Saturday, November 16, 2013

Millions of nobodies

When I mention mass transit in Los Angeles, the most common retort I hear is that no one rides mass transit in LA; we all must drive.  If that is so, then there are millions of nobodies in LA.

We've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Green Line Extension in our neighborhood. Currently, the Green Line terminus in Redondo Beach is a rather long walk (but easy bike ride) to our home.


KCET's Eric Brightwell wrote about his recent experience exploring the neighborhoods around the proposed Green Line extension.  When I read his piece, I was struck by the ugliness embodied in his photos.  It didn't jibe with my personal experience.  Bad Dad said that the area right around the proposed line is uglier than the surroundings.  But, I went around with new eyes and saw the ugliness in the familiar that my brain masks out.

LA is full of these micro-communities or urban villages.  That may look like just another freeway exit to you, but it leads to a familiar community to those who take that exit ramp.  When I see my exit, I don't see the billboards and utility poles.  My mind sees the people and businesses that make up my home neighborhood.  LA is so diverse, you can travel the world within a 50-mile radius of home.

Anyway, read Brightwell's piece.  I hadn't heard that Torrance is nicknamed Torrance Prefecture for its distinctly Japanese flavor, though I am not surprised.  I agree with his characterization that:
[...] Eastgate Plaza, in my mind, is easily the most appealing shopping center in the region.

Unlike most malls, whose collection of shops varies little from mall to mall, Eastgate Plaza is practically its own J-Town. Currently the mall is home to Bistro Beaux, Matsui, Musha Izakaya, Sushi Nozomi, Teriyaki Inn, and Torihei, and a Mitsuwa Marketplace -- itself practically a mall-within-a-mall that includes Hamada-ya Bakery, Go Squared Takoyaki & Taiyaki, Italian Tomato, J-Sweets, Lupicia, Marion Crepes, Mifune, Santouka Ramen, and Tokyo Ginza Rokumeikan as well as Japanese specialty shops like Video Eye, Books Sanseido, and Trendy.
I would also add that JTB (Japanese Tourist Bureau) has a booth/office inside Eastgate Plaza where you can book trips to Japan at some of the best rates offered anywhere.

Brightwell also remarked upon the diversity of the South Bay.
Definitions of what communities constitute the South Bay vary, but most would include those between the Santa Monica Bay and the 405 Freeway, stretching from Palos Verdes Peninsula in the south to Ballona Creek in the north. It's one of the most diverse regions in the Southland, with significant populations of Canadian, English, Filipino, German, Guatemalan, Indian, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Persian, Salvadoran, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and West African ancestral origins, which means, of course, that the region also boasts an amazing variety of eateries. It's one of the most physically beautiful regions of the Southland as well, with stunning beaches and incredible views of the ocean. Even the huge oil refineries -- though they regrettably contribute significantly to air pollution -- are captivatingly beautiful in their own way.
Actually, if you zoom in on the 2010 Census map to the South Bay, you can see that certain neighborhoods of the SB (especially my own) are among the .most. diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles and the entire USA.

Look at the segregation in the entire Westside outside of my neighborhood, which realtors derisively refer to as "felony flats".

I highly recommend the Source blog for all things related to transportation in LA or just mass transit in general.  How else would you gain exposure to construction videos for the Moscow Purple line subway extension?

5 comments:

  1. Driving in LA pushes me to the brink of my sanity! It's truly distressing, and increasingly frightening. Of course I never take public transport or ride my bike! I'd like to ride my bike, but it would involve about a quarter of a mile on Slauson and that seems like suicide.

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    1. Slauson would scare me, too. Do you see any alternatives on the LA Bike Route map? http://media.metro.net/riding_metro/bikes/images/la_bike_map.pdf

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  2. More people might avail themselves of public transit if the bus stops had maps and schedules instead of movie posters on them. Even so, the buses/rail cars I take sometimes are usually full.

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    1. Or what about Portland's signs that tell you how many minutes before the next bus? Then you can decide if there is enough time to pick up a cup of coffee. I wonder if there is an app for that?

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  3. Love the dot map. Thanks!

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