New Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to be like outgoing New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and he's gotten a great start: "barely two months into his first term," he ventured into the belly of Creative Artists Agency's Century City Death Star "to pitch his plans for a citywide 'rebranding' effort," according to a story yesterday in LA Currents. Makes perfect sense, since the entertainment industry is LA's version of Bloomberg's beloved Wall Street--rich, embarrassingly insulated from the city that supports it, selfish. But ok, that's just one meeting with a handful of creeps (plus some industry-wide pandering); it's this rebranding project that's really making us nervous: "[Garcetti] was saying that he wanted to rebrand L.A. in a similar way that Bloomberg had rebranded New York," according to someone who was at the meeting. A lot people say New York is better today in a lot of ways than it was when Bloomberg took office three terms ago, in 2002. But the same people (e.g., The New Yorker, the New York Times, New York) fret that in that same time New York has been whitewashed (literally, figuratively) by wealth. "It seems pretty clear that (Bloomberg) believes creating New York as a luxury product is a really valuable model for economic development and the branding he did was associated with that," says Miriam Greenberg, the professor who literally wrote the book on New York's branding. The New York Times made a remarkable slideshow illustrating the physical changes made to the city during the Bloomberg years, and alluding ever-so-gently to the cultural changes they brought with them: "Whites and the college-educated moved into neighborhoods, like Harlem, that had been home to minorities and those with lower incomes." (Bloomberg also strongly and publicly supports racial profiling and the NYPD's detested stop-and-frisk policy, which seems like something you'd keep your distance from if you're the guy overseeing the LAPD.)
New York is a great city--we can say it--but LA doesn't need that particular variety of "rebranding." Luckily, some of LA's LAiest features--its enormous size, its incredible diversity--will help it resist the worst of what New York's seen, but it's not immune. LA Currents writes that Garcetti has already shown Bloomberg-like support for "landscape-altering development projects" and for the tech industry, which is fine, but meanwhile poverty is out of control, homelessness is on the rise, and the public schools are wildly uneven. The last thing LA needs is to further marginalize the poor while coddling the ultrarich and making a much duller city for everyone.
· Like Mike ... If I Could Be Like Mike [LA Currents]