Voter suppression was rampant where we were in Ohio. People stood out all night in the rain, and in spite of that, we lost. We felt rotten. We’d promised them their vote would count. We brought them food as they stood in line, but ultimately we could not honor the promises we’d made them.
My little group drove back in our van for 8 hours in silence and tears - which over subsequent weeks became fury. I found myself weeping at the simplest disappointments, and having to make excuses to people for my erratic behavior. And then something happened in my neighborhood that brought it all to the fore. The Seminary, the cornerstone for landmarking in Chelsea which had taken years of effort to pass, had gone into partnership with a cheap real estate developer for one of its buildings, disregarding all landmarking agreements and planning for a building out of all proportion to the neighborhood. There was little press about it - clearly they had been advised to do the absolute minimum - but I saw a sign on a street lamp and marched to the meeting carrying all my fury from Ohio.
I was in good company. When I arrived, rain was coming down in sheets. No pedestrian in their right mind would walk out in it. But the room was packed to the rafters with furious Chelsea residents, who were hopping mad at this betrayal of landmark laws.
Not since then have I seen a crowd like the one I see at the Palms-Rancho Park Library when I arrive for a “discussion” on putting in a bike lane on Northvale Avenue in Cheviot Hills. The meeting is held by LA’s Bureau of Engineering, Department of Transportation, Department of City Planning and Council District 5, eager to lay out their plans.
By the time I arrive, I am already in the back of a standing-room-only crowd, whose sense of dis-enfranchisement is palpable.
“Well, the charts are all here if you want to look at them,” says the tiny voice in exasperation. “Just go!”
And with that, everyone surges forward en masse to examine three different proposals.
All of it resembles an MC Escher sculpture to an outsider, but Los Angelenos understand it perfectly. Hint: it’s just as much about parking as traffic.
It’s a topic that’s bound to pit cyclists against car owners - and even cyclists against their own community. Because cyclists here are also car owners. And let’s not even get into landscaping.
In New York, the lines are fairly clear as far as pedestrians and cyclists are concerned: cars cause the most fatalities; we seek to rein them. But as I examine the proposals on these easels, I begin to understand that putting in a bike lane in LA can be deceptively complex.
The next day, I decide to scope out the area.
OK, this is Northvale Avenue:
Now I’m beginning to get the picture.
Here are the proposals:
And here is PROPOSAL 3
There is of course much lively discussion.
And in that regard, LA has a lot in common with New York.