Four years ago, Robin Kutchai lost her husband to cancer. “We got the diagnosis that his body was full of tumors two weeks before he died,” she said, perched at the bar of the Woodland Hills Hilton, where she’s temporarily holed up. They had been married 10 weeks after they’d met, 35 years ago. Telling the story, her large, neatly made-up eyes welled with tears.
After her husband’s death, Kutchai sold their Simi Valley house and bought a townhouse in Porter Ranch, where she found a sense of belonging to help her through her grief. “It was always such a wonderful area,” she said. “It was a place where I felt safe being alone.”
That all changed dramatically this past autumn, when the air in the far northwestern San Fernando Valley community became saturated with the rotten-egg smell associated with natural gas — a consequence of a chemical added to the odorless gas to make it detectable.
Steve Clemons is Washington editor-at-large for The Atlantic, whose spin-off site, CityLab, covers new ideas and issues facing urban metro areas worldwide. Each year CityLab convenes a gathering of global city leaders in person to discuss innovative ideas and projects that are emerging in urban communities. This year CityLab’s conference was held at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Shortly afterward, Capital & Main spoke to Clemons. In this video clip he speaks of L.A.’s past and its new allure.
Also Watch: Steve Clemons on Government
In 1996 I began working at the Parent Center of Wilmington Middle School. I quickly learned how students suffer from asthma, respiratory deficiencies, malnourishment, cancer and autism. Many of these poor health conditions are linked to the pollution and poverty of the area.
I decided to join the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports, hoping to help clean our air and reduce disease in my community. Over the past several years we have made huge progress. I believe these accomplishments were possible because so many of us came together, from residents and community-based organizations to port truck drivers, lawmakers and unions. Although it is a cliché to say there is strength in unity, in this case it was true.
Today we are fighting to change the conditions of port truck drivers – and we are still unified.
We believe that everyone who works should be valued by their employer.
We survived Carmageddon II last weekend, so pat yourself on the back now for having made it! Or as I’ve heard others call Carmageddon, the “Rampture.” The I-405 Freeway, from the I-10 to Highway 101, was closed for the second time in 14 months for the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, which will add desperately needed carpool lanes to the 405 Freeway. (Though what we really need is better public transit, but I digress)
Metro and elected officials warned us for months—“It’s coming!”
They pleaded with the public—leave your cars at home, stay away from the area, shop, play, and dine locally. As an L.A. native, I’ve had my fair share of moments of being stuck in dreadful traffic, so when they asked that I leave my car at home, I sure did—both last year and this past weekend. And almost every day of the year—for my own sanity and because our city can use one less car on the road.