Livable City: Building a better Los Angeles

Ideas and commentary on building a livable, sustainable Los Angeles.

The guy who killed SB 50 wants to fix California’s housing crisis with license plates

It’s appalling that a senator chose to kill an ambitious bill to ease California's housing crisis without even attempting to negotiate a compromise.

Metro is hemorrhaging riders. It needs to stop studying obvious fixes and start acting

What if — radical concept here — instead of focusing on luring new riders, Metro improves the system for those who use it now. Start with all-door bus boarding

Holy cow! California may get rid of single-family zoning

A bipartisan group of lawmakers voted in favor of a bill that would allow four-unit buildings pretty much anywhere in California.

The plan to turn Santa Monica Airport into a park is irresponsible. The Westside needs housing

The 227-acre Santa Monica Airport is in close proximity to jobs, good schools, and transit. Area residents wants it to become a park in 2028 — but housing has to be part of the mix.

MyFigueroa is everything wrong with L.A.’s alternative transit efforts

The 10-year, $20 million Figueroa upgrade was launched over the summer to muted applause. It hasn't gotten much better with time.

L.A. spent 10 years and $20 million to redesign one street. Here's what we got

The good, the bad, and the ugly of the MyFigueroa redesign.

Is Eric Garcetti tackling climate change like he really means it?

Despite Garcetti’s enlightened climate oratory, transportation trends in L.A. are going in the wrong direction under his watch.

Free public transit and roads without traffic? Sounds like a fairy tale, but L.A. can have both

New light rail and subway lines completed in less than a decade! Fewer clogged freeways! And free transit “forever and ever.”What could possibly bring about this magical transformation of Los Angeles’ notoriously awful transportation system?Congestion pricing.

Lies your landlord is telling voters about rent control

The landlord lobby fighting Prop 10 says that rent control is a disincentive to new housing and that only more market-rate construction brings rents down. Research and history say otherwise.

Can L.A. build new parks and public spaces without gentrifying away low-income residents?

There is good evidence that new parks built in low-income communities around the country have contributed to displacing the very residents they were intended to serve.

Flippers are using an end-around to kick tenants out of affordable housing. They need to be stopped

Cagey flippers have discovered a way around California's foreclosure rules, and are forcing tenants in affordable, and even rent-stabilized, housing onto the streets.

L.A.'s taxi industry discriminates against black riders. If we don't force them to change, they won't

When it comes to timeliness, technology and — most troublingly — racial discrimination, taxis lag significantly behind their flashy new ride-hailing competitors.

Cars are running over people left and right. So why is LAPD targeting pedestrians and not motorists?

LAPD officers target pedestrians for tickets but rarely react when motorists violate traffic laws right in front of them. And I have the data to prove it.

Koreatown needs a homeless shelter. It also needs city officials to learn from the mistakes of the past

More and more Koreatown residents need access to homeless services. The city's plan to build a shelter is an opportunity to help — if the effort is carried out transparently.

A single law is devastating the affordability of housing in California. Repeal Costa-Hawkins

Since 1994, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act has stripped away one of the most powerful tools to stop the escalating housing crisis: rent control

It's easy for L.A.'s leaders to be tough on the gun lobby. Let's see them try standing up for road diets

L.A.'s leaders are asking red state politicians to stand up to their constituents in the name of public safety. They should have the courage to do the same.

Texting while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk. We need to treat it accordingly

Distracted driving killed 3,500 people in 2015. Our enforcement and fines don't reflect the seriousness of the problem.

L.A.'s land use rules were born out of racism and segregation. They're not worth fighting for

Limiting huge swaths of L.A. to single-family homes has not only contributed to soaring housing costs, it has created profound racial and class segregation.

Southern California has the resources to solve homelessness. It chooses not to

Homelessness cannot be an issue defined by loudmouthed residents, politicians and ignoramuses. If good people stay quiet, nothing will change.

California eviction law is pushing working families out of their neighborhoods or worse — onto the streets

The law allows landlords to hit tenants with repeated waves of trumped-up lawsuits — even when tenants are fully following the obligations of their lease.

Making Los Angeles completely water self-sufficient won't be easy or cheap. But it can be done

Mayor Eric Garcetti's "Resilient Los Angeles" plan calls for using only 50% imported water by 2035. L.A. can do better.

Downtown has a high apartment vacancy rate? The rest of L.A. should be so lucky

Downtown L.A. isn't a poster child for overdevelopment, it's the best model we have to fix the housing crisis.

How can L.A. build dense new housing without displacing working families? With a 'Right to Remain'

"Right to Remain" would allow families whose buildings are slated for redevelopment to move back in upon completion — at the same rent as before.

