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Has L.A. Forgotten the Party?

The city lobbied hard to get the 2000 Democratic National Convention. But now that it's just weeks away, City Hall still is surrounded by plywood, downtown plazas reek of urine and even the U.S. flags on public buildings are faded and torn.


Conventioneers will have a shuttle but many will be staying within walking distance of four bus stops recently called the most crime-plagued in Los Angeles. Most of the offenses involved pickpocketing, purse snatching, foul language, drunkenness and obscene gestures.

"Trash, graffiti and general lack of upkeep in the immediate bus stop environment give the message to potential criminals that 'nobody really cares,' that nobody will report their crime," said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor at the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research, who released a study of bus service-related crimes earlier this month. The study is based on 5-year-old crime data and a 2-year-old survey of bus riders. But many of the conditions, including graffiti and trash, exist today.

The stops are Spring and 4th streets, Broadway and 7th Street, Spring and 7th streets and Broadway and 5th Street.


Downtown has come a long way in recent years, as a walk around Bunker Hill will attest. But many of downtown roads and intersections are a snarl of excavated pits, construction vehicles and orange traffic cones.

In the works for years, the massive project primarily was designed to lay an optic fiber network and only secondarily for road improvement. The enterprise, supervised by the city and involving more than 20 private companies, is so large that city officials say they aren't sure what the total cost is.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday May 22, 2000 Home Edition Southern California Living Part E Page 3 View Desk 2 inches; 48 words Type of Material: Correction
FDR and JFK--Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated at the 1932 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia and went on to win the second of his four terms as president. Also, John F. Kennedy was nominated at the 1960 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. Roosevelt's term and Kennedy's name were misidentified in Sunday's Southern California Living.

Downtown motorists who now sometimes spend 45 minutes trying to go two blocks can scarcely imagine the backups if an additional 20,000 people are thrown into the mix.

"We'll be done by the end of July with a few weeks to spare," said Frank Martinez of the mayor's office. "That's our plan."

But then so was spending about $300,000 in city money on tree lights, flowers and benches to improve the downtown area before the convention. But neither the city nor the convention host committee has produced any money and officials recently asked downtown merchants to foot the bill, which they say they cannot do.

"Downtown needs some type of beautification of its street scapes," said a business district member, who also refused to be identified. "The problem is, it needs to be done last week."

Philadelphia, L.A. Statistics

Los Angeles

Population: 3.45 million

Population density: 7,666 per square mile

County: Los Angeles

Area: 466 square miles

Climate: Average temperature in January, 55 degrees; July, 73

Founded: 1781 as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora a la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, which means "The City of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula."

Incorporated as a city: 1850

Nickname: The City of Angels

Web site:


Population: 1.5 million

Population density: 10,631 per square mile

County: Philadelphia

Area: 144 square miles

Climate: Average temperature in January, 35 degrees; July, 76

Founded: Settled by Swedes in 1638; named Philadelphia in 1682

Incorporated as a city: 1701

Nickname: The City of Brotherly Love

Web site:


National Political Conventions (Since the 1856 founding of the Republican Party)

Los Angeles


Democratic National Convention

Nominee: John F. Kennedy Jr. (defeated then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon to become 35th president; assassinated 1963.)




John C. Fremont (defeated by James Buchanan, 15th president)



Ulysses S. Grant (defeated Horace Greeley to serve a second term, 18th president)



William McKinley (defeated William Jennings Bryan to serve a second term, 25th president; assassinated 1901)



Franklin Delano Roosevelt (defeated Alfred M. Landon to serve the first of four terms, 32nd president)



Wendell L. Wilkie (defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to serve the second of his four terms)

1948 (June 21)


Thomas E. Dewey (defeated by Harry S. Truman, 33rd president)

1948 (July 12)


Harry S. Truman (see above)

L.A.'s Deferred Maintenance

A tour of downtown L.A., where 5,000 delegates and 15,000 members of the media are expected to converge in August for the 2000 Democratic National Convention, includes a number of unsightly public areas and damaged structures.


Martin Miller can be reached at

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