Now that Americana at Brand is up and running, is billionaire mall developer Rick Caruso ready for a really big project? Say, a $7-billion budget and 4 million shoppers ... er, residents?
Caruso, who also created the Grove, has been flirting for months with entering Los Angeles’ next mayoral race -- and apparently getting encouragement. “Lots of people have called me,” he told The Times’ Tina Daunt, who reached him while sailing off the coast of Italy in late June. “Stay tuned,” he teased.
Caruso in the mayor’s office would portend big changes for L.A.
Setting the mood: The citizens are gradually driven to the cusp of madness by the Frank Sinatra and Celine Dion music pumped throughout the city 24/7. A lawsuit filed by a linguistically adroit ACLU attorney dubs this “audio water-boarding.”
Eminent domain: In a controversial move deemed “out of control hubris” by his political foes, Mayor Caruso orders the seizure of every remaining mom-and-pop store in town. Caruso razes the structures to make way for scores of fountains replete with “dancing waters.”
Education: Calling the Los Angeles Unified School District a “failed experiment,” the city converts many public schools to Cheesecake Factories. Standardized test scores are virtually unchanged, with a modest uptick in some areas.
Naming rights: The contentious imbroglio over the naming rights to the venerable Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is resolved when, after intense backroom negotiations, the mayor announces that henceforth it will be known as the Armani Exchange Coliseum.
Transit: Several MTA buses are replaced with streetcars on faux cobblestone roads going nowhere. After a near-catastrophic collision, Caruso deflects criticism by asserting that the fake roads are, statistically, still safer than the Orange Line.
Economy: Caruso balances the city budget. He accomplishes this in part by eliminating all street parking and building city-owned parking structures that charge $8 for the first hour and $6 for each subsequent 15 minutes, with a maximum rate of $179 a day for a lost ticket.
Urban development: Caruso mandates that city planners remake downtown L.A. with the facade of a small town. Freeway offramps are marked with “Welcome to Jones Creek” placards, and along Figueroa Street, plastic cutouts of “townsfolk” sit on pseudo porches. Staples Center gets a gimmicky sign reading, “Mo’s Barbershop. C’mon in, y’all.”
The homeless: Each morning at dawn, stylists arrive on skid row and dress the homeless in seasonal fashions promoting the latest Barney’s of New York line. At dusk, the stylists again sweep through “the Row,” as they call it, ripping the fashions from the homeless -- abandoning them, naked, on the streets. Activists promise to “look into” the situation.
L.A. River revitalization: 51 miles of dancing waters.