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Do You Have Two Cars and a Commute to Irvine?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, May 07, 2009, at 03:00PM
Light Trails Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Traffic on the 110 freeway in a 2007 file photo.

A lot has been made of Downtown's appeal as a place to ditch the car and embrace a life of walking to work. Are new Downtown residents actually holding onto their cars and commutes?

That's what City Planning Commissioner and former City Councilmember Michael Woo seems to think. At a meeting this morning Woo talked about Downtown's growing demand for parking, and laid the blame on residents with two cars and a commute to Irvine or Woodland Hills.

As part of his opening remarks in a discussion of SB 375, a new California law relating to development and climate change, Woo had this to say about Downtown.

I've been very interested in looking at development trends in Downtown Los Angeles. As someone who's been observing the planning process for years, I, along with many others, have welcomed the idea of having more people living Downtown and the idea of having a Downtown Los Angeles that doesn't close down at five o'clock at night.

Presumably, a lot of the new residents in Downtown were living there because they worked Downtown, right? No, wrong.

And not only is the proximity to jobs not necessarily a major factor in boosting the development of residential projects Downtown, but we're seeing an increased demand for off-street parking spaces Downtown. In the most transit-rich part of the region, we're seeing an increase in the demand for off-street parking.

Now why is that? That's because we have people moving into Downtown L.A. not because they want to be able to walk or bike to work, but rather because, well, they've got a job in Woodland Hills or a spouse that works in Irvine, and they have to have two cars for every two-unit apartment and so there's a lot of demand for more parking Downtown.

That image certainly doesn't match the one pitched to potential residents, nor does it match the Downtowners I know.

According to the Downtown Center BID's 2008 demographic survey, only 33% of residents commute alone by car. Their numbers showed that 37% of residents walked or bicycled to work.

So what's the word, blogdowntown readers? Are you hiding your commute from us? Or has your move Downtown indeed made you less dependent on auto trips?


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