No, Californians Still Don’t Realize How Badly They’ve Stepped in It
Robert J. Cristiano’s piece at New Geography gives a nice snapshot at the decline and pending fall of the once great state of California. In short, take the prosperity, open spaces, and renowned public education system of the 60s, add draconian environmental and developmental regulations, a defense bubble, a tech bubble, a housing bubble—and spendthrift, bubble-loving legislators cranking up the one-way entitlement-spending ratchet with each iteration—and heap on a generous helping of public employee pension disease, and you’ve got the current California train wreck.
Those who don’t live in California might be wondering, do Californians understand the mess they’re in? The answer: Clearly not. For example, down here in Southern California (we capitalize the “S” in “Southern” because our inanity is so distinctly our own) the counter-productive diversion du jour is throwing supergraphics proprietors in jail. The LA City Attorney, Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich—my former boss during law school—has filed a lawsuit against 27 defendants in a war against the $7 billion supergraphics industry, which involves the displaying of large ads on the sides of buildings in and around Hollywood. In the current economic climate, some cities might balk at the notion of obliterating that much economic activity and the tax revenue generated from it. But LA is a uniquely and bizarrely principled place. For some odd reason, Nuch has been dutifully working to get ads torn down in time for the Academy Awards. Most (in)famously, Nuch strategically threw one building owner in jail over an entire weekend, finding a judge willing to set bail at $1 million. For displaying an ad on his own building. Seriously.
The hostility to such a lucrative industry is puzzling.
Of course, many LA-la-landers applaud these efforts as a long-awaited crackdown on a serious “blight” to their community. A blight to the community? Down in Orange County, we call LA a blight to the community. These things are relative. Nuisance law has a doctrine called “coming to the nuisance,” which says that if you knowingly purchase property next to a smokestack, you are estopped from complaining about the smoke. In the same way, how does one voluntarily take up residence in Los Angeles and complain about overexposure to media and advertisements? Irony of this magnitude causes reverberations in the brain that can do serious damage to the psyche.
Then again, these things also are relative, as one must ostensibly already suffer some psychic damage to set up shop in LA.
Or, these days, anywhere in California.