That's not an actionable proposal, the closest that gets to an actionable proposal is to demolish existing parking structures and either put public housing projects on top of them or incentivize real estate developers to build actual low-income housing.
Telling real estate developers to build low-income housing in areas where they could easily build high-income housing is, well, let's just say cities promise this all the time and developers never do it.
"Build more housing" is probably the answer to the homeless problem, but the ownership issue needs to be fixed first. The author made all these cute graphics of studio apartments superimposed on parking spaces. Cool, I like density, my condo is 650 sqft, like 3 or 4 spaces without egress.
Are we talking about literally taking parking from existing owners and building housing on the bare pads? Are we talking about building vertically on top of them and leaving the space underneath for cars? I'm not saying these are bad ideas. But can we fully bake them first? So a politician can actually hand it to a bunch of legislators and come up with something he can actually put on his platform?
Sure let's abolish the minimum. But that won't do a darned thing to help congestion and the housing shortage other than make LA more like Atlanta where there's an island of density around a bunch of ugly sprawl with more dense pockets springing up in the periphery. We're still waiting for market conditions to fix the city. And market forces don't care about what we want. Promising low-income housing in desirable real estate markets doesn't work but is the only thing politicians can put on their platforms that people will vote for.
1. No universal parking minimums. Developers choose how much parking the market requires.
2. Parking Maximums in Transit Oriented Communities.
3. All new parking garages must be built with a flat floor and a high enough ceiling to allow future conversion into office, studio, or living space.
4. 20% of parking spaces must include EV charging, with the rest install ready.
5. Garages must include an equivalent number of bicycle/micro-mobility parking spaces.
I would say suggestions 2-5 get progressively worse, but suggestion 1 is really good and backed up by the data presented.
It is much more cost effective and environmentally friendly to tear down parking garages and replace them with new construction.
For 1 - sure yea, I sorta doubt developers are going to voluntarily go below 1 space/unit in any sort of world because the value of the property takes a steep dive - but removing any commercial unit parking requirements or higher requirements for larger residential units makes sense.
I think 2 is great - assuming exceptions are made to support park & ride demand.
4... Eh, EV is going to need to solve this through market forces so I think we can entirely ignore this (though I would love to see a lot more EVs I think this is point is entirely tangential to the main discussion)
Lastly for 5 - nope. Every building ever has managed to sort this out naturally without regulation... leave this up to the market.
LA desperately needs for transit extensions.
The first application to build this building (replacing a small family home on a relatively large plot) was rejected for having too few parking spaces. Policy at the time assumed housing needs space for cars, if you don't build space for cars they litter the streets so each home must have 1 space or more for larger homes.
But the last application (ie the one they actually built) was only accepted after reducing the number of spaces, because by then policy had changed to dissuade people from owning more cars. They'll park them on the street anyway (and they do) so giving them more spaces just encourages owning even more cars in a congested city.
Here in DC, we have "bike lockers" at the Metro transit stations so you can park your bike there and take the train into the city. However, these lockers aren't cheap, and there aren't many of them, and they're completely enclosed so they take up a fair amount of space. By contrast, in Germany you'll find many hundreds of bikes just lined up and parked outside the S-bahn station, without people having to pay a hefty rental fee.
That´s everywhere. I was told that in Austria the only major petty theft is bike theft (in one of the most secure countries in the world).
I don´t even need to mention how prevalent it is in my country Uruguay (which tries to encourage bike use).
In this case, if the government authorises the construction of more than 300 parking spaces, unacceptable congestion will result.
I do think that 1 would need to be tempered with some handicap minimum though.
Where I currently live developers are required by law to build. Certain percentage of square meters of social housing for every square meter of higher class housing they build. When my house got build they had to build social housing right next to it.
If I understood it correctly, the city ties this to the building permits. So if you wanna build new stuff you need to show that your plans include these social and affordable flats as well.
A city should in my opinion regulate to maximize the happieness of it’s inhabitants and not it’s developers (to some degree these two overlap anyways).
Certainly you could also try to change things via the market, but unless your city has a lack of developers why should you?
What ends up happening is that developers need to raise the rents on the non-subsidized units, because they're the ones that subsidize the subsidized ones. Which creates a constant upward pressure on housing prices that ends up squeezing everybody.
I'm not sure what the solution is, and I'm no economist, but it seems plausible. Looking at it from a 3,000 meter perspective, I would assume that, however well-intentioned San Francisco's housing policies were, we should probably expect that emulating them will yield the same outcomes that San Francisco is currently experiencing.
That's not to say that habitually segregating rich and poor people is a great idea, either. I would also suspect that emulating Detroit would also tend to lead to the sorts of outcomes that Detroit is currently experiencing.
This isn't something we do, it's something that falls out of a free real estate market. Money either finds itself and accumulates, making prices soar, or it flees the whole area throwing prices through the floor.
