Create more bike lanes, make the streets safer, fix potholes, and oh, by the way, reduce poverty were the top recommendations from Southern California Public Radio listeners when asked what issues they wanted Eric Garcetti to tackle during his first term as Mayor of Los Angeles back in 2013.
Other recommendations on issues listed among the Top 7 by KPCC in its #DearMayor initiative included, lower the cost of parking tickets, preserve the entertainment industry in L.A., keep Metro’s expansion on track, and don’t cut the arts programs in schools.
But what if what is broken or needs fixing in Los Angeles goes beyond basic infrastructure issues? The answer to the following question may be obvious, but can a mayor really fix this city?
Is it at all possible for a government official to address even more serious problems that seem to permeate this town?
In his post, Homage To LA, City Of Broken Dreams, poet and author Boris Glikman, writes:
The smell hits you as soon as you step out of the air-conditioned airport. You feel the residue, the fallout of broken dreams hitting your palate. The charred remains of incinerated hopes mix with the omnipresent smog and invade every pore of your being…
…Every delusion gets hunted down and taken care of in this town: the delusion that one is special and unique; the delusion that one has singular and extraordinary talents; the delusion that one is in possession of insights into life that the rest of the world lacks and that one is privy to truths that no one else can access; the delusion that one is destined for greatness; the delusion that one is a genius whom the world doesn’t appreciate; the delusion that one will find a soul mate meant just for them and whose love will save them…
…the delusion that a lucky break will come to you in the end; the delusion that somewhere some person, angel or god is working on your behalf, trying to help you with your journey through life and is looking after you; the delusion that one is protected by fate and special luck from bad things happening to them; the delusion that there will come a day when one will begin to live happily ever after; the delusion that one will find meaning in one’s tribulations and that one’s struggles will be justified in retrospect; the delusion that it all will turn out well in the future…
You may want to read more of Glikman’s homage, but it’s pretty depressing, isn’t it?
So, what can we make of L.A.? We know it was once a “promised land” of sorts for all sorts of people. And we know a lot of promises have not been delivered.
Issues in Los Angeles are not just about bike paths and celebrity stars, either. Issues that should take priority are an elevated homeless population, an alarming violent crime rate, loneliness in a mobile, commuter town that’s wider than any canyon, a hub for sex trafficking, a haven for the addicted, and a depot for the discontent — see L.A. Riots, Occupy Wall Street/City Hall, Trump Protests, and protests in general of all varieties.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the city is home to 45,000 gang members, organized into 450 gangs. Among them are the Crips and Bloods, which are both African American street gangs that originated in the South Los Angeles region, as stated in Wikipedia. Latino street gangs such as the Sureños, a Mexican American street gang, and Mara Salvatrucha, which has mainly members of Salvadoran descent, all originated in Los Angeles. This has led to the city being referred to as the “Gang Capital of America.”
With a census-estimated 2017 population of 4,042,000, it is the second-most populous city in the United States (after New York City) and the most populous city in the state of California, also as stated in Wikipedia. It is home to people from more than 140 countries speaking 224 different identified languages. Ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Tehrangeles, Little Tokyo, Little Bangladesh and Thai Town provide examples of the polyglot character of Los Angeles.
Challenges abound. All of us, together, need to ask and discuss…
Is there hope for Los Angeles?
In many cases, L.A. is still an amazing place where people do incredible things, including service for others. However, with a critical eye, it’s easy to see that many parts are broken. I’ve named a few social issues already.
Together LA has made an effort to tell the stories of hope for the city, first, in hosting a conference a couple years ago, and secondly, on TogetherLA.net, since the new website’s start in February.
Next, we will try answering the question of whether there is hope for L.A. by way of a panel discussion with the theme you may have sensed already while reading this article — Broken City – Is there hope for Los Angeles?
The panel is scheduled to take place at Metropolis in Santa Monica on Philosopher’s Cafe night on June 15 at 7:30 pm. Pastor Steve Snook of Metro Church will moderate the panel that will include urban leaders talking about the tough issues and the possible solutions. The event is free and everyone is invited.
Let’s continue the discussion!
UPDATE: Since the publication of the article above, the 4-part series on the panel discussion and videotaped comments from the pastors has been published at TLA. The series links are below.