Drawing on longtime efforts to promote livability at the neighborhood, city, and regional level, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Rick Cole recently highlighted lessons learned about "urban revitalization."

1 minute read

December 10, 2014, 11:00 AM PST

By Molly M. Strauss @mmstrauss

After receiving an award from the California Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism to honor his leadership iPasadena, Azusa, Ventura, and Los Angeles, Cole offered his take on successful place-making in a conversation with The Planning Report. 

Here, Cole explores how "connecting economic development to community development" has allowed certain cities to avoid decline, reinvigorating forgotten areas to become urban centers once again. The tension between developers and preservationists that often accompanies infill development can actually be productive, Cole argues, since it creates balance. He emphasizes the necessity of focusing at the pedestrian level when striving to improve urban spaces.

Cole discusses the problematic implications of the popular "gentrification" narrative: "The media promotes a stale and one-dimensional portrait of urban life that goes like this: Neglected neighborhood draws artists and hipsters. They gather in trendy coffee shops. Eventually outsiders take over the neighborhood. Sometimes this is told as a fairy tale that ends with everyone sipping $7 lattes, oblivious to displaced businesses and residents. Sometimes this is told as a gothic horror story that results in the death of local character and exile of the poor. If we are going to truly fulfill the promise of urban life in Southern California, we need to write a better story about how to create widespread great placesin ways that benefit existing businesses and residents."

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