Will an incentive to housing developers turn all LA neighborhoods into parking-scarce Koreatown ?

In response to the intimidating cost of housing in our state, our legislature is contemplating dozens of new statewide restrictions on city zoning law, most with the goal of increasing density.

The most famous are 2021’s SB9 (The California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency Act, lot splitting for duplexes and ADU “accessory dwelling units”)[senate.ca.gov][cayimby] and SB10 (transit-rich upzoning to 10-unit parcels)[cayimby]. Those are already “chaptered” California law.

But there are many more bills currently in the Sacramento pipeline, and several more that depend on this legendary thing they call a “high quality transit corridor”.

Assembly district 55 contains 7 miles of the LACMTA Expo Line.

Democrat Assemblywoman Laura Friedman introduced AB1401 on February 19, 2021 and the identically-titled AB2097 on February 14, 2022. Both bills carry the title “Residential and commercial development: remodeling, renovations, and additions: parking requirements”. They allow a California real-estate development company operating in Los Angeles to avoid longstanding “minimum automobile parking requirements”. The developer is allowed to build housing units without off-street (e.g. underground) parking, as long as 90% or more of the residential units in the development are within 1/2 mile of a major transit stop. There’s that “high quality transit corridor”.

The theory is that people living “near” (1/2 mile?) Los Angeles public transit do not need cars and will live carless in LA like Manhattanites 🗽.

Our campaign’s concern is that major journalistic investigations have proven that the theoretical existence and nearness of public transit isn’t enough to relieve Angelenos across the county of the need to own cars. Transportation would also need to be safe, which it is not.

The Los Angeles Times co-sponsored a UC Berkeley survey to study this, and reported the sobering results in a March 11 article and also in a follow-up published April 14.

March 11, 2022 Even with soaring gas prices, safety concerns make L.A. mass transit a hard sell By Rachel Uranga | LA Times

Justin Moreau was proud that for 20 years he relied on Metro, but last summer after two rowdy men stalked him at the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station he bought a car. “I felt my safety was in danger. And that was the last straw,”

April 14, 2022 California voters say state is moving in the wrong direction, feel financial squeeze By Hugo Martín, Rachel Uranga | LA Times

Voters are saying gas prices are a serious problem as doubts about transit persist, according to a UC Berkeley survey co-sponsored by The Times.

As they say: in theory there is no difference between theory and practice but, in practice, there is.

“High quality transit corridor” sounds plausible on the surface, but UC Berkeley and our LA Times proved this abstract thing to be more of a fiction than a reliable reality on which to base statewide zoning law restrictions.

Our own personal observations fully confirm the concerns documented in those reports. In particular, our career-imperiling experience the afternoon of Saturday, June 26, 2021 riding the Expo Line from West LA to DTLA, and our hair-raising experiences that same night, riding the Metro B Line and Expo Line back to West LA from Griffith Park, connecting through the 7th Street/Metro Center station. And we consider ourselves brave! Don’t ask us some of the things we’ve seen late at night on LACMTA buses.

Assemblyman Isaac Bryan voted Aye on AB1401 [aye!] and AB2097 [aye!]. When was the last late night Assemblyman Bryan took public transit in the 55th?

UPDATE (July 17): Los Angeles Times published an editorial inexplicably undermining their own reporting from March and April, discussing SB1067, introduced by CA State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge):

July 17, 2022 Editorial: California should prioritize housing people, not cars By The Times Editorial Board | LA Times

What Assemblyman Isaac Bryan means when he says that Los Angeles policing derives from Southern slave patrols

Back in March we assembled a collection of my opponent’s media appearances from 2018 to 2022 wherein he spoke about policing and public safety.

One particularly striking claim Mr. Bryan asserted (before he was elected Assemblyman) — not his original idea, of course, but which has circulated in American public policy research since at least the 1980s [ojp 1982][ojp 1988] — is that “[the] history [that] Law enforcement in the South began as slave patrol […] is engrained in our law enforcement” [CNN 2021]. Especially since summer 2020, many commentators emphasized this interpretation of American history [eku 2013][naacp][aba][theconversation]. It’s also been disputed [aei][nypost]. In a June 2020 appearance on CBSLA [0m19s YouTube], Assemblyman Bryan phrased his claim as “The original police were also slave catchers. […] That origin and that history still manifests itself in our policing practices today.” And in a June 2020 podcast [6m28s YouTube] he expressed it as “The early history of law enforcement in this country is very intertwined with slavery. The early slave patrol and slave catcher badges mirror the sheriff badges of today.”

This strong claim initially surprises many Angelenos, but we think it deserves a careful hearing and thoughtful interpretation.

The 2012 PBS documentary “Slavery by Another Name”, narrated by Laurence Fishburne and based on the 2008 Pulitzer-prize winning book of the same title, which is free to stream from the following page, helps connect the dots on what Assemblyman Bryan might have meant by this historical claim:

Slavery by Another Name Ep1 [1h 24m 41s] PBS | 2012-02-13

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon, 2008

In particular, two facts presented therein trace modern echos of the old slave patrols:

  1. Amendment XIII to the United States Constitution, abolition/emancipation, ratified in 1865, carved out an exceedingly important exception to the otherwise universal abolition of slavery. The original language was:
    1. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
    2. In practice, this meant that prisoners (regardless of the severity of the conviction) could legally be treated worse than slaves, forced to work life-threatening jobs like primitive underground mining, with a hefty profit derived from their labor. This was called Convict leasing.
  2. In 1867, 1.7 years after Juneteenth 1865, U.S. Congress found it necessary to explicitly outlaw peonage, otherwise known as debt slavery, with the Peonage Act of 1867. Nevertheless, for decades thereafter, this law was ineffective at eliminating illegal practices that were economically equivalent to peonage.
    1. The historically-documented reality (as covered by Blackmon and PBS) is that, between approximately 1865 and 1939, it was common for black men to be accused of debts and then trapped into long stints of hard/dangerous labor, at a great profit to the accusers.

A follow-up to the PBS work, Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary “13th,” which covers much of the same material, and is available free below, in our opinion is also worth checking out.

13th | full feature [100:03] Netflix | 2020-04-17

How should we interpret this distressing concern about American policing?

We propose it be acknowledged that — while we staunchly support the American system of free enterprise, indeed the engine of economic opportunity that is capitalism — American capitalism has a well-documented history of using exaggerated criminal accusations to steal time and labor from vulnerable groups, especially black men. Thus, we champions of free enterprise must always remain on guard against the tendency for our professional protectors (the police) to be used deviously as a profit-driven form of Violence Capitalism, also known as Racial Capitalism.

As a rule of thumb, we want to be particularly vigilant and cautious whenever justifications that reference safety are mixed with schemes of profit.

As likely would Ronald Reagan, and anyone with a dash of libertarianism, we join our opponent Assemblyman Isaac Bryan in his concern over the targeting of vulnerable groups, especially the coercion of labor, or confiscation of property by means of city or state law enforcement. Whenever and wherever it occurs, it is corrosive to a healthy system of free enterprise.

However, we adamantly disagree with Mr. Bryan that “defunding police in its entirety” [CNN 2021] is a viable or smart way to guard against that very corrosive tendency.