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Maybe we've become blinded by abandoned stripped malls, vandalized utility boxes and arid lawns surrounding boarded-up houses. Maybe that's why California cultivates so many bonehead laws and regulations.
Take Beverly Hills, for example, which last year put a cap on the amount of medical office space it will allow. Once you've reached your limit, even if docs come cash in hand, you have to let the offices sit vacant.The Los Angeles Business Journal noted that a Wilshire Boulevard building will soon sit two-thirds vacant because the only folks interested are docs.
Then there's Malibu which, the paper says, is going to restrict the amount of space that chain stories can occupy at a shopping center to 20%. This apparently is designed to ensure access to mom-and-pop enterprises.
And the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban Wal-Mart from opening a store in a vacant space near Chinatown.
Assessing this trend in his backyard, editor Charles Crumpley wrote:
"Look, Beverly Hills may think it’s overrun with plastic surgeons and Malibu may think it is way too special to have an Applebee’s. (L.A.’s case is a little different; it is infected with a pure strain of hatred for Wal-Mart.) They feel they have to “do something,” so they have started down a destructive path, instructing businesses what tenants they can and can’t allow."
California has always been special to me -- I moved here just after Prop. 13 kicked in -- and I've come to experience how many ways "special" is often not a positive.
For example, we're one of only five states that prohibits hospitals from hiring physicians, "enhancing" our shortage of docs even as we're trying to cover more people with insurance. We're also one of only five states that does not have a program addressing physicians impaired by mental illness, drugs or alcohol -- we let an existing program expire years ago.
We've obviously got the brains to come up with laws/regs that paint us into a corner. Which is why when the state legislative analyst's office said the current budget deficit has grown by "a couple of billion," we barely batted an eye.
To borrow a phrase from substance-abuse counselors, we obviously enjoy our special brand of "stinkin' thinkin'" way too much.