I read an article recently in the Los Angeles Times about a neighborhood called Manchester Square that the good folks over at nearby LAX have turned into a virtual “ghost town.” A ghost town in the middle of Los Angeles? I had to see for myself. So I took a drive over there today, and man, what a sad scene it was.
According to the article, Manchester Square — basically bounded by La Cienega, Century, Aviation and Arbor Vitae — was a vibrant community that began its life in the post-war building boom. That life is slowly and painfully coming to an end.
It seems that back in 1999, residents filed a petition against LAX demanding that the airport sound proof all of their homes. Instead of spending tens of millions of dollars on that, LAX came up with another idea — it would buy up all of the houses for eventual airport expansion.
So over the past 14 years, the airport has been busy buying house after house and tearing them down. So what is left are blocks and blocks of vacant lots, with a house containing a stubborn home owner sprinkled in.
Oh, and LAX has no concrete plans for expansion anytime soon.
This is an extreme example of what I have written about in the past, how the city allows developers to create blight by tearing down existing, functional buildings and then waiting years to develop the land. Developers should be forced to build immediately following demolition.
If LAX had a plan and went ahead and bought all of the houses at once and built its project, then fine. But to destroy a neighborhood, to create a crime-ridden slum because of the possibility of building something at some point in the future is simply inexcusable.