Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You'll Pry my pastrami from my cold dead hands!

The Plan is simple, feed them, fatten them up and then eat them!- Jaycee

To Serve Man! It's A Cookbook! -Twilight Zone

Soylent Green! It's People!- Soylent Green!

The Los Angeles City Council ever forward thinking discussed a proposal to enact a ban not on the proliferation of military style hand weapons and assault rifles or the effort to replace much needed bus routes and buses affecting the cities working class and poor populace or fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, lack of jobs or youth programs and gangs but of the number of fast food joints in South Los Angeles. That used to be South Central and for you really hip folks Watts!

The proposal actually seeks to limit any new fast food type restaurants from opening in a specific geographic area in and around south central citing health concerns for the citizens. There are simply too many restaurants of the same type saturating this area. And they say were too fat! Of course everyone seems to agree that we city folks are fat, obese in fact! So it appears that the city council is proposing the ban in order to prevent an under served community from being abused further. So it appears.

There have been similar bans and proposals in other cities banning and limiting Liquor stores and Billboards that market smoking ads. So the proposals are not far fetched! But I wonder if these is just the precursor to a much different, much more sinister agenda for South Los Angeles. This proposal, on its face is presented like its for the protection of the community. The South Los Angeles community has a disproportionate amount of Liquor stores, Gun stores and advertising of Liquor and Cigarettes.

But the council has not wholeheartedly jumped into the fray over the fate of MLK Hospital. It has not sought funding to my knowledge to reopen the 96 preventive care clinics that served South Los Angeles and Los Angeles county. I have yet to see a gym or fitness center in South Los Angeles. So what gives? Could this be the opening volley to Gentrify South central?

The city council appears to battle not against gridlock or smog but against Clowns! Clowns hawking 2000 calorie, cheesy, pickled, mayo splashed, mustard soaked, catsup drenched grease fried pockets of death!

Ok, real talk! It was amazing to watch people on the news when asked about the proposed ban talk about how it's people's own choice to do what they want. No one should restrict them although yes, it would be nice to have better restaurants!

Now for a sensible blogger such as myself, I have self control! I can walk pass a burger stand, taco stand, chicken joint, donut shop and liquor store on every block within a four block radius and resist.....the urge to go in all of them at once. The fact that I have no cash and there's no bank or ATM nearby is not the reason I don't!

I have self control!

I do darn it!

I can quit eating fresh hot donuts anytime I want!

I just don't want to.

The amazing thing about it is that when someone wants to take away or do away with something for people's own good people freak out!

It's about Choice man!

Really? Was it your choice to have a ton of fast food joints in a whole section of town instead of quality grocery stores, banks and shopping centers? Was it your choice not to have any sit down quality restaurants where you could take a family or a date out for a night on the town?
Was it your choice to not have a movie theatre/cineplex, arcade, bowling alley or any good night club establishments?

So you chose to design your area with no farmer's market, no floral shop, no bank, no medical clinic, no gyms just a taco shop, next to a burger stand, across from a rib joint next to a discount smoke shop catercorner to a liquor store! You chose that? That was your design, huh?

No, you didn't design that! Previous city councils, searching for tax revenue allowed restaurants like all these fast food joints to build in one swatch of town even though it was overcrowded, discouraging to other types of businesses and an eyesore on the community. You telling me you chose to have an economic stink bomb that lowered your property values? You saying that you zoned a million small stone front churches alongside all these fast food joints? You chose to zone 3 payday loan, check cashing stores every two blocks next to the burger joints and storefront churches? You mean you chose a liquor store or two on every block in South Los Angeles, a gun shop, thrift shop, auto wrecking yard?

No, that wasn't your choice and it actually isn't your choice now either. The city council is still only concerned about tax revenues. They want the sales tax that they know they will be able to generate from rezoning the area and removing the clusters of low quality restaurants, which are mostly Mom and Pop and replacing them with more desirable edifices.

Question, what about a Mom and Pop restaurant perhaps a generational owned Rib shack that wants to become a sit down restaurant. Will they be afforded the same tax incentives and breaks as say a major chain? Or will they be put out of business?

Eventually the city will desire to add artist lofts, Condos, Houses, Theatres, retail shops and real restaurants and night clubs. Then the next phase will be moving the poor out!

They won't just leave premium real estate in the hands of the working class! No, Gentrification is the order on the menu! That is ultimately what they are talking about! They are gonna clean up the area that for 45 years they have let you rot in and collect top dollar for it.

If you really want to keep that from happening though, it is possible.

Here's how, first we start an email, snail mail letter writing campaign to Bernie Parks, Mark Ridley Thomas, Earvin Magic Johnson, Dennis Zine, Antonio Villarigoza, The Hahns since it is affectionately their father's and grandfather's district, Yvonne Braite Burke and some of the other council folks and politicos stating that hey we want a quality grocery store like a whole foods or trader joes or a 32nd street market. Then we write the farmers market association to get a farmers market(s) in specific areas of town.

We must get the media involved in our efforts. First we will must control the message. We will not be gentrified! If anyone is going to reap the benefits of urban renewal it will be those who are truly urban! Dig!

