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Opinion: More of you are helping us reimagine California after the pandemic. Keep the suggestions coming

Freeways
Southbound lanes of the 110 Freeway heading into downtown Los Angeles are empty in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Last week, we published an update of the Opinion section’s “Reimagine California” project — in which we are asking readers to help guide our thinking on what California ought to look like after the COVID-19 pandemic — noting that more than 3,700 of you have sent us responses. We asked for more readers participation in the project; a few dozen of you obliged.

Your suggestions include, on one end, the granular, ground-level changes readers want to see — everything from increasing controlled burns in wilfire-prone areas to using germ-resistant grocery bags — and on the other, reforming entire segments of society such as healthcare and education. Sprinkled among those were calls for racial justice and, yes, partisan digs.

Similar to the 3,700 responses that had already come in, the latest suggestions betray an abiding desire for reform among our readers, and the pandemic has helped clarify exactly what those changes might be. Here’s a sampling of those responses — and as always, please write us with your ideas.

Bill Higbee of Long Beach was among the readers suggesting street-level changes:

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I can think of a couple ways to improve, if not totally reimagine, California.

Plant lots of trees along our streets, especially drought-tolerant and flowering trees. It would improve air quality and beautify our cities.

Paint our bare concrete walls with murals, especially along our freeways. Art lovers would flock to California to enjoy the works of art, and we who live here could enjoy them too.

Remove car lanes on streets and install protected bike lanes. When people feel safe riding bikes instead of driving cars, we will all be fitter and healthier, breathe cleaner air and reduce climate change.

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These ideas do not radically reimagine California, but every little bit helps. And I think they are very doable.

Carmen R. Gonzalez of Glendale foresees temporary changes becoming permanent:

You have sent out a strange call to action about a post-pandemic era, when we are nowhere close to escaping this scenario. Even if we develop a COVID-19 vaccine, we are not out of the woods for future pandemics.

Given the radical changes we have experienced so far, I foresee a greater accommodation for government-sponsored child care designed to be smaller with social distancing in mind. I also see greater integration of government sites and buildings to support education, as L.A. County is already contemplating (for example, shared use of parks and libraries).

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I can now imagine remote access for cultural events, which was temporary, becoming a mainstay. Virtual museum tours and online speaking events will continue well into the future. I hope telecommuting is permanently embraced by employers.

Whatever the future holds, I’ll be reading the L.A. Times for the latest.

Cheryl Clark of Long Beach was one of many readers to call for strengthening the government safety net:

If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that we must provide healthcare to everyone. Nobody should worry about paying for a doctor or medicine.

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And, as European countries do, we should make sure that the unemployed are able to eat and pay rent. We need a dole, I guess. So few are at the top, and they’re getting big bucks from our government while the unemployed are desperate for rent and food money.

Increased taxes paid by the rich people will provide enough to ensure that the unemployed and disabled can live peacefully.

Anthony Edwards of Sydney, Australia, offers a bleak assessment from afar:

California is — well, was — an international tourist destination. Disneyland, the redwoods in the north, the San Francisco Bay, San Diego — all are places I want to visit again, but not until COVID-19 is dead, gun violence and mass shootings are down, and President Trump is history.

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It’s up to you how you cut it, but until you show more care and love for your fellow American, we’re not into you. At all.

I hope to visit you and my American friends again soon.


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