The Invisible Bank
The Los Angeles City Council has declared a state of fiscal emergency. To rescue the City from economic hardship brought on by the COVID pandemic, over 15,000 city employees are expected to agree to early retirement while others will face reduced hours, cutting about 10% of their usual salaries.
According to city documents, Los Angeles has already lost more than $50 million and expects the city’s reserves in the 2020-21 fiscal year to fall below the city’s minimum target, forcing the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee to find creative new ways to move funds from various departments to save an additional $284 million.
These spurts of creativity may include cutting back on Homeless services, Transportation, Cultural programs, Public Works, Parks and recreation and urban forestry.
However, police union reps claim police departments already taking a $150 million budget cut in July, is now affecting their ability to conduct certain vice operations and even slowing 911 response times.
The City is calling on the federal government to help fortify its $6.8 billion yearly budget, at this point, and if the feds don’t come through, Los Angeles could face one of its greatest fears; a city overrun by homeless encampments, crime, street foliage, and lack of entertainment to ease the pains, placing the City of Los Angeles back in the Dark Ages.
Just when you thought it was safe to park on the streets of Los Angeles, the City announced mid-October they were going back to business as usual, sending a frightening chill down the backs of wallets everywhere.
Curving their ferocious appetite for dishing out citations this summer, LADOT took pity on drivers during the pandemic and relaxed its efforts when it came to clamping down on certain parking violations, expired registrations, unlawful travel within peek hours and gridlock zones and towing abandoned vehicles among others.
In a commendable action, LADOT looked past its astonishing ability to meet quotas that can easily raise them up to $1.4 Billion a year simply by easing up what many felt were “shark-like tactics”.
But, as of Oct 22nd, the horror continued like a bad sequel we all have to watch out for, entitled, “When meter maids attack! Part 2”.
THE SERIAL KILLING OF OUR BELOVED BUSINESSES
Ask anyone in February of 2020. Downtown had changed. In less than ten years, thanks to a collective effort, Downtown had quickly become the epicenter for everything new and exciting in Los Angeles.
Giving people a reason to cheer, while dining and sipping cocktails on top of the highest skyscrapers, support for our community had made a comeback.
Downtown seemed to have everything to offer. luxury, fantastic food, tourism, and most importantly, hope for the future.
That was until the first appearance of the dreaded Corona Killer.
Even then it was impossible to foresee the unimaginable. However, beneath the crippling pressure, some of Downtown’s most beloved businesses have now disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again.
The stalker first set its sights on our movie houses, nightclubs and just about anywhere crowds could gather. Fear spread quicker than the rising prices of popcorn.
Then it moved on to bars and restaurants. With a sadistic recall, the Corona Killer allowed us to reopen for a bit only to taunt us again with a re-closure shortly after.
Tying our hands, and binding us we were unable to move. Those who thought quickly or lucky enough to have spaces with outdoor patios like Kapoor’s Akbar, Brera Ristorante, Rappahannock Oyster Bar, and Limerick’s Tavern managed to avoid the killer’s relentless gate.
Yet, by late summer the Corona Killer had left a river of restaurant carnage in its wake. Smaller businesses incorporating food delivery apps put up a good fight.
However, DTLA’s beloved businesses that most thought would last forever somehow just couldn’t outlast the killing season.
Guilia’s, Bon Temps, Baco Mercat, Preux and Proper, Terroni, and ancient late-night favorite, Pacific Dining Car did not survive.
Tourists attractions like LA Live and SkySpace had also been led to slaughter but what kind of sadistic beast kills off Gizmos, a breakfast cereal store loaded with rice crispies and marshmallows?
Those with the angst to relocate like Bad Son Tacos, Numaade Cafe and Chica’s Tacos, still remain somewhere outside the DTLA vortex, while the rest of us live in constant fear of who will be next, still lingering in the mist.
The BLOB: The Expansion of Homelessness
The homeless blame game has never had its pieces stacked so high as it does now during the Covid Era.
There are so many fingers pointed in different directions from The Mayor to the shelters to the homeless themselves, the hopes of ever solving the homeless issue are becoming dimmer and dimmer.
In the end, all roads lead to the fears that homeless encampments will spread to almost every block, freeway underpass, alleyway, and off the beat location.
Grand Park was occupied by a homeless encampment over the summer. Main Street at 6th has seen an expansion of Skid Row borders, and Skid Row doesn’t look like it changed at all. Coupled with the end of hotels housing the homeless due to the pandemic, fears have amounted that Project Room Key may be forced to return their 4000 pound batch of homelessness to the streets.
Like the blob, homelessness is growing and swallowing every one who’s down on their luck.
This year’s count sees the City with numbers up by a 16.1% rise to 41,290 at the same time city council members are determining if tearing down the encampments are humane without the beds to house the poor, or if the eye soar and safe walkways constitute a reason to take what’s left of the homeless people’s belongings.
