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So You're Saying Downtown Can't Take Density?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, March 16, 2007, at 07:43AM
Downtown Skyline Eric Richardson [Flickr]

The Times runs a bit of a head-scratcher this morning, saying that "experts" are unhappy with the plan to sell unused convention center air rights. The 9 million square feet of rights would be sold off piece-meal to developers, allowing greater density than the planning code allows.

But several top outside planners expressed concern that L.A. would allow so much additional development -- roughly the equivalent of Century City -- without assessing the effects.

"There's no vision or larger plan about where to put high-density corridors, or what is going to be the impact of this density on traffic," said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, chairwoman of UCLA's urban planning department.

News flash: Downtown is a high density corridor. It'll do just fine with a few more people.

It's not like this is a new idea. I first mentioned it here in January of last year. They may not have all the answers about where the money goes, etc, but there's been some thought put into this. Bottom line is that Downtown can take density.

The article also trots out the always fun:

Backers note that downtown has L.A.'s best network of rail and bus services, though surveys have found that relatively few downtown residents rely on mass transit.

When you're already Downtown you can do a heck of a lot without having to get on a train or bus. Peter McFerrin, a PhD student at USC's Planning school, made that argument very well yesterday:

I keep seeing the survey results, showing that the majority of Downtown Los Angeles residents don't use transit, as an argument against permitting further development in the area. Have any of the development opponents stopped to consider the role of non-motorized transportation as part of the attraction of downtown Los Angeles? Who cares about the buses or the subway if a huge portion of your life can be accessed with your own two feet? If they work downtown--and admittedly, many of them do not--folks who live downtown can actually walk to their jobs. They can certainly walk to entertainment and dining if they want to, as well. For a lot of people, this is a huge amenity.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I think the most overlooked stat in the recent DCBID survey is that 17% of those Downtown walk or ride a bike to work. That's a great number. I've been a walking commuter for a little over a year now and I absolutely love it.


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