The Problems of Southern California

Topics: Southern California, Los Angeles, California Pages: 5 (1837 words) Published: May 30, 2005
From reading the author's book "Ecology of Fear," Mike Davis' main thesis for writing this book was to make readers become aware of the underlying problems and threats which have existed or currently exist in Southern California and how these problems shape the way we live today and in the imminent future as well. Although Davis did not really provide us with any remedies for the problems facing Southern California, this book made it very clear to the readers that problems do still exist, although at times they may sound subtle in nature. Of the numerous problems which do exist in Southern California, I will discuss only a handful of the problems that Davis provided us insight to. In the following paragraphs, the main problems of Southern California that I will discuss about are suburbanization and how it made Southern California lose its natural beauty and the effects of overdevelopment, the wild fires which occur and similarities and differences the rich and poor communities faced in terms of adversity, how suburbanization brought people closer to the wildlife, and how numerous books and movies portrayed Los Angeles as the center for calamities. The culmination of all these problems clearly shows that there are many glaring weaknesses of Southern California that need to be closely examined. One of the main issues that the book, "Ecology of Fear," discussed about were the inherent dangers and problems that suburbanization imposed upon the landscape of Southern California. Although suburbanization in theory and in reality did create abundant benefits to a great mass of people, especially to those who wanted to avoid the daily nuisances of urban city life, its negative consequences were quite grave indeed. Suburbanization led to a complete eradication to the natural landscape of many areas in California. The book's vivid accounts of how the lush, green landscape was bulldozed just to build tracts of homes were a painful reminder of the beauty that was lost due to suburbanization. "In 1958 sociologist William Whyte – author of The Organization Man – had a disturbing vision as he was leaving Southern California. ‘Flying from Los Angeles to San Bernardino – an unnerving lesson in man's infinite capacity to mess up his environment – the traveler can see a legion of bulldozers gnawing into the last remaining tract of green between the two cities'." (Davis, p. 77). So, in essence, man's desire of suburbanization was achieved at the expense of the destruction of a beautiful landscape that would never again return to its natural state. Another problem of suburbanization was that the rampant private development led to the overdevelopment of the landscape. This overdevelopment was due in large part to the fact that the private developers were manipulating the city council. The author states, "[a]t the end of the war, greenbelt zoning for the Valley was actually passed into law by the city council, but it lacked the broad political support to survive the relentless counterattack of developers and landowners." (Davis, p. 76). Due to the fact that the city council was so small in size, developers were able to greatly gain influence in demanding for policies that would enhance their desire for even more private development. But, lost in this mix was the fact that overdevelopment led to a decreased amount of public space and the loss of natural beauty to the landscape. "By 1928 parks comprised a miserable 0.6 percent of the surface of the metropolis…No large city in the United States was so stingy with public space." (Davis, p. 65). This statistic gives us clear indication of who the culprit was for the overdevelopment which occurred in Southern California in the 1920s and beyond: the developers. The second main issue that "Ecology of Fear" raised was regarding the wild fires that have ravaged Southern California for years. Although this situation arises virtually every time the Santa Ana winds...
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