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Dystopian Success Story, or Promising Future?

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Angelenos are keenly aware of the city's major quality of life problems. We also know they're not getting any better. Despite such issues, migrants have continued to choose LA as their destination for decades. But according to a new report issued for the Center for Economic Development and Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, the region’s virtual magnetic pull might begin to wane -- and not for the better -- should we continue in the direction we're headed.

"Recapturing the Dream: A Winning Strategy for the L.A. Region" (PDF link) takes a controversial viewpoint in pointing out the ways in which LA is increasingly becoming a victim of its own nearly mythical urban success story, and how these shortcomings might be addressed. By now we’ve all heard cries about the “two Chicagos” (equivalent to five million new residents) already maxed-out Los Angeles is projected to absorb over the next twenty years. This population growth translates into concerns regarding the obvious yet still staggering resources required to sustain a city of this magnitude. According to “Recapturing the Dream,” Los Angeles is woefully unequipped for its present -- and more so -- its future.

Authors Joel Kotkin and Jack Keyser seek to advance a pro-business agenda, criticizing elected officials’ apparent lack of interest in economic development (including Mayor Hahn) and picking on a perceived general concern for social and environmental issues which, in the authors’ opinion, should take a back seat to economic matters. Critics and activists note that slacking on the regulatory environment to nurture a pro-business climate, however, can result in further labor abuses, environmental damage, and other untenable circumstances for residents whose incomes squeeze them into the bottom portion of the “dumbbell economy” (i.e. separation of rich and poor conjoined merely by a narrow middle portion).