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Antelope Valley Series

* In response to your two-part article about the horrors of living in the Antelope Valley (“Driven to Extremes,” June 23 and 24), and I’m sure I speak for thousands of happy residents here when I say that your reporting is way out of perspective!

Go to any growing suburb or secondary city in the United States today and you will find the same concerns and crime as you find here. What your articles failed to describe is how rewarding it can be to live in such a dynamic environment, where people of all cultures and classes are developing unique and livable solutions to their problems.

The Antelope Valley is a fascinating mix of people, with the advantage of having been a clean slate when the development began. People here are at the forefront of the changing face of America. Some of you worn-out urban cynics might benefit from a closer look.

The stereotypes your article tries to uphold are simply not sustainable. Don’t you get tired of the untrue and outmoded cheap shots of race conflict and class conflict?

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There will always be people who dislike anyone who is different, but thank goodness we live in America, where it’s not OK to think that way. Intolerance will always lose, so long as we don’t respond to scare tactics such as your article.

Please do an article about the Antelope Valley that’s positive. You and all your readers are missing out on a truly happening place!

JULIE MARSHALL

Palmdale

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* I just finished reading The Times’ June 23 cover story describing the pitiful life of former L.A. Basin residents who mistakenly chose to live high up and far away in the Mojave Desert floor. The way it reads, 30% of all Antelope Valley residents are commuters whose lives have been torn apart by the substantial time away from family and friends.

What was painfully clear to me in this extremely negatively biased article was that for every column-and-a-half describing lives being torn asunder by the horrendous commute from the Antelope Valley to the L.A. Basin, there may have been one or two paragraphs about commuters who felt that superior quality of life outweighed the long commute. Certainly, vocal commuters who are disgruntled speak loudest, but an unbiased reporter would have sought an accurate accounting (by polling a large sampling) for the ratio of distressed versus content commuters.

I work in El Monte. I used to live in an apartment in West Los Angeles where my commute along the Santa Monica / San Bernardino Freeway would take 50 minutes to an hour each way; there always was moderate to heavy traffic. My current commute to the same location from my house in Palmdale is 1 hour and 5 to 15 minutes each way over the Angeles Crest route (or 1 hour, 15 to 30 minutes by the freeways, with light to moderate traffic).

Yes, my commute is now over two hours round-trip daily; however it is only 25% longer in time--primary measure of commuter stress. In exchange, my family can live peacefully in a place:

* Where we can lounge around in our large house where we can afford quality-of-life improvements in a quiet neighborhood.

* Where we can walk around any time of the day or night without fear of drive-by shootings or other assaults.

* Where my daughter can ride her bicycle or play in our residential streets without fear of hit-and-run.

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* Where our air conditioners cool us in summer (only 10 degrees hotter than the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, but with much less smog).

* Where our heaters and log-burning fireplace warm us in winter.

* Where we can appreciate a “white Christmas” with all the snowman-making benefits and none of the distress of clearing it away.

* Where there is very little disturbance from overhead helicopters and airplanes, emergency sirens and car alarms blasting all day and night.

* Where most of the social benefits afforded to any inland community are met, and

* Where we do not have to suffer with the . . . L.A. city schools, L.A. city police scandals, rampant graffiti, poorly maintained roads and freeways and constant traffic.

I would appreciate having the opportunity to work locally, but I am content to earn higher L.A. Basin income while spending my money in this community where the cost of living is slightly lower; this is an economic benefit. I can afford the extra wear and tear on my car.

Yes my commute is over two hours round-trip daily; however, my evenings and weekends at my house vastly overcompensate for the terrors found “down below” in the L.A. Basin. It’s a no-brainer.

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MITCHELL A. KREEGER

Palmdale

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* While your statistics indicated that the majority of the population in Antelope Valley is non-African American, the story seemed to infer (with few exceptions) that African Americans who have relocated to the area are drug dealers, welfare recipients and gangbangers. The photographs shown were also of African Americans. Your story adds fuel to the misconception that African Americans are inferior to other groups, lazy and of lower quality, as stated by one of the persons interviewed. (I was particularly offended by this).

I can appreciate some of the challenges faced by those who have invested in homes in the Antelope Valley area. However, I don’t feel that all of the fault should be placed on one minority group. Clearly, part of the problem is the current state of the economy and the corporate trend toward downsizing. We should be using our energies looking for solutions rather than placing blame.

SERETHA CARR

San Dimas

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* Although Palmdale may have many of the same problems facing other cities with populations in excess of 100,000, I feel your article on my hometown was severely misleading and not a true representation of life in the Antelope Valley. You’ve lost your journalistic credibility with me.

