Hey LAT, how about the Marina?

Will changes at the LAT reverse a decades-long policy of not taking big LA stories seriously? Not likely. The most recent swing-and-a-miss is what's going on in Marina del Rey. The Times covered the out-of-control development situation in August, by way of a story that was mostly about traffic. (Full disclosure - I suggested a broader version of this story to the LAT awhile ago, not for me to write, but for them to cover. I don't know if that's why they ran their August story). Having lived in the Marina for a long time, I can tell you that what's happening here is not just about being tied up at an intersection for hours at a time, although certainly that's part of the story. But traffic is much more than motorists who are inconvenienced. It also contributes to global warming, a concept that newspapers cannot seem to link to the things that are causing it.

Which brings me to the rest of the story - actually THE story - the environment, which the LAT seems to see as something that's separate from traffic and everything else. (This inability to see the world as, well, a world, rather than a series of unrelated subjects to be covered only on various beats is one of the things that's killing mainstream newspapers). The environment is really our homeland and, in the parlance of the day, if it goes, we have no security, let alone a place for traffic.

Briefly, here's the story the LAT missed (and to be fair, so has the local weekly, the Argonaut, which confines its coverage to quickie condensations of planning board hearings).

If current plans for re-development are not stopped and/or mitigated, the Marina will very soon be another Waikiki Beach. Right now, the plans are on a fast-track and no one is paying attention, except locals who have organized strong opposition which is consistently not covered by anyone. The Marina is LA County's biggest asset and there is huge pressure coming from the county to redevelop in order to jack up rents (landlords lease from the county and reimburse it with fees) and bring in high-priced stores, many of which are already here. Right now, there are five or six lawsuits pending, and questions about supervisor Don Knabe's political fondness for developers and landlords remain sufficiently unexplored by the media.

A few items: as the LA Times covered, the 90 freeway is scheduled to be expanded. What it did not mention is that the expansion will have a negative impact on endangered and threatened species which live along the greenbelt. While the article mentioned that various apartment complexes in the Marina are scheduled for demolition and redevelopment ("upgrade") and a high-rise Marriott Hotel is planned for the polluted flanks of Mother's Beach, it did not explain that these projects will have a negative impact on the nearby Pacific Flyway, an important bird migration route that goes right through the Venice Canals and Ballona Wetlands. Other disturbing possibilities that loom include highrise-blocked light; the possible eruption of subterranean methane veins caused by new underground parking structures, creating water table problems as the Marina is built on landfill; evictions of long-time "boat people" (locals who live on boats, a way of life that may soon be ending, violating the original Marine charter); the loss of affordable housing; and the ongoing Caruso-ification of local malls (has already happened on Admiralty Way) as in The Grove, forcing residents to shop at upscale stores offering the usual stultifying "array" of color-me-rich clothing that has mostly been manufactured in foreign sweatshops.

As the homeland goes so goes everything else and one of the country's biggest newspapers ought to provide Los Angeles with a narrative that takes us beyond questions such as "How much more time do I have to spend in my car?"


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