The Next L.A. / Turning Ideas Into Action : The Readers Respond

In the Times special section July 17, “The Next Los Angeles / Turning Ideas Into Action,” readers were invited to tell us their ideas by calling TimesLink telephone numbers or sending an Internet message. Here are some of the responses.

Livable L.A.


Writer, Sherman Oaks


This is to propose the Los Angeles suggestion box, a permanent process and accumulating database of Angelenos’ creative ideas, proposals and suggestions for our city and region. This permanent, on-going L.A. suggestion box could start with the proposals which The Times is collecting for the Next L.A. and include the Modest Proposals which have appeared in the Times Voices pages. It could offer aid as a public/private partnership of the Times, other local periodicals, the city and area L.A. schools and libraries and on the Internet. This region-wide participatory think tank would operationalize what we might call “ideation democracy” and permanently embody the goal printed in large letters on “The Next L.A:” to turn ideas into action. I would also propose the initiation of a sustained time-lapse record of selected locales in Los Angeles to create a visual record. Automated video cameras in a variety of well-chosen, secure locations would make a fascinating record for future Angelenos. These video cameras could be in the windows of high-rise buildings, on hilltops, on the marquees of buildings along boulevards and perhaps even on the Los Angeles City Hall tower. Funding could come from public arts and urban planning budgets, architects’ associations and news media.


Marketing director, Washington


Congratulations on a superb effort, which I saw at the Library of Congress. Many people talk about computing offering a way to build community but think newspapers are an underappreciated way of building community.



Psychologist, North Hills


I think that since moral values are not being taught by parents, it’s time for the schools to assume some of that responsibility by overhauling their curricula to include assertiveness training, basic right-from-wrong skills training, and then rewarding these kids when they show proof that they are displaying these kinds of traits. I think that would go a long way to help our kids and to help the community in general. The proposals that have been offered so far in the past are too small and just are not comprehensive enough.


Real estate investor/activist, Malibu

If producers, directors, filmmakers and video-game makers can’t commit to getting away from violence and encouraging disrespect within families and talking to each other in disrespectful ways, then we need to encourage parents to censor what kids watch. It is not a bad thing to censor what children watch because they are in their formative years. Parents now spend thousands of dollars on their nurseries, play equipment and childhood toys, yet they let children watch MTV, which is really poisoning their minds. If adults would actually watch MTV, they would be shocked to see what young people are being exposed to. This is daily fare for a lot of children who are home alone.


Getting Around


Teacher, Camarillo

I wanted to suggest something I saw in Hong Kong--people movers. People movers are terrific because in a crowded central area they get people around and they also integrate different parts of a downtown city. I think it would be great to have a flow of people going in and out. People movers would really accomplish that and also give access to lots of different parts of the center. They are inexpensive, they can be covered, they are attractive and also facilitate not only movement but integration of different areas.



Psychology intern, Los Angeles

Create some bike lanes, especially along some of the heavily traveled corridors of the city so that bikers could be encouraged to ride to work, which would cut down on pollution and noise and persuade more people to ride. A bike ride in a three- to six-mile radius can be done in almost the same amount of time as a car, so that would be the area (around downtown) that could be targeted.



Media specialist, Glendora

One form of transportation that has been completely ignored is that of motorcycles. The fact is at highway speeds motorcycles take up one-fourth the space of a car and at slow speeds motorcycles don’t take up any space at all. They travel between the lanes. And when they are parked, motorcycles take up one-eighth the space of a private automobile. Motorcycles get four times the gas mileage of cars and they emit five times less air pollution. In addition motorcycles tread immeasurably lighter on road surfaces, which will lead to less maintenance of those roads.

While motorcycles are not for everyone, their recognition by officials and subsequent inclusion in a comprehensive transportation plan could significantly relieve congestion and promote mobility in Los Angeles.



Artist/writer, Santa Monica

Use mini-vans on off hours, say from 9 or 10 at night until 6 in the morning. The buses that run then usually run empty. So I think mini-vans would save on gas and repairs. The buses are way too large running those hours.


Playa Del Rey


Instead of figuring out all of these car-pool lanes and subsidizing mass transit, simply charge the car for the full cost to society for its pollution and for its use of land. Then the cost of the car would go up and the cost of alternatives such as buses, bicycling to work, living closer to work and telecommuting, would go down. Until we charge the cars’ full cost we’re not going to get anywhere. The fee could be a large gas tax, perhaps as much as $4-per-gallon gas tax would be necessary to pay for the land and the pollution. And then all the other forms of transportation would become more economically feasible. I think that is the only way we can go. We need to get rid of the government bureaucracies, of course, and drop the prohibition against shuttles. Currently shuttles can operate only from the airport. We need to have all the options open; a shuttle system with vans that could take people to work would be a much better system of transportation.

Public Safety




I have always felt regarding public safety that there is a tremendous rift between a police officer position and pay and a basic security officer position. I’ve always felt there has been a strong need for a second tier of police officer, one that does not make as much money as a fully-trained officer but definitely much more money than a security officer.

And I think this could be a second level of police officers that would put more officers on the street. These officers would be under the supervision of the completely trained police officers. I believe a lot of this has been deterred by the power of the police unions, to the detriment of the community.

Human Relations



Spanish teacher/author

Marina Del Rey

I think there are many, many people in Los Angeles who are working for better unity and community among all the people in Los Angeles. I was born in Los Angeles. I’ve lived here all my life. My particular interest is in linking people together from different ethnic groups. I have taught English as a second language at Mt. St. Mary’s and I have taught Spanish to English-speaking people who want to learn Spanish conversation.

We have come up with an idea, which is putting two groups of people and teaching two languages simultaneously. Language differences and inability to communicate are barriers to community building in Los Angeles, whether it be a church or a PTA or a neighborhood organization.


We will have a class where 50% of the people are learning beginning Spanish and 50% of the people in the class are learning English. It is a way to get to know one another.

We are planning to have Korean, Vietnamese, English and Spanish be the four languages that we co-teach. The carrot is learning the language. The purpose of the meetings and of the classes is to make relationships among people who speak different languages.



Assistant professor, Long Beach

Media perpetuation of negative stereotyping is insidious; it is powerful because it is subtle. It is also tragic: even when seeking solutions, this newspaper perpetuates the problem.

So how can the L.A. Times help lead the way in ending negative stereotyping by the media? Start a weekly column about seeing our biases; ask readers to write in pointing out the bias they see in the media (especially The Times--at least initially). We will all learn from having the subtle stereotypes made more obvious. Once we learn to really see the problem, we can begin to address it.