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PLATFORM : We Can, and Must, Create a Pride of Place

July 29, 1993| RICHARD WEINSTEIN, dean of the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning at UCLA, comments on the benefits of Playa Vista, the vast residential, office, retail and hotel project near Marina del Rey. The first stage of the long-delayed development comes up before the city Planning Commission today. and

For every job this region has lost in defense downsizing, two have been lost in construction. The economy of Los Angeles is suffering from an identity crisis and a national perception that we don't have the will, the intelligence or the hold on our fate to attract business, keep the middle class and produce the jobs to address our social problems and support the inventiveness of our people.

Playa Vista is an affirmation that we have a future as a community. That we can anticipate and accept change and invent the means to accommodate it. No other project in the United States approaches its breadth and sophistication in addressing the social, cultural, environmental, housing and transportation issues that define sustainable managed growth.

Further, Playa Vista creates a sense of identification with a Southern California place, its climate and possibilities, and offers an alternative to soulless tract development.

Much less than a city but more dense than a sprawl, Playa Vista offers a future for Los Angeles that establishes a contemporary self-sufficient village scale, rooted in old traditions, but incorporating a new horizon in environmental, social, transportation and community planning. Pride of place, the precondition of a true community, is impossible without sufficient density to support the qualitative context out of which a public realm can emerge--the trees, parks and cultural enrichments of a good life, better balanced between private satisfactions and public participation.

Resistance to change arises from fear of change, yet it is the children of those who already live here who will account for two-thirds of our population growth, making change inevitable. Where and how will we accommodate this growth? Studies at UCLA have shown that communities at the periphery, starved for schools, firemen and police are at war with each other in the courts to capture what meager commercial development exists across disputed boundaries. These adversarial procedures are repeated throughout the region at every scale and even between neighboring cities, aggravated by regulatory networks impossible to trace even for those who are paid to manage them. Is it any wonder that we lose faith in each other and in our governments?

Meanwhile, it is obvious to others that it is a risk to invest in a place that is both over-controlled and out of control. It's less a question of whether there's a there there, but is there any future there.

Playa Vista represents a collective act of will involving environmentalists, politicians, citizens, architects, developers and public agencies sufficient to alter the punishing perception of a fragmented, ungovernable, selfish, fear-obsessed community that has lost the power of invention and a compelling and tangible vision of the future.

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