Thursday, July 16, 2009

Unhinged

Wow. Can you say jump the shark?
"The problem with Los Angeles is not that it's the epitome of sprawl," he says. "The problem with Los Angeles is that it's the epitome of smart growth."
The whole article is a big whopping expose on the arguments he's been making lately. He goes on to say that Smart Growth advocates are mad that middle class people are moving into their neighborhoods and they resent that. It basically shows how unhinged and out of touch with reality this guy is. The problem though, is that people actually listen and he still gets into papers like the New York Times. I guess its fair and balanced or something. But I guess the best we can hope for right now is an article that features the qualifier "tries".

11 comments:

Cap'n Transit said...

Actually, I think he has a point in the statement you quote. The problem is that many people push medium density as a one-size-fits-all "smart growth" solution. Medium density is smart compared to the sprawl outside Raleigh, for example. But it's not smart in the heart of the second largest metropolitan area in the country.

What's wrong is the conclusion he draws from this. Just because it's a bad idea in LA doesn't mean it's a bad idea in Portland.

Matt Fisher said...

Who is that person who said it? Wendell Cox? Randal O'Toole? One of the sycophants at the conservative/libertarian "think tanks"?

Anonymous said...

What I learned from this article is how O'Toole actually got into this. He was trying to preserve a government regulation that keeps people from moving into his neighborhood. What a hypocrite.

arcady said...

Interesting little biographical bit at the beginning of that article, says he lives in a small town of 300 people, which a very likely indicator of a strong anti-urban bias. And while I have nothing against that, I thought libertarianism was supposed to be about, well, liberty? I should be free to live in a city, and O'Toole should be free to live in his village without the government forcing him to pay for the subway I ride or me to pay for the infrastructure his small town relies on.

arcady said...

But when the federal government began shunting fuel taxes toward transit, he said, the link was broken. Suddenly, localities tilted their plans to win federal dollars.

Except that it was just as bad when they were only building roads. Look at the vastly underused rural interstates. And just because a road is heavily used, doesn't mean it provides a net benefit, especially to the community through which it runs (West Oakland, anyone?). In fact, most of the Interstate Highway network ended up being planned by a collusion of local governments eager for federal dollars and land speculators looking for the government to subsidize sprawl.

Robert said...

Here's a quote from the article that leads O'Toole to make the claim you referenced in the post:

"He points as an example to Los Angeles, which has the worst traffic and pollution in the country: In the Los Angeles urban area, the U.S. Census Bureau found 7,000 people per square mile. Impossibly, that makes the California city more population-dense than the New York urban area, which clocks in at about 5,300."

Of course, anyone that's been to New York and been to Los Angeles knows damn well that there is no way that LA, in general, is more dense than New York. This is just a statistical trick derived from the fact that the so-called New York urban area includes outlying areas.

To really make the point that O'Toole wants to make, you have to compare the density of the core of New York and the core of LA.

AlexB said...

The guy is wrong about most things, but he is right about LA. It is a moderately dense city that was designed around a network of streetcars. LA is basically a dirty class-segregated version of new urbanism. The main problem is that they ripped up all their train lines and can't afford to rebuild them all at once. Sure, the valley and outlying areas are not as dense, but central LA from downtown to Santa Monica is totally worthy of being a great example of smart growth. One of the things O'Toole is wrong about is the subay being a big failure. It gets over 150,000 riders/day. I think the success of the subway shows just how much the urban form of the city does conform to smart growth.

lyqwyd said...

I grew up in LA and I can assure you it is not a dense city, and is nowhere near the density of New York, despite whatever those statistics may say.

NY is far more dense than San Francisco, much less LA. Of the 5 boroughs of NY, only 1 is less dense than SF. 3 of the 5 are twice as dense or more.

The 8 million residents of NY city live at an average density of 27,000 people / square mile, the 4 million residents of LA city live at a density of 8000 people/ square mile.

LA starts sounding dense when you expand the area because it is all sprawl, so there is very little open space between cities, whereas in the SF Bay Area or NY if you expand much beyond the city boundaries you start include large portions of completely vacant land, which skews thenumbers

arcady said...

Trying to calculate the density of LA is a hopeless task, because there's always all sorts of factors that get in the way. For a start, what do yo count as LA? NYC and SF are roughly convex simple shapes, but LA is not so simple: it has enclaves within it, a long panhandle stretching out to San Pedro, and many of the inner suburbs are either independent municipalities or unincorporated. The city of LA includes in its borders La Crescenta and almost the entire San Fernando Valley, but not East LA. LA also includes the Santa Monica Mountains, which are not very inhabited mostly by virtue of physically not being very inhabitable, and including them in the land area of LA confounds things somewhat too. I think on the whole, the density of LA can be compared to Queens, with maybe bit of Downtown Brooklyn thrown in. It's not Manhattan, certainly. But I also think it's likely that you can find a contiguous area of 49 square miles that is denser than SF taken as a whole.

lyqwyd said...

actually, according to wikipedia Queens has about 5 times the density of LA. It has a somewhat higher density than SF.

arcady said...

Actually, according to Wikipedia, Queens has about 2.5 times the population density of LA (City, not County). And West Hollywood, which is fairly typical of the westside of LA, has a population of 19k per square mile, not too different from the 21k/square mile in Queens.