Paving the Los Angeles River wasn't an egalitarian idea. The plan for revitalizing it should be

As we remake the Los Angeles River once again, we ought to allow the river to re-make us, too — into a more equitable city.

Los Angeles drivers are killing pedestrians. They need to be stopped

Speed kills. We need street infrastructure that slows traffic down and keeps pedestrians safe.

L.A.'s dwindling transit ridership isn't hard to fix. Make riding the bus cheaper and more convenient

The transportation authority should stop focusing primarily on building new rail and use a fair share of its voter-supplied wealth to lower fares and improve the bus system.

Angelenos are dying while angry motorists are torching L.A.'s street safety plans. Where is Mayor Garcetti?

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti doesn't have a spine when it comes to street safety. Will Angelenos force him to grow one?

Why Santa Monica got rid of parking minimums downtown. And why other cities should consider following suit

Santa Monica realized too much parking is hurting its downtown and the environment.

Getting between motorists and their cars has become the new third rail of California politics

California's environmental agenda is being threatened by car lovers.

Take a virtual ride and decide: Is it safe to bike to work in Los Angeles?

Take a 360-degree look at what it's like to ride a bike on the streets of Los Angeles.

Hey, Manhattan Beach, preventing pedestrian deaths is more important than your speedy morning commute

If you believe the hysteria, families are being torn apart, livelihoods threatened and businesses in danger of collapse. All because of a little traffic.

How to fix L.A.'s failed parking policies

Local leaders should prioritize urgent reform of L.A.’s parking policies.

Plastic pollution doesn’t just make for an ugly beach day. It’s contaminating our food chain

There’s a big lie about plastic – that you can throw it away. But that’s not true; there is no "away."

Is L.A. finally ready for a gondola ride to the Hollywood sign?

Is it finally time for a Griffith Park aerial tramway? Garcetti revives the idea as a solution to Hollywood sign traffic

Refilling Silver Lake Reservoir is inexcusably wasteful. Better to live with an empty pit

Demanding precious water for an outdated, offline reservoir is the ultimate version of complaining about the neighbor's dead lawn.

Why are cities allowing bicycle theft to go virtually unpunished?

Law-enforcement officials, busy with other priorities, rarely commit to sustained campaigns to bust theft rings or even pursue arrests.

Meet the architectural menace threatening to ruin downtown L.A.'s rebirth

City leaders need to step in before parking podiums kill the beating heart of modern Los Angeles.

I live in L.A. and I don't own a car

I live the way politicians say we should, and it's not even that hard.

Here's an easy way to fight L.A.'s traffic and boost transit ridership — reward commuters who don't drive

Employer-paid parking is an invitation to drive to work alone.

Measure S was not the answer to L.A.'s housing crisis, but neither is returning to business as usual

With the Measure S vote behind us, it's time to devise a more effective strategy for inclusive growth in Los Angeles.

Metro is spending billions of your tax dollars to build L.A. a world class transit system. Don't let them blow it

This past November, Los Angeles County voters overwhelmingly passed Measure M — gifting Metro, the county’s transit authority, $120 billion over the next 40

L.A. finally has the money to fight homelessness. Here's how architecture can help the cause

Two and a half years ago, my brother Daren died as a result of his struggles with homelessness and schizophrenia. Criminalized for his mental illness for most

If you don’t think L.A. needs Measure H, try volunteering on skid row for a week

Each weeknight, a non-denominational group of Angelinos I’m a member of called the Monday Night Mission meets to hand out peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches to

There's only one way to fix L.A.'s traffic, and it isn't Elon Musk's tunnels. We need tolls — lots of them

There's only one way to fix L.A.'s traffic, and it isn't Elon Musk's tunnels. We need tolls — lots of them

L.A. has seen too much talk and not enough action from Mayor Eric Garcetti on making our streets safer

L.A. has seen too much talk and not enough action from Eric Garcetti on making our streets safer

Why I'm breaking up with the Blue Line after 19 years. (It's not me, it's definitely you)

We’re consistently late for work by 10 or 15 minutes. For a train line that carries 78,000 riders every day, this is no small deal.

I lived in a truck for 6½ years. Trust me, trying to roust homeless from their vehicles is no solution

The recent crackdown in Los Angeles on people living in their cars and recreational vehicles got me remembering what it was like to be homeless. I lived out of

E-bikes may be the greenest form of transportation in human history. Why aren't cities taking advantage?

