After years of waiting, Angelenos finally get approval to extend the Metro system to the airport.
Cartoon: Ted Rall / For The Times
After years of waiting, Angelenos finally get approval to extend the Metro system to the airport.
Cartoon: Ted Rall / For The Times
We may owe state Sen. Joe Simitian an apology.The Palo Alto Democrat, who sponsored the 2008 bill that banned driving with a handheld cellphone in California, introduced a bill two years ago that would more than double the fine for the infraction. We asserted in a 2010 editorial that it was a bad idea because it would have little or no impact on public safety and looked a lot like a backdoor way of raising state revenues. The bill was approved, but we were thrilled when Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it under the rationale that the fine is already high enough to discourage people from dialing while driving.
A study released Monday by UC Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center suggests we may have been wrong, at least about the safety part. Contradicting nearly all of the other research on the issue, it found that traffic fatalities have dropped significantly since the 2008 ban went into effect.
In our defense, our beef with the phone ban was based on voluminous research that showed no difference in the number of accidents involving drivers using handheld cellphones as opposed to hands-free devices such as Bluetooth. There was, for example, a 2010 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute that found no reductions in crashes in states that passed laws like Simitian's. Other studies before that had concluded that although talking on a cellphone while driving is indeed dangerous -- the equivalent of driving while legally drunk-- it's the conversation that distracts drivers, not the fact that one is holding a phone to one's ear while having it. Theoretically, then, banning handheld phones should make no difference; the only way to reduce the danger would be to forbid all cellphone use by drivers.
But the Berkeley study points up a phenomenon we hadn't anticipated. It compared traffic deaths in the two years preceding the 2008 ban and the two years following it, and found that overall deaths dropped 22% and that deaths of drivers using handheld cellphones dropped 47%. Unrelated research might explain why this happened: A survey by the state Office of Traffic Safety in 2010 found that in states with handheld phone bans, 44% of drivers reported they didn't use a cellphone at all while driving -- handheld or hands-free -- compared to 30% in states without such laws. In other words, it's still quite possible that Bluetooth has no impact on safety but the handheld ban discouraged people from talking on their phones at all. Maybe that's because they're too cheap to buy a Bluetooth device, or maybe it's because the ban itself raised awareness that driving while dialing was dangerous. Either way, it seems that the ban has made a difference.
None of this is to say that Simitian's proposal to raise the fines -- and, undiscouraged by Brown's veto, he's back with another bill, SB 1310,to do just that -- is a good idea. With assorted state and local fees tacked on, a cellphone ticket costs drivers $159 for a first offense, and if that isn't enough to persuade them to put their phones down, I don't see why Simitian's plan to boost the total would make much difference. But it appears that cracking down on handheld phones wasn't as lousy an idea as we'd thought.
-- Dan Turner
Photo: Drivers enjoy the freedom to hold phones to their ears, just before California's ban on the practice was enacted in 2008. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times
Forget healthcare reform's "individual mandate." Now the government is looking to take away your right to back into stuff with your own car.
That's right: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing that by 2014 all new cars sold in the United States have rearview cameras.
Now, full disclosure: In four decades of driving, I personally have backed into one car, one pole and the side porch of my house -- twice. (In my defense, none of this happened until the kids came along and I had to buy that stupid minivan!) And showing that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, my teenage son's first, and only -- so far -- accident came when he backed into an iron railing. (I'm so proud!)
And, as The Times story Tuesday said:
Each year, 228 people die after being struck by passenger vehicles going in reverse -- including about two children a week, according to the New York Times.
Accidents caused by drivers backing up also injure 17,000 people annually.
Plus the cost to automakers of the rearview cameras, now found on fewer than half of 2012's cars, isn't prohibitive: about $160 to $200 for each car.
So, on balance, I count this rule as a good thing -- for the nation and individually.
(Although I must confess that when I rented a car a few years back with a rearview camera, the kids couldn't resist taking turns checking themselves out on the dashboard screen. Which both seemed to defeat the purpose of the camera and led to a severe scolding by their mother.)
What's most interesting about this, though, has been the sea change in attitude among Americans about cars and safety.