There is no magical world where the forces of supply and demand just happen to create income-diverse neighborhoods. We have to force that to happen if we want it.
Ultimately this, like every other problem resulting from income inequality, must be resolved by fixing the inequality, not by forcing people to live next to people they don't want to live next to.
The current separation of rich white and poor black/brown absolutely did not and does not fall out of a free market without consistent, long term, and deliberate racial action. Frankly, this is completely ignored by most neoliberal treatments of the housing issue.
Sustainable affordability is achieved at the balance of supply and demand.
Supply can only be increased by building upward and outward: increase density near jobs, and invest in effective regional public transportation to mitigate "Manhattanization" (extreme density) or "Los Angeleization" (car commuting hell).
Demand grows from increased economic prospects, so can be managed with progressive taxes (ideally reinvested in transit/education/job training that equalize economic opportunities).
Subsidized housing makes sense as an interim solution, a buffer as the market adapts, but those subsidies are ultimately unsustainable (requiring prescient central planning).
Was a few years a go since I head to deal with this. However I want to emphasize the positive effects this kind of mixed living has on the social climate. The most mixed up city I ever lived in was Vienna (also due to their munipicial flats called “Gemeindebauwohnung”) and it really creates a better climate. People seem to be less afraid of each other and more in contact across culture and class barriers, it is harder to be in a bubble.
A negative example in Europe would be Paris — there you have strong segregation between different parts of the society. I have met Parisienne art students who never have been out of the city center and have no idea how it is there (except for what they heard about it).
Ironically, this is the one outcome that is bad for both the city and the developer. The developer goes bankrupt, so obviously they and the bank don't like it. The city usually has a problem collecting tax revenue from bankrupt developers, and during the transition period between when the developer goes bankrupt and when another landlord buys the property, they face problems with crime and blight. It's good for enterprising bottom-feeders and for the city's poor, but neither one of them get a seat at the table. So here's a case where the incentives are directly aligned to let the people who make the decisions profit at the expense of the people who don't make the decisions.
Putting rich and poor people together maximize happiness?
In my book these requirements work quite well, the developer I talked to also didn’t complain because there are some tax benefits so he has no incentive to make the flats more expensive.
If California got rid of prop 13 and allowed by-right zoning, market forces absolutely would build what we want.
> Here’s the doozy: Houston mandates off-street parking for just about every form of development. This is probably the number one regulation holding back the city’s rapid densification and a major reason that car-dependence remains the norm. By requiring developers to build either parking deserts and garages, this policy encourages developers to bypass exciting infill and downtown opportunities in favor of developing in the suburbs where land is cheap.
I mean...there already are private shuttles and buses throughout LA. Tour buses are a tourist staple and I can't imagine there's much regulation there. I can only assume the particular bus you're talking about broke some law that I most likely don't mind is in place.
They can do transfers to other shuttles or other public transit on fixed routes to optimize the routes.
The govt would never come up with rideshare type algorithms.
Maybe just an exception to the rule, but still worth pointing out.
You go the far distance to a hub which has lots of parking space and switch to subway, tram, bus or foot traffic, or bikes, or the hip electric scooter.
And disadvantaged or disabled people get better accessibility.
Pity it is hard to retrofit into misdesigned cities.
See EU and how Uber is not making millions here. And taxis are relatively expensive.
Also check South Korea and how relatively cheap normal unsubsidized taxis essentially prevented Uber from getting a foothold...
It does not compete with owned cars at all.
Zoning isn't a cure-all. Housing is getting pretty expensive in Houston, one of the only large US cities with lax-to-non-existent zoning laws (and also high property taxes). Also, I think most people want some restrictions on what can be built where. I don't think many parents want strip clubs built next to preschools, and I don't think many people want a cement factory to be built across the street from a public park.
I also don't think many people want the zoning laws we have either. They just want to see their land value increase as fast as possible, but that's not really sustainable either.
I thought we might reach a tipping point as we reach a majority renter population. But Europe has been a majority renter society for a long time, and I would argue Europe's housing (to buy) is more unaffordable than US housing. Strangely, the price to earning on real estate makes 0 sense in Europe (even with respect to interest rates), and renting is somehow much more affordable in Europe (even though buying isn't).
There is always an X to be fixed first, and housing is never built.
> From 2010 to 2015, San Mateo County added 72,800 jobs but only 3,844 homes: that's 19 jobs for every home
That's low enough that, as far as the market is concerned, it's effectively stopped.
BTW I am a non car driver here
When these suggestions are made HN seems to forget people still need to live the time between when this pain is enforced and if/when a solution arises.
Are you 100% sure that street parking is the only difference between these two situations?
