Again, the New York Times comes with an insightful portrayal of Los Angeles, this time centering on the city’s economic woes. Joel Kotkin, who seems to be everywhere these days, hammering home his predictable talking points, appears, as does Austin Beutner, the city’s former first deputy mayor and chief executive for economic and business policy.
Half a century ago, Los Angeles was a dominant economic force in various respects, with its formidable military contracting industry, for example, and a garment trade that rivaled that of New York. Today, unemployment in Los Angeles County is 12.5 percent, one of the highest rates among the country’s major metropolitan areas. The recession walloped industries like manufacturing and retailing that have traditionally been strong in the city.
Now, Los Angeles is more like an “Athens by the Pacific,” Joel Kotkin, a professor of urban development at Chapman University, has written, comparing the city to modern-day Greece. But dysfunction can breed innovation. As Los Angeles works to solve its economic woes, it could provide a road map for other ailing metropolises, said Austin Beutner, the city’s former first deputy mayor and chief executive for economic and business policy.
Comparisons with the current incarnation of Athens? Ouch. Not even on par with Dallas–even worse:
Mr. Kotkin says he thinks a different approach to attracting jobs — one that focuses on the city’s small, local communities, as opposed to its vast size — would be more fruitful….
Mr. Kotkin says that to achieve growth in an economy like that of Los Angeles, “you’ve got to grow it from the ground up, nurture its roots — in the small factories, in people’s houses,” Mr. Kotkin said. “L.A. can never again compete at the megacorporation level. It can’t compete with Dallas.”….
This phenomenon can be seen all across Los Angeles, where new restaurants, shops and other small businesses are started by the children of immigrants looking to meld their ethnic heritage with their American upbringing and education — the food-truck revolution being just one example.
The prominent obstacle to growth, according to the author: bureaucracy.