When seat belts were introduced in the late 1950s, for example, the U.S. auto industry resisted efforts to make them mandatory, arguing that people didn’t want them -- as evidenced by the fact that, when they were offered as extra-cost options, few people ordered them.
Thankfully, automakers lost that fight. But for quite some time, many people also resisted state laws requiring the wearing of seat belts.
Airbags were also controversial when mandated, with automakers arguing, again, about cost, and with others doubting the claim that they would improve passenger safety.
But somewhere along the way, Americans went from penny-pinching, throw-caution-to-the-wind, I'll-die-a-gruesome-death-behind-the-wheel-if-I-want-to rugged individualists to consumers of safety at all costs. (See the silly "Baby on Board" phenomenon.)
Now, the more airbags the merrier. Cars have collapsible steering columns, anti-lock brakes, safety glass, crush zones, reinforced doors and roofs, and loads of other safety features.
Sure, we still sometimes show vestiges of our wicked past: People -- very unsafely -- call and/or text while driving, for example.
But for the most part, we embrace all the new gadgetry. And safety now sells. So automakers bring us more of it.
For example, as The Times story says:
Automakers unveiled an assortment of other preventative safety features at the L.A. Auto Show in November.
Infiniti showed off its backup collision intervention technology, which not only beeps when its sensors detect potential obstacles but also automatically brakes to avoid a crash.
A similar function from Ford offers blind-spot warnings. Cadillac has a virtual bumper feature that stops the car before it hits anything.
That's right: Soon your car may do more of the driving -- and the accident avoidance -- than you do.
The bright side of that equation? You may be able to call or text in complete safety.
"Passive Driver on Board," anyone?
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: The dashboard of the Honda Crosstour features a rearview camera and monitor that are used when the car is backing up. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
It doesn't really matter. Because you know what the smart money's on? Gasoline.
That's right: While you and your buddies were putting down $10 or $100 on a football game, $10 billion has been placed in the futures markets by large hedge funds and commodity pools -- and they're betting that gasoline prices will keep climbing.
So, anyone know a good gasoline bookie? Or can someone give me directions from the sports book area in Caesars to the commodities room?
Actually, that won't be necessary: I can't afford the gas to drive to Vegas.
That's because while the hedge fund guys are doubling-down on gasoline prices, you and I are the ones left feeding the slots, er, pumps.
January is typically a month of falling gasoline prices because fuel demand traditionally falters in the slower travel weeks that follow the end-of-the-year holidays.
Not so this year. The last month was the most expensive January ever for retail gasoline as prices averaged out at $3.37 a gallon, according to the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) in New Jersey. That compared with the previous record average for the month of $3.095 a gallon SET last year. ...
In California, the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.771, up 2.4 cents since last week. That was also 36.5 cents a gallon higher than the old record for Feb. 6, which was set just last year.
Of course, it's not just speculators who are driving up the price of gas.
High oil prices was one reason. Refineries exporting large amounts of fuel overseas was another.
And as those late-night infomercial guys say: But wait, there's more:
Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said, "Gasoline prices tend to start moving significantly higher toward the end of February and into mid-March, so motorists should be preparing for higher prices."
You might think that about now I'm going to start ranting -- to blame someone for all this.
You know: It's President Obama's fault; after all, he's, well, the president.
Or: It's Mitt Romney's fault. He's one of those rich guys who makes money from, uh, money.
Or: It's the evil oil companies. That's an oldie but a goodie.
But that's not fair.
No, I'm blaming high school and college guidance counselors.
After all, not one of them ever advised me to major in hedge funds or commodities trading. How about you?
Talk about a failing education system: There it is in a nutshell. You, me and that worthless brother-in-law of yours are working 9 to 5 and buying lottery tickets, while someone somewhere apparently whispered to the chosen few in school: "Hedge funds."
It's enough to drive you crazy.
Except gas costs too much to make the trip.
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: The average price of a gallon of regular gas in California has risen 2.4 cents since last week and 36.5 cents since a year ago. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
There's always a but, isn't there?
You can talk about companies -- such as Bank of America -- reporting better earnings. Or about how unemployment claims have fallen again. Or that consumer prices are holding steady. Or even about mortgage interest rates hitting new lows.
But then there's the "old paint" index, and the news there isn't so rosy.
