A Bridge Over Troubled Streets

By | May 27, 2014

bridge oneThere is a busy street just on the edge of downtown Los Angeles that is becoming well known. Not because of its manicured trees or landscaping, as there are very few trees. And not because of its high-end boutique shops, as there are none.

Frankly, most people who live in Los Angeles have probably never even driven on it, unless they lived downtown and wanted to go west via side streets.

This street is becoming known because a developer wants to build a bridge over it to connect two high-end apartment buildings that sit on either side of the road.

A road that has potholes, dirty sidewalks, graffiti, and, yes, people who are homeless.

The developer told city leaders that this bridge was necessary to protect his residents from the homeless people below. His explanation sounded like Donald Sterling’s bigoted rants but, instead of focusing on race, he was blasting people with very low socio-economic status.

Advocates for people experiencing homelessness pounced. Build a bridge over a road just so his snooty residents don’t have to walk past impoverished people on the streets? Are L.A.’s streets really so bad that developers need to bypass them completely?

Well, if shopping mall developers can erect enclosed bridges over streets that divide mall buildings, why not a bridge that connects two apartment buildings?

In a way, the freeways that crisscross through impoverished parts of town are just like this bridge. They allow middle-class America to reach their destinations without passing through “dangerous” local neighborhoods.

However, unlike this politically-incorrect developer, most builders don’t use bigotry against the poor as an excuse to build exclusive gated communities, freeways through bad parts of town, or bridges over urban streets.

But, whether developers voice their prejudices aloud or not, are these sorts of developments all rooted in discrimination?

I know one thing for sure: That bridge is going to provide a new bad-weather shelter for people living on the streets.