On his recent visit, my son brought me some old files. It’s been interesting going through them. They included essays and papers from classes I took years ago, and stuff relating to several battles I participated in with the City of Los Angeles about 35 years ago. Guess I’ve been a troublemaker for a long time.
Let’s face it, you don’t win them all. When I gathered 115 signatures in my effort to obtain a light at a dangerous corner nearby, (after a dear friend crossing to catch a bus was killed) I lost — even though he was the third person to lose his life at that intersection in five years. Cities prefer to keep traffic moving…. (Remember Los Angeles is a city built for automobiles.)
In 1977, a proposed zone change would have allowed the neighbor right across from us to tear down his home and replace it with townhouses. After I made my presentation to the City Planning Commission, I was asked to forward a copy to a member of the Commission. I still have it. In reading it now, I see that I used the research I had already done on that dangerous corner to add fuel to my argument. (*****If you want to read my talk, I’ve copied it out below.)
We won! Should we have??
In retrospect I don’t think so.
Why then did it happen??
I believe our adversary underestimated his opposition and didn’t prepare for it, which we did. We were more organized, had done our research, and were ready with facts, figures, multiple signatures and support from the Home Owners Association. The work we did on this fight, prepared us well for the next which was much more of a challenge. I’ll write about that one later.
Good luck to you in your battles.
*****Here’s my presentation to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission:
1) I wish to submit signatures of approximately 65 neighbors who, because ours is a community of working people, are unable to be here today. Because I myself am a working person, I didn’t have the time to reach others. Please envision all these neighbors as standing beside me.
2) W… is already overbuilt and mostly zoned for multiple dwellings. Our little remaining bastion of single homes is surrounded by large high-rises on W… and B.G, plus on the south and west of us, there are also apartments and condominiums.
3) In the immediate area, we helplessly watched a huge apartment complex built at T… and E… and we suffer the consequences of overflow parking and additional traffic. Now we deal with a new hardship. A private high school opened this year at the deadly corner of T… and S.M. Their students come from other areas by car and have to park in front of our homes — more cars, more traffic congestion.
4) So that you will be aware of already existing traffic conditions, I have brought copies of a letter written in March, 1977 to Councilman Y… and signed by about 115 neighbors who are concerned about the hazardous corner of S.M. and T… (one block from the proposed zone change) where three residents were killed over a 5-year period. This is to stress our concern over existing traffic conditions in our community.
5) The people moving into our area now are young families with small children who do not wish to join the flight from our cities to the suburbs. They want to offer their children something more than the sameness of suburbia where everyone is the same age, earns the same amount of money, and lives in the same kind of house. We are pleased with our community’s mixture of old and young, professional and working people, where our children learn and benefit from our elderly neighbors.
It behooves us, for the well-being of our city, to maintain this kind of neighborhood. Families need the breathing space that single residences afford and ours is the last such neighborhood remaining in W.. this side of W..
We are fearful! Our young families will move out and our community will be destroyed if this change of zone is granted. On what premise could further changes of zoning be refused in our neighborhood if this one is approved? If this request is granted, the community in which we live and which we love will be wiped out.
It is important to note here that the A…’s are in the real estate business and knowledgeable. They make their livelihood selling property right in our neighborhood. As a matter of fact, they sold me my home. Not only do the A…’s have a vested interest in the well-being of our community, I feel they have an obligation to their friends, neighbors, clients, and the neighborhood in which they have thrived and raised their sons. They should be taking an active part in the preservation and maintenance of our area rather than in the destruction of same. In this instance, they are allowing the idea of immediate monetary gain to color their good judgement. I feel betrayed. They raised their sons here and I want to raise my three children here as well. I ask them to withdraw their application for change of zone and in the interest of our community, I ask the city Planning Commission to refuse it.
An organized opposition can take on adversaries thought to be too big and powerful otherwise…especially with a pitbull like you organizing them.
Excellent writing Muriel!. I can see why you won your case against City Hall and it’s rezoning plan. Evelyn
I am in the middle of a battle here in England with my local Council, and your example is inspiring! May the best side win………!