Let’s share a bonding moment. State of the City. I don’t know what it is either.
Yesterday, Mayor Eric Garcetti made history by holding the first State of the City speech ever given in the San Fernando Valley. I’ll take his word for it because up until now, I’ve never even heard of it.
If you’re like me, the only thing you can relate to is the State of the Union address, the one where a rebuttal is already written before the speech begins.
So, what do I do? Am I supposed to stand like a lemming when everyone else does? Will Garcetti point out a person sitting next to me, forcing me to utilize my awkward smile? Should I sit there slumped in my chair Boehner style when there’s something I disagree with? No pamphlets were passed out.
In case you didn’t know, the speech was given at Cal State Northridge’s Performing Arts Center, a new facility that still has a new car smell to it. The crowd was filled with a lot of important people followed by even more important people than the people you thought were important. Most of the scuttlebutt overheard was from driving from over the hill and not knowing exactly where they were. Look what GPS has done to us?
I sat in the back, not because I had to, because I’m trying to maintain my image as an outsider to keep my street cred at an all-time high. LACBC’s Executive Director Tamika Butler was back there too and fortunately we did not discuss the Big Game rivalry.
The university’s Chancellor was first to speak. She mentioned how the school is ranked in the top 50 for enrollment in the nation, the top 10 in value and number one in earthquake references. The color guard then came out and followed by the crowd standing for a solid rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. This was a clever move because it kept us out of our chairs when the mayor came out.
I quickly learned was there was no official mayor song equal to the President’s “Hail to the Chief.” I’m still fine using, “I love LA”, but the Mayor chose something hip hoppity that just made me feel older.
From a cycling standpoint, there really wasn’t much to grasp. This was a bit of surprise considering the Mayor mentioned lower taxes, higher wages, less trash, more jobs, great streets, people streets, newer LAX, more gym hours, the big one, water usage, more police, less violent crime, expensive housing, extreme poverty, better health,Tom LaBonge’s age, google maps, tax incentives, equal pay, tech business, MTA board, Garcetti’s bus rides and love for Hot Dog on a Stick.
In other words, he covered a lot, so maybe he could have fit a little cycling in there. If it makes you feel any better, it got equal play with education.
If anything, the speech had too much sunshine to distribute. Are we really this great? Maybe we can have it all. My best analogy is how I wanted to win just one Stanley Cup in my lifetime that I didn’t know how to handle the second. I could only think of the Lego movie:
Most hurried outside after the speech since there was the hint of free food coming while entering. There were some local restaurants, but my keen eye picked that some staffer made a run into Westwood as well.
There was a group called Fix LA protesting before and after about the Wall Street influence on Los Angeles. A few policemen were on hand to watch, including a few out of uniform that I think I recognized from the original Die Hard movie.
I stopped by the Great Streets booth to look at their interactive display of building your own thoroughfare. It looked like a lot of fun, but all I could think about was turning it diagonally and playing the Cliff Hangers game from the Price is Right. It was bolted down. The Great Streets team thinks of everything.
It was also good to see the PR crew from CicLAvia in full effect. Now that they host four events a year, it seems like they never take the gas off the pedal. They were promoting the May 31st Pasadena event, which I predict will be another huge success. I was at a birthday party last weekend in Alhambra where all the San Gabrieler’s mentioned they were coming, even without me bringing the subject up. Maybe Mr. CiclaValley’s powers extend past San Fernando….
There was a VIP area, where I assumed the Mayor was stationed, but because I’m an outsider, I committed to lying low. Plus, I was near a batch of Diddy Riese cookies!
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So. What did I learn?
From the Mayor’s words, everything is going pretty well. It was a lot to digest, so pointed overnight political commentary while I’m in between diaper changes is not going to come.
What was more important than any one point was the bigger picture. The valley has arrived.
Having the State of the City speech here is a landmark event, but not a seminary one.
Our growth has been developing for sometime. We are starting to discover that we are just as landlocked to other parts of the city as they are to us. Since we are two million strong, why not make things happen here?
Living here since the late 70’s, the valley has owned an inferiority complex with the rest of the city. Now, we are creating larger job centers, greater cultural awareness and an identity of our own. We are concerned about better transit, green spaces and building neighborhoods of our own.
No longer are we reliant on other parts of Los Angeles offering a better life. We can do it here.
I will always remember that yesterday’s speech happened. Make no mistake San Fernando Valley, it wasn’t a cause, but an effect.