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Crazy like a Shaw

August 17, 2007

Re " 'Crazy Shaw's' sound advice," Opinion, Aug. 11

The urbanization movement has never made sense to me because people live where they feel it is most desirable, and if they wanted to live in towers, they would. Such cities as New York have no choice but to do so, but one of the most endearing aspects of living in California is open space.

Besides quality of life, there are very real environmental advantages to spreading things out. For one thing, permeable area -- unpaved areas that allow precipitation to filter into the soil rather than becoming toxic runoff -- is greatly increased. Global warming is partially alleviated too, because green areas reflect less heat and help filter the air.

Another advantage is that the fewer people living in any given area, the less need there is for businesses and services to support them. And without large, centralized manufacturing and commercial centers, fewer people need to commute to urban centers for their jobs. Having said that, adding residential space downtown makes a lot of sense for those who work there; it just won't be cheap.

Dennis Wade

Arcadia

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How refreshing that one of the most prolific writers of letters to The Times in the paper's history, Frederick M. Shaw, returned to its editorial pages after an absence of more than 100 years. He was the man whose letter to this paper in 1887 argued that Southern California was the place for man to learn to fly. Letters he wrote called for establishing a major university in Los Angeles, a harbor, a Chautauqua-like health resort in Sierra Madre. He warned Angelenos against the medical profession's reliance on pills, recognized the healing qualities of our climate and pressed for things related to health and good nutrition. Maybe what is "crazy" is that his ideas and dreams outlived not only his detractors but the Otis/Chandler family's control of the paper to which he wrote.

"Crazy Shaw" indeed. Well, maybe he was crazy. He thought the harbor could be built with local money, without a federal handout.

Norma Jeanne Strobel

Irvine

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