I have to take issue with Michael Milken’s assertion that downtowns are in a state of irreversible decline (“Milken say downtowns are dying off,” Jan. 27).
First, such news would come as a surprise to those who live, work and play in downtown L.A., Manhattan, Seattle, Boston, Pittsburgh, etc. And second, just because successful immigrants tend to move out of central cities does not foretell the end of downtowns.
American inner cities have always acted as “gateways” for the upwardly mobile; this is part of what they have been doing for the past 200 years. It is not a sign of decay, but of their continuing vitality.
Third, Mr. Milken is scornful of the suggestion that for-profit companies would be willing to help solve the “problems of downtown Trenton or Los Angeles.” In fact, many companies do exactly this, by supporting their communities and directly investing in their neighborhoods (through, for example, local improvement districts). Simply stated, it’s sound business practice to invest in the community where you operate.
Finally, please allow me to point out that your page 41 headline “Milken and USC predict demise of urban care” is totally misleading. Many USC researchers are deeply involved in debates about America’s urban future, but the University of Southern California has never to my knowledge predicted the demise of downtown L.A.
Director, Southern California Studies Center
University of Southern California