You might have a different name for this economic indicator, such as "the clunker," or "the jalopy" or even "this old thing? I’ve had it forever."
Whatever. The bottom line is, the average age of all the vehicles on America's roads is at a record high: 10.8 years. For just cars, it's 11.1 years.
They're not necessarily scientific, but those are telling numbers.
For one thing, it means that a lot of Americans aren't sure enough in the economy to splurge on a new car. Call it the "car consumer confidence index," I guess. And when it's down, so are we.
Because Americans love cars. They love to drive.
Especially in California. Here, a new car is a, well, if not a fundamental right, at least something close.
It's like the old joke about first impressions: In the East, they ask what school you went to. In the South, they ask who your family is. In California, they ask what kind of car you drive.
Also, I think this whole old car vs. new car divide adds fuel to the "class warfare" debate.
What can be more discouraging -- what inspires more envy -- than the sight of a shiny new BMW passing you on the freeway? Especially when you're driving an 11-year-old not-a-BMW that needs shocks and tires -- and that you don't valet park because you don't want to be laughed at?
I'm telling you, for a savvy politician, there's a campaign slogan here.
Forget "a chicken in every pot."
How about "a new car in every garage"?
Photo: A shiny, new Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Credit: Nissan
Don't believe anybody who tells you today's decision by President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline was about protecting the environment or destroying American jobs. It was about politics, pure and simple -- and that goes not just for Obama, but the environmentalists, conservatives and fossil-fuel interests that have been using the issue to press their agendas, and are likely to keep flogging that horse through November.
Despite all the gnashing of teeth and beating of breasts over this pipeline, it would have had a tiny impact on either the economy or the environment. With all due respect to NASA scientist James Hansen, who is still one of the nation's most prescient thinkers when it comes to climate change, he was badly off-base when he claimed that if Keystone were built it would be "game over" in the fight against global warming. That's because failing to build the pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta's tar sands to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast, won't make the tar sands go away, and probably won't even do much to slow their development.
Tar sands oil is only slightly dirtier than the crude we're already burning, and if the Canadians can't sell it easily in the U.S. they'll just ship it to China. In other words, trying to stop or even slow the consumption of dirty, carbon-intense fossil fuels by attacking their distribution sources is a waste of time, because producers will just find other distribution sources or customers. Environmental activists would have been far better off fighting for a carbon-pricing scheme rather than fighting against Keystone XL, which is a symptom of the carbon problem but not a cause.
And with all due respect to my colleague Paul Whitefield, who sees the Costa Concordia cruise-ship sinking as a reminder that pipelines such as Keystone can fail, the recent maritime disaster actually points to the opposite conclusion. Yes, pipelines do leak, but spills from pipelines tend to be small and easily contained, unlike spills from oil tankers such as the Exxon Valdez. From an environmental standpoint, it's better to get the stuff from Canada via pipeline than Venezuela via tanker.
Conservatives, meanwhile, are just as deluded about Keystone. As Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Michael Levi points out in the Washington Post, the oil industry's claims that the project would produce 250,000 jobs are a fantasy, and the notion that it would significantly reduce global oil prices is nonsensical. There would be some minor economic benefits from building the thing, but nothing game-changing.
The real story of Keystone is the scoring of political points. Congressional Republicans think they put a few on the board when they attached a rider to the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut that forced the Obama administration to either approve or reject the pipeline by Feb. 21. That wasn't enough time to complete environmental and safety reviews of the project, which cuts through sensitive water tables in Nebraska and other states. So President Obama was left with little choice but to reject it, thus giving the GOP new ammunition for its claims that Obama's extremist environmental policies are destroying American jobs. Obama, meanwhile, gets to at least shore up support among his base, who for some reason see the Keystone fight as being far more significant than it really is.
The good news is, nothing has really been resolved when it comes to Keystone. Pipeline developer TransCanada can still reapply for a permit, and no doubt it will do so when the heat from this year's election season has dissipated. As for the political fallout, Obama did the right thing for the country by waiting until all the studies of potential risks and environmental impacts are completed; whether he did the right thing for his reelection chances will be clearer later.
