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Los Angeles Following in the Footsteps of Detroit

The long, slow, steady decline of a once-great city.

by
Jack Dunphy

Bio

November 20, 2012 - 11:22 pm
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But the L.A. city council has had too many great issues on its agenda to attend to something so trivial as closing the budget deficit without raising taxes.  Last month, for example, it voted to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs that come from breeders.  I am the proud owner of a rescued mutt, so I have little interest in obtaining a purebred dog, either now or in the future.  But I realize that others do not necessarily share my taste in pets, and as much as I might wish that everyone looking for a dog get one from their local animal shelter or rescue group, some people will only be satisfied with a pedigreed pooch.  They should be free to buy one, and people in Los Angeles should be free to sell them one.

And back in May, the city council voted for another, even more annoying restriction on freedom when they banned the use of plastic grocery bags, forcing consumers to pay ten cents each for paper bags or else buy those reusable canvas germ traps.  If some pandemic breaks out and claims thousands of lives in Los Angeles, it will probably be traced back to one of those bags that had for too long been rolling around in the back of someone’s Prius.

And while the Los Angeles city council has busied itself with these feel-good examples of utopian legislation, the long, steady decline in crime in the city appears to be coming to an end.  Looking at the year-to-date figures as of Nov. 3, the city as a whole has seen crime decline by 0.9 percent from last year.  Not the sharp drop-off seen in recent years past but not necessarily a call for alarm, either.  But a closer look at the data reveals ominous signs.  Part I crime has increased in seven of the LAPD’s 21 patrol divisions, in one case by almost 20 percent.  And homicides have increased in ten of those divisions, with three of them up 100 percent or more.  The city’s troubled finances have precluded the further expansion of the LAPD, and this, coupled with the early release from state prisons of thousands of convicted felons, will all but guarantee a further rise in crime next year.

In July of last year, Joel Kotkin wrote of L.A.’s decline in the Wall Street Journal.  In the article, titled “How L.A. Lost Its Mojo,” Kotkin described the city’s political transformation that has seen power shift from business and homeowner groups to those identified with labor and ethnic solidarity — a shift the current civic leadership openly encourages.  That way lies trouble, which is why the Dunphy family decamped for a neighborhood that is clean, safe, affordable, and blessed with good schools.  Such neighborhoods, once common in the Los Angeles of my youth, no longer exist there.

So while things in Los Angeles may seem all palmy and nice for the moment, with the sun-drenched landscape unmarred by plastic bags or purebred dogs, it appears to me that Los Angeles is in the early stages of what will be a long, slow, Detroit-like death spiral — an agony I’ll be fortunate enough to witness from out in the suburbs.

We run into quite a few refugees from Los Angeles in our new neighborhood.  We have yet to meet a single one who claims to miss it.

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Jack Dunphy is the pseudonym of a police officer in Southern California.
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