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L.A. Weekly article about Smart Growth in L.A.

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What's Smart About Smart Growth?

This article gives a good overview of the current smart growth debate in Los Angeles. Although I strongly disagree with the anit-planning tone of the article, I like the fact that it hones in thorny issues in smart growth that are sometimes left unaddressed. Such as: what happens to transit oriented development when the transit won't be built for 15 years?

I think L.A. is at a fascinating point in its history. It essentially cannot continue previous patterns of growth (maybe there are a few vacant parcels left 50 miles outside the city in Lancaster, Riverside or San Bernardino). Yet it does not really have the infrastructure for smart growth yet, and building it will be enormously expensive and require a level of unified civic will that is anathema to Angelenos.

What do you think? So-cal'ers out there, do you welcome new high density projects into your neighborhood? Do you live in exclusive R1 zoning (residential only, mentioned in the article)? Do you think a time will come when you will be able to reduce the number of cars in your household, or even go without a car completely? Anyone out there use L.A.'s train system at all?

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I already posted a link to the same article on a different thread on this same site.

You're all too correct in noting that L.A. lacks the infrastructure to handle certain kinds of things--at least in some areas. But transportation improvements (improved roads, new subway or light rail, the new rapid transit express buses) have been introduced in some areas. With that in mind, the article makes some valid points, but it also reveals a nostaligic NIMBY bias that is rather typical of the L.A. Weekly (i.e., dreaming of things the way they used to be in the '60s).

The article is way too critical of the Hollywood developments--which have made all the difference in the world to an area that had been going downhill very fast (despite its "glamorous" image). The developments pictured behind Councilman Garcetti in the article are tremendous improvements over what had been there. And not only are they mixed use, the housing portions were designed as a mix of market-rate and subsidized. There are many other such developments in L.A. now--including one of the first subsidized developments for LGBT retirees. The Mondrian-motif development mentioned in the article is incorporated into the Hollywood-Western Red Line subway station.

I used the new train systems (Red line subway and Gold line light-rail) when I was working in Hollywood (which is served by the Red line). My only critique of the trains would be that most stations were built without park-and-ride lots (in a region as spread out and occasionally hilly as L.A., park-and-ride or local shuttles running every 10-15 minutes at commuting hours are needed.)

The trains were a delight to ride, unlike L.A.'s legendary awful bus service. Clean and most of all, efficient and on time (unlike the buses, including the express lines). Another problem: the trains all shut down before 1 A.M.

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