mid-los-angeles
Los Angeles is a city where residents have had a say in development over the past fifty years.  The Economist  writes that in 1960 that city had a population of 2.5 million and a zoned capacity for 10 million. By 2010 the population was nearly 4 million people but its zoned capacity had been reduced to 4.2 million.
While increasing density would be a prudent way to increase population and housing choice, Angelenos are fond of the single family house and have actively campaigned against density.  In 2014 half of Los Angeles was zoned for single family housing and  the city has 8,474 people per square mile~The City of Vancouver has over 13,000 people per square mile.
This is a city of  entrenched single family home owners. As Jan Breidenbach of the  University of Southern California observes “A good place to start is for politicians never again to utter the words ‘preserve neighbourhood character’,” says Jan Breidenbach of the University of Southern California. “In reality what they’re saying is, ‘Keep out’.”
There was even a  “Neighbourhood Integrity Initiative” measure that would have delayed construction  for two years on projects that do not met existing rules on zoning and height in Los Angeles. This was defeated in March of 2017 but shows the challenge in residents who like low density dwellings but also live in the second largest American city. and are wary of density. Since 1969 citizens have pushed city planning to curb density, with slow growth into the 1980’s. It was the Proposition U that limited high-rise building development and cut the allowable floor space of new commercial construction by half outside of the downtown. And that was in 1986. Proposition backers wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 1987  “We’re tired of the overdevelopment, the excessive traffic and the inadequate planning that are increasingly plaguing the people of Los Angeles.”
Seems like not much has changed in thirty years.
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Comments

  1. As Jan Breidenbach of the University of Southern California observes “A good place to start is for politicians never again to utter the words ‘preserve neighbourhood character’,” says Jan Breidenbach of the University of Southern California. “In reality what they’re saying is, ‘Keep out’.”

    So true!

  2. I remember reading one of several op-eds by UBC prof Patrick Condon knocking the Broadway subway using LA’s relatively recent subway-building initiative. The critique was accompanied by an aerial photo of clusters of towers springing up around the stations on a line following Wilshire Blvd.
    He seemed to miss entirely the context of the dire endless sprawl the line was placed in.
    Even with that line and its ToD, I doubt the density of jobs, population and retail / institutional floor area would match or exceed today’s Broadway-UBC corridor WITHOUT a subway. Moreover, the estimated 320,000 / day ridership of the Broadway subway 10 years after opening would move the equivalent of 88% of the entire LA rail system weekday ridership based on LA’s ridership stats from last November.
    The irony is almost painful.

    1. LA’s rail network is composed of 2 halves, a sprawling light rail network and a underground subway. The subway(red line) has a ridership of 150k per day on it’s single line. So while 320k a day is indeed larger, it’s only double what LA’s only current subway line gets. The Purple line under Wilshire Blvd is expected to exceed the red line. Possibly not 320k a day, but somewhere between that and 200k.

    2. Thank you for this info. My source was a stat sheet from LA Metro for weekday averages in November (the most recent I could get in a limited time) indicating ridership from “All Rail”, which was a bit above 369,000.
      Peter Calthorpe was very supportive of using light rail in boulevards and he consulted with officials in LA. His ‘transit boulevard’ idea is well-known and worthy of consideration. But I would say a top consideration would be examining the geometry, economic characteristics, existing urbanism and resident acceptance on the arterials and in the neighbourhoods they serve. LA clearly has not accepted a transit future.
      Rail transit is expensive, but its many forms can be adapted to the particular needs of various cities. IMO Broadway really needs the major jump to a subway, but I wouldn’t say that for 41st Ave, 200th St or King George Blvd down to South Surrey. Trying to impose one technology over all routes is like having a toolbox containing only one tool for all jobs.

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