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Our Growing Problem

October 16, 2004

Re "Up From Ultimate Urban Dystopia," Commentary, Oct. 11: Joel Kotkin and William H. Frey view explosive population growth in Southern California through rose-colored glasses. They say, "Since 2000, the L.A. region has added about 800,000 people from other parts of the U.S." This doesn't even count births and immigration from other countries, which would easily add another several hundred thousand people. They euphemistically call this problem "demographic dynamism."

In reality, this population increase and the increases projected are disastrous. Southern Californians (and Californians in general) are financially as well as psychologically unprepared to handle population increases of this magnitude. There has been absolutely no willingness on the part of Californians to address the problems associated with the huge increases in population we've experienced over the last few decades. Governments at all levels are underfunded. The tax structure in California is broken, and there is no commitment on the part of the politicians or the citizenry to fix it.

Kotkin and Frey suggest that " ... such demographics present a severe set of challenges to the region, which can best be addressed by improving education.... " Is that a joke? In a commentary by George Skelton (Oct. 10), Kathleen Moore, planning director for the state Department of Education, says: "We need 35,000 new classrooms over the next five years.... That's 19 classrooms a day." Does anybody see this construction going on?

Kotkin and Frey need to leave their ivory towers and visit the rest of us. Those of us trying to get our kids into colleges. Those of us who have to commute on the freeways every day. Those of us who have to breathe increasingly dirty air. Then they wouldn't preemptively criticize us because we "selfishly" worry about our "lifestyles" or effects on the environment.

Guy A. Boccasile

San Dimas

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Kotkin and Frey applaud the recent upsurge in population in Southern California. They mention the effect of overpopulation on the environment only once and imply that environmental degradation really is not important, that concern about it is antigrowth, hence "anti-business." What they see as a virtue, the overcrowding of our region without concern for environmental impact, including pollution -- not mentioned at all -- is a long-term disaster. Kotkin and Frey clearly do not look beyond short-term profits.

Ed Ornitz

Los Angeles

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