Letter to the Editor: Downey's vision for the future

Dear Editor:

Hurray for Lawrence Christon for his letter urging our new council members to open the Downey arts and development process to us, its citizens. 

I agree with Mr. Christon that Downey lacks long-term vision. As a 25-year resident of Downey, I've watched Downey's direction with a combination of something between worry, sadness, disgust and anger. Aside from the cultural emptiness which is facing Downey, there is an overall issue with development, sustainability, and the long-term economic base. 

In terms of development, the projects built so far - including in my own once-beautiful neighborhood - fall somewhere in the range between tacky, pretentious, thoughtless, and ugly. The mission seems to be to bulldoze every bit of charm into oblivion and replace it with generic buildings, at breakneck speed.

Another example of myopic leadership of the is the lack of parks. Looking at Downey with Google maps, its clear that there is little green space in Downey. The parks are jammed during summer evenings, and it's not surprising that Downey has been identified by the recently-completed LA County Comprehensive Parks Needs Assessment as a "high needs" area for parks, not even as well-off as the City of Commerce. I think it was last year we were polled about our park needs, and in a noisy crowded park they were asking about our park activities. Curiously, "peace and quiet" never made the list.

When I looked at our Master Plan and realized that the concrete ditch called the San Gabriel River was categorized as "green space" I couldn't decide whether than was ironic or serious.

What is built today will be with Downey for 50 years. Not only do we need a long-term plan for environmental sustainability, we also need a long-term plan for the city's economic base and cultural engagement (and endless houses and retail space isn't going to work.) 

Traffic, rising temperatures, lack of water, and economic instability are just some of the challenges facing our city. 

When I think of Downey, I envision it as Downey Forever. Unfortunately, the direction that Downey seems to be heading in is more like Downey For Now. In a few years, the opportunity to redirect Downey in.to a more attractive version of itself will be lost 

The vision of Downey 30 years from now seems to be missing. Decisions seem to be - at best -ad hoc. But there are many people with wonderful ideas about how Downey should proceed into the future. It is unlikely that the vision can be developed in the next year, but it will certainly never be created if it isn't even started. As with an arts advisory council, I think we need far, far more public input into our city's direction. There is too little communication from city government about scheduled meetings, progress made or problems encountered. Because I work a 4-10, meeting times are impossible for me to make. But email communication is uncertain: One of my emails about rezoning across the street was lost, the other was misrepresented in the City's response. 

Much more needs to be done about communicating with citizens and public hearings - many of them - are a must.

Joan Niertit
Downey