More housing, fewer murders and other New Year’s resolutions 2024 that we would like to see

As we begin a new year after a particularly brutal and worrying 12 months, we look for a bit of hope. Here’s a list of resolutions, mostly for other people, that could make 2024 better than the year we just finished.

For the lawyer. Gen. Rob Bonta: Keep the pressure on NIMBY cities, like Huntington Beach and La Cañada Flintridge, that try to circumvent state housing laws and refuse to make room for more housing at all income levels. California has a crippling housing shortage that is worsening poverty and homelessness because for too long, communities made it too difficult and expensive to build enough housing to keep up with the state’s population growth.

By the Los Angeles City Council: Don’t waste time on important governance reforms, including strengthening the Ethics Commission and expanding the City Council. After the embarrassing and high-profile City Hall scandals, this is a rare moment when there is broad public support for changing Los Angeles’ outdated system of government, improving community representation, and empowering the political watchdog agency.

To Hollywood studios and union leaders: Do everything possible to avoid another strike. Contracts expire this year with two unions, the Teamsters and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, representing crew members who work behind the scenes. Many of those workers were sidelined by writers’ and actors’ strikes last year, which paralyzed production for months. Another strike would be extremely painful for people in the industry and for the individuals and companies that depend on the Hollywood machine.

For American voters: Treat the 2024 election as a referendum on democracy and vote accordingly. That means defeating Donald Trump, who has made it clear that he wants to be the country’s first dictator. It also means rejecting all other candidates who have attacked America’s democratic institutions (including the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the 2020 election results) and would allow our country to fall into authoritarian government.

To Ken, i.e. Ryan Gosling: He returns with another hilarious parody of sexist culture and a dance as full of fun as “I’m Just Ken.” America needs laughter.

From left, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ryan Gosling as Ken and Ncuti Gatwa in the 2023 live-action “Barbie.”

(Images from Warner Bros.)

For voters in nearly half of the states: Make like Ohio and take back your states by voting for measures that ensure pregnant women have the choice to continue or terminate their pregnancies, and by voting for opponents of legislators who have voted to send women back to the 1960s.

For parents: Read to your children. Reading is a disappearing hobby: only 17% of high school students read frequently for pleasure. That’s less than half what it was in 1984. Develop your love of stories, and the fascinating information found in nonfiction, early and continue with regular “family reading times” in the evenings. Reading for school is not the same as reading for pleasure, when children decide for themselves which books appeal to them.

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip in Deir al Balah

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip in Deir al Balah on December 28.

(Adel Hana / Associated Press)

For Israel and Hamas, or whoever steps forward to fairly and legitimately represent the Palestinian people: Stop shooting, start talking, and start imagining and accepting a future in which the State of Israel and an independent, sovereign Palestinian state are neighbors within mutually agreed upon borders.

For Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass: Last year you got many homeless people into temporary housing. This year, focus on getting them (and others still sleeping on sidewalks) permanent housing. A homeless person who is in temporary housing is still homeless.

For Californians: Become airtight, by which we mean: continue to take significant steps to eliminate the waste of our valuable liquid assets on unused lawns.

For experts talking about California: Cool. This place is neither hell nor Eden. It never has been. It is a blessed and repeatedly tested part of America that is taking on challenges that will likely come to you in about five years. Pay attention.

For all humans: Stop burying your head in the sand about climate change and start taking real steps to ditch fossil fuels. (And no, turning the air conditioning up from 68 to 70 degrees doesn’t count.) Ignoring the dangerous effects of our planet’s overheating only guarantees calamity.

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