The end of the year is approaching but LA Podcast just keeps rolling! As always, we open with some stories from across LA.
Hayes attended an open house (NOT a public meeting, as Jackie “Ç’est Formidable” Goldberg emphasized to the line of people waiting to register their disapproval) and found that community members in Echo Park are mobilizing to prevent new supportive housing in the neighborhood. On the bright side, Everyone In is working to mitigate concerns about the loss of recreational space as a result of new housing for Angelenos in need.
Alissa gives a shout out to Minneapolis, which ushered in a new era in American municipal governance by becoming the first U.S. city to eliminate single-family suburban zoning citywide. They also eliminated all parking minimums! That’s Minnesota nice for you!
(By the way here’s our new logo courtesy of Alissa’s daughter.)
Scott ate a lot of sushi before a show about UCB Franklin and, according to Hayes, the UCB theaters might be an only-in-LA thing before long.
Turning to the news, we have a follow-up on a story from our episode “AND TEJON OF THE BRAVE“: namely, the Board of Supervisors gave approvals to the Tejon Ranch sprawl development near the northern border of LA County. Although this project has been decried by critics as an ecological disaster and, in the wake of a particularly grim fire season, a potentially deadly site for new housing, the supervisors had no compunction about pushing it forward. Kathryn Barger, who supervises the district in which Tejon Ranch would be located, tried to make the case that this sprawl project was somehow different than the old, bad kind of sprawl. We disagree!
In city business, the council voted unanimously to extend its cruel ban on sleeping overnight in parked vehicles, a doubling-down on criminalizing the victims of a housing crisis that the councilmembers have had a significant hand in sustaining.
And we talk Ktown activism. Following up on earlier coverage in “SIDEWALK THE LINE” and “THE TALENTED MR. RIDLEY-THOMAS,” we trace the throughlines from a year of political uprising among the Korean-American community that has now led to the Wilshire Community Coalition, spearheaded by lawyer Jake Jeong, demanding LAUSD paint over a mural of Ava Gardner on the side of the district’s RFK campus.
The WCC claimed in a letter that the mural “depicted” the rising sun battle flag of the Japanese Empire of the first half of the 20th century, during a period in which the Japanese government committed atrocities against the Korean people. LAUSD quickly caved to the demands despite the fact that the mural does not actually depict any such thing.
Scott calls it “arbitrary censorship” but Hayes says that the motives aren’t arbitrary on either end: one one hand, LAUSD has bigger battles ahead, and, on the other, Jeong seems to be lining himself up to capitalize off increasing political consciousness in Ktown with a run for city council.
Finally, we talk to Jesenia Chavez and Janice Chow, teachers in LAUSD and members of the UTLA union. They talk to us about what the union’s #strikeready campaign is all about and what it would like if all of the district’s teachers went on strike. The union is not just out for teachers, they’re looking for comprehensive reforms that would impact the daily lives and learning environments of all of their students. That means smaller class sizes, better access to pre-k and childcare, freedom from random searches, an elimination of armed police officer presence on campus, regulation of the growth of charter schools, and Sanctuary Schools policies designed to protected children from the predatory presence of ICE. They also talk about the potential impacts of a plan by Supt. Austin Beutner to turn the district into smaller school “networks.”
You can follow LAUSD’s public school teachers as they fight for all of these things at WeArePublicSchools.org and UTLA.net or on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook at UTLANow. The RFK schools is also accepting donations of money and food for students in need at RFKfoodcommittee@gmail.com!