Monday, January 30, 2006
California seems to be the land of Paradise to so many. Enough to make the streets and the highways hard to transverse even to go to a market .... and many things must be purchased in shopping malls which very quickly become like a backed-up sewer pipe. This is only one problem of 'Paradise' the other problem is getting things like water to so many people in a naturally dry environment.
Los Angeles was really several towns that grew together via the rails. There was a town at the beach, Santa Monica (still there), which was connected to a light rail which ran down San Vincenty and Santa Monica Boulevard from Downtown Los Angeles. Downtown was THE metropolis and was connected by rail to the Harbor, south, and then, east, out to the city of San Bernardino (my grandfather and his mother moved our here when his father died in Arizona - the town used to be called by the LA locals, "San Berdoo."). The cost of living got out of hand for the everyday citizens, and the City Fathers of LA needed more tax money (at that time the corruption issue in LA was blatant and outrageous) and so people began the ubiquitous suburbs that now choke the entire area.
The movie industry came here because we were so lawless (and immoral .... think about that as you watch the television today). And, just as WWII wound down, and not to ignore some other issues (see the movie Chinatown or watch my documentary - click on it to the right, it's free) folks from various backgrounds (many were either poor farmers or inmates from other state prisons) build the San Fernando Valley.
One has to understand that the San Fernando Valley, historically, was a swamp in some areas, and so today when it rains, the freeway fills with water. Before the homes were build (and all the good workers were taken back from hence they came - I met someone whose father was on one of the teams from jail in Utah) the area was farmland. My grandmother came to LA as a small child by railroad, to be with her grandmother who lived in the Adams District. My grandmother said she could smell the orange blossoms miles before she could see them by train. Fact is, Los Angeles and the surrounding counties have been giving up farming land to houses and such... even as I write this. But, one problem remains - water.
During the early fifties, the AAA and GM got together to get Los Angeles to give up their light rails for freeways and cars (their campaign was to get rid of the ugly electric wires for the clean electric cars that transversed the city so we could see the blue sky - but by 1960 smog eliminated that!!!). GM also invested in land in the Santa Monica Mountains and other areas to create more developments that needed more cars and freeways to get anywhere. And the three sources of water for all of Southern California; Owen's Valley, Sacramento River and the Colorado River, are all coming to their own 'tipping point' with the increases of the human population, climate change, and the need to pour concrete over everything.
There are many little details that go into this story, but I had to give a taste of things because as I drove through yet another area (Agora Hills in Ventura County, one of the fastest growing counties in the basin) that is being torn up for mini-mansions and such. I find stuff like this and I just can't believe it.
These people have just invested in a multi-million dollar home with automatic this and that... and yet no one is home ....in ALL of the possible definitions. It was chilly the last few nights, and the area can go below freezing, but these people have to have a perfect lawn. Icicles a foot long formed on the trees and the grass and the street and the sidewalk - !!!! everything where the sprinklers poured water, there was ice....!!!! sign.... And what didn't soak the lawn, or froze on the plants and cement, melted in the morning sun and ran down the drain out to the ocean.... only to be seen again in a few years, perhaps.... if we get enough rain.... or snow in the Sierra Nevada's a few hundred miles from here... or the Grand Canyon a thousand miles from here...