Rules are For Losers

ALPERN AT LARGE--Our society has been burned so hard, and from all sides, by those breaking the rules getting rich--and at the expense of those following the rules--that this article might appear to be woefully naive and out of date.  Rules are for suckers, and lawbreakers WIN too damned often to decry the lack of rules, right? 

1) SB 827--the Wiener Bill, with its own army of Wiener followers and Wiener wannabes--purports to end our housing/affordability crisis by trashing and thrashing local/city/county zoning laws to build, build, BUILD high-rises all over the coastline's megalopolis...even if/when there is NO infrastructure to support such aggressive zoning changes.

And our brave cities and counties--including those in Los Angeles and San Francisco--are opposing this bill, despite a long history of their own myriad lists of breaking the laws of zoning, physics, biology, and decency.

The answer to affordability and housing is to follow the law, and to change the laws when they are too imposing and limiting in our ability to fix the problems. 

Like ... following Vancouver's example and imposing a surcharge/tax on rich foreign entities who gobble up houses and residential complexes and make it ridiculously and impossibly expensive for local citizens to purchase their own home or condo.

Like ... stopping the effort to create beehive complexes with very little to attract families and encourage development/redevelopment of family-friendly homes.  Not "housing units" for Silicon Valley/Silicon Beach worker bees, but "homes" for families.

Like ... focusing on "horizontal" density on commercial corridors that allow an extra story of two along stretches of major, family-friendly and transit-adjacent thoroughfares that preserve neighborhoods, not transform them into crudholes

Like ... encouraging the development of changing large single residential tracts into 3-4 houses, each with their own appropriate parking/infrastructure requirements.

Like ... encouraging more inland water basins and creating large amounts of suburban, family-friendly houses that encourage a middle class, and ending leftist/extremist paradigms that tell hard-working families that they're "selfish" to own their own home, and their own little slice of the American Dream.

And so on ... but this isn't about meeting affordability/housing needs, is it?  It's about making MONEY, dammit, for the Silicon Valley/Beach overlords and developers who find it more cost-effective to break the rules than to follow the rules and pay appropriate mitigation costs for their projects.

2) Airbnb and Rentals--While this should be a good idea, just like Uber/Lyft, with ordinary citizens becoming semi-independent entrepreneurs, this has too-often morphed into a bunch of greedy landowners who will send their neighbors to Hades just to make a few bucks.

Gone is the era where imposing bad conditions on your neighbors (noise, too many people and cars, unsustainable use of infrastructure for a single-family dwelling) would prevent an honorable citizen from doing the unthinkable.  Instead, it's just a bunch of creepy, self-obsessed, all-about-ME jerks who want to make money even if/when they make their neighbors' lives a living hell.

And the effort by the City Council to prevent land/home purchasers from buying out homes and turning them into de facto hotels?

A good idea but coming from a City Council of lawbreakers who've turned Los Angeles into an unlivable City, and unaffordable City, we'll see how that hypocritical effort goes.

3) And Dare We Mention the Obvious, Most Blatant Threat to Our Minimum Wage-Loving Leadership?

At the front of the Hypocrisy Hangout that is California is our sudden declaration that "no one is illegal", and that anyone who questions the legitimacy of illegal aliens--er undocumented immigrants or make that persecuted migrants.  Because NO ONE is demanding that work permits, enforcing the Minimum Wage for those not here legally, and keeping jobs and rights for those here legally is being ensured.

Because really, it's all about the MONEY.  As in "look at ME, I'm rich, y'all".  I win, just like those Republican and Democratic leaders who claim to be for the little guy when they're in the pockets of their rich donors.  Wall Street, Silicon Valley ... it makes no difference!

So, when you want a good laugh, raise up the idea that there are rules, zoning laws, employment requirements, etc. to prevent the bad guys from winning and to make sure there's a solid foundation in our economic and physical environment.

Because when you look around for the real reason you (provided you're one of those remaining few following the law, regardless of your political bent) are losing ground, you might want to watch if your neighbor is shafting and undermining your future--and your children's future--just to make a few extra scandalous bucks.

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at [email protected]. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)