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The Sepulveda Solution

It was crisis time for this one-time middle-class suburb of Los Angeles. Gangs ruled the neighborhoods, drugs could be purchased on any street corner, and prostitutes plied their trade openly in the business district. Legitimate businesses were shutting their doors, and law-abiding citizens were leaving town in droves. Something had to be done, and quickly. A bold stroke that would send the message loud and clear: "We're not going to take this anymore".


And so the ever-ingenious city fathers put their heads together and came up with an absolutely fool-proof plan, one that would solve all of their urban problems in one fell swoop. They could abolish crime, end homelessness, wipe out graffiti, and banish gangs from their neighborhoods forever, and they wouldn't even have to raise taxes to do it.


How, you ask? Simple. They changed their name. On January 1, 1992, the crime-ridden, gang-infested, trash-littered city of Sepulveda simply ceased to exist. In its place arose the beautiful community of North Hills, a veritable paradise of prosperity and tranquility. The improvement in the quality of life was both immediate and startling.


The local residents, long accustomed to drug dealers on every corner, were pleasantly surprised to find themselves surrounded by pharmaceutical entrepreneurs. No longer did roving gang members engage in drive-by shootings. Now regional confederations practiced ballistic exchanges.


Topless bars and pornographic bookstores were replaced by minimum apparel salons and anatomical research libraries. The prostitutes all became independent entertainment specialists, and the homeless that used to hang out in the parks were quickly housed in spacious and well-ventilated plaza suites. Litter vanished from the streets, supplanted by unattached detritus. Block walls and buildings everywhere are now liberally festooned with urban territorial art works. Problem solved!


The success of this bold experiment has profound implications for the rest of America. What has worked so well for the San Fernando Valley can work for the rest of the country. It's quick, it's easy, and requires little effort on the part of citizens or government officials. The President must appoint a committee, a blue-ribbon commission on community names. He could call it, say, the Presidential Appellation Delegation (PAD for short) and appoint to it the most talented name-callers in the country. Their task will be to identify all the blighted and down-trodden areas of the country and give them creative new names.


Just imagine the possibilities! Watts could become Wildwood Corners, for instance, and Harlem might be called Happy Acres. Love Canal could be Black Creek Village. Oh, wait. It already is. Anyway, the choices are limitless. And think of the prestige! If anyone should wax so bold as to ask a Delegation member, "What have you done for the country lately?", he or she need only reply, "I'm on the PAD". Everyone will know exactly what they mean.


Best of all will be the money we'll save. We won't need redevelopment agencies. The welfare people will be out of a job. We can disband the DEA, and retire most of our police officers. After all, with poverty quickly giving way to circumscribed finances, there'll be no more need for theft. Why, we could cut the Federal deficit by half overnight.


True, this plan will not be without cost. Signs will have to be repainted and maps relabeled. Businesses will have to print up new stationery. These expenses are trivial, however compared to the long-term benefits of the changes. So please, concerned citizens, write the President and your congressperson and insist that they implement this innovative plan. Let's give America a name she can really be proud of!




copyright 1998 Kathleen Mc Pugh. All rights reseved

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