Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Animus and the Inland Empire

As he so often does, Joel Kotkin gets to the nub of the matter:
The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield (nee Jacob Cohen), whose signature complaint was that he “can't get no respect,” would have fit right in, in the Inland Empire. The vast expanse east of greater Los Angeles has long been castigated as a sprawling, environmental trash heap by planners and pundits, and its largely blue-collar denizens denigrated by some coast-dwellers, including in Orange County, who fret about “909s” – a reference to the IE's area code – crowding their beaches.

The Urban Dictionary typically defines the region as “a great place to live between Los Angeles and Las Vegas if you don't mind the meth labs, cows and dirt people.” Or, as another entry put it, a collection of “worthless idiots, pure and simple.” Nice.

In reality, the people who live along the coast should appreciate the “909ers” since they constitute the future – if there is much of one – for Southern California's middle class. The region has suffered considerably since the Great Recession, in part because of a high concentration of subprime loans taken out on new houses. Yet, for all its problems, the Inland Empire has remained the one place in Southern California where working-class and middle-class people can afford to own a home. With a median multiple (median house price divided by household income) of roughly 3.7, the area is at least 40 percent less expensive than Los Angeles and Orange County, making it the region's last redoubt for the American dream.
There are Inland Empires in many places, of course. Here, we would call it Anoka County. The gap between what the planners of the world want for us and what people might choose, if left to their own devices, remains large. More, a lot more, at the link.


Gino said...

ahem... i'm an urban los angeles (mostly)native, who moved my wife and two babies to the IE 1990, and relocated to the OC in 98, and back to the IE in 08. i will likely spend the rest of my life here.

i got more to say on that and this, but i'll be back with more time.

Mr. D said...

I figured you would, Gino.