Could L.A. Be a 15-Minute City?

Advocates argue that even famously car-centric Los Angeles can become a place where residents can easily access their daily needs without getting behind the wheel.

Read Time: 2 minutes

July 25, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Los Angeles Street

People walking in downtown Los Angeles. | shalunts / Shutterstock

A coalition of planners, architects, and advocates think Los Angeles—“the ultimate car city”—can become a 15-minute city. That is, with better planning, most residents could reach their daily needs within a 15-minute walking, biking, or public transit trip, reports Erin Stone in LAist.

According to Jenny Hontz of the Livable Communities Initiative, “cars are a culprit when it comes to high rents: cities require developers to build parking spots with housing. In L.A., each spot can cost more than $50,000, upping rent prices.” Consequently, “Higher costs push Angelenos out of the city and into longer commutes, adding to planet-heating emissions. According to 2019 census data, 13% of Angelenos who commuted to the Westside for work drove more than 50 miles to get there.”

The coalition argues that “building smaller housing developments without parking, close to jobs and public transit, coupled with redesigning streets to be more walkable and bikeable, would lower rents and pollution.”

As the article notes, “Implementing the plan doesn't come without obstacles: among other things, it will require rezoning certain areas, dealing with legal challenges and red tape, and dropping the requirement to build parking, in addition to political and industry buy-in.” But with Los Angeles including it in the city’s housing element, it could have legs. Culver City, a small incorporated city on L.A.’s west side, “is on its way to implementing many of the ideas and possibly also working it into their general plan.” Meanwhile, a proposed state bill could eliminate parking requirements for small developments.

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