And just to make my point further, OP's other comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20810496 makes it pretty clear they have every intention to stereotype countries as "third world"
Yes, you are. You said:
> "Third world" traffic jams are what you get when you have enough population density.
then proceeded to throw out NYC as a non-"third world" example.
> He/She could as well make points about better infrastructure instead of disparaging places as "third world" countries. The notion of bucketing countries is derogatory, and does not add to the argument.
> And just to make my point further, OP's other comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20810496 makes it pretty clear they have every intention to stereotype countries as "third world"
Yes, it could have, and the use of "third world" as shorthand for "lacking proper transportation infrastructure" was unnecessary and somewhat derogatory. However, your initial response doesn't address that. It just puts the cause of traffic jams as population density, then compares NYC's density (and, implicitly, traffic), to the places being referenced.
All of LA was built assuming car ownership. So there are large 4-lane streets everywhere breaking up the usable land. Not to mention huge freeways cutting a net through the whole area. Plus, much of the zoning has segmented regions. You have a whole area just for housing, and another just for commercial property, and another just to industry. So by necessity you need to travel moderately long distances to reach your needed destinations.
I imagine most European cities that weren't built for cars means they originally were built with much narrower and sparse streets, more mixed-use regions, and thus walking or biking a short distance covers the majority of your needs. The rest can be handled by public transportation. In LA, that isn't feasible because so much extra road space means everything is much more spread out.
NYC and other major cities (Chicago) have higher density by building upwards as well as building their public transport from the beginning.
This obviously isn't an overnight project, or even a ten-year project. It would probably take decades to rebuild a car-centric city for affordable housing and walk-ability. It would be easier to start from scratch, for sure. But existing large metro areas have a housing and congestion problem now, so need to start solving it somehow.
China is able to build entire, gigantic, "ghost cities" within a few years. And bulldozers and explosives don't take much time to clear land of existing structures. If there were actual political will to change existing cities to be walkable, it could be done in a very short amount of time.
Low-income people are often the best people to revitalize and area because they don't really have many other options. So the city could take a few blocks of underdeveloped space and have it redeveloped as cheap housing with no parking at all and maybe some nearby retail/office space. People will figure out ways to get around without a car because they have a huge financial incentive to do so.
We've seen this work before. Often times low-income neighborhoods slowly revitalize as people move in because the cost savings is worth dealing with the negative aspects of the neighborhood.
My wife recently went to LA, and between the pictures she sent and me looking into it more afterwards, your description of several cities tied together is a very apt description. Even by what I know (Chicago), LA is just massive.
Just because it's difficult and will require some pain in the short term, it doesn't mean we should do - and therefore improve - nothing.
Even if all new construction and city growth is optimized for not needing a car, and a significant fraction of it is, that doesn't change the reality that 300 million people live in areas where a car is an absolute and largely irreplaceable necessity because the existing infrastructure requires it.
Greater LA is home to nearly 20 million people. It's entirely feasible to create several car-free neighborhoods, each with more people than Omaha Nebraska. That's plenty enough people for transportation solutions to evolve organically.
Something to keep in mind is the existing suburban infrastructure is also unsustainably expensive. It's quite likely that many American suburbs will decay in the coming decades, a la Detroit, as poor residence can't supply enough tax dollars for maintenance.
I agree with your goals (car free cities), but I don't see this happening. Imagine a neighborhood goes car free - in LA, probably 75+% of people living in that neighborhood work in some other neighborhood. What are they supposed to do to get to work? Public transportation? It doesn't exist, or takes 4x as long as driving.
So we build public transportation up to allow for the massive increase in people using it in that neighborhood? Well, the neighborhoods they're trying to commute to still all use cars, and there's no room for that kind of increase in public transportation there.
So we need some kind of massive public infrastructure project to create the kind of city-wide transportation that's needed to enable this kind of shift? Well, sure. But that takes decades and billions of dollars. And that's if there's the political will to make this happen at all. I live in LA (and commute to another neighborhood to work via public transportation); honestly I don't see it happening.
1) Stop building new roads, and stop improving existing ones. Stop worrying about traffic problems; if people don't like it, they can move somewhere else or start using public transit.
Maybe 1a) Convert some existing highways to toll roads. Use the funds for #2.
2) Use the money saved by not building or widening roads to build and operate more public transit: buses, and especially trains/subways. Give people a way to commute into the city for work without a car.
3) Fix zoning so that higher-density development is allowed, and can't be stopped by NIMBYs. Require mixed-use development where sensible (i.e., retail shops at ground level). Don't require a certain number of parking spaces, perhaps even add a tax for parking (lower for a garage maybe, higher for open lots).
Over time, the area will become denser. People will move closer to the city core, and want to get away from the congestion of the suburbs.
This stuff is perfectly doable, but only if there's the political will to do so. This country simple does not have the political will.
