Thursday, April 10, 2008

Living and Working in the Triangle

Everyone should read John Von Kerczek's superb blog "Ditch the Car, Take the Metro".

In particular, he refers to this particular map above showing the Red Line, the Purple Line and the Pink Line, a transit triangle between Downtown, Hollywood and Westwood. I completely agree that this is where Southern California is heading and needs to head that way.

Someday, we will be talking about living and working "Within the Triangle".

A northern extension of the Crenshaw Line up La Brea or Fairfax might even be built.

But let's get the transit discussion thinking in terms of "the triangle" and the need for planned density and centralization along these corridors.


Dan Wentzel said...

Andrew Lew posted on wired an essay entitled, "Los Angeles' Future in Mobility: Many Goals But Many Obstacles".

Lew's article is an interesting one. I also recommend for Jon Van Kerczek's fascination look at just how to connect Los Angeles.

The economic and environmental limits of sprawl have been reached. While there is road tinkering that can be done, the fact is that the only way to keep Los Angeles sustainable is mass transit.

Three million more people are expected in Los Angeles County over the next few decades. Since sprawl and road building have been maxed out, that only means one thing -- density.

Density is coming, period. The only choice on offer is whether we build a transit system that will help provide the mobility necessary to keep Los Angeles economically and environmentally sustainable. This is not a matter of "social engineering", but common sense urban planning.

It also means re-centralization. Instead of moving out to far flung places for cheap land and affordable parking, businesses will decide its in their economic interests to relocate closer to major transit lines and corridors where their employees and clients and customers can access them. Again, this isn't "social engineering". It's market economics. NBC/Universal is relocating from it's automobile-based location in Burbank the Universal City Red Line stop. This non-altruistic corporation has decided its in its best economic interests to be near transit as they can no longer guarantee that all of their clients and customers and employees will be willing or able to drive to their old location. "The subway doesn't go anywhere" is being replaced by "anywhere is going to the subway."

This re-centralization will occur Downtown, Hollywood, Westwood, Century City, North Hollywood, the Wilshire Blvd. corridor, Santa Monica Blvd. for starters.

Kerczek's Ditch the Car blog mentions a triangle formed around the Red Line, the Purple Line (Wilshire) and the "Pink Line" (Santa Monica Blvd.) This forms a triangle between Downtown, Hollywood and Westwood.. I can see a time in the future when people talk about living and working "in the triangle".

The old Los Angeles car culture is one of a sense of entitlement to drive and park a single-occupancy automobile anytime, anyplace, anywhere, conveniently and affordably in time and money, with the expectation that everyone else you know or worth knowing will do the same -- and if they don't have a car, they are the poor who would get one as soon as they could or are marginal who aren't worth consideration. This automobile-entitlement is no longer preservable, and even people who cannot or will not use transit themselves will still have to factor is transit accessibility for other people in their business decisions and social engagements. This effectively ends the Los Angeles car culture as we have known it. While millions of people may still drive cars, as they do even in cities like New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, etc, that sense of entitlement will be the great casualty. Higher gas prices and ever worsening congestion have already done a number on the Los Angeles car culture, and there are enough people living here who have previously lived in cities with great transit, that the tipping point has been reached.

NIMBYs in Hancock Park, Cheviot Hills and the southeast San Fernando Valley will not be able to thwart the common good as we move forward.

The funny thing is that the Los Angeles Times is missing the whole story. I understand that their automobile selling advertisers and their car-driver readership may not want to read this, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening. is a good blog for people living transit oriented lifestyles in Los Angeles -- which would be just considered normal urban living in any other major metropolis.

People who want to hold onto Sam Yorty's 1965 Los Angeles won't like the future L.A. It's not about Los Angeles turning to "Manhattan". It's about Los Angeles coming into its own world-class being. The car culture enabled millions of people to atypically live suburban, low-density, automobile-based lifestyles in an urban environment. People who want that lifestyle continued in an affordable way will have to move out to the actual suburbs to be able to do that -- just like every other world class metropolis. L.A. will not be New York, but if we are lucky we could aspire to be London, which is a sprawl like L.A., but has a dozen subways, dozens of commuter lines leaving several "union stations", light rail lines, ferries and a world class bus system.

Los Angeles' future is upon is, and the Los Angeles Times is missing it.

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