If someone were to grab you off the street, tie you to a post, and force you to watch every “Spongebob Squarepants” episode ever made unless you answered the question, “What is the most beautiful city in the world?” what would you tell them?
If you’re like me, after you escaped your bonds, smashed the TV, and had a few choice words for your captor, you might later answer the question with “Paris,” or “Prague,” or perhaps “Rome.” [Yes, I have a Euro bias]
You probably would not think of West Hollywood, or even Los Angeles during your ordeal, at least not as serious answers for a ludicrous situation. [Why would anyone force you to watch Spongebob? Except perhaps the nine-year-old you have to babysit some long weekend. Yes it happened to me, leaving out the bit about the pole]
Even if Paris, Rome, or Prague are not your top three choices, it’s obvious they’d be among the top choices for a lot of people, particularly anyone who’s ever visited. New York? Not so much. Tokyo? Doubt it. Calcutta? Let’s not go there.
One thing my top contenders have in common, old buildings, places where real epic history happened, lends dignity to any city. Almost as important, the actual height of the skyline. We’re grounded to mostly single stories in earthquake-phobic L.A. Buildings press into the cloud layers so they hurt your neck and back in New York. Paris, Prague, Rome, these places sit at six or seven stories tall. They give you something to marvel at without blocking out the sun and casting the pedestrian in perpetual shade.
All of this is my roundabout way to suggest that Los Angeles, and in particular the West Hollywood enclave, might do well to rethink its zoning rules. We have a huge housing problem and skyrocketing rents. We might lower the skyrocketing rents by raising the skyline, allowing builders to build more housing units on whatever acreage we have available.
If we do so, we might just end up living in one of the most beautiful places on earth.