Matt Jalbert writes:
“I recently spent a short time in “NoHo,” aka North Hollywood (around Lankershim and Magnolia) where I was reminded of how utterly hopeless the sprawling project of Los Angeles is. There, in a “neighborhood” marketed to a new round of real estate suckers as an “arts district,” my overriding sense was of endless pavement, aggressive drivers, frightened and forlorn pedestrians, mostly lousy food choices, and a huge oversupply of commercial space. The same holds true for much of the San Fernando Valley.
Whatever promises were made to the American middle class by the developers of such living arrangements have been proven to be outright frauds. The L.A. pattern of car-centric living, especially in the post-WWII San Fernando Valley, is a cancer on society, evident on most of the citizenry, even some of those who profit from this arrangement.
North Hollywood in 2010 is yet another example of the failure of automobile-suburbs to result in healthy communities. Unfortunately, a few pretty buildings do not save this area, like the rest of the San Fernando Valley, from the toxic arrangements of streets designed for one mode only: vast flows of automobiles. That these areas are only a few generations old, yet are well advanced in their decay and social dysfunction, is all the proof any of us should need to recognize that the great experiment has failed and it’s time to make other arrangements now.
My sense is that people are starting to wake up to the lie they’ve been fed through the mass media — the lie that their car would set them free. (Stimulated by endless AM radio advertisements for leased Mercedes that would somehow make driving more bearable?)
Drivers are frustrated and angry, because no matter how rich they are, no matter how fat their asses grow, no matter how black and shiny their car is, no matter how witty the texts they write while negotiating the racecourse that is Lankershim Boulevard — they are imprisoned in a mobile prison cell, living an attenuated existence where every action they take is bludgeoned on both ends by a soul-killing automobile trip.
Better to rip the whole place down and rebuild it in a smaller, denser space. Keep a few of those fine old buildings, but otherwise, start from scratch, because what’s left on the ground for us all at this moment is simply not worth keeping.
God help Los Angeles. 26 years into my California experience and I’m finally understanding just how truly awful that place has been handled by the hands of man — in the service of automobiles. “