The angry smell of blue-haired democracy

November 11, 2011 § 16 Comments

I once managed a U.S. senate campaign, and it was there that I learned to hate democracy. As a concept, it’s great. But in practice, it seems like the only people who care enough to show up are the mean-spirited, crotchety, my-way-or-the-highway douchebags who believe that because they reached the age of 70 everything they think is a fact.

The city of Palos Verdes Estates, where I lived for four years as a renter, has its own pecking order. Here’s the complete ranking sheet that you need to have before you do anything in PVE, just so you know where you stand. The lower the number, the higher you rank.

1. People who bought and have lived in the same house for forty years or more.
2. God.
3. People who bought and have lived in the same house for thirty years or more.
4. White people with a net worth of $50 million or more.
5. White people with a net worth of $10-$50 million.
6. White locals who surf at Lunada Bay.
7. White board members of Lunada Bay Little League and PEF.
8. White members of the PV Beach and Athletic Club.
9. White non-members of the PV Beach and Athletic Club on the 15-year waiting list who blow the members of the PV Beach and Athletic Club.
10. Anyone who was responsible for reducing property taxes.
11. Anyone who donates $20k or more to the PEF to make up for the shortfall in school revenue caused by the reduced property taxes.

If you’re not on this list, you don’t matter. However, there’s also a score sheet that the city uses to rank the degree to which you don’t matter. They use this when people impinge upon the city’s whiteness and try to alter the character of the community or the nature of its laws and regulations, by, for example, showing up at city council meetings and daring to speak. The lower the number, the more despicable you are.

11. Child rapists.
10. People whose skin isn’t really white and/or Jews.
9. Serial rapists and/or murderers.
8. Non-white people who apply for membership at the PV Beach and Athletic Club.
7. Non-local surfers.
6. Anyone from Rancho Palos Verdes.
5. Non-PVE residents who use its roads.
4. Democrats.
3. Non-owners of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
2. Cyclists.
1. Renters.

Democracy in action

I showed up at the city’s traffic commission meeting, where they were soliciting public comment on the new “traffic calming measures” being touted by the city. Held conveniently on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. so that no one but the resident blue-hairs and the wealthy retirees could reasonably attend, the meeting room was packed. Out of the fifty or sixty people who had come to flex the tired, flabby, and grossly untoned muscle of local democracy, only four of us were cyclists.

The city’s engineer, Allan Rigg, who can be reached at arigg@pvestates.org, presented a schematic diagram that showed the city’s innovative approach to calming traffic on Via del Monte. Once I saw the residents speak, I understood why they called it traffic “calming,” as the angry white people were furious and raging beyond belief at the deadly state of affairs in Palos Verdes Estates. They called me first to the lectern to deliver my three minutes’ worth of comments. My pitch was simple. I live in RPV (disgust so thick you could cut it with a fork). I love cycling on the Peninsula (contempt overlayered with revulsion). The changes the city makes to Via del Monte should take into account cyclists (snorting derision). A war hero suffered catastrophic injuries after installation of the traffic cushions (serves him right for riding a bike). Thanks for the hard work you’re all doing for the community (it’s our community and fuck you we don’t need your thanks you dirtbag RPV Democrat cycling Camry-driving renter).

Ve haf vays ov slowing you down

The engineer’s recommendations for calming the outraged traffic are so dangerous, stupid, and ludicrous that if he didn’t have the word “engineer” appended to his job title I would have thought it was a comedy routine. Unfortunately, here are the solutions to calm the angry, angry traffic on VDM:

1. Put up electronic signs so that speeders will know they’re speeding. These are effective because when someone is doing 90 in a 35 they can use the signs to calibrate the speedometer in their vehicle.

2. Add several zillion huge reflector dots all up and down the street, with a few million smack in the middle of the hairpin. These will ensure that any cyclist whose line drifts too far out will hit the bumps and be flung into oncoming traffic, and hopefully die or at least suffer permanent debilitating injurty.