Photo: Activists at a November protest against Keystone XL in Washington. Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg
Protest songs aren't what they used to be. The Kent State massacre got a timeless response from Neil Young ("Ohio"), the Vietnam War inspired John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," and even the quieter '80s still inspired artists such as Jackson Browne and Sting to pen diatribes against Reaganomics and nuclear arms ("Lawyers in Love," "Russians"). Today I stumbled across the most interesting protest song I've heard in quite a while. Its topic? Los Angeles traffic. Oh well, first-world problems deserve first-world YouTube music videos.
The song, above, by local punk bank It's Casual, makes up for in passion what it lacks in melody; this song grabs you by the colon and refuses to let go. More important, it does in a visceral way what a thousand editorials promoting public transit couldn't: It makes riding the subway seem cool. Actually, it's not the first of its genre -- a colleague who was deeply into the punk scene of the late 1970s pointed me to the song "Gas Line" by the Plugz. I couldn't find a video version, but I did discover that this guy thinks it's a great song to listen to while cleaning a gun. Rock on.
Our editorial board tends to favor public transit because it's a practical solution for several of L.A.'s biggest problems (traffic, pollution, high gas prices), but it's still a challenge for people who live far from a station or don't have easy bus connections to ride it. Of course, there are other ways to go; my preferred traffic-defeating, gas-sipping alternative even has its own music video too.
-- Dan Turner
Yesterday's Opinion L.A. Coffeebreak Quiz asked you to find street banners hung from public light poles on the public right-of-way along public streets in Los Angeles that advertise a commercial television program.
The answer: The Golden Globes, or rather, the TV broadcast of the Golden Globes on NBC on Sunday.
A spokeswoman for L.A.'s Board of Public Works explained that the banners don't really promote a TV show ("LIVE SUNDAY JAN 15." And a very familiar-looking peacock. Please). No, see, they promote the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the sponsor of the Golden Globes, and, see, the association is a nonprofit, so it's OK.
By the way, although the banners appear courtesy of the public streets and lightpoles of Los Angeles, the Golden Globes are being presented in another city -- Beverly Hills -- which will reap whatever tax benefits are to be had from the event. NBC is located in another city -- Burbank. But at least the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is located in -- no, wait. Not Los Angeles. West Hollywood.
But people in Los Angeles get to watch.
The banners strike the Opinion L.A. team as the most blatant re-commercialization of the city's non-commercial street banner program since a TV network battle turned into Bannergate in 1999. That's when CBS complained that ABC had hung bright yellow banners advertising shows for that year's the fall season. City rules barred commercial companies from using the streets as part of their promotional programs, although nonprofits were OK. The flap moved the City Council to fine-tune its rules. See way-back-when stories from the Times, (and here), the Los Angeles Business Journal, and the LA Weekly.
But commercial advertising on street banners, if you can get away with it, is cheap (compared with billboards) and effective, so for-profit ventures are seeking and barreling through anything that looks like a loophole. City officials seem to be OK with it.
So if Los Angeles is going to turn its light poles into commercial billboards anyway, shouldn't City Hall just throw in the towel, allow advertising of any product or service and get some real money instead of the paltry $25 to $100 per-pole the city charges (plus $100 to $150 per banner to the maker)?
We editorialized on that question recently: No. But it may be time for a follow-up.
Photo: A banner on Lankershim in Studio City advertising the Golden Globes show Sunday night. Credit: Robert Greene / Los Angeles Times
Dump California's bullet train. At least, that's the overwhelming sentiment among readers who've been responding to the board's most recent editorial, "Keep California's bullet train on track." The board wrote:
The project is unquestionably risky, far more expensive than voters were told it would be when they approved nearly $10 billion in bonds to build it in 2008, and unlikely to be finished until years later than promoters had suggested. Polls show that the public is turning against it, and if new information emerges forecasting more serious troubles, even we might be persuaded to dump it. But we're not there yet, especially because the latest report, from the California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group, doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know.
Here's what readers are saying.
The state cannot afford it
This is the biggest boondoggle in CA history and should be permanently shelved. The voters were fed a lot of baloney when the first "guestimates" came out and it turns out, as is typical of these projects, that the ridership was vastly overstated and the costs vastly understated. The state simply cannot afford the luxury of building a high speed rail network no one uses and be stuck with billions a year in debt. This is a virtual image of all the "city financed football stadiums" that plague the countryside with massive debts. The very instant the pols and unions get involved, costs just triple every six months. Brown would be nuts to allow this junk project to see the light of day.