PATRICK SWEENEY

Palmdale

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* While reading the [June 24] story by Sonia Nazario with regard to the demographics of Palmdale, it was interesting to note that she used East 13th Street as being representative of the entire city.

Although I do not live in the Antelope Valley, I have family who live in Palmdale in a beautiful neighborhood consisting of neatly maintained, lovely homes. They and their neighbors are responsible, white-collar and professional people. They are typical of surrounding neighborhoods for miles around to the west of the town.

If Nazario had traveled to the west of Palmdale, she would have found a completely different demography. Although it is a given that home prices have dropped, it is not fair to include the west side of town with the east side.

CONSTANCE SMITH

Rancho Bernardo

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* “Driven to Extremes” was an eloquent statement of middle-class disgust. The Antelope Valley, with its clean air, rolling hills, invigorating air currents and pride of community, was a nice place to live. Since the Northridge earthquake, the decline in home prices has brought a bad element to our community. This is not an element of race, religion, ethnicity or color; this is an element of welfare-dependent people. The addiction was given to them by government, a government that rewards complacency, lack of work ethics and perpetuating a lack of self-worth. As this insidious handout ruins families, lowers expectations and creates a society of citizens expecting someone else to take care of them, we all pay the price. Bill Clinton said he would pass welfare reform. He didn’t do it, and hard-working middle Americans, such as those in the Antelope Valley, are paying the price.

People get pride from work. Sometimes a temporary helping hand is necessary, but you must work for your handout. Otherwise society will perpetuate crime, boredom and disrespect. This is the issue of our time, and I beg of everyone: Demand legislation to make our society productive and proud.

DAVID ABERBUCH Palmdale

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* As I write this, my children are playing outside with several of their friends in the front of a neighbor’s house. It is nearly 8 p.m., yet I am fully secure about their safety and well-being. Several neighbors are also outside, enjoying the cool evening air. It is a street where many of us know one another--a very different atmosphere than many other places in Los Angeles.

Therefore, I am outraged by the negative portrayal of my community in your series “Driven to Extremes.” There was no attempt on the part of the writer to present any opinions other than the extreme views and situations described in both articles. This is an example of biased and shoddy journalism at its worst.

MARTHA SIDITSKY

Palmdale

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* I am appalled at the negative slant that Sonia Nazario took on describing Palmdale. I have lived in the Antelope Valley for over two years, and I am very happy with my lovely, affordable home and diversified neighborhood. My husband and I commute every day to Westwood and only spend 2 1/2 hours on the road, not five hours. Our 3-year-old spends the day with both his grandparents and is very happy and well-adjusted, not withdrawn and lonely as your article implies. Additionally, my little boy is not footloose and fancy-free while we chase dollars down the Antelope Valley Freeway. Even commuters can discipline their children via extended family, setting boundaries and just plain parenting. How can a writer base her whole story on one small segment of Palmdale?

I and my entire family who live in Palmdale are personally offended and do not appreciate the implication that life in the Antelope Valley is hell. It is not.

Stop bashing Palmdale.

CARMEN RICO

Palmdale

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* Two whole days devoted to Antelope Valley bashing. Slow news days in Los Angeles?

The Antelope Valley pictured in your recent article does not in any way resemble the Antelope Valley where I reside! Not a mention of the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, the JetHawks, the Palmdale Playhouse, Antelope Valley Indian Museum, Art Museum, annual Poppy Festival, etc. Littlerock High School hosted the Drama Teachers Assn. of Southern California Shakespeare Festival in March, attended by almost a thousand high school students from all over the Southland, representing a broad color spectrum, and a fabulous day was had by all. The Antelope Valley is a beautiful place to live, and raise a family. I demand equal time for a positive view of this great area.

MEG BOOKOUT

Littlerock

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* Regarding the scathing, irresponsible report on the Antelope Valley: First why pick on only a specific area of Palmdale; do Lancaster, Rosamond or any of the other communities here not have problems also? Second, why concentrate on all the negatives and downplay all the positives of living in the Antelope Valley. For all of the problems, they are a lot less than in most of the greater Los Angeles communities. As for the benefits of living here, for most people they far outweigh what most of Los Angeles has to offer.

Why didn’t the reporter interview the residents who live in other parts of Palmdale, Lancaster and Rosamond who would have given her a more balanced picture of what life is in the Antelope Valley. I’m sure people in some of the other outlying areas of Los Angeles have the same or worse problems than we have.

I really believe this reporter has done a great disservice to The Times and the Southern California community and needs to offer a follow-up article to show the facts as they really are. Barring a follow-up article, an apology to this community would be in order.

JACK COHEN

Palmdale


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