Spend that same money on buses instead.
Instead of millions of cars that carry 1 person to a max of 5, lets have thousands of buses that carry ~40-80 people.
In the years to come when there are less vehicles on the road, we can start closing roads, like Paris does (or did).
Or, you know, do absolutely nothing. Improve nothing. Move forward with nothing. Complain about everything, and every idea to improve stuff.
There are an awful lot of people nay-saying ideas to make stuff better and extraordinarily few people coming up with ideas to make stuff better.
What do you think will be the outcome of that?
That comment even lists a city where they've been successful: Paris
If you make the city unlivable in the meantime, that should help with affordable housing as people with means go elsewhere.
Sure, drop parking minimums in/near density/transit access. Let the market decide where you can sell residences without parking; although, building a multi unit building without parking in a neighborhood with street parking isn't really appropriate.
Public transport in the LA area is a pretty tough issue -- you've got a ton of people who often live far from where they work, and households with multiple workers rarely have the workers anywhere near each other. It's very hard to have public transit that has the speeds needed for long commutes while also maintaining the flexibility for the varied commutes that are common in the area. That said, almost all of the transit that gets built does get used, to the surprise of everyone -- so the answer for LA is probably just keep building transit until ridership saturates, and make small changes in zoning policy along the way.
It's not just a matter of building more transit (which we should be doing!). We have to move people back into urban cores and out of sparsely populated suburbs.
The USA wasn't bombed during WWII, but look at pictures of American cities in the 1940 vs. the 1970s; tens of thousands of small towns wiped off the map.
Less so in cities I think? In any case, the streets are still built to parked-cars-on-both-sides width.
> And most city street parking is certainly not free.
Even when there is a charge, it's priced far below what the land is worth.
So maybe Japan is just the place where almost nobody can afford a car? Thus, the same as the US.
We are not even close to having the densest US cities use public transit well. Sparely populated suburbs are a problem, for sure, and they may require cars for a while, but cities still have too many cars because of poor transit management.
Also, why would you block existing roads? That's a ridiculous proposition. There's a difference between building something better and just forcing every one onto something worse. The market is stronger and smarter than any government, and will try as hard as it can to circumvent any thing you pass. Why not have the invisible hand do your work for you? Make it a better option, and people will use it.
I think everybody agrees with this until it comes time to talk taxes and then everyone with a car says they're happy with their commutes and they don't want to pay for somebody else to take a train, don't want a whole lane for a bus, and so on. So instead you get some meaningless token effort and everybody goes on driving
Making driving "worse" (or at least refusing to invest to make it better) gives transit a competitive advantage. Optimizing for personal cars gives cars a competitive advantage, which is the story of the 20th century
> Also, why would you block existing roads? That's a ridiculous proposition.
It's not even remotely controversial when I've seen it done, like downtown streets in Boston made pedestrian only. The vast majority of people (who are on foot) love it.
Those roads are not anywhere that anyone was formerly commuting through though and were already well served by mass transit (they're basically underneath the intersection of all the main subway lines.
The entire Boston area transit network (including road, light rail and heavy rail) is what you get when you write your master plan on a deck of cards, shuffle it and then flush it down the toilet. They should have stuck with their road and rail plans from the 1940s. 695 should exist (that would solve a lot of the commuter traffic east of I95) though they probably would have buried it by now like they did with the rest of the highway. Orange line should run all the way from 128 in the north to 128 in the south (where there would probably be massive park and rides). The North/South station connector should exist. Etc. etc. If they had just followed their own damn plan they could make the dense parts of Boston/Camb more pedestrian friendly and generally have more freedom to do "good urban transit" type things because you wouldn't have surface roads functioning as major arteries that you can't interrupt.
Boston is an example of good urban transit only so far as it was lucky enough to be a big enough city back in the day when big projects got done that it consequently has a subway. The rest of the region is a dumpster fire of things that were supposed to interconnect but don't.
Making driving worse does give transit a competitive advantage. However, if transit were so desirable, why would it need to win by simply making everything suck more? That’s not a very strong vote for transit. Transit should win because it’s better, not because we have made all the other options suck more. I suppose we could have snipers shooting at freeway cars if we wanted to increase subway ridership right? However, that doesn’t make the subway intrinsically better. It just means you have a lot more people unhappy.
I don’t understand why people are willing to make the largest number of people unhappy in order to achieve some transit utopian fantasy. The whole debate sounds like Marxism: let’s make everyone’s life suck equally. We don’t actually want anyone to enjoy their car because then they wouldn’t want to take our shitty bus. If your bus wasn’t so shitty (I am in the Bay Area, so I mean that both literally and figuratively,) then maybe people might want to ride your bus. My company has some private bus shuttles that are spectacular. When possible, I prefer to ride those shuttles despite having a great car and an easy drive. But riding the city bus? Heck no! I would need a hepatitis booster shot as well as having to ride in dirty, uncomfortable surroundings with crazy people. Not to mention waiting at a bus stop with those same sorts of people — and stopping every two blocks for someone to get on or off.
