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PREFACE

ground in the last decade. This m ay partially explain w hy Latino poverty in L.A. County soared from 22 to 35 per cent during the early 1990s recession, th en fell back to an uncom fortable plateau of 30 per cent, w here it has rem ained stuck ever since. The other side of poverty and vulnerability, of course, is inequality, and the Los Angeles m etropolitan area has almost Latin-American extrem es of w ealth an d poverty. During the 1990s, real household incomes fell through­ out m uch of Southern California, but the worst drop in the m edian income was in the City of Los Angeles, w here it fell by 9.1 per cent. At the same time, the percentage of households in poverty increased from 18 to 22 per cent, while the percentage w ith an annual income of more th an $100,000 increased from 9.7 to 15.7 per cent. Almost 700,000 working adults in L.A. County have incomes below the poverty line, and seven of the ten fastest-growing occupations in the city, including cashier and security guard, pay less th an $2 5,000 per year. The Times editorialized in 2000 th at L.A. and California had entered a 'new Gilded Age' w here 'the income gap betw een rich and poor is w ider th an at almost any time in history and magnified by the sudden w ealth and lavish living of a growing elite'. M eanwhile, the heirs of Howard Jarvis - almost thirty years on - continue to repel all assaults on the perverse edifice of Proposition 13. Land inflation remains the m ost destabilizing force in Southern California life, but Prop. 13, as Peter Shrag has so powerfully shown, ensures that the greater part of the real-estate windfall annually passes through the economy, on its way to buy Hummers^ Laker tickets, and vacation homes, w ithout paying a tithe to schools and the creation of the h u m an capital on w hich the future of California will rest. Luxury lifestyles are subsidized, as it were, on both ends: by a seemingly infinite supply of cheap service labor, and by the tax advantages th at accrue to real-estate and sum ptuary consumption. 5. TERMINAL SUBURBS Real-estate inflation is the tax th at one portion of society - older, more affluent hom eow ners and corporate landow ners in coastal areas - levies on the rest of society: especially younger, less affluent families. It is also the economic passport th at allowed hundreds of thousands of largely white, affluent Southern Californians to vote w ith their feet and leave the region in the 1990s. The City of Los Angeles alone lost 200,000 white, non-Latino residents in the 1990s; the County, almost one-fifth of its total w hite population. This Anglo exodus - to a m uch smaller extent, also a Black out-m igration - explains the ironic fate of the 'slow -grow th' m ovem ent that in the 1980s so dom inated the suburban landscape. Fifteen years ago it was apparent th at residential developm ent had reached the last frontier of available land w ithin an ho u r of the coast. Today, this final

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