Sunday, December 25, 2016


The New York Times' Neal Boudette wrote on Tuesday about how the big carmakers are adjusting to the threat of ride hail making individual car ownership obsolete.

Among the interesting bits were examples of Los Angeles-area people going mostly carless (from my view the last and final test among U.S. cities), that automakers are now considering the first and last mile (to the bus or train station and back) that mostly occupies public transit analysts, and that a shift away from individual car ownership could be a financial relief for automakers, who expend massive capital to produce new cars. Boudette breaks out that math:

Automakers are generally betting that sales of vehicles to fleet services will offset any decline in sales to individual consumers. Boston Consulting Group predicts that 44,000 cars will be sold to ride-sharing fleets in North America in 2021, more than making up for an expected net decline in consumer sales of about 8,000 vehicles. 

The bigger impact might be on how the automotive industry — not just carmakers, but also fleet service operators, parts makers and the like — makes its money in years to come. 

According to the consulting firm PwC, the global automotive industry generates about $400 billion a year in profits; about 41 percent of that — or about $164 billion — comes from new vehicle sales. 

By 2030, PwC forecasts that even as overall automotive profits grow to about $600 billion, only about 29 percent of that will come from new vehicle sales. By then, PwC predicts that “mobility services’’ — including ride-hailing and other types of last-mile transportation services — will represent 20 percent of the automotive industry’s profits. 

Ford is among the automakers angling to be in position if that shift occurs.
“We are on the cusp of a revolution,” Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive, said at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Cars, he said, “are no longer our entire game.”


If you skim the LA City Council's recent meetings, you might believe that it took action on sidewalk repair, finally deciding who exactly is responsible in one cohesive policy. No. All the 15 members of the council did on Dec. 13 is receive another report from a subcommittee and officially file that report.

This is an issue that has gone on and on. I wrote about this all the way back in my Patch days in 2010. There were two versions of the article - one for Encino and one for Chatsworth. The Patch people killed the Chatsworth one, the more comprehensive one, and for some reason pulled the timeline that ran with both. Pathetically, it does not require much updating after six years.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


I only just read this unnecessary piece about the Gatto family in the Los Feliz Ledger yesterday, though it was published Oct. 27. The title misleadingly suggests it's a look back at unresolved elements of the investigation and not a big MacGuffin of a lurid look into a struggling family.

No one can make the paper reevaluate or pull the article. There is unfortunately no unified standard of journalistic ethics for all media outlets to follow. I keep the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics in mind when in doubt, and try to share any thorny issues with editors. I know, from my own Ledger days, that the paper's Publisher-Editor Allison Cohen would not much heed them anyways, having used her position to rail against Griffith Park preservationists and the imperfect, but mostly sincere and committed, local business improvement district. I was unfortunately a party to both, having my reporting twisted with heavy editing to unfairly slam individuals among those two groups.

But here it is anyways, in full. The section relevant to the writing about the Gattos falls under the obligation to minimize harm in the process of reporting:

As it turns out, I don't need to call Cohen out. A reader did it brilliantly. To Cohen's credit, she received the criticism directly and then posted the letter to the comment space of the article. Nicely said, Ellen Barry:

I read the article about Mr. Gatto’s unsolved murder today and was saddened to see that the Ledger decided to invade the family’s privacy in their grief by airing dirty laundry about estrangement among his children.
Your paper need not stoop to National Enquirer levels to inform us about what is newsworthy: the fact that the murder remains unsolved. Even though the probate issues are publicly filed, it is none of our business that the family is grappling with this additional strain as they grieve their father’s loss. I don’t have any need to know what he thought of his daughter’s relationship, nor how much money he left, or its disposition. Shame on you for trying to “spice up” a story with little heft by adding in gossipy details about his family’s life. After all, none of the family members are suspects in the murder, and they are entitled to hash out their grievances privately. And shame on the family friend for gossiping as well. I can only imagine his widow’s distress. You owe her an apology. 
Ellen Barry
Silver Lake