I don't know what a fair competition would look like.
Transit isn't just a chauffeured limo ride for rich people to ride to their job downtown, while saying they are helping the environment. If that was the only reason for transit it should pay for itself (a small fare increase might be required).
Transit is for the poor: those who can't afford a car, and have no prospect of getting a better job. These are a large number of such people, who really can't move up. Cheap transit means they can just afford rent and food thus meaning society doesn't have to do more to take care of them. Cheap is a matter of pride, it lets them think "I pay my full price for everything", while the real costs are hidden.
Transit is for the disabled. Many of them are poor (see above) - but even the rich ones cannot drive for some reason. A transit system means they have a way to get around and thus causing more work for nurses and the like. It is cheaper to subsidize a bus to the hospital and an ambulance.
Transit is to reduce load from the road network. A bus with just 3 riders is using less road than those riders in a car. thus cars should cheer the bus as it means less traffic for drivers to deal with. As traffic gets worse it is cheaper to shift drivers to transit than to build a road. Thus subsidies to transit can have the same effect as building another road at much less cost, making driving cheaper to everybody.
Transit has strong network effects. One bus/train isn't useful for many people, as you add more lines and service times the transit system becomes more useful to everybody. However this requires expensive upfront investment to get to the level of service required for people to ride. This investment is hard to pay for.
There is lag time between transit existing and people riding. Someone with a car won't bother to try the transit system even if they are the perfect candidate (a direct route from point a to point b that is faster than driving) they are so used to driving they won't look up the route right away. It can be years between opening a system and everybody who would ride actually riding. In the mean time the investment has to be paid for.
Transit allows denser building, which in turn allows higher property taxes. Thus a transit system should be subsidized by the property near where it stops (400m in each direction or some number in that range) as the property owner is benefiting from the transit in the form of increased property values.
Your city needs to fix the transit problems you noted. My city has very nice buses that I ride every day. This will require investment, but once it is paid for I think you will find like me that you will sell the car and use the bus to get around. Counting my taxes to pay for transit, and fares, I break even vs paying for fuel, maintenance, and insurance on my car (which was paid for years ago so I'm not counting costs to buy the car - in some years I will have to replace the car though and then I'm way behind)
Edit: Out of interest, looking at your username is it not possible that you have an ideological objection to public transport?
Then let the market decide how much people should pay for the socialized parking that citizens provide for car owners benefit.
I'd be far more apt to take a local train in Tokyo or Switzerland than I would BART.
If that is the case, the parking minimums should indeed be abolished, because they are mandated by the government, no?
in North America it's also expensive and heavily subsidized by those who don't use it. With no judgement, both of these aspects go directly against the capatalist American zeitgeist
It's something of chicken-and-egg thing, though. It's hard to charge reasonable prices when a system is inconvenient, but it's hard to build a convenient system without demonstrable demand.
Huh? Here in DC, the subway fares are rather high compared to the fares I payed in Germany and Japan. Germany was downright cheap, with multi-day all-you-can-ride passes available for what it costs me to take 3 rides on the DC Metro. The NYC MTA isn't very inexpensive either, though I think it's still cheaper than DC's. But for the money, it's a far, far worse user experience than the systems in Germany and Japan.
Uber/Lyft have done it with their pool/line service. IMHO, the problem is the focus on major infrastructure over less grand services that people actually will use. My city is talking about spending billions to extend commuter rail. Yet when I looked at going to a place in the city center 5 miles away it was 23 minutes by car and an hour and 20 minutes by public transport. I literally could have run there faster than taking the bus.
I did the math and for the system as a whole it comes out to be about ten bucks a ride. It would be cheaper and better for everyone if they just subsidized line/pool.
That's exactly how I feel about cars
Compared to other major US cities Los Angeles is truly dense (63% of LA is paved!). My favorite demonstrative anecdote—when approaching by air from the east the 'carpet of lights' starts to appear below about fifteen minutes prior to reaching LAX (which is on the Pacific shore). That's fifteen minutes at transport aircraft arrival speed. I go 'wow' every time I come into town at night if the views are clear.
Los Angeles is just massive, meanwhile its 'effective density' [my term] is reduced by the prevalence of quakes and the expense of taller structures¹.
It's a shame more folks cannot find a pattern of transit/cycling that works for them; the weather is so favorable and the topography is bike-friendly, outside of the canyons/SaMo Mtns), but so many people must live where it's more affordable while working where the businesses are (historically high-rent areas). This is an urban planning trope, so nothing new about that but LA is doubling-down on that pattern lately with the genesis of "Silicon Beach" these past few years.
