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Old 02-20-2015, 07:12 AM
 
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Wow, I like this forum. No fighting, no rudeness... just polite discussion. Where is this decorum on the other forums of this site? Ha ha.

I have personally only visited LA once, so I can't really comment on the livability. This article was a bit of an eye opener for me, as I had only heard the cliches that LA is sprawl-city, USA. I am more of a geography nerd, than an urban planning nerd.

Sure, they are looking at the city and not the metro area... but it is still impressive that LA would score as the least sprawled city int he United States.

I also found it interesting that all of the most sprawled cities are in the eastern half of the country, and most of the least sprawled cities are in the west half of the country. This also defies cliches.
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Old 02-20-2015, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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As I've posted before, for some reason people in suburbs in the West seem contented with much, much smaller yards than people in the East would be. California shows this to the greatest extreme. Although LA suburban homes do have pretty generous, suburban style setbacks they're usually set on narrow lots with small to nonexistent backyards. Except for really wealthy areas, the house takes up at least a third of the total property, and often well over half. See Beverly Hills as an example. Even a lot of the rich areas northwest of Santa Monica Boulevard have what would be considered small yards nationwide (although they're generous by Southern California standards).
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Old 02-20-2015, 08:44 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
As I've posted before, for some reason people in suburbs in the West seem contented with much, much smaller yards than people in the East would be. California shows this to the greatest extreme.
I think it's just whatever gets built and whatever zoning regulations there are. Lots of people don't value yard size that much. While California suburbs appear to have small lots, Canadian suburbs, especially Toronto and Vancouver average even smaller lot sizes. Beverly Hills is rather close to downtown, you can find plenty of wealthy Boston or NYC inner suburbs with small lots majority of Beverly Hills housing is multifamily, Brookline might be a good parallel. The difference is there aren't as many large lot neighborhoods further out. Beverly Hills appear to be two towns: south of Santa Monica lots of apartments (some sections denser than any part of Pittsburgh) and smaller lot sizes on a grid, north detached homes on bigger lots and curvy roads, often hidden by trees and bushes and I'd guess extremely expensive.
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Old 02-20-2015, 09:52 AM
 
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I think it's just whatever gets built and whatever zoning regulations there are. Lots of people don't value yard size that much.
LA to me has always seemed hamstrung by it's zoning regulations. It seems to me that there are way too many garden apartments and such built back in the '50s-70s that is still standing when in other cities that mess would have been bulldozed and upzoned. LA land prices are scaling up regularly, so it's not a question of economics. I know that some redevelopment is now occurring, but the scale seems less than other major cities, such as NYC, DC, even the Texas metros are building up more dense apartments at a higher rate then LA.

I can understand single family homes not being upzoned - my relatives have lived in the same place since the '50s and it seems like most of their neighborhood as well. But SoCal is filled with garden apartments and strip malls that should be redeveloped.

Quote:
Density without the benefits of better transit and walkability is, to me, pointless.
I also completely agree with this. LA's modeshare is pretty abysmal considering their natural advantages. I'm not sure how you can judge sprawl without considering use of alternative transportation methods. Moderate density for density's sake doesn't seem like a net positive to me.
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Old 02-20-2015, 10:00 AM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
Not really true.

Well, that's all of SF compared to only a portion of LA.
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Old 02-20-2015, 10:03 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by Drake744 View Post
Well, that's all of SF compared to only a portion of LA.
It's comparing to a portion of LA with the same area. The difference in city limit sizes is too big to compare otherwise.
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Old 02-20-2015, 10:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by TheOverdog View Post
Moderate density for density's sake doesn't seem like a net positive to me.
In discussions of streetcar suburbs, it has been commented that moderate densities can work if high density is readily accessible. By steetcars back in the day. But especially if accessible by foot, such as a shopping street.
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Old 02-20-2015, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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Default One view from the trenches

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Originally Posted by ZeusAV View Post
I think most are usually talking about the LA Metro when associating it with sprawl. Not just the city itself. Then when you factor in the sprawl of Orange County (which is in essence an extension of the greater LA area), plus the Inland Empire it is indeed extremely sprawled as a metro.
You are right, in my opinion. I have lived in the greater Los Angles area from 1958 to 1962 and from 1966 to the present, a total of almost 53 years. Where I probably differ from most participants in this forum is that I don't think sprawl per se is necessarily a bad thing.

Another poster correctly pointed out that the tremendous distances involved to encompass the whole of the LA Metro area do not mean that everybody has long commutes. In fact the very decentralization that several posters have already correctly pointed out means that it is possible for many people to live relatively close to their workplaces. For the last 20 or so years of my 34-year full-time career, I lived within a 13-minute one way car drive of my worksite.

My point is that the tremendous sprawl is fairly irrelevant in the lives of most people because they so rarely need to go all the way across it. Yes, many major attractions, if plotted on a map, are located very far from one another: The Getty Villa (Greco-Roman antiquities) is on the ocean almost to Malibu, the Getty Center (rest of the Getty art) is at the northern edge of West L.A., the Norton Simon is in Pasadena (northeast of downtown L.A.), the Huntington is almost due east of downtown, the Battleship USS Iowa is way down south moored in the port at San Pedro. But most of us do not go to those sorts of places every month. Several years go by before I personally get to each of them, and other similar ones. I recently drove about 30 miles one-way to attend a certain live theatre performance in Santa Monica (near the ocean). But there is also live theatre MUCH closer to me - I had been given tickets to that particular play and I wanted to see it. (It was well worth the drive, by the way). I am saying that for me to drive 30 miles one-way is relatively rare. I probably do it 6 to 8 times a year, maybe more in some years.

My own immediate neighborhood is very walkable. While I live on a nice, tree-lined residential street, just a few blocks away is a large supermarket and a loose cluster of almost every imaginable commercial place I need - banks, barber shops, different sorts of restaurants, a multi-plex cinema, and others. Life here is good - VERY good.
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Old 02-20-2015, 12:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
I think it's just whatever gets built and whatever zoning regulations there are. Lots of people don't value yard size that much. While California suburbs appear to have small lots, Canadian suburbs, especially Toronto and Vancouver average even smaller lot sizes. Beverly Hills is rather close to downtown, you can find plenty of wealthy Boston or NYC inner suburbs with small lots
Definitely. I don't know suburban Boston very well but, at least for NYC and Philly that kind of small lot, dense suburban development correspond more to era than geography.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Br...709a9e4e5c7e41

You'll find neighborhoods with small lots all over the NY suburbs and, of course, you can find rowhomes all over the Philly suburbs. It wasn't until after the interstate era was well under way that lot sizes really exploded . . . and I think it was driven by land prices more than anything. Freeway construction opened up a lot of cheap land to development. 90 years ago suburban developments would have been built near a train station or at least an interurban line - where land was more expensive.

The era of development on the west coast dictated the auto orientation but the topography and intense speculation dictated the smaller lot sizes.
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Old 02-20-2015, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
The era of development on the west coast dictated the auto orientation but the topography and intense speculation dictated the smaller lot sizes.
It's interesting, because the one place you see California levels of residential density built in the post-automotive era on the East Coast is South Florida. The actual developable area was quite narrow, sandwiched between the coast and the Everglades. As such, you see first a rather tight early suburban grid, and then a movement to unwalkable suburban road patterns, but with essentially no yards. Presumably more land is now left undeveloped because the water table is just too high to build on entire megablocks without some wetland for rain absorption.

FWIW, this is the suburb I grew up in in the Northeast. Big difference in land usage.
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