A Wasteland Better than the Alternative.
I have always thought that Laurel Plaza, near the corner of Laurel Canyon and Victory, to be the most dismal, lost, empty, ugly, banal, indifferent, alienating urban-suburban hell.
The intersection is a busy area in the middle of nowhere. Jam-packed with traffic, it offers nothing more to the eye than hundreds of acres of asphalt. Drivers are speeding from one urban slum to the next: Sun Valley to Van Nuys. This is their pass through, the fly-over country of the San Fernando Valley.
There is nothing good to eat here. The stores are abominable: Sears, Firestone, Bank of America. The lowest of the low.
It bakes in the summer and dusty winds blow through here in the winter.
The most memorable event here was the 1997 bank shoot out with those assault-weapon carrying Michelin men.
The movie theaters offer sticky floors and patrons who talk throughout the film. Bad furniture stores and mattress shops are barely in business.
So why is it so important to “redevelop” this god-awful environment? South of Victory, a few survivors from the hopeful Eisenhower era endure…..
The only aesthetic pleasure offered to the eye is the archeological, architectural trip down memory lane to the middle of the last century.
A few rectangular storefronts still stand amidst the cracked and underused parking lots. They are modest in their ambition, plain-spoken places with peeling signs.
They are sitting on death-row, waiting for some half-billion dollar redevelopment that will replace them with Best Buy, Lowe’s, or something else which is big today and out-of- business tomorrow.
Developers and big city government are always promising something new, but it is the same old story. They build ‘em big, reel in the bucks, and then the decay begins.
How wonderful it would be to see this whole mess bulldozed and restored to an orange grove, or maybe acres of walnuts. Imagine if the whole shopping plaza were gone? Who would miss it? Back in a natural state it would provide a desperately needed park for the teeming, crowded, immigrant-packed district.
But you can bet that someone wants to build offices or condos or big box stores here. Because right now, the people who live here have to travel 15 minutes to Burbank or Sherman Oaks to buy a plasma screen TV and that isn’t fair.
A wasteland is sometimes better than the alternative.