The bane of my bike commute in Calgary, Canada is the river valley hill. It’s not particularly steep, but at about a mile long I rarely ascend without arriving

When L.A. takes to the streets, it defines itself as a city

Los Angeles tends to define itself — or at least to discover its public nature — when it takes to the streets. Such a discovery occurred, again, on Saturday, at

Don’t listen to the backers of Measure S. Los Angeles isn’t overdeveloped; we’re in a housing slump

You’ve seen the cranes over Hollywood. You’ve read the stories about new development downtown. If these neighborhoods’ changes are any indication of growth

California's minimum wage isn't the problem. The cost of housing is

Whether $10.50 an hour or $15 an hour, workers can't afford to pay the rent in Los Angeles

L.A. drivers are terrible. Could dashboard cams help make things safer for everyone?

My new year’s resolution this year is as simple as it is sad: Get a dashboard camera for my car. Once I get the car back from the body shop, that is.

Keeping wild pumas alive in an urban environment is hard work. Is L.A. willing to do what it takes?

The wolves are back! California now has a well-established wild wolf population. “Hurray!” Californians cheer. Or at least the Californians in the big urban and

What lies beneath L.A.

This is the Los Angeles that fascinates me, a human creation encoded with its own ephemerality.

How do you ease traffic in Los Angeles? Make it harder to park

New transit will do little to reduce traffic congestion unless L.A. also addresses its abundance of parking spaces.

Adding 1 million people along the Wilshire corridor could help L.A. create a sustainable city

What will Los Angeles look like in 2050?

Pass Proposition HHH, but don’t think money alone will end homelessness in Los Angeles

The 52 square blocks that make up Skid Row are not the sort of thing you see in blown-up photographs by the baggage claim at LAX. When the Lakers play on

Are Angelenos still an 'automotive people?' Measure M will tell

Can Los Angeles County finally build the transit system it rejected 50 years ago?

Hey, you! Yeah, you. Throw away your cigarette butts.

Flicked cigarette butts are the No. 1 item of trash found on California's beaches.

Los Angeles needs more parks. Measure A is the smartest way to pay for them we could have asked for

Los Angeles has the well-deserved reputation as one the worst metropolitan regions in the country when it comes to parks and public space. L.A. ranks 65th among

To leave a note on the car you dinged or not to leave a note. That is the question.

I had no intention of driving away without leaving a note, but I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t occurred to me.

Cities once regulated micro-apartments out of existence. Let's not make the same mistake twice

Solving the housing crisis in the most desirable cities in the United States demands accommodating a range of housing options.

Cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road? Maybe it’s time to change those rules

There are other ways for municipalities to encourage cycling while their infrastructure catches up. Cities are demonstrating that changing the rules in favor of cyclists can make roads safer.

Despite the controversy, Silver Lake’s ‘road diet’ worked

An analysis of the Rowena project confirms that road diets work — even in the most congested city in America.

California is backsliding on water conservation. L.A. can't and won't follow suit

the five year drought continues with Los Angeles receiving less than 39 inches of rain over that time period: less than 8 inches annually.

Dangerous streets are the leading cause of death of our children. It’s time to finally make L.A. walkable

Children walking to school and the elderly account for 30% of all people killed or severely injured in pedestrian or bicycle-related accidents.

Gentrification on skid row? We should be so lucky

Market rate housing on skid row, though controversial now, may be exactly what the neighborhood needs.

Without more walkable cities, building new transit won't reverse Metro's ridership decline

There is no place in the country better positioned to use transit to its advantage than Los Angeles County. With the upcoming ballot measure that would increase

L.A. isn’t a suburb. We need to stop planning it like one.

While zoning is a perfectly fine strategy to map new suburban cul-de-sac subdivisions and to stop growth, it backfires when we try to use it to guide the future of an evolving, dynamic city.

L.A. has a growing mansionization problem

In my neighborhood, blocky fortresses are taking over.

Could legal marijuana make L.A.'s homeless crisis even worse?

While marijuana doesn’t cause homelessness, it is having an impact on homeless services in places that were among the first to legalize the drug.

Don’t change the Orange Line to rail — improve it first

There are quick and cost effective steps that we can take to improve the Orange Line busway today — steps that could render its eventual conversion to rail unnecessary.

Why Santa Monica is staying in drought mode

Last year, faced with one of the worst droughts in California history, Governor Jerry Brown issued a mandate to cities across the state to cut water use by

A permit to pose as Batman? Council's proposed rule would ruin Hollywood's street scene

A 20-permit limit on actors dressed as movie characters on Hollywood Boulevard is a mistake and unconstitutional. The police just need to enforce existing law.