Too much to pay for nostalgia
This utter waste of taxpayer money can never compete with the airlines. There is a fast Amtrak train between DC and NYC, yet the airlines fly full. Who is going to spend 2 hrs and 40 min on a train when an airliner makes the trip in 1 hour and can take you to San Jose, Oakland or San Francisco? It sounds like a wonderful nostalgic thing to ride the train but passenger trains are on the way out.
It's really simple. Let's say these billions and billions are spent for this boondoggle. Right now you can fly Southwest between L.A. and SF or Sacramento for $200 round trip. It takes an hour each way. Will this train, which will take several hours for the same trip be considerably less than flying? $100 round trip? $75? If the answer is no, it shouldn't be built. Also, what if you want to take a family to SF? Even if it's $100 round-trip. That's $400 for four people. So I can pay $400 to take a train that takes 3 or so hours OR, pay 1/4 the price and drive and it only takes a few hours more.
As can be seen, all it takes is someone with a basic understanding of economics to realize what folly this project is. For some reason the millions being spent by the state and consultants to study this for some reason fail to come to the same conclusion. Oh wait, it's not their money, it's the taxpayers. There's your reason folks.
Kill the train
This is another Government boondoggle. The costs we were sold on originally have skyrocketed way over budget. No one will ride it for what the price of a ticket would have to be. Please just kill it now. We have an enormous budget deficit. We need to quit spending, not building trains to nowhere that no one will ride. Kill it now!
Send the bill to the fiscal fools
The Times writers and editorial staff remain consistent. Throw billions of debt at every political issue. There is not one high speed rail that makes a dime on earth. The estimated $93 billion for this fiscal nightmare is just a start. That does not even include employees, pay, benefits, infrastructure, or maintance. There are no estimated annual costs for actual "operation."
Fiscal fools should be sent the bill if they want this. There is no free lunch.
A better way to spend the money
Do we really need yet another public project that is way over cost, will take way longer to complete than planned, and will never make money? I work in infrastructure and believe me, that money would be much better spent rebuilding our crumbling cities.
Scrap the train; build more airports
You promoters of the bullet train are a bunch of delusional knuckleheads. Not one passenger train system IN THE WORLD can exist without being heavily subsidized by government money. In Europe the passenger trains ONLY carry 6% of the population! The train system in America, AmTrak, is subsidized by the federal government and still loses money!
If I want to go from Southern California to San Francisco, I can hop on a plane and be there in less than an hour and for less money than it would cost to go by the proposed bullet train.
Trains are 18th Century technology. If people want to get from point A to point B fast, just build more airports!
*For clarity purposes, spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: California High-Speed Rail Authority artist's rendering of a high-speed train speeding along the California coast. Credit: California High Speed Rail Authority / Associated Press
Sometimes you can smell Wilmington before you see it. It might be the scent of the wells, tucked in between houses and neighborhood streets, pumping the last drops of oil from the giant Wilmington oil field, the third-largest petroleum field in the contiguous United States; it might be the odor of one of the refineries -- either the massive Valero oil plant, turning heavy crude into jet fuel and gasoline, or perhaps Valero's asphalt refinery, or maybe the Tesoro (formerly Shell) facility, or perhaps the ConocoPhillips (formerly Union Oil) refinery right there in Wilmington or its companion just across the line in Carson.
It could be flares -- the routine or emergency burn-off of excess toxic gases that make eyes itch and breathing difficult and that have been implicated in asthma and cancer; it could be the uncovered mounds of sulfur, the residue of impurities removed from petroleum; it could be fumes from the trucks, trains and other heavy equipment or the solvents and other chemicals wafting from the recycling centers that stretch along the Alameda Corridor or a leak in one of the many underground pipelines.
Less and less, promise officials of the Port of Los Angeles, is it diesel exhaust from heavy container ships or cruise ships, some of which already have converted to electric power while idling, or (starting Jan. 1) from trucks moving into and out of the port that fail to meet the 2007 Federal Clean Truck Emissions Standards.
And every now and then, fighting its way past the noxious odors, it is the scent of the sea.
