June 1, 2001 - From the June, 2001 issue

Envision L.A. Felicia Marcus

To advance the cause of a coherent vision for the L.A. Region, TPR is pleased to present an excerpt from Felicia Marcus' vision statement at last month's Westside Urban Forum event.

Felicia Marcus

It's always hard to think of what the most grand things are as opposed to the things that are most on one's radar at a given time.

Let's begin with transit. We need to focus on transit that works for everyone rather than argue about buses or rail. We must figure out how to move people so that they can get along with their lives in the city.

Now, what one notices when living up in the Bay Area is the fact that people don't have to sit in cars to travel even long distances. So I put that up on the top because I also think that it provides an opportunity because of the dollars that can come with it to also do some other things. Transit can provide a sort of a backbone for thinking more creatively.

Second, and perhaps even more important than transit, I see a huge need for an articulated, integrated, and intelligent vision for an "adult L.A." I see L.A. as a city in search of itself; a city that is adolescent compared to many. Think about the age of the cities in Europe, think of the age of cities back East. I have been dying for a mayor or a civic culture that can finally articulate where we ought to go. We need to articulate a plan for the kind of L.A. we want to live in. To integrate, not just environmental issues, but the urban form, transportation, housing and education in a way that creates a sense of community.

There is also an important need to articulate who we are as a city rather than who we're not. When you think of some of our most successful local grassroots movements, like "Not-yet New York" it defined itself on what it wasn't. That's good for starters perhaps, but we need to get to the point where as a culture we can articulate what we are for


Third are environmental issues. We have made extraordinary progress on many of the air and water problems of the larger metropolitan arena-even though we're still the worst. And in some ways I think part of that is because we have some extraordinary tools. I do think we have a long way to go but the potential--whether about energy, water, etc.--is great. But, unless we focus on them, they are going to be extremely limiting factors.

Fourth, green space issues, whether greenways, the L.A. River, or the like. I just think in terms of people's lives and how they feel every day, the need for more greening in this city is really obvious. People in power and people who wield more than the folks that have just been talking about it a long time have finally come together to pass Prop. 12 and 13. And I just think there's a real opportunity for L.A. to have real greening that will help in all these other ways-in terms of the urban pride and the like. It's more than merely a fluffy idea. I think it's essential to how people feel about the place and in developing a civic culture of pride and sense of place in Los Angeles, more broadly.

And fifth, figuring out how to break the mixed-use barrier in a real way in Los Angeles. And that's going to take, I think, a real focus. Otherwise I just don't see how we make it.

*And sixth, (I couldn't skip it) is the school siting fiasco. The layers of complexity, and politics, and personnel and misunderstandings, and obfuscation are just tragic when you think about the opportunities that they have.


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