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EDITORIAL PAYBACK TIME END DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT SUBSIDIES NOW.

AFTER three decades of neglecting the homeless, it's no surprise that Los Angeles has a humanitarian crisis on its hands that would take $12 billion to solve in a decade.

Of course, that isn't going to happen any more than we're going to spend trillions to fix our transportation problems or provide decent health care, good educations and safe streets, or put an end to poverty.

But, yes, now that the economic and political forces have aligned to focus city and county officials on this problem, it's important that practical steps be taken to help those who can actually be helped.

But make no mistake: These same politicians didn't care at all about the homeless until their developer pals stood to make billions off the revival of downtown that is jeopardized by hundreds of people living on the streets.

As expensive lofts have replaced derelict buildings by the score in the Skid Row area, it was only a matter of time before police started rousting the street people and the politicians started looking to provide humanitarian aid to those who refused to get out of downtown.

People who plunk down $750,000 for a loft in the heart of Skid Row shouldn't have to pick their way through throngs of street dwellers just to get home. Of course, no one else should either, which is why chasing the homeless to the suburbs is no answer.

So the public must not allow the politicians to railroad through a solution that puts the burden solely on the residents and taxpayers of the county. We cannot have worse public services for those with homes who work, pay taxes and aspire to better lives in order to help the homeless.

The homeless problem is a societal problem, so it's fair to say the burdens should be shared fairly. That means the so-called "stabilization centers" should be placed in wealthy areas as well as the rest of the county.

It also means that the costs need to be shared. And the massive tax credits and subsidies that have driven downtown redevelopment for the past 30 years - at the expense of the neighborhoods everywhere else - must end.

The residents of the city and county have paid dearly in lost services and higher taxes so downtown could be revived. Now, it's payback time.

Downtown property values are soaring. Building is booming. It's becoming a playground for the affluent.

It's high time downtown started paying off on the public's investment. End the subsidies now - that ought to be the cry from San Pedro to Pacoima, from Hermosa Beach to West Covina.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 10, 2006
Words:433
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