Wilmington is one of the large Los Angeles neighborhoods, or rather collection of neighborhoods, that make up the 15th Council District, where LAPD officer Joe Buscaino (born and raised in San Pedro) and state Assemblyman Warren Furutani (a resident of Harbor Gateway but with a Gardena postal address) are facing off in a Jan. 17 runoff. Unlike the parts of the district that have the words "harbor" in their names but aren't actually on or even all that near the harbor -- Harbor City and Harbor Gateway -- Wilmington is directly on the inner harbor and suffers the consequences and occasionally reaps the benefits of its location.
It's named after the largest city in Delaware, which had been the birthplace and childhood home of California transplant Phineas Banning. Banning arrived in the 1850s as a dockworker and soon began driving stagecoaches from the waterfront to Los Angeles, 20 miles north. He and his business partners incorporated Wilmington as a city, and it grew as a sort of twin to neighboring San Pedro.
He began building Southern California's first railroad -- from his new city on the harbor to Los Angeles -- at just about the time the Central Pacific was linking Northern California to the rest of the nation. The rail line and a Southern Pacific connection north made the port and Wilmington essential real estate. Only later did the rails reach San Pedro.
The cities of Wilmington and San Pedro were consolidated into Los Angeles in 1909 after L.A. offered a library, a school and other amenities. Federal money built a breakwater, and the former muddy harbor was built into the one of the world's largest and busiest ports. The oil field was discovered and developed in 1932.
But for all the heavy industry in the area, there are parts of Wilmington that are barely developed, with no sidewalks, streets virtually unpaved, unlighted alleys. Elected officials in far-off City Hall -- even representatives of the 15th District, who invariably have been residents of better-connected San Pedro -- have found it convenient to view Wilmington as a freight yard or transportation corridor rather than a community of families living among the industrial goliaths.
Poverty is commonplace, directly affecting at least a quarter of the residents. About a third of local jobs involve transportation, warehousing and goods movement. The harsh economy means job loss -- and additional pressure to ignore environmental standards to keep people employed and food on the tables.
Evolving housing policies have made over the Dana Strand Village federal public housing project, which once sheltered World War II-era workers and later became a dreary complex beset by drug sales and violence. After a bulldozing and a redesign, Harbor View Place Garden Apartments and another New Dana complex are tidy and relatively comfortable and safe.
Neglect has helped drive gang violence, and although it persists, the once-common clashes between the East Wilmas and West Wilmas have quieted and allowed the area to nurture, and become a center of, art, murals, poetry, journalism (see the extraordinary Wilmington Wire) and other expressions of the area's multi-generational local culture.
Amid the heavy industry and chemicals, Wilmington has also become a center of a reinvigorated fight for cleanup and for environmental justice. Residents gave the city a high profile in 2010 as they protested against Valero's and Tesoro's support for Proposition 23, which would have pushed back California's landmark AB 32 anti-global-warming mandates. Still, the air can be so bad that schools have installed filters in classrooms as part of a settlement in an environmental suit over port expansion.
The Port of Los Angeles, which is overseen by Los Angeles' Board of Harbor Commissioners, has been in the forefront of both the pollution and (when prodded) the cleanup effort. And after residents protested plans for a high wall to cut them off from the waterfront -- and keep the refinery fumes in but shut the cleansing sea breezes out -- the port instead built a park that buffers the community from the harbor while still embracing it. The park opened last year.
But Wilmington residents say they still get too little in return from the shipping and freight companies that make the area their backyard, and the refineries that make it their furnace. Community activists say San Pedro gets the attention. As far as Wilmington has come, a glance at voting and political fundraising stats show that it has a long way to go before being able to demand the attention from an elected official that San Pedro now gets.
I grew up in Wilmington. I still have two sons living there but I really can't say it is beautiful. It looked better when I was growing up. Once you have moved outside the area you see what is Beautiful.
Click on the map above to get a closer view and to be connected to Wilmington demographics, crime and school data.
MORE FROM THIS SERIES:
-- Robert Greene
Photos: Top, the ConocoPhillips refinery looms over Wilmington homes. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times. Center, a parking lot mural. Credit: Robert Greene / Los Angeles Times. Bottom, a No-on-23 demonstration in Wilmington in October 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.