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New Ralphs Market: Ugly, but It Works

March 15, 1992

Aaron Betsky's observations about the architectural treatment of the new Ralphs market on La Brea Avenue (Times, Feb. 20) are hard to dispute. The building is unattractive at best. But the rest of his comments and suggestions are so uninformed and off-base that one must wonder if he really knows anything about the "overall life in this part of the city" that he claims this market "destroys."

Underground parking is not an alternative, for three reasons. First, a consumer with a basketful of groceries finds it inconvenient. Second, the water table at this site would not allow it. Third, construction costs for such a scheme would have made this real estate transaction impossible. Mr. Betsky's concept of "pedestrian orientation" for the entrance is ridiculous. Who wants to park their car and walk 500 feet to a street-front entrance? La Brea is not Montana Avenue or Melrose. People drive to La Brea to shop, and people drive to the new Ralphs market to do their grocery shopping.

Yes, this building is ugly, but it works. It is a shame it is not nice to look at. Perhaps Mr. Betsky's suggestion of a city review board to approve architectural treatment of new commercial buildings is not such a bad idea, as long as this hypothetical review board specifically excludes potshot, uninformed, elitists like Mr. Betsky.

MICHAEL J. BENNETT

Los Angeles

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