Stampede: Mass exodus
The people of Downtown have taken to social media to express their mixed emotions when it comes to living in vs. leaving Downtown.
Those once so enamored with epic views, nightlife, and mastery culinary experiences are now pondering if they should join the hundreds of residents fed up with loud parties, rise in homelessness, closed nightlife, crime, and high rents in exchange for living in apartment houses with amenities they can no longer use due to Covid and a city they can no longer brag about.
Still, Downtown with all its faults manages to attract newcomers like bees to honey. Reports show just as many are moving out, many are moving in, with luxury high rises offering everything from free rents to low move-in cost.
The question is, which buildings are making the tenants happiest and how to find them without knocking door to door? Companies like LOFTWAY have those answers and soon Downtown Weekly will present 10 Great Places to Live to help make sure new residents don’t get trampled underfoot.
The Angry Mob: Protest & Riots
#SurvivingDTLA has become a raging hashtag, but for those caught in the middle of a protest gone bad, it can be the go-to guide for escaping with your life, freedom or at least your business intact.
It’s not just the news of “officer-involved shootings” that can whip a crowd of thousands into a frenzy. These days it can be sports fans who’ve taken to the streets in celebration.
Seems with 2020, anything can spark a violent night of rioting and looting on the streets of DTLA.
Over the last decade, DTLA has seen more than its fair share of protests, and while most have been well plotted out, welcoming demonstrations, which bring thousands of dollars in revenue to local businesses, some have cost thousands of dollars in damage.
The key to whether or not a protest turns into a riot depends on two factors. The rowdiness of the crowd and their ability to adhere to the demands of the police. Celebrate the game or protest injustice if you must, but upsetting the police or attacking public or private property is a sure-fire way to give the police a reason to switch “crowd control” into something called “Full Blown Tactical Alert”, complete with flashbangs, rubber bullets, tear gas and mass arrests.
The Bad Apples: Is Crime on the Rise?
Seemed the beginning of the year saw local media obsessed with the rising crime rate in Downtown Los Angeles.
Everywhere you looked were the new statistics followed by videos of random acts of violence. A man pushed in front of a moving truck, another man attacked with a scooter, a man pushed from his hotel room, a woman assaulted, robberies at gun point, the list went on and on.
Then COVID struck and the media didn’t seem to focus on much else after that unless it of course was Trump-related.
So without the media hype, the question remains… Has Downtown LA become more dangerous?
Downtown crime rates are 38% higher than the national average.
With Violent crimes in Downtown are 114% higher than the national average, you have a 1 in 29 chance of becoming a victim of crime. Still Downtown is safer than 27% of the cities in California and over the past year over year crime in Los Angeles has decreased by 1%.
Let’s not forget those few months when hardly anyone was on the streets.
The best advice is to read Chapter 2 (Crime and Punishment) of #SurvivingDTLA on the Downtown Weekly website to learn ways to help keep yourself safe in the big city.
Proud Boys and Proud Marys promise to keep the big wheels turning this election year, with Downtown just days away from two-most horrendous battles in history. The first being Covid the second being the 2020 Presidential election.
Lucky for us, polling stations have been set up in Downtown for those who wish to vote. If you miss the Staples Center, here’s your chance to visit. LA Trade Tech and Grand Central Market are also set up and with GCM you can grab a bite to eat while you’re at it.
The Music Center, Union Station and DoubleTree by the Hilton are extending their hospitality to voters as well.
The best part, each of these locations are drop off points for the Downtown Weekly Newsprint publication. Pick up a copy for some trauma relief!
By far, Covid 19 tops the list of everyone’s fears when it comes to Downtown Los Angeles. If it’s not threatening to take our lives it’s threatening to take our livelihoods. Worse, there seems to be no end to the pandemic which at any time can experience a spike in deaths, leading to unforeseen shutdowns like the ones we’re seeing now in France and Germany.
The moment we relax is the moment we can experience a setback, and although statistics show we may have a 99% chance of recovering if we contract the virus, the symptoms are nothing to laugh about.
Imagine not being able to breathe and having to struggle for each breath. Knowing that at least if you stay awake you may be able to muster enough strength to over exhort a breathing effort while at the same time fearing falling asleep and becoming too relaxed to keep yourself alive. Then while sleeping you’re suffering through recurring nightmares night after night that you’re being smothered or that you’re drowning.
Covid is a 24-hour nightmare we all wish we can wake up from. However, if you can survive DTLA you can survive anything. Eat healthy, get exercise. If you’re at high-risk self isolate, keep a safe distance, wear the mask, wash your hands, and look out for signs that you may have been infected. And if you are – act quickly. We recommend hot teas and spices, colloidal silver, Vitamin C, and Olive Leaf Extract, but as a disclaimer, we are partygoers, not doctors.
Ultimately, Downtown Weekly wishes everyone the very best and we will continue to promote a diverse and healthy DTLA.