Mayor Envisions A Tall, Dense, Green Los Angeles

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa imagines a future Los Angeles with transit-oriented development, high-rises, and scores of pocket parks. Critics say the vision is impractical.
February 22, 2006, 10am PST | Abhijeet Chavan
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Villaraigosa's imagined Los Angeles is denser, taller and greener than the city he now governs. High-rises dominate the skyline and hold not just offices but thousands of apartments, cleared for construction by zoning rules that encourage development of housing towers. The subway reaches west under Wilshire Boulevard, paid for with money Villaraigosa is convinced he can secure from the state and federal governments. The subway reaches west under Wilshire Boulevard...Islands -- villages, as he calls them -- sprout around subway stops and are ribboned together by swaths of green space...all across that vast landscape, scores of pocket parks bring smatterings of green to even the densest urban neighborhoods...

Not everyone believes in that future: Some argue that it's not desirable; others say that even if it's a worthy goal, it's impractical. Villaraigosa argues that it's not only compelling but something close to inevitable...Villaraigosa's notions of what Los Angeles should look and feel like -- and of what a mayor's job is in advancing that future -- represent his sharp break from his immediate predecessors...

Peter Dreier, director of the urban and environmental policy program at Occidental College, said he believes that Villaraigosa's plans offer opportunities to expand housing for working-class people and to vitalize downtown...oel Kotkin, an educator and author who specializes in cities and writes frequently about Los Angeles, argues that Villaraigosa's idea of the city is beguiling but impractical...Today, Kotkin said, high-rise construction is on the wane and Los Angeles is defined by an alternative urban landscape â€" the single-family residential model that has structured the city's growth since the turn of the last century...

To transform his vision into a plan, Villaraigosa has hired Gail Goldberg, an urban planner whose tenure in San Diego has been lauded for its integration of neighborhood development with downtown expansion."

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Published on Sunday, February 19, 2006 in The Los Angeles Times
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