Journalist and one-time Vancouver mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe recently wrote an eye-popping open letter to Los Angeles, warning us about the serious dangers of overdevelopment that screwed up Vancouver and can do the same in L.A. It’s an important cautionary tale.

“It is possible you will find some way out,” writes LaPointe, “but the lesson of Vancouver is that when a temperate city nestled between mountains and ocean becomes the object of desire, not much can quell tempestuous market forces.”

Sound familiar?

In the Los Angeles Times op-ed section, Kirk LaPointe primarily explains the numerous impacts of foreign investors and developers building huge projects in downtown Vancouver, which is also happening in our city. Read a separate L.A. Times article titled “They built towering new cities in China. Now they’re trying it in downtown L.A.” It goes into the building boom that’s being undertaken by Chinese developers.

“Take it from us,” LaPointe writes. “When global capital is set loose on housing and land, things quickly stop making sense. What you thought was a home is suddenly a commodity. What you thought was a city is suddenly a pawn in an international finance chess game.”

He also warns about politicians’ so-called fixes to problems caused by massive development.

“Your politicians may propose stuff like that, too, so you should know that even though it creates the appearance of action it doesn’t actually change very much,” writes Kirk LaPointe. “After all, politicians depend on developers to funds their campaigns.”

It all sounds eerily similar to what’s happening now in L.A.

As it is now, City Hall’s broken and rigged planning and land-use system, in which L.A. politicians give profitable “spot-zoning” favors to wealthy developers, is not addressing the concerns of longtime residents. We need citizen-driven reform, and that’s the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.

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