Los Angeles Faces The Parking Issue

The city of Los Angeles, seems to to have a experiencing a real revival of it’s downtown and the areas near it. While the center of many jobs, the area used to have only about 20,000 residents living in or near it, many of whom were the poorest in the city. Now it has close to 30,000 residents many of whom are wealthy or middle class. The city is also finally starting to rethink it’s parking policies. The classic issues are developing of how to reduce the dependency on cars in a city with few alternatives.

An article in the LA Weekly seethes with anger and skepticism.

“THE LEAP OF FAITH BEHIND this strategy is tied to affordable housing, and city leaders’ desire to create mixed-income neighborhoods. They argue that if L.A. doesn’t have lower-income, transit-hopping service workers living in proximity to the bankers, lawyers and movie producers they’re presumably serving, the city will consist of gridlocked ghettos for the wealthy like Marina del Rey. Villaraigosa, Rothmann and others believe that builders, if relieved of costly parking requirements, will use the savings to build affordable housing units.

But the entire scheme is based on the dubious premise that developers share City Hall’s interest in mixing affordable housing into pricey neighborhoods. This is to be achieved by using “unbundling,” described in a Planning Department summary of Rothmann’s plan. The presumption is that living space and parking space today are bundled into a single package, and that L.A. residents, in effect, purchase or rent a dwelling with parking attached.”

Basically, what seems to have happened is that the city is almost at the end of it’s rope in terms of it’s ability to build or even maintain it’s wasteful and redundant highway infrastructure which seems incompatible with high density mixed use development. The other thing that seems to have happened is that the one recently built subway line seems to be attracting a lot of demand for development along it’s route.

One factor that is very different from Pittsburgh is that because of LA’s huge sprawling land area, high density land use is not such a financially life and death issue in terms of the city’s tax base.

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