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The decline of Melrose Avenue as a shopping mecca; the San Bruno disaster; what about tax cuts?

What Melrose lacks

Re “Melrose Avenue loses trendsetting cachet,” Sept. 12

It’s sad to see the decline of such a vibrant part of the Los Angeles street scene.

I agree that during these budget-minded times, people have changed their retail choices. But there is more to this decline; on any given weekend or evening, there is no shortage of shoppers at some of the local “retail fantasy” spots.

It appears that many Angelenos want an “experience” when they shop, and are willing to settle for the same homogenized chain-store options seen in nearly every urban area across the country.

Julius Reuter

Guadalupe, Calif.

Melrose Avenue has been in decline for years. Recently I took a friend out for dinner there. After dinner, I suggested we take a stroll.

The difference in what I saw by walking down the street, rather than merely driving it, was striking. The sidewalks and gutters were strewn with trash. Weeds surrounded the few trees and poked out of the cracks in the sidewalks. Graffiti and dubious “art” were plastered on nearly every vertical surface. Worse, I found myself telling my friend about all the stores that used to be on Melrose.

Why did it take so many years to form the Melrose Avenue Merchants Alliance? I hope they start out by power-washing the sidewalks and sponsoring a litter cleanup campaign — but that would be just the beginning of what it would take to restore Melrose to the “destination” it once was, and deserves to be again.

Michael Krumme

Los Angeles

Can food trucks make the grade?

Re “On the ABC bandwagon,” Sept. 14

It makes complete sense that these food service vehicles should be required to post letter grades in their windows, because without having to display a letter, the owners could, and may already, get away with placing cleaning equipment, etc., on the same surface as a deep fryer or several vats of condiments.

As for myself and many others, seeing a letter grade in the window of a restaurant is a make-or-break deal when I am looking for a place to eat.

With mobile dining services proliferating in California, it is only fair that these meals on wheels comply with the same rules that apply to sit-down restaurants.

David Lasezkay

Coto de Caza

It’s about time L.A. County health officials try to get the letter grading system approved for food service trucks and carts.

Recently, my father ate a breakfast burrito purchased at a food truck and later became extremely ill.

With such strict regulations for restaurants, why should food service trucks and carts be treated any different? Let’s get this approved.

Samantha Holman

Hawthorne

Great idea. We need to start treating these food trucks like restaurants instead of pushing them away.

Once we begin to acknowledge that these trucks are here to stay, we begin to move in the right direction.

This notion that we should make parking tougher for them is absolutely wrong. We need to treat them as we do our restaurants — and that means grading their food quality.

Saul Linares

Los Angeles

A little town leveled

Re “The San Bruno inferno,” Sept. 11, and “The San Bruno explosion,” Sept. 14

The tragedy in San Bruno should be a wakeup call to the people of California: Our infrastructure is crumbling; our once greatest-in-the-world public education system is now second rate; our park system is on charity life-support. And, as a result, our reputation as a state is a smoldering hulk.

To be a great state, the state our children deserve, the people have to pony up as they did when California was the greatest place on Earth. Tax the obscene wealth of this state that now goes to ostentatious luxury, investments in multinational corporations and offshore accounts. Let’s have a tax system that makes this state great and safe again.

Michael Bickford

Arcata, Calif.

Your early coverage — both print and Internet — has exceeded other papers in depth, breadth and photojournalism.

Having attended Sunday school at the neighborhood church near the explosion, been a local paper boy and gone to Crestmoor High — then found work on national oil and gas pipeline projects — I do not think residents had a clue that the neighborhoods were set on top of a major gas line as you illustrated.

Ironically, I think the pipeline might have been rebuilt had people not worked against the extension of a freeway decades ago.

Robert Combs

Manhattan Beach

Having grown up about half a mile from the fire disaster, I can attest to the sturdiness and pride that embodies the residents of San Bruno. Like so many other small cities, San Bruno has always exemplified the American dream: homeownership and true neighborliness.

I hope these hallmark qualities will help residents affected by this horrific disaster successfully weather the storm.

Louisa B. Caucia

Montrose

Gang violence hits home

Re “Violent slaying retold in court,” Sept. 6

Gang member Jose Covarrubias stood in front of a grand jury describing how he “plunged a folding blade into Christopher Ash’s stomach four or five times as Ash lay dying on his back.”

As I read this article, I asked myself, is gang violence ever going to end? These people are dealing drugs, killing the innocent, and yet have such great power — who can stop them?

Losing a dear friend to gang violence was one of the hardest things with which I had to cope; I can imagine the amount of grief Ash’s family is going through.

Angela Attaryan

North Hollywood

Different takes on taxes

Re “The rich get richer,” Editorial, Sept. 10

As the rich have prospered, they have also paid their fair share of taxes. With the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, their share will continue to rise.

Meanwhile, some bottom earners pay little or no income tax. To be a really egalitarian society, shouldn’t we all have some “skin in the game” — even if it’s only $20 a year?

Glynn Morris

Playa del Rey

Focusing attention on “the rich get richer” does not come close to providing solutions to the problems of “the poor get poorer,” the “middle class shrinks” and “American job growth is insufficient.”

The rich getting richer in America can be tolerated, if not applauded, if it is accompanied by the reality that the less rich will be getting richer at a faster pace than the rich.

If that means that tax rates for individuals and corporations have to be adjusted by Congress (and state legislatures) based on improving the American economy, so be it.

Marc Jacobson

Los Angeles

Ivory tower vs. the real world

Re “Making the economy work for workers,” Opinion, Sept. 8

It was alarming to read this article; market-based economic thought is not alive and well at MIT.

The author discusses tax credits for jobs, which have been shown to not be the magic bullet of momentum for job growth. Businesses hesitate to hire due to contracting demand, regulatory uncertainty and tax policy without clear direction.

Though improvements in labor laws could be welcomed, new labor policy must be weighed by both policymakers and the private sector with a firm view of the global economy.

Implementing an academic “wish list” will not provide needed opportunity for those seeking employment, or entities that can provide it.

Mark Serjak

Westlake Village


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