3. [This one I didn’t really grasp, and have asked Mr. Rigg to send me the diagram.] Add differential levels to the edge of the road in the hairpin to “channel” the traffic. This will slow people down on the hairpin, and again, kill lots of cyclists.

The voices of disreason

The good citizens were then advised that the meeting was not being held to consider the existing traffic cushions, which are here to stay, so the meeting began and ended with the angry blue-hairs talking almost exclusively about the traffic cushions. With the exception of Dave Kramer, Brad House, and a Mr. Eastman, no one else had anything to say, intelligent or otherwise, about the proposed new measures. Below are excerpts of the rantings that will, in due course, support the commission’s recommendations to make VDM off-limits and/or a [greater] death trap to cyclists.

Eldora Snagbottom: I’ve lived on Via del Monte for 43 years and these traffic cushions hurt my hip which has been replaced and hurt the shocks on my car.

Evelyn Whackdoodle: I’ve lived on Via del Monte for 47 years. These speed calming cushions slow traffic for those of us with V8’s we should be able to go faster.

Samuel Ratslinger: Are we a third world city who can’t afford cops? Let’s get more cops. And we want more speed bumps to stop the speeders. Speeders are ruining this city. I moved here in 1963 and it’s changed for the worse, I can tell you.

Peony Pukesy: I oppose anything that interferes with parking on this street. I moved here in 1952 and parking is important. Everyone else needs to respect us and parking. We pay taxes.

Howeldella Smoots: Have we ever measured the speed of bikes? They’re faster than cars. Those bicyclers are crazy and dangerous I can’t hardly get my car out of the drive without one of them whizzing by at 60 miles an hour or faster. Can we arrest them? They are a big problem. I moved here in 1973 and it’s gotten worse every day. Every day.

Frederick Putz: The bumps are great and slow people down. The bumps push people off del Monte and that’s good. Why do they come here anyway? Why can’t we have more bumps? We need a big bump, I mean a big giant one that will rip the front end off a tank, something that blends in so it catches you unawares if you’re not going slow. Lose a few front ends and by God that’ll slow ‘em down. Moved here in ’69.

Helena Abercrombie: Why does the city let the concerns of fire trucks and emergency vehicles trump residents’ concerns about this awful dangerous traffic? Especially the bicyclers. They are the worst. We pay taxes and own property here. I’ve lived here 46 years.

Biff Huttbole: I drive VDM six times a day. There are other ways to do this other than speed bumps. I live here because it’s beautiful. I don’t want some new sign or speed bump blighting my beautiful street. Let’s get the cops involved. Ticket the hell out of everyone, especially the crazy bikers. Hand out $50,000 in tickets every day, full-on lockdown, SWAT team, paddywaggon, we’ll get those bastards and raise a heap of money to boot. Enforcement and punishment works! Haven’t these clowns ever heard of prison?

Suzanne Frumpwad: I don’t want a sign in front of my lawn. I’ve lived here for fifty years. These speed cushions aren’t cushions! They’re hard and they hurt! I’ve lived here fifty years. Cyclists are problems and they speed, run the stop signs, and if they hit a bump and take a whack to the head, maybe they’ll slow down next time! I know I would. I’ve lived here fifty years. Those bumps are discomfortable.

Being heard through the howls of the angry locals

The one useful thing I learned from attending the meeting, aside from the fact that no one gives a flying fuck about bicyclists except bicyclists, is that the traffic commission actually pays attention to letters and phone calls. Huge kudos to the cyclists who took the time off from work or from play in order to show up and say something. For those of you who ride VDM and who don’t want it made worse, please call the city clerk, Ms. Judy Smith, at (310) 378-0383 x2250. Tell her your name, where you live, and that you oppose the newly proposed traffic calming measures and you request that the city remove the speed cushions on Via del Monte. I know that it’s hard to pick up the phone, but get off FB for just a minute or two and give it a go. Thanks.

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