Class class was cut in half. Everything
Class war and repression are said to have driven the Los Angeles Socialists into the desert. (Pg. 9) Why would anyone want to live in the desert? The once militarized desert, created a place for people to have homes. With the population growing in such large numbers and the land growing scarce they had to begin developing the vacant land. The population needed a place to live. (Pg. 4) Dirt and dollar signs, and advertising homes with lush names appealed to the middle and upper classes. The fact that they could live in the fastest growing metropolis in the advanced industrial world made them excited. The city of Los Angeles was new and still developing. In the meantime, the economic state was changing. The rich got richer, the poor were even more poor and the middle class was cut in half. Everything about the growing city seemed perfect, and I suppose for some it was. However, along with growth and change there comes crime. Several incidents took place in Los Angeles against people of color involving the police. Anglos became a minority in the city and county of Los Angeles during the 1980’s. (Pg. 7) The city of Los Angeles was created for the white, urbanized, higher middle and upper classes.
I think Davis’ primary thesis or point in the book is just that. Los Angeles was being developed into a city for the wealthy by the wealthy. He describes all the hardships that the poor and middle classes go through to survive in the city. The middle and lower classes are completely separated from the wealthy society as Los Angeles is built and after it exists. It is amazing how the wealthy can create such a perfect utopia for themselves, especially being the minority and with all the people fighting against them. I guess things worked out for them because they fought so hard for all of the changes and ways they wanted things laid out.
The biggest fight for the wealthy was the development of Los Angeles. The Home Owners Association made up of the wealthy also played a huge role in the development of the Los Angeles area. The fact that the Home Owners did not want to be classified with the less expensive part of Los Angeles or the wrong side of town caused an uproar. This began what is known as the “slow growth movement.” (Pg. 156) The first major ground breaking event for the Home Owners Association was in 1985 when they won in court to stop the building of high-rise development. Then the Home Owners Association had Proposition U, which reduced the development of commercial property. Along with those fights, the Home Owners Association also fought for street signs designating that the wealthy lived there. Without spelling it out certain street signs would suggest the class and how much the houses were worth. The reason for all of this commotion, the “Los Angeles home owners love their children, but they love their property values more.” (Pg. 154) The home owners did not want to loose any value in their homes. They figured that if mass production of tract homes were built, there goes the value of their home. With cheaper homes in the same neighborhood that would cause lower classes to afford homes in their territory, and they would not let that happen. So, the fight continues. Thus, creating several more propositions and then the Lakewood Plan. The Lakewood Plan gave the suburban communities cut-rate prices on all of the vital services. (Pg. 165) Along with the cheapest rate of sales tax, if the property was to be used for their own use. There were twenty six-new cities formed along the Lakewood lines. This allowed the residents to zone out low-income or renting along with insulating their properties from the burden of the rest of Los Angeles. There was actually a reason for gating themselves in on the “nice” part of town. The Home Owners Association created this plan to keep the homeless, lower class, and criminals out of their neighborhoods. These neighborhoods also had private police that patrolled the area for anything out of the ordinary. The Lakewood Plan was ideal for some of the residents in Los Angeles. The Plan kept the poor in the inner city. The poor could not escape the inner city. The Lakewood Plan populations now exceed one and a half million in L.A. County. (Pg. 168) The black population of the Lakewood Plan has been kept to a minimal. Only 1 percent of the population in the Lakewood Plan is black compared to Los Angeles County at 10 percent. I guess this proves how the people that fought so hard to be kept away from the minorities won. They have very few that live in their neighborhoods, and very few that can even get to where they live. In a way I see this as segregation. Why not be with people of color. I gather that it is not just blacks and Hispanics’ they don’t want living in their territory, but Asians and probably anyone that is not an Anglo. This form of racism is very sad. We have enough racism everywhere else, without saying who can live where and fighting to keep certain ethnic groups out of your neighborhood, when they are such a large part of the city’s survival.
