Saturday, November 21, 2009

Contrasting Neighborhoods

I was driving a house-hunting couple around Porter Ranch, CA this morning, which is a newer community in the Northwest portion of the San Fernando Valley.  These clients are both teachers; he is fully employed, and she was just laid off but is doing substitute teaching.

We drove around Porter Ranch looking for a home for them to purchase.  They want 3 beds, two baths, a large yard and hopefully a nice view of the valley.  The money they have to spend will get them what they want; I just need to find the right match.

This morning was clear with just a few upper-level clouds which were in the process of being whisked away by a cool, light prevailing wind; perfect weather after another summer of sweltering heat.

Our tour of this area got me thinking about the contrast that this neighborhood has with an inner-city neighborhood such as Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles, where there is a lot of overcrowding, trash, graffiti and an undeserved amount of gang-infestation.

Even simple things make the difference such as too many telephone poles and wires spidering all over the place, tiny side yards and no privacy from homes and buildings butted up against each other.

In Porter Ranch, the views of the valley floor surrounded by undeveloped hills are gorgeous especially at Sunset, the streets are clean and you have room to do whatever it is you like to do. 

And yet, ironically, there is something missing.  It’s too quiet at times. There is no variety of culture or interesting sampling of food for that matter.  The area is made up mostly of white, affluent people who, when they aren’t working, drive down to the local shopping areas a couple of times per day.

In the inner city areas such as Boyle Heights, you have a large amount of cultural diversity and plenty of activity such as street fairs and vendors selling tacos and burritos.  The people who live there have priced in their neighborhood.  And yet there is no quiet or peacefulness.  Things are always “on,” good or bad. And honestly, you could get shot there just going to the market.

It’s so strange that these two types of conditions co-exist in the same city.  Boyle Heights is part of the City of Los Angeles as are the sprawling acres of Porter Ranch.  This divergence exists in most large cities, and yet, I wonder how aware the people of one community are of how the other is living.