Our LA: Top 10 Best (Open Space!) and Worst (Road Diets!) of 2017

In News by Ileana Wachtel

As 2017 ends, we at the Coalition to Preserve LA thank you for fighting the good fight. From the little guys trying to save the freshwater marshes at Ballona Wetlands, to the neighbors who preserve history in Hollywood, your efforts to make Los Angeles a better city inspire us all.

This year was a whirlwind of civic drama! Measure S raised critical questions about who decides what L.A. becomes. Five City Council members backed a plan (now on life support) to ban city officials from taking money from developers whose projects they decide. The Neighborhood Councils demanded a halt to closed-door, invitation-only meetings underway to hammer out the Open Space element of the city’s General Plan.

And so much more, both good and bad!

Here, then, are our Top 10 Best AND Worst of 2017:

1)  Save Coldwater Canyon’s long, grassroots effort saved a woodland in the heart of L.A. Their textbook battle shamed the posh Harvard-Westlake School, which finally agreed not to build a bizarre sports field atop an equally awful, towering parking garage. Congrats!

2)  L.A. elected officials re-upped their feverish pace, cutting backroom deals with developers from whom they take money, then letting the same developers ignore local zoning. City Council President Herb Wesson has buried proposed campaign finance reform that would halt their shameful behavior.

3)  In response to extensive protests from 35 Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils, L.A. City Planning has promised full-on Open Space public hearings in 2018. Good job, all you NCs!

4) Road diets. Word is, City Council members are “losing interest” in these hated, street-clogging, unsafe, badly designed, permanent lane closures.

5) Grandmothers in South L.A. showed City Hall how to put the “public” back in public input. Listen here as the grandmothers politely force L.A. City Planners to cancel an Open Space “public hearing” that nobody actually knew was happening. Nice work, ladies!

6) A full year after voters approved $1.2 billion for homeless housing, not one homeless unit has been built in L.A. Our leisurely City Council, Mayor and Council Committees are to blame, as the crisis worsens.

7) It not only takes a village, it takes the UN! Phil Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, called out L.A.’s leaders for viewing the homeless as criminals, which he described as “a tragic indictment of community and government policies.” Agreed!

8) City Hall’s little-known plan to chop down 30,000 of L.A.’s biggest shade trees has begun without an Environmental Impact Report. While L.A. sidewalks DO need to be repaired for the disabled, U.S. cities more advanced than L.A. manage to save the trees AND the sidewalks.

9) Major universities, fascinated that our huge taxpayer investment in Metro has failed to add a single new transit rider since 1985, are backing an unprecedented study of what is being built near the rail stops. Let’s answer why Metro is such a costly disaster. Applause!

10) Remember Los Angeles River “revitalization?” Not if the Frank Gehry-led celebration of cement, embraced by the Mayor, lives on. Our solution: Bring back the actual river revitalization plan by Mia Lehrer. Her team celebrated woods, water, birds and L.A. What a concept!

Folks, buckle your seatbelts for 2018! The Coalition is not giving in or up. And we are so very pleased to have you along for the ride.

In 2018 we will push for more transparency in city government, more equitable land-use — and the space to breathe.

We’ll alert you via email to our not-to-be missed seminars and free legal workshops.

From all of us at Coalition to Preserve LA, Happy Holidays and keep up the good fight!