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Incinerated apartment building was a downtown scourge

To the editor: The real puzzle is how the downtown Los Angeles apartment monstrosity that was incinerated Monday morning ever got approved by the city. This building, and the others like it that are rapidly rising up, butted against our freeways and are making downtown L.A. look like a fortress from the viewpoint of millions of visitors and commuters. ("'Tower of fire' destroys L.A. apartment complex under construction," Dec. 8)

The sense of openness and possibility that was the visual and cultural hallmark of Los Angeles is being destroyed. Instead, a great ugly wall of tasteless and crass commercialism is encircling the city core at the cheap margins of freeways, obscuring our great civic landmarks such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall and entrapping the city like a vast prison in which residents and workers are the inmates.

Walter Dominguez, Los Angeles


To the editor: The dramatic picture of the blaze amid other downtown buildings made me think about our recent "reform" of the building code to eliminate the flat-roof requirement for high-rises. Why are we playing Russian roulette with the lives of those who live or work in tall buildings?

The flat-roof provision allowed life-saving helicopter access to evacuate people in upper stories in many emergency situations. It also provided access to emergency teams when traffic was impassible to ground vehicles.

God forbid that our roofs not be stylish. Our planners and political leadership deserve a Darwin Award.

David Ewing, Venice


To the editor: You did a fair job portraying the contradictions of developer Geoffrey H. Palmer, whose Da Vinci apartment complex burned down Monday. ("Geoffrey Palmer seen as both downtown L.A. trailblazer, steamroller," Dec. 8)

Yes, Palmer started the revival of downtown west, but at what price? Working-class residents are downtown L.A.'s workforce, and many are effectively forced out because of increased home prices each time Palmer puts up a new faux Italian creation with no place for them.

For those of us who live in downtown, the chatter is about who might have set the fire if it indeed was arson, a possibility that's under investigation. Palmer has not been a good neighbor to many, and it's nice to read he is taking small steps to mitigate the effects of his past fight against affordable housing requirements.

It would be a nice Christmas gift from Palmer if he were to spend money building housing for some of the downtown homeless. After all, he knows where to buy cheap land and build.

Judith Markoff Hansen, Los Angeles

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