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Brady Westwater Headshot

How to Save the Los Angeles Times, End Rush Hour Traffic, Solve the Housing Crisis (And Not Have to Pay For It)

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Two of the most important decisions any of us ever make is where we decide to live and what job we choose to accept. Rush hour traffic, however, proves how wrong we all can be.

But it is hard to make informed choices when there are so many housing options within 20 miles of any job. And if you fall in love with a house -- it's hard to know what jobs might be within commuting distance.

There are also those who are trapped in homes or jobs that are no longer right for them -- but who stick with them because they are too exhausted from day-to-day life to summon the energy to fix their lives.

But in chaos exists opportunity.

Someday, a local media company -- such as the LA Times or Rubicon -- or someone such as Jay Penske -- will realize there is a need for a website that contains everything anyone in Los Angeles needs to correctly make those decisions.

A single site with every possible housing option in greater Los Angeles, and every imaginable job option.

A site with public school test scores, statistics for charter and private schools, locations of medical facilities, churches and temples -- and everything else (crime rates, air pollution, etc.) anyone needs to know.

A site that ranks every job and housing option -- based on your needs -- and then -- and here's the first killer app -- it sorts them first by the physical distance, and then by real world, rush hour commuting time distance by car and then by every different transit option -- between each job and every housing option.

Everyone will suddenly have far more options, while also being able to quickly reduce the numbers of those options to more manageable numbers.

But helping people already looking for a new job or a home is only a start.

The key part of this killer app is that everyone can input their desired jobs, housing and commute times, long before they need them.

They will then get emails with every new job and new housing opportunity that meets their needs.

And that's when the larger societal and personal benefits start to kick in.

Workers will have instant access to options for advancement, and gain more control over their lives, while employers will be able to find more qualified workers within the larger pool. And reduced commuter times will make for healthier and more productive workers who will have more time with their families.

But even that isn't the real game changer.

One of LA's biggest problems is that jobs often aren't where housing is, or housing isn't where the schools are the best or the housing is too expensive for the workers in that area.

So imagine a developer owns land in an area with less desirable housing but near major job centers. From this website, he can get a list of people who want new condos in that area and find out only 20 people want a 2 bedroom for $250,000, but that 50 people want a 3 bedroom for $275,000.

He then knows what to build, the lender knows what to finance and the community gets the housing it wants.

Then if 50 parents in the same area are looking for a good charter elementary school within 5 miles, the website will enable them to find each other, and then find a school willing to open in their area.

And if a suburban community has 30 programmers willing to work for less rather than commute and there's nearby empty office space, and if rising rents in Venice are forcing tech companies to lower some of their costs, everything needed to make a deal is on the website.

So not only does this website enable us to make better choices, but it helps creates a new, better city with better choices for us to choose from.

And, finally, to help pull this all together, social media will also need to be fully integrated into the site.

Now, of course, building this site will not be cheap, and much of the data may have to be initially shared via split revenue deals, or bought.

In the long run, though, it is final part of the killer app that will help finance the site.

The part where whoever owns this site owns the ultimate Los Angeles portal; the portal with the broadest and the narrowest reach of any site in LA. The portal with more information about more things in this city than any other site. And if you can't figure out what that's worth -- you probably didn't read this far.

Now as for how to create this site, and why no one has tried to do anything like this before, that is for a later column.

Other columns over the next two months will address six other ways we can reduce traffic congestion and housing problems in Los Angeles (and many other problems, too) by dealing with the causes of the problems as opposed to spending billions to solve problems that might instead be prevented.

And if any of you have any suggestions for problems of this city that need real world, pragmatic solutions -- long with financially sustainable business plans -- let me know. Because that is what his column is about.

A Rx for Los Angeles: 101 Ways to Fix a Broken City.