The philosophy that has pitted cars against cyclists for the last 40 years is finally dying

In John Forester’s paradigm, cyclists shouldn’t cower in the gutters, but should be afforded equal treatment by operators of motor vehicles — and the law.

Could driverless cars and the Hyperloop make L.A.'s multibillion-dollar transportation plan obsolete?

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has to plan for changes in technology and mobility

Metro's plan for L.A. transit would be transformative... with one small fix

Metro, Measure R, Measure R2, Expo LIne, Green Line, Crenshaw Line, transportation, BRT, rail, LAX, Hollywood

Brown's affordability fix is fine. But California needs all the housing it can get — including in its suburbs

California needs a huge amount of new housing to curb what has become an epic housing affordability crisis in the Golden State – one that’s particularly acute in and around Los Angeles.

Downtown L.A. may be changing, but some of the city's most interesting characters still call Broadway home

Broadwasy is tet meeting place where people from all parts of Los Angeles come together, almost like a fashion show.

Here’s a first mile, last mile solution to L.A.'s transit woes — try walking

Iinstead of driving the first and last mile to Metro stations — and getting frustrated when we can’t find parking — wouldn’t it make more sense to just walk?

If L.A. wants to avoid summer blackouts and another Aliso Canyon, we need to reinvent our energy system. Here's how

The natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility was a disaster with continuing widespread repercussions. In addition to the obvious harm to public

Why I hate Waze

Waze just makes me anxious, with its assumption that I can't get around L.A. on my own.

Scenes from the first train from Santa Monica to downtown L.A. in 63 years

At 12.08pm on Friday, the first train on the Expo Line extension glided out of Santa Monica's downtown station and the passengers clapped enthusiastically.

The Expo Line reconnects the pueblo and the Pacific

tarting this weekend, you can board an Expo Line train in downtown Los Angeles and disembark in Santa Monica less than an hour later.

Bike Month: If L.A. wants to recruit more bicycle riders, it should make the roads safe for them

Los Angeles is celebrating Bike Month, but it might want to fix its dangerously potholed bike lanes too.

L.A.'s plastic bag problem hasn't been solved, and it may be killing some of our most beautiful sea creatures

When it comes to enacting bans on plastic bags, the reasoning sometimes sounds remote. You've probably heard of the vast soup of plastic known as the Pacific

Has the new Expo Line been doomed to slow, mediocre service before it even opens?

Los Angeles needs to build grade-separated rail lines.

Why is L.A. too pricey? Blame low vacancy rates, not luxury high-rises

Some Angelenos want to blame mega-developments for driving up rents in desirable neighborhoods. But rents and home prices are up everywhere in Los Angeles County. That's because it's the regional vacancy rate that matters.

How L.A. can improve its return on our multibillion-dollar transit investment

Metro's light rail Gold Line expanded east in March, and in a matter of days, its Expo line will link Culver City and Santa Monica, finishing a long-sought rail

Pershing Square's new design is flat and simple – and that's a good thing

On Thursday, Los Angeles got some good news. Pershing Square, the park at the heart of a revivifying downtown, has been handed over to Agence Ter, a French

Is L.A.'s housing market really as unaffordable as it seems?

Pershing Square is an urban planning nightmare. Let's redesign and get it right this time

For most of the last half-century, American cities have been defined by the decisions of a select and siloed few, who have created their own agendas and imposed

Hey, L.A. drivers: Don't honk at bike riders

One of the great things about Los Angeles is that honking is a regular and acceptable part of driving. It's how motorists communicate such vital information as

It's Earth Day. So how is L.A. doing in creating a sustainable city?

Today, in honor of Earth Day, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti released the city's first annual report on its "Sustainable City pLAn" implementation.  A reminder: pLAn

What do we do with the Silver Lake reservoirs?

Four easy fixes for L.A. traffic

Noel Massie's days are dominated by two things: trucks and minutes. He has too many of one, too little of the other...

Why erasing California's anti-Semitic, racist history from public display is the wrong move

I am a German-American and Southern California native. While other kids watched Saturday morning cartoons, my German-born mother sent me to German school, where

Freeway cap parks can be L.A.'s High Line

Solar powering your home? An accountant and an economist weigh in

Does solar have more advantages over enhanced efficiency in your home?

With Gold Line opening, Metro needs to see what's driving millennials to hop on board

With Gold Line opening, Metro needs to see what's driving millennials to hop on board

Street dreams: The inner life of homelessness

How to boost L.A.'s sinking transit ridership

L.A.'s bike-share program is being set up to fail

Want L.A.'s bike share to succeed? Pay people to use it

What L.A. can learn from a Portland homeless encampment

My hometown, Portland, Ