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Op-Ed: No Room for Subjectivity in Los Angeles Design Guidelines

Sam Lubell outlines the good and bad of recent small lot design guidelines approved by Los Angeles.

Lubell supports design guidelines in theory, but is concerned about where Los Angeles' recent efforts to implement citywide and small lot design guidelines might go wrong: "Intelligent requirements include adding permeable paving; designing for pedestrian access; locating parking to the rear of dwellings; and demarcating clear entryways. But the problems lie, as is often the case, with the more subjective requirements, like 'enhancing the public realm,' creating 'high-quality' environments, and making housing 'compatible with the existing neighborhood context.'"

The problem, Lubell argues, is when the questions of taste are left to a few non-architects, including planners: "Design guidelines can be effective tools, but micro-managing them can lead to a limitation of creativity and a bending of design to the tastes of a few. That can become a bigger problem for architecture when those few are planners, or other officials, or neighbors, not architects."

Full Story: Editorial>Reading Between the Lines

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