(me: LA transplant (10+ years) here and I use transit/cycle exclusively for the work week & for more than half of my weekend activities.)
¹—I'd expect we have zoning that impedes "increased density + lower parking minimums" but admittedly I cannot speak to that point directly.
If you want to commute by bike in LA you've got to have the place you live and the place you work (and everywhere in between) be properly managed by the city so that it's safe to bike. In my experience that's very rare: anything resembling a bike lane near me is likely to suddenly end into a line of parked cars, and with poor visibility and high traffic the risks are large.
I know of only one coworker who commuted by bike. He lives much closer than I do. He was also hit by a car in his first year.
Edit: According to this, LA is "the single most densely populated urban area in the United States".
I don't see why that's a requirement. What exactly needs to be destroyed, and why?
From my simplistic point of view, all you need to do is to start injecting dense cores in the middle of the sprawl. Those cores can provide both local employment and local shopping coverage, thereby increasing the utility of the local area and raising the land value. Providing local jobs already reduces the need to commute.
Then start connecting the local cores with high-frequency public transport, then add park&ride infrastructure along those same lines to make the old city center private-vehicle free. That further reduces inner-city traffic while keeping the core accessible.
After some 30-odd years or so, the sprawl cores will have matured to mostly-independent city cores themselves, and the need for regular commute is even lower. Then you can dismantle the old park&ride lots and replace them with more efficient use of that space.
I don't see practical problems with that, nor do I see the need for bulldozing existing wealth. The only thing that needs to be bulldozed is the misplaced perception that living in sprawl is a symbol of high status.
It might be better to call it a "destruction of utility", in the sense of economic "utility maximization". Many people are living in the sprawl partly because they DON'T want to live in a "dense core". Injecting a dense core into their neighborhood might be considered a significant loss in quality of life.
The only thing that can work with the current system is more bus lines. But those are woefully inefficient for longer distances.
Ideally you could have some sort of rail system (either above or underground). But both would be prohibitively expensive and require bulldozing quite a bit of property.
Also, good luck bulldozing the rich folks' regions. Recently there was a proposal to add a freeway in Pasadena to greatly reduce congestion on the freeways. All the lawyers who lived there lined up and said they'd sue, in a queue, holding up the city by at least a decade in legal proceedings.
Unless this was written down in law as guaranteed for a certain number of years, I am not sure I would trust it. In leaner times there will be a lot of pressure on politicians to bring those taxes in parity with other areas; especially if it is a success and property values climb. It's pretty easy to imagine a totally unfair 'pay your fair share' campaign.
Have you ever heard of a banana shortage crisis or a jeans shortage crisis in the US? No you haven't. The reason is because market forces are able to adjust to changes in market demand. In housing, those market forces are bottled up and stifled, preventing investments, preventing innovation, preventing progress, preventing better solutions. We really really need to start looking at regulations and find ways to get rid of the ones causing all these problems.
We've seen very little actual VC money or Research and development go into improving the cost of creating Shelter (In fact, we haven't made any improvements in this in the last 50 to 100 years adjusted for inflation). Much of this is due to regulations. Other industries can find ways to reduce cost but the mountain of housing regulations prevent any and all progress in these areas. I'd argue Housing is one of the most critical areas that human should be trying to progress in, as it's most important for human survival.
As a pragmatist, one of my favorite phrases I say quite often:
"The difference between theory and reality is that in theory there is no difference."
The article is excellent expose of an issue and a solution. I hope they would include specific things we can do to help improve the situation. I'm part of California YIMBY, which promotes legislation that helps ease these issues.
Hmm, I prefer the phrasing:
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is a difference.
Mine is intentionally convoluted. It works for two things:
1- Easy to spot people who really aren't paying attention to what you say.
2- It takes a second to understand the point, people remember better when they have to 'figure it out' so to speak.
3- I get a smile from some people if they pause, think it, then understand.
I might be wrong in my assumptions though.
This "practice and theory" quote was said by someone, but who exactly said it first was lost to time. Its not going to be possible to find the canonical quote (since the cannon-quote seems to be nonexistant). But its definitely a long-running idiom with some history.
When I said 'mine'/'yours' I simply meant what we use.
I tend to presume that originality is near impossible with such pithy sentences. For quotes, I only quote things I actually read from the author.
One criticism of "Everything will balance itself out by itself thinking" is that it leads to exploited people. Regulations are one of the tools intended to prevent such things. Nothing is perfect. But the result is we end up arguing about "I pay too much for this" where we would have been arguing about "This guy died making this" if the regulation did not exist.
You are perfectly correct, that some level of regulation saves lives. I doubt thread parent would disagree. A discussion of which regulations are beneficial and which go too far would be interesting. Unfortunately that discussion was short-circuited by a banal list of wiki entries that could have been generated by a bot.