Downtown in a word simply became too big for local interests to continue to dominate, and recentering came effectively to mean internationalization. I take this to mean that other cultures were running the downtown and inner city of Los Angeles. Over half of the downtown’s major properties were foreign-owned. The Anglo population was having to be serviced by the foreign business owners. The nottori-ya seems to be the one’s that had all of the power Downtown or in Los Angeles for that matter.The Japanese would donate money to schools, to the Presidential Library, and to the Mayor ‘s campaign. This shows that the Japanese were really trying to make the effort to bring Los Angeles together. The city and county of Los Angeles changed to cater to the Japanese. They made the ports more accessible, had lower landing fees at LAX, and gave special rights and to foreign investors Downtown. What I do not understand is how come no one was complaining or trying to keep them out of Los Angeles? I guess maybe because the city’s growth financially depends largely on the investments and money put into the city. The elites did not even begin to be troubled by the exportable goods or the differences in language. The Tokyo stock dive in early 1990 is the first time anyone began to question the capital driving the Japanese and their money. This gave the people in Los Angeles a real idea of what could possibly happen if a recession happened in Tokyo. While the Japanese were ruling the business and real estate scene, there was someone or something else ruling the streets.
This is Vietnam here. (Pg. 268) The Crips and the Bloods run the south central part of Los Angeles. The gang killings had dropped from 24 to zero in ten years. The gang activity is now said to be a part of the large crack trade. Average gang killings on the east side average one per day. (Pg. 270) An economic force of the gang violence has to do with the money made from crack vs. cocaine. One mayor refers to the gangs as the Viet Cong. I think the use of the reference is not in comparison to the Vietnam war. I see the fact that men are killing each other every day and fighting but the reasons for the War and the reason the gangs are fighting are not justifiable. Some argue that we should not have gotten involved in Vietnam, but I feel that we should let the gangs kill themselves out. They live in their own world in Los Angeles, secluded and stuck in the inner city. I do realize that the gangs stem from youth poverty, but instead of arresting all of the 80, 000 members, why not help them out of poverty and clean up their neighbor hood?!
Gated communities, bum proof benches, sprinklers that come on in the middle of the night at all different times, a gated library, warnings not to steal shopping carts, and with the police coming at you from every angle, who could live like that? Even if you are poor and live in the ghetto part of town there is no reason you have to be under surveillance. Or at least that is how it sounds. I do agree with the part about cleaning up the city and not wanting bums hanging around all over the city. So, instead of paying to prevent all of these things why not help? I have the same feeling about the Bay Area. In San Francisco we are building a billion-dollar stadium, but we cannot help the poverty people that are going to live by it? Or how about all the homeless in San Francisco? I know not all homeless or poor are the same, but downtown San Francisco is a mess. I just picture downtown Los Angeles. There are places in San Francisco and Oakland I wouldn’t walk through and I don’t think there should be places like that. I think a lot of the cities have the mentality that if they want to be that way, then let them without taking any of the blame themselves. The cities I feel are largely responsible for the way things work in the city. If there are not enough jobs, find a way to create them. If there are homeless people, clean them up and get them working. I know those sound like easy, simple solutions but they are. Our society turns their head when they see homeless or poor people. It is just how things are. Davis brings up these points in his book. I guess what I realize reading this book is that our society really hasn’t progressed in the way of breaking any social class barriers. I do see how we have changed with technology and with the development of systems. I can see why people would think Los Angeles is all that great. I think Los Angeles is a painted picture of what people want it to be. The elite don’t look twice at the problems and go on in their own little world. While the gangs do just the same thing except their problems are their world. I have never really been to Los Angeles, other than Disneyland and to get to San Diego. I suppose I turned my head and looked the other way. I am ashamed to say that but, I didn’t want to see all the problems with the gangs. My eyes are really open now. Not that I believe everything I read, but there is definitely some truth to what Davis says. As for Hayward, it will never be like Los Angeles. The Bay Area did not start offlike Los Angeles did, we are already really diverse. I believe there is truth in the discussion we had in class if northerners are different from southerners. I would agree. I don’t think we would make San Francisco like Los Angeles, but you never know. Especially when the Anglos become the minority.