The council has the right idea giving tax incentives to sit down restaurants to attract interests but again, they got another thing coming if they think they will be allowed in without hiring folks that live in the neighborhood already.

Hey! I like good food and art and a safe viable business friendly neighborhood! I'm working towards that now but not for someone else to enjoy.

Noooooo! You wouldn't choose that! But hey! weren't we just talking about my double pastrami on rye right?

Yeah, we are and you can keep right on eating it too. They'll have to pry mine from my cold dead hands, oops hand, as I clutch my chest with the other one, but if we play our cards right instead of being a bunch of brain dead reactionaries then they can transport us in an ambulance to a quality medical facility nearby. Then, we can walk a decent urban neighborhood with a farmers market, a good grocery store, good shops, a theatre and the stuff a real neighborhood is made of. Then go and have half of a pastrami and a orange bang!

Be Mindful! Be Prayerful! Be Careful!


robusta barista said...

Yes, it is definitely a money-driven move on the part of city councils to zone and/or ban certain businesses in certain areas of the city. Putting a million fast food joints in an area known for poor health choices is mainly to collect taxes from these restaurant chains. And yes, when they are ready, the area will be zoned with high-end condos, prissy malls and such, and the lower incomed residents will be priced out of the market.

I'm of the firm belief that there is always an unsaid reason for the "powers that be" to do anything, and it ain't because it's for the betterment of the people. The incentive is always money!

As for banning more fast food restaurants? To me it's a choice to eat garbage, and no one should try to save a logical, thinking person from himself/herself! Again, there's an underlying reason for this ban...and they ain't saying.

robusta barista said...

Oh, I forgot to mention. In my area, there is a ban on selling fortified liquor in the east part of my city. There's a way of steering the community in the direction in which the council desires without actually being prejudicial.

Mista Jaycee said...

Cool, well when president Clinton moved to Harlem, there were folks who were not happy because they felt it was just a ploy to gentrify the area. They did gentrify the area and it's still ongoing. Harlem will no longer has a Black population, they will be priced out of the brownstones. I saw a you tube doc on that where the residents said people in the know were allowed to buy the brownstones for $1 but it was only told to people in the know. WOW!

robusta barista said...

This is no surprise! Those in power have always manipulated and tweaked policy in order to obtain a desired outcome. Now you know they had to suit the community to suit Clinton's needs. The price is right for those in the know, ain't it? $1 brownstones? Only those who they wanted to buy were aware of that deal!

Luscious Librarian said...

I can't speak on the motives of city council, but I can say whether they are friend or foe remains to be seen. I suspect that passing a law is a lot easier than convincing juice bars and health food stores to open in the hood.

And, as always, I have mixed feelings about gentrification. A neighborhood cannot be taken away, it must be given away. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood with no sit down restaurants or healthy food shops/stores. It is not clean here, nor are the streets relatively safe. The property values are low.

If gentrification begins we'll probably stay. If it doesn't we'll most likely move, and here's why.

I grew up in the burbs. If you didn't cut your grass you got a note from the homeowner's assoc. and then you cut it. Everyone kept their yards clean and except for the rare occassion people were respectful of their neighbors and kept loud music to daylight hours.

Not so in the hood. Trash collects by the roadways, blunt guts are left on my sidewalk, and we've been robbed. Is this the community I should be trying to save? Or are we being romantic and trying to pretend that the "community" of the 60's that marched together still exists?

Mista Jaycee said...

Hi Luscious Librarian,
Finally, I get to vibe with you. I love your blog!
I would be at odds with so called urban renewals and gentrification not because I am against new businesses but because it does not serve and uplift the working class and poor. Most of the urban renewal type schemes have all ended up pricing out the poor and moving the poor to other less desirable areas. I believe the effort should be to uplift the area and its current residents. Again, I'm not against anyone making money as long as I get paid too. Why should anyone be allowed to come and remake the neighborhood under the guise it's for my benefit then not let me benefit. You bring in a store that wont hire the people who live in the neighborhood? That doesn't pay them enough for them to even rent a place in the improved neighborhood! Where a business owner who has suffered through all the shortcomings of the neighborhood can be frozen out of the uplift. Nah!
In my neighborhood in Long Beach, I lived Downtown when it was crummy and was active in the arts movement that helped revitalize the area. It was renamed the east arts village then the galleries, bookstores and cutural happenings that made the neighborhood so desireable were closed down due to high ever increasing rents, businesses and homeowners were evicted by emminent domain as private developers came in and built large condo and artist loft, shopping centers. The businesses that were already there had to move or go out of business, they didnt get to benefit from the harvest. That's not right! A studio apartment in 2000 in my neighborhood was $400 a month by 2004 the same place was $980 and this was for buildings built in the 1920's without any improvements. No, they would price Black folks right out of South Central and invite those Whites who fled the cities in the 1960's and 70's for the suburbs.
Nah! I grew up in Compton and Watts( South LA) My Grandparents, RIP raised their family there for over 45 years. I have a vested emotional interest in this.
Thanks for stopping by! Come back and make yourself at home.