Lessons from L.A. on the Benefits of Being Big

Back from a recent field trip to L.A., Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director of SPUR, the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association, explores the benefits and challenges offered by the region's size, and what lessons it can provide the Bay Area.
August 17, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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At nearly 10 times the physical size of the City of San Francisco, the City of Los Angeles dwarfs its northern neighbor. Though united by structures of state governance and cultural similarities, the differences in scale of the dueling anchors of the Golden State and their surrounding regions make possible an entirely different set of approaches, and challenges, to urban planning.

In comparison with San Francisco, Karlinsky explores some of the benefits that L.A.'s size provides, such as room for urban experimentation, a diversity of economic districts, and incredibly diverse housing stock. 

On the down side, she believes L.A.'s size inhibits the ability to "have a civic dialogue about what L.A. ought to be," and to marshal its large city government, and its many departments, to get things done.

Excited by the range of projects rethinking how to make L.A. more livable, Karlisky concludes, "Being big allows Los Angeles to think big. The scale of that ambition is truly inspiring - and it gives us in the Bay Area a lot to think about."


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Published on Friday, August 17, 2012 in The Urbanist
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