Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.
Thank you very much;
you're only a step away from
downloading your reports.

Nobody Walks In Los Angeles


Bureaucrats can't change city - or its citizens.

Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's fictional private eye, who schlepped around Southern California long before the birth of the freeway, once said that Los Angeles had "all the personality of a paper cup."

Marlowe nailed it, unless you think strip malls, stucco houses and gas stations forever and ever without end, amen, are glorious.

The California Air Resources Board plans to do something about that.

The bureaucrats in Sacramento plan to encourage the development of walkable cities with shorter commutes and improved public transportation. It's all part of a massive top-down plan to cut air pollution 10 percent by 2020 through a cap-and-trade program on carbon dioxide emissions.

The program will encourage the development of electric cars and hydrogen-powered vehicles. (Hydrogen is the Holy Grail of environmental dreamers. They've forgotten that the Hindenburg was filled with hydrogen when it exploded in Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937.)

The good folks in Sacramento also seem to have forgotten how and why California developed as it did.

It's often said that Los Angeles is a collection of suburbs looking for a city center. Unlike New York's Midtown and Wall Street, there are no densely packed employment centers in Los Angeles. It's therefore difficult to imagine all those folks in thinly populated suburbs dutifully boarding yet-to-be-built mass transit lines to take them… where, exactly?

When it comes to walking, there's not much to see in LA. There's little street life in most areas, and commercial activity is pegged to the car. This means acres of asphalt parking lots or parking garages higher than the Great Wall of China. How can bureaucrats in Sacramento change that?

Folks moved to Los Angeles in great numbers after World War II because they liked uncrowded living and mild (if boring) weather. Los Angeles developed as it did because people wanted it that way and geography made it possible.

The region abandoned its extensive trolley system and only recently rebuilt a few of the major trolley lines. The bureaucrats will say that driving long distances on the freeways made sense only while gas prices were low - but here's betting that people are still willing to pay for their slice of suburban bliss. LA is the nation's largest gasoline market for a reason.

It's simple: most people in California don't want to live like those in Manhattan (or even San Francisco) - and there's nothing the California Air Resources Board can do about it.

This is good news for Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC), which offer hybrid cars, and major oil companies such as ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX).

California is so different from the Northeast that it could be a foreign country. However, California's cities are hopeless to an Easterner's eye. Recall Gertrude Stein's lament about Oakland: "There is no there there."

The best efforts by the California Air Resources Board won't change much, except to increase costs and make the state less hospitable to business.
< Previous
  • 1
Next >
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Videos