Letters to the Editor: Stop dismissing the lovers of old L.A. as NIMBYs

A Craftsman-style house in Los Angeles being demolished.
(Lexis-Olivier Ray)

To the editor: I agree that the housing shortage in Los Angeles provides a convenient pretext for development that actually displaces middle-income and working-class families. In the name of progress, elected officials and city planners enable developers to turn communities into commodities.

And the disenfranchisement of residents noted by local historian Nathan Marsak will only get worse under state laws designed to override local zoning.

But I object to columnist Nita Lelyveld’s observation that this unfolds “with barely a word” of opposition. L.A. activists constantly confront shortsighted policies, Sacramento arrogance and City Hall collusion.

We insist that existing infrastructure cannot support greater density; that high vacancy rates in posh developments worsen the housing shortfall; that the city should survey existing parcels suitable for development without zone changes; and that L.A. has no credible mechanism to monitor or enforce “commitments” for affordable units in upscale projects.


Developers, officials and, yes, the L.A. Times Editorial Board dismiss these arguments as NIMBYism. It’s long past time for real stakeholders, not slash-and-burn speculators, to call the shots.

Shelley Wagers, Los Angeles


To the editor: Dispiriting as it was to read the story of photojournalist Lexis-Olivier Ray’s loving documentation of the serial destruction of classic homes and commercial buildings, it is refreshing to see a rare discussion of this obvious side of the California rezoning controversy.


The housing crisis, and the concurrent insistence on planning for unlimited future growth, have reached such acuity that developers suddenly find themselves in the unaccustomed role of social activists, and I’m sure they are enjoying it.

In private they must also enjoy the irony, since they are obviously not in the game to create affordable housing; the few obligatory units for low income families included in their projects are clearly bagatelles.

Anyone who believes that density leads to affordability has obviously never gone apartment hunting in New York City.

Mary Farley, South Pasadena