11 Jan / 2020

Style over substance

first_imgSince hosting the Olympics twice already wasn’t enough, Los Angeles leaders are feverishly making the case that the city deserves a third opportunity. They have brought U.S. Olympic Committee members to town, wined and dined them, and made clear that L.A. will spare no expense should it host the games in 2016. As Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put it, “We’ll do it all in style.” And style points have definitely been the preoccupation of city and county leaders who signed off on the grandiose Grand Avenue project, even at the expense of $125 million in public subsidies that could pave roads, pay for cops and regenerate neighborhoods. Style matters. To encourage developers to go ahead with plans for the l.a.live sports-entertainment complex, city officials agreed to a $270 million subsidy for a luxury Convention Center hotel. But for all the focus on style, L.A. leaders have paid little attention to substance. Sure, hosting the Olympics a third time would be a feather in L.A.’s collective cap, and it might even bring in some one-time revenues. Conventions could also net some green – although so far the Convention Center has only cost the city dearly – and an exciting night life and spectacular downtown skyline would be welcome additions to L.A. life. But these are not the ingredients that make a good city, let alone a great one. For all the investment in dazzle, and for all the emphasis on downtown, L.A. is a city of neighborhoods. And making our neighborhoods cleaner, safer, better places for families to live would do far more to improve the quality of life in L.A. than any number of Olympics, downtown nightclubs or conventions. It’s a shame city leaders don’t worry half as much about getting gangs under control as they worry about getting the Olympics. If they were subject to feelings of shame, they would invest as much in the neighborhoods as they do in monuments downtown.last_img read more