kool-Aid is irresistible to the CHC-slash-SV-BID, a group whose entire foundational principle is “rich people must be smarter cause otherwise why is they so rich?” Hence their eagerness to let Sadik-Khan explain it all to you.

Anyway, Besley’s description of what’s obviously an impending trainwreck3 moved Hollywood Property Owners Alliance Executive Director Kerry Morrison to opine thusly:
Continue reading Besley, Morrison: Hollywood’s Not Pleasant Cause it Ain’t Manhattan; TED-Talking Visionaries Will Fix Everything

Exuberance, Freedom, Commerce, Blossom in Rare DTLA BID-free Zone

The RAND corporation, imagined as the Pied Piper, plays the tune called by the one who pays, while happy imaginary children under the influence of LSD obtained from Herman Kahn
The RAND corporation, imagined by Kate Greenaway as the Pied Piper, plays the tune called by the piper-payer while happily dancing imaginary children under the influence of LSD obtained from RAND-ite Herman Kahn frolic about
Like many superfluous, quasi-criminal, quasi-public institutions, the BIDs of Los Angeles are terrified that people will notice they’re a dangerous nuisance and proceed to abolish them. One symptom of this anxiety is a craving for academic justification stronger than the craving of tweakers for meth.

So one rich guy calls another rich guy and soon enough the RAND Corporation of Santa Monica, California, mostly famous for paying cold warrior par excellence Herman Kahn to analyze potential preemptive nuclear strikes on China while under the influence of LSD,1 has prepared a report on how beneficial the existence of BIDs is to the city of Los Angeles. TL;DR: Confuse correllation with causation and the tune that was called by the piper-payer ends up played by the piper.

BID free zone on the East side of Downtown Los Angeles
BID free zone on the East side of Downtown
We decided that we were going to do some research of our own. Luckily, the existence of a small sliver of land surrounding Olympic Boulevard between Central and Stanford is not claimed by any BID and thus allows us to analyze how beneficial the nonexistence of BIDs is to the city of Los Angeles. We obtained a small private grant and set out into the field.2 We think you’ll be interested in our results.
Continue reading Exuberance, Freedom, Commerce, Blossom in Rare DTLA BID-free Zone

Frisco Dwellers don’t LA; Never Have, Never Will

If this were a college class, it'd be Rocks for Jocks
If this were a college class, it’d be Rocks for Jocks
Maybe you’ve been out of state and had some wit tell you that they hate Los Angeles “but love San Francisco.” This is a commonplace sentiment among easterners (around here, we believe that easterners start at the San Bernardino County line). Here’s an explanation: San Francisco is a tiny, transparent town. It’s easy to understand because it’s small and because it’s a self-conscious imitation of eastern cities, themselves often self-conscious imitations of European cities. It’s visually appealing in a facile way. It’s got pretty houses and the “bad” neighborhoods, such as they are, have been suppressed and relocated to the point where tourists don’t have to go there. Their local burritos are just exotic enough to thrill but not so different from Chipotle™ that they disconcert the outta-towners.

San Francisco is exactly what easterners expect from a city and the weather’s better and the executioner’s face is always well hidden. So they “get it” immediately and love it instinctively, like tourists love Denny’s because the food’s the same wherever they are. Frisco dwellers crave this universal approval, too. They’re addicted to an extent where, like junkies, they need a big dose of tourist-love-bombing daily just to feel normal. Like sex addicts, they continually need yet another piece of strange or they’ll forget they exist. For over a hundred years they’ve been letting this addiction distort their city’s culture and politics to make it even more pleasing to easterners.
Continue reading Frisco Dwellers don’t LA; Never Have, Never Will

You didn’t build that

640px-Los_Angeles_Panorama
When businessmen try to recreate Los Angeles from scratch they end up with some horrifying misbegotten travesty like CityWalk or Santa Monica. They don’t know how to make a real Los Angeles. If tourists knew how to make a place like this there’d be at least one out East of San Bernardino where tourists come from, and there’s not. Tourists don’t know how to make one either.
Continue reading You didn’t build that