04.03.09 New Infrastructure Solutions in L.A. @ MAK Center at the Schindler House

Eric Moss thinks L.A. holds on too tightly to the concept of democracy, and he also thinks that L.A. needs a Robert Moses. I suspect he thinks he should be the one to fill those contested shoes. He made his proposal (along with many others) Thursday night at an event celebrating the winning entries for the recent “Innovative Transit Solutions for Los Angeles” competition, and to discuss the proposals’ finer points, along with the process by which the winning entries were chosen.

The panel consisting of Moss, KCRW’s Frances Anderton, Santa Monica City Planner Francie Stefan, Countywide Planning’s Diego Cardoso, Art Center’s Stewart Reed, and transportation planner Roland Genick, proved that designers, planners, urbanists and engineers sure love to ponder big “I” infrastructure, but really still don’t know how to talk about it, or how to frame it within their own professional terms. It seems L.A.’s red cars just keep coming up. And the River.

But an ongoing discussion like this does seem to be getting us somewhere. After about an hour of Red Car-regurgitation stories and talk of high-speed trains, Genick came up with the most illuminating (and simple) statement of the evening. “There should be an organizing structure of how you want the city to operate. Its not simply shuffling people more efficiently.” And going further, possibly even taking a shot at Related Co’s new Civic Park project in downtown L.A., which has promised to connect disparate demographics in the city, he said, “You won’t be able to take a picture of it. Making our own Millennium Park isn’t going to fix anything.”

And it’s the truth. Moss can’t solve it himself, and neither can the planners. It will take many more discussions like these, and many more competitions like the “Innovative Transit Solutions” to frame the problem and solution. It will take time, and it won’t happen over night (as we’ve been told so often recently). But with organized, driven groups like the one gathered at the MAK center this cold, foggy evening, we’re on the road toward something.

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