Walking in LA

I’ve been following this series at Good magazine, Walking in LA, by Ryan Bradley. It’s terrific. From there Sasha found a link to a story about our friend Dan Koeppel’s The Big Parade called Walking for Walking in Los Angeles. On the top photo our Swarm! socks make a center stage appearance. Anyway, in the most recent post he discusses parking and how it affects the ‘feel’ and layout of downtown:

If you took all of the parking spaces in Los Angeles’s central business district and spread them horizontally in a surface lot, they would cover 81 percent of downtown. I know this because of a paper called “People, Parking, and Cities” by Michael Manville and Donald Shoup at UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning [pdf here]. This “parking coverage rate,” they write, is “higher in downtown L.A. than in any other downtown on earth. In San Francisco, for instance, the coverage rate is 31 percent, and in New York it is only 18 percent.” Their paper goes on to show how this glut of parking keeps downtown from having a vibrant city center, because downtowns in general “thrive on high density … the prime advantage they offer over other parts of a metropolitan area is proximity—the immediate availability of a wide variety of activities…. So long as its zoning assumes that almost every new person will also bring a car—and requires parking for that car,” they conclude “[downtown Los Angeles] will never develop the sort of vital core we associate with older urban centers.”

I read it this like this: You can’t have both. Either give up your car and work toward compacting DTLA or keep your car and your parking and don’t complain! But it’s never quite that simple. As I say over and over, most people cannot or will not believe that their individual actions matter and can change the environment and culture we live in. Oh, but they do!

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