Highlights: Re-Thinking LA’s Blvds For Housing-A Grand Bargain Between Pro & Slow-Growth Angelenos?

– We planned for a little
bit less than 400,000 people to come between 1970 and 2000. We actually got 880,000. Overall, these community plans
allowed for about 10% growth between 1970 to 2000. In some areas, we’re
actually down-zoning by 40%, in other areas we’re up-zoning by 80%. So this is sort of, I call this, “Death by a thousand cuts,” right? This is what we’re doing
all across the city, is rezoning things so
that we can down-zone and we get fewer units. So obviously if this area
can only build 89 units versus 337 units, then it
can absorb less growth. I’m arguing that you can
direct growth to the boulevards in exchange, essentially,
for stronger protections within the neighborhoods
that are in behind those. This is the superstructure of the city. And this is the ability for
us to accommodate growth in ways that can also move people around, is best accommodated by
putting density there. On those boulevards. If you can preserve 90% and
put growth into the other 10%, isn’t that a better calculus for the city? The boulevards and avenues
serve a regional function in Los Angeles. They are not just local streets. We have to start thinking
about our boulevards as serving a regional role. What we’ve done mostly in
L.A. is concern ourselves with the local, without any
sort of overall thinking about how the city can function. – But then we have
these hatch marks things along the boulevards that you might see going all the way down Vermont,
all the way down Western, these hatches. Those are supposed to be something called mixed-use boulevards in
our land use diagram. And those are supposed to
go up to four-to-one FAR. Those are supposed to go up
to eight stories in height. The problem is, you need
to do those up-zones in the community plan. So that actually just has not happened. I don’t think we’ve done a great job of implementing this idea. There’s multiple reasons, but
number one, we’re planners. We don’t like these one size fit all. We like to look at what’s going on in this section of the quarter,
this section of the quarter, that section of the quarter. Different heights. Of
course different neighbors. Different concerns. Some historic issues. People often also say that,
the most affordable housing in terms of construction costs are not these podium
buildings on the boulevards. These actually carry a fairly
high construction cost. We need to actually go into our
single-family neighborhoods, our low density residential areas, and just moderately
up-take them a little bit. That’s actually affordable. It’s for families and it’s more livable. The construction costs way down, you don’t have to build
elevators and this kind of stuff. I think we are looking at
the density bonus program as being the place to make
these kind of reforms. We want to really build
on that and expand that. These boulevards are underperforming. They really do need to
be redeveloped. (mumbles) It’s a low-hanging fruit. It’s a very obvious place to start. We’ve gotta even be more ambitious.

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