Civic Agenda

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

Two weeks since the last election and they're still counting votes in the race for attorney general.

That's the state's top lawyer. As of this morning, San Francisco's DA leads LA's DA by about 15,000 votes.

Otherwise, the November election is history. The post-game analysis is done.

It's time for the media and political junkies like those at LA Observed to move on to the next contest.

In the city of Los Angeles, that's just... next March.

You may think March sounds like a long way off. But already, fifty men and women have signed up to run for the City Council. That's five zero.

Of those, maybe two who aren't already in the job have any chance of winning. And that's OK. That's not why they're running...most of them.

Some are nut jobs and perennial candidates, in love with seeing their names on the ballot.

But the most high minded of them hope to use the next four months to start a conversation. To advance the civic discussion, in a city where discourse is muted at best.

Election campaigns aren't always the most suitable forums for real discussions of real issues. Not in LA, anyway.

Not enough people take part, either in the conversation, or in the actual voting. If 20 percent of those who can vote actually do vote, it'll be a good year.

But the trappings of a campaign...with debates and lawn signs....does serve to focus the media's attention.

And that's good because there are issues that LA needs to talk about.

One that comes to mind is the question of what Los Angeles will look like 10 years from now....and 30 or 50 years from now.

Listening to people talk around town, you can't escape that there are differences of opinion about quality of life.

And the differences are becoming more clear as traffic congestion gets worse, and people pay more in taxes, and at the parking meter.

Some like that LA is becoming more densely crowded, with more concentrated city rhythms. Like Chicago or Philadelphia. Those who suggest a New York comparison are just dreaming.

Others see LA through the lens of the suburbs or the hills.

They like their single family homes, their private back yards and being able to drive somewhere and park at a meter without using a credit card.

Another group sees LA as a green nirvana in waiting. Their ideal city would be laced with bike lanes, wildlife corridors and solar panels.

Each of these groups plays out differently when it comes to big, troublesome issues that get decided at City Hall. Issues that are on the table, more or less now.

Should the city be rezoned to encourage more urban development in neighborhoods where it's not so dense now?

The real estate developer lobby will want to have its say on that. Same for the residents associations. The unions.

Should LA continue to grow the police department, possibly at the expense of other budget priorities? The LAPD will have a say on that.

Go to and tell us what issues we should talk about here. We'll get into a lot of them over the next four months.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.