Choosing our battles


    One night last week I was cleaning out my desk when I chanced upon a collection of articles and letters written in mid-November 1993. Among them were some I had written to the L.A. County Fire Department and our then-City Council. Your last edition made it clear that we are about to endure yet another spitting contest local election, filled with name calling and prevarication. All this leads to the questions: What have our elected leaders done to insure that the tragedy on Nov. 3, 1993 is not repeated? Given the events of early September when we went without water for a weekend (it was wonderful for all of us but the merchants), we know it has not been insuring that there will be water in the hydrants after the tanks run dry — a phenomenon that occurs very quickly in a fire.

    Has there been any disaster planning at all since 1993? If so, it obviously has escaped your reporters and it certainly has escaped me. What I have seen is epic battles over walls, stringlines, lighted hillsides and an occasional house. What I have also seen is that our city government is more interested in saying “No” to someone who wants to build something and has simply ignored the safety of all the houses in the city.

    It should be clear to all of us that beach homes, mobile homes and hillside homes can and will burn and yet we let ourselves get caught up in petty bickering and ignore the bigger issue. This council has had six years to do something about fire prevention and instead we’ve gotten Jack Lemmon’s video, failed litigation, fired city attorneys, crowing roosters, screeching peacocks and a reputation that makes us the justifiable laughing stock of city governments and the courts.

    What the hell! If you build it and it burns down, it’s just the same as not being able to build it at all.

    Ave atque vale,

    Todd M. Sloan