A Tale of Two L.A. Cities


Does Los Angeles really need 2 downtowns?

Curbed reports on a new 45-story residential tower being planned for 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard, which is great, if you’re a fan of L.A having two separate skylines.

I’m not an urban planner, but it seems that the continued vertical growth of Century City is holding us back from growing up into one true city. Aesthetics aside, without a Red or Purple Line Extension, this is going to make traffic on the Westside even worse. Which makes the 405 worse, and the 101, etc.

Why aren’t city planners controlling the density in Los Angeles? Shouldn’t we be going vertical in Downtown first, filling it out and then fanning out from there? With projects like this, we are creating several separate cities, with virtually no public transit system to support them.

Yet another reason for Westsiders to hate on ol’ Jack Weiss.

Photo from ForestForTrees’ photostream

8 thoughts on “A Tale of Two L.A. Cities”

  1. I believe it was Raymond Chandler who described LA in the 1940’s as “40 suburbs in search of a city”. The idea of spreading the business centers out and into the middle of populated areas away from downtown LA proper is what brought us Century City and Warner Center to name two biggies. Better than having it all in downtown LA and trying to get a couple million people in and out every day was the idea.

    Not justifying, just giving you some history.

  2. That’s 19th Century thinking there. LA is at its best when it’s a multi-centered city. And there’s a lot more that two downtowns in LA – just look south to the LA metro area cities like Long Beach and Irvine.

  3. I think LA already proved that a single center is not necessary. Recently it was real estate developers and market speculators who decided downtown needed to be Downtown. But the city is so large that it makes sense from a planning perspective to infill develop in multiple places. Density is good but that doesn’t mean we all have to live in the one downtown.

  4. ^ How very true. Los Angeles is proof that a sprawling city with several centers is highly efficient. Just look at the success of our freeway system!

  5. Don’t blame the freeways on an anemic downtown. We have had an excess of suburban development but it doesn’t mean that multiple clusters of higher density will produce more sprawl. I think you’re ignoring the realities of this city to say that LA should develop using the same pattern used by other cities. LA is already sprawling. Creating a single downtown is only going to put more stress on the existing infrastructure leading to downtown. Create many small downtowns and everyone has a downtown within 20 minutes.

    And it seems to me that the public transit element is being worked on. Yeah, MTA generally sucks. But things really have improved over the past eight years. There rapid 704 runs down santa monica. I know many many folks (mostly on the elevated side of the class scale) won’t ride public transit unless it’s a train but it’s ignorant to say there’s virtually no public transportation.

  6. For one thing, this is only 177 units. It won’t make any difference in terms of traffic. Secondly, it’s residential and will help allow more people who work in Century City (execs, lawyers, etc.) live closer to where they work, which is a good thing. It’s not doing anything to ‘detract’ from downtown, and if you look at LA from the air, there is already a dense Wilshire corridor in addition to vertical Century City, but both are tiny compared to downtown.

  7. Harrison made the same point I was going to make – this theoretically will let Century City people live IN Century City, thus eliminating their need to commute at all (I can only HOPE that they’re going to walk the one block to work, but we’re talking about LA here, so who knows). Multiple hubs can aid in reducing freeway traffic.

    If you really want to force people to live closer to their places of work, and hence force LA to grow up rather than out, an easy (though, not really) solution would be to start establishing congestion fees for people entering whatever you want to call the city itself and make the fees high. $25 a day to enter LA during rush hour should do.

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