Dictators acting in the interests of the giant multinational corporations that support them. Did you look at the links I posted? I think you're imaginging some sort of firewall between "market" and "government" but no such separation exists. Buying politicians, funding armies, and bribing dictators are all simply economic activities with pros and cons that — in the absence of stern regulation prohibiting — corporations are happy to do.
Which is not to say that all regulation is bad. No one in this thread has claimed that. Some people have pointed out specific problems with specific regulations related to housing and urban planning. I really wish you would respond to those specifics, rather than posting generalities that require extensive exegesis to even relate to the topic under discussion.
You mention zoning laws in particular. Those were designed for specific reasons so what about them would you change? Surely you aren't suggesting just to get rid of them all?
1 - https://devonzuegel.com/post/north-american-vs-japanese-zoni...
No-zoning means housing is much much cheaper, we're talking 100K - 800K difference or more. With all the money you saved, you'd be able to buy another house far away from that bus depot.
> ... and have another bus depot opened on that lot next door a year later.
and so on.
Besides which, does anyone really deserve to live a certain minimum distance from transportation options? Why would anyone dislike her neighbors that much?
Personally, I'd rather pay 200K for a home, rather than 1 million $ for the same home but with zoning laws. Now, I don't know if it's a 5 to 1 difference in every case. But, we all know 5 to 1 difference in cost is not at all unusual on a per sq ft basis.
Regulations have undeniably caused harm in California.
Yet, an elephant lurks. Housing is a massive system dependent upon the price of homes/land continuously rising. History has shown that when that doesn't happen, it is disastrous.
Maybe the market disentangles that, but by god would it be destructive.
On the other hand, so do externalities in the absence of regulation to internalize them. Real markets quite often don't approximate the idealized way markets should work without lots of help.
> Have you ever heard of a banana shortage crisis [...] in the US?
“Yes, we have no bananas today” is actually a reference to such a crisis.
"Blokable Closes $23 Million in Series A Financing to Lower the Cost of Developing, Building, and Owning Multi-Family Housing in West Coast Communities"
(Effectively) banning SROs in many localities did nothing to improve poor living standards, and probably made them worse since choice was now between being on the street or being in illegally subdivided SROs.
It blows my mind, but I have multiple friends regularly linking me to container-related housing projects ever since I bought land and started building cabins.
I don't personally want anything to do with containers, but there's definitely a housing market for those boxes.
Specific regulations may have problematic impacts (or positive ones, or some mix).
Statements about "regulation" in abstract are meaningless, except to subtract from the idea that specific insight matters, and add to the idea all one needs to approach any given problem is a general ideological approach.
We also need to recognize that trickle down economics doesn't work when it comes to housing just like it doesn't work when it comes other areas of economics. A 1500 square foot high rise 1 bedroom condo with an in-unit washer and dryer is so different from a 200 square foot unit that doesn't even have an in-unit shower that they function as completely separate markets.
Those two things mean we likely need more regulation not less. Although that doesn't mean the regulation we have currently is necessarily good. Removing regulation regarding parking might still be a smart move.
"If rich people can't buy ferraris, and there is a limit to 100 BMWs and 100 civics, then rich people will boost the price of all the BMWs and Civics and all you can buy is really old broken down chevrolets, if you can buy one at all."
"But I bought my civic when it was an affordable price, and I have a special old person subsidized gas price, why do we need build more civics, ferraris and BMWs for all of these new immigrants?! Why can't they just stay in their own country?"
And what people call 'luxury jet housing' is usually really sad 600sqft housing that would be called honda fit housing elsewhere.
The only viable solution to reduce the cost of housing is prefabricated, but moderately sized apartments/multi-family homes. The way you get this is not by unilaterally removing regulation, but by getting rid of local regulation in favor of national regulation.
Yes, I agree, totally. Except where this is impossible.
You can't "free market" the cars out of cities. Nobody wants them gone, and everyone has vested interests in them staying: real estate, construction, parking+traffic violation revenue, car owners, car manufacturers, insurance companies, lawyers... Massive amounts of money flow through the co-existence of cars with cities.
The market's trend is to exacerbate the car problem. How will gutting regulation reverse it all?
I’d argue that that is exactly why we need regulation for housing. It’s just the form of regulation that has to change.
No, but I've heard of gruesome conditions for child laborers in sweatshops and I've heard of banana monoculture that has resulted in disease and threatens extinction of the crop.
We should all push for better and more adaptable regulations that aim to minimize the damages caused by capitalism and enhance its benefits. But regulations as a concept is not the problem, only the implementations.
> Mr Howard told banana growers in north Queensland after the cyclone that he would not allow imports of fresh bananas until the industry got back on its feet.
> But he went further on the sensitive subject of importing fresh product, indicating the Philippines government's long push to export bananas to Australia may never succeed.
Unless all those growers had cyclone insurance, in which case, yeah, probably should have let in the foreign bananas, right?
Thanks to Walmart, I think clothing at affordable prices is available everywhere in the US. That comes with some nasty externalities, but we are at least clothed.
The US is mostly well supplied with air and water.
It is very easy to make these glib "just remove regulation and let the problem solve itself" comments, without really addressing what that reality actually looks like. We aren't talking about a city of single family homes, we're talking about family homes largely no longer existing since lawns, property separation, "extra" rooms, "extra" walls, etc are all inefficiencies that will be eliminated by the market sooner or later.
So, sure, run housing like bananas or jeans but don't be surprised when dwellings start to look less like homes and more like a efficient storage medium for human creatures.
I live in Toronto where the subway is extremely limited in terms number of lines/paths, but at least they go to mostly the right places. Public transit is definitely a second-class-citizen, but subways going downtown are full, every day. The go-train also does a semi-passable job of enabling longer commutes... but we still have a LONG way to go. Unfortunately, each successive mayor has a completely different vision,and fights with the province to overturn the previous plan. At this point, had we picked any one option twenty years ago, even if sub-optimal, we would've had something. Ottawa seemed to do a better job with their LRT even though they had to make it through more layers of government (municipal, provincial, and national), but it's just been a lot quieter job. In Toronto, it's each mayor's main campaigning platform so it has to be a sensational proposal of "change" :-/
Bus lines going to/from major job centers like K-town, Century City, DTLA, Hollywood, Culver City, and Long Beach are also packed during the commute.
It could well be that the city is set up to require a grid type network, but that type of network may well be more expensive and may be the reason why there isn't good transit.
Contrast with Manhattan, which has multiple north/south and east/west lines and could reasonably be described as a grid. This is a system that's designed for people who will mostly get around by transit, rather than just doing so at rush hour when their car would get stuck in traffic.
If your city grew up around the car, there was never a need to centralise, so now you need a grid to service that.
Manhattan may well be a special case where the density and numbers would allow anything to work, if you were designing from scratch for mass transit I don't think grid would be the way to go though.
LA is so spread out it really needs a grid.
But in the end Americans on average don't believe in spending money on public services in a systematic way. They build a light rail here, a high speed train there, at great expense but without any kind of systems thinking. Then they are surprised that the system doesn't get used which confirms the view that public spending is a waste. I have no idea how to get out of that cycle other than a much more wide spread adoption of remote work maybe. Self driving cars will make things just worse because they make even longer commutes possible and sitting in traffic won't be as stressful for the driver.
This isn't exactly true. It's true if you take the "high speed" out; we don't actually have any high-speed trains in America, not really. We have some pretty lame and slow trains, and that's about it.
But that's a nit-pick; your post is mostly spot-on about Americans.
I've been to Munich, BTW, and the public transit there is fantastic. All the elevated bike lanes are really nice too. Why on earth would you leave such a nice city for LA anyway? If I had to get a new job tomorrow, and I had my choice of working in LA or Munich, I sure as hell wouldn't pick LA!
DTLA, K-Town, Long Beach, Hollywood, Universal City, North Hollywood, Culver City, Pasadena, and Santa Monica--i.e., the biggest job centers in the LA area--are all connected by light or heavy rail. Century City is the only major job center not currently connected by rail, but the heavy rail out to there is under construction and should be finished in 5-10 years.
School-wise, USC, Cal State Long Beach, and Santa Monica College are already connected by rail; UCLA is part of the Century City rail expansion.
Wait till you see Amsterdam or Kopenhagen!
In those cities riding the bike actually viable because there are bike lanes or closed down streets just for walking or bikes. It seems to be a cultural thing, most US cities are not that bike friendly.
The metro in Berlin was pretty decent though.
Crazy expensive compared to the cost of living though. One subway ride costs almost as much as a cheap meal (döner for example) and often more than a pint of beer. Contrast that with Paris where a subway ticket hardly gets you a coffee at the counter.
Copenhagen and Amsterdam are much more impressive IMHO.
Where bus use is sufficiently heavy, Metro is planning (or is already building) rail lines to be constructed over the next 40 years as funding permits.
Compared to 80's Seoul, LA metro's coverage doesn't seem very bad. Give it some time while heavily disincentivizing use of cars. At least, LA has a central public authority on mass transit for 10 millions, which is a much better situation than bay.
Abolishing parking will never happen in LA, because that would force people to get off the roads. It's a car culture here.
Also, its a good idea .. everyone in my building seems to buy their porche or audi and park it in the middle of their allocated two parking spots in the ramp below the apartments.
Apparently picking up your dog's poop (at least in New York City) was not a well known concept until the 1970's.