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||L.A.'s Density: Cruise Ship vs. Slave Ship
Walter Moore [author] 9/17/07
Sunday's Los Angeles Times features a remarkable essay entitled, in the print edition, "We've always been dense."
The on-line version's editors, apparently hoping to avoid the double meaning, called it "L.A. has always been dense."
The author, Todd Gish, "recently completed his doctorate in urban planning at USC."
New Dr. Gish states that in 1924, "167,000, or just over half, of the city's 328,000 housing units were detached homes," while "[t]he remaining units were duplexes, four-flats, bungalow courts and apartment houses of every description."
Therefore, he concludes, "the tired cliche of an aging suburban paradise invaded by big, new, alien developments can be put to rest," because "[t]hese big urban projects are not foreign to our city, but right at home."
Don't you feel better now? You see, you shouldn't believe your eyes, you should instead believe Gish, because he has a Ph.D. in urban planning. You didn't know it, because you waste too much time watching TV, but L.A. has always been dense. Nothing different is happening now. Just more of the same.
Then again, maybe USC was a little hasty in issuing one of its sheepskins. Let's look at the actual numbers pertaining to density, shall we?
In 1920, according to the U.S. Census, the City of Los Angeles had a population of 576,673. The city's area was smaller then -- just 365.7 square miles -- and the population density was 1,577 people per square mile.
By 1930, the Census says, L.A.'s population, area and density had grown: 1.2 million people in 440.3 square miles, or 2,812 people per square mile.
Guess what the figures are for the present? If you based your opinion on Dr. Gish's essay, you might think everything's about the same. After all, we've "always" been dense, right?
Wrong. Way wrong.
In 2003, according to the Census, the City of L.A. was home to 3,819,951 people, and covered 469 miles, which is 8145 people per square mile - MORE THAN FIVE TIMES MORE PEOPLE PER SQAURE MILE THAN IN 1920!
And, in contrast to the 328,000 housing units Gish says were in the city in 1924, we had 1,337,706 in 2003 -- OVER FOUR TIMES AS MANY!
So before you believe the special interests who want to raise your property taxes to provide "affordable housing" for people who don't even live here, and before you start uttering the phrase "smart growth," remember to use your eyes, your brain and, if you like, the facts.
L.A. has never been this crowded. The crowding, moreover, is ruining our quality of life. It takes forever to get anywhere; our "leaders" tell us to take shorter showers; and we're supposed to turn off our air conditioners at the very time when we need them most.
This isn't "smart growth." There's no such thing as "smart growth." This is over-crowding by people who profit from it, and from the career politicians whose campaigns they fund. CRO
2007 Walter Moore