Column: Mike Davis’ final email to me captured the L.A. ‘sewer explosion’ — and reminded me to write, not mourn.
I have long lived in the bubble — the city of Los Angeles, and the surrounding area, have the distinction of being the most segregated region in the country. In the last decade alone, I’ve moved from the Pacific Palisades to the South Bay, from the San Fernando Valley to the Westside.
In all these places, the problem is worse. In Los Angeles, we have the worst urban housing segregation in the United States, with black Los Angeles being far less likely to live on the same block as a white person. And the areas where black L.A. is most concentrated contain an estimated 80 percent of the region’s drug problem, and 60 percent of violent crime. This is an ongoing problem that has metastasized to include one of the worst rates of incarceration and one of the most violent and segregated school systems in the country.
If you live in either L.A. or the surrounding areas, you’ve seen it from the top down. In the South Bay, the community was devastated by the 2010 Woolsey fire, where one of the worst residential fires in history burned houses from Topanga to Santa Barbara, along with thousands of homes and businesses. In the San Fernando Valley, the community was devastated by the 2012 Loma Prieta earthquake, and thousands of low-income people were left without housing.
As the cities recover, and the housing crisis continues to get worse, many of the neighborhoods where I grew up now resemble ghost towns, with the only new building being the giant monstrosity being built on the site of the historic Los Angeles Times Building at 6th and Broadway in downtown L.A.
A few of these neighborhoods have been gentrified, and new businesses are beginning to open. The one that has been especially controversial is the historic warehouse and performance venue at 1055 N. La Cienega Blvd.
In my time living in Los Angeles, from the 1980s to the early 2000s, I knew that the largest warehouse near my house was on the corner of Broadway and La Cienega. It was the building that housed La Cienega’s first-ever nightclub, The Tunnel, and also housed the L.A. rock group, L.A. Guns. The warehouse