Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LA Needs a Vision that Connects


CityWatch, July 13, 2010
Vol 8 Issue 55

The City of Los Angeles is recognized as the land of promise, of opportunity, and of talented people.

LA's rich history is the stuff of legends but that promise will be squandered if we sit by and wait for the city of the past to return. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that the people of Los Angeles move forward in creating a city of the future and it starts by developing a vision that connects.

1) LA's Environment: Los Angeles was founded when forty-four Pobladores walked from the San Gabriel Mission and established a new home, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles sobre el Río Porciúncula.

They made their choice based on the availability of water and their connection to the environment continued as the City of Los Angeles developed.

The streets of downtown were aligned with the movement of the sun, positioning the buildings to benefit from a connectivity to the environment, maximizing the benefits of nature.

Since then, the city street grids have been "corrected" and the LA River has been "corrected" and the City of LA has drifted from its original connection to the land it occupies.

If Los Angeles is to become a City of the Future, it will take place when municipal decisions and actions are in sync with a vision that is based on a connectivity to the Environment.

2) LA's Communications: Los Angeles has a track record for telling stories that resonate around the globe, shaping culture, politics, fashion, society, and business along the way. Somehow, this local talent for communication has failed to breach the walls of City Hall which has elected to maintain a Tower of Babel approach to connectivity.

The LAPD uses a traffic collision report provided by the CHP but is unable to capture the data because the LAPD's database is outdated. This results in lost information, misinformation, outdated information.

The DWP relies on a computer language that is considered "dead" requiring new employees to forget what they know and to learn an archaic communications protocol, denying the City of LA the opportunity to implement "smart technology" solutions.

The LADOT uses technology that is outdated, requiring the adjacent communities to "dumb-down" in order to synchronize traffic control communications along city borders.

If Los Angeles is to pursue its destiny as a Great City, it will be because we connect as individuals, as communities, as departments, as municipalities and as partners in communication.

3) LA's Partners: Los Angeles is the rudder that steers the ship and yet at turn after turn, the people of LA hear "that's a federal issue" or "that's under state authority" or "we have no power" and the multi-jurisdictional morass of municipalities, authorities, and agencies is offered as an excuse for the simple fact that LA is not moving forward.

LA's ability to improve the quality of life for the people who live here, work here, own property here and operate businesses here depends on the City of LA laying down a vision for connectivity that draws LA's many neighbors into a partnership that benefits us all.

From the LAUSD to the Metro, from the County to folks on the other side of the city limits, LA is not an island. LA's vision must include a commitment to connecting with the many partners who have an impact on LA's journey to becoming a City of the Future.

4) LA's Story: From around the world, people travel to Los Angeles to experience the mythical LA Story and yet we allow that rich legacy to simply fade into a postcard theme, a brass plaque memorial, and a bit of charm that prompts people to pine for the old days.

LA's pioneers turned a small patch of dusty land into the center of the universe and it's our destiny to write the next chapter in that story.

LA's current challenges are formidable and there are many obstacles. But a vision that connects our strengths will result in a renewed commitment to the Entertainment Industry, the Tourism Industry and the Theatre Community.

It will also capitalize on the many challenges we face and seize them as opportunities to employ the creativity and innovation that is recognized around the world. Connecting LA's assets with the opportunities will result in new standards in technology, communications, sustainability and a revitalized municipal health.

The City of Los Angeles is positioned at a fork in the road. We can continue to embark on the "more of the same" journey or we can embrace a vision of connectivity that sets us on a course to become a City of the Future.

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net. Disclosure: Box is also a candidate for 4th District Councilman.)

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