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Human Transit: Should L.A. Develop Like Paris or N.Y.?

9:26 AM PDT on July 24, 2009

7_24_09_downtown_galvan.jpgPhoto of Downtown L.A.: David Galvan/Flickr

For a decade Los Angeles has tried to build-up it's urban core in an effort to densify and change the character of the city from its sprawling reputation to a more traditionally urban one.  However, instead of modeling its growth after that of New York, a pattern formerly referred to as the "Manhattanization of Downtown" by Mayor Villaraigosa, perhaps Los Angeles should be following the example set by Paris instead of our older brother on the east coast. 

That theory is put forth from Jarrett Walker, a public transit consultant who runs the blog Human Transit.  Walker explains why he feels that Paris is more like Los Angeles than it is like New York:

This observation has one interesting and controversial corollary forLos Angeles.  At least from a transit perspective, the last decades'effort to build up downtown Los Angeles as THE pre-eminent center ofthe region may not be the path to a more sustainable city.  If you wanta really balanced and efficient public transit system, nothing isbetter than multiple high-rise centers all around the edge, withlower-rise density in the middle, because that pattern yields anintense but entirely two-way pattern of demand.  Ifbalanced and efficient transit were the main goal in Los Angelesplanning, you'd focus your high-rise growth energies on multiplecenters such as Westwood, Warner Center, Burbank, Glendale and perhapsnew centers in the east and south, while continuing to add density inthe middle as opportunities arise.

I "spoke" with Walker over email yesterday and he expressed interest in hearing our take on how we think L.A. should be growing.  So what do you think?  Should we be scrapping "Manhattanization" for "Parisization?"  Feel free to leave comments here or at the Human Transit story.

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