Friday, October 04, 2013

Chicken and egg in LA

Last June, the LA Times lamented the low voter turnout for LA's recent mayoral election (23.3%). Today's LA Times reports that (no surprise to those who live here) we lead U.S. big cities in the condition of our roads ("L.A. has worst big-city road in the nation ...").  A coincidence?  Just like the fact that chickens and eggs are often found in close proximity. Chicken-and-egg will probably go on for a very long time. In our other cycle (voters are turned off-interest groups win and take all the money-city services decline-voters are turned off) how long can that go on?

Los Angeles' core area will continue to have declining share of a growing metropolitan area. The core and the periphery continue to hang on together -- even as their relative weights continue to shift. The New York metropolitan area has been #1 in the U.S. for a long time, even as New York City went through bad as well as good times.  LA has been #2 for many years too (although not as many) for the same reason. Chicago has been #3 since 1960 when it switched places with LA. There is remarkable stability at the top because big cities get big suburbs.

How can "car crazy" Los Angeles have the worst roads?  How can it survive with a dysfunctional city hall? It hangs on as center of a large patch that offers just enough variety of opportunities to remain attractive to just enough labor and capital. This suggests that the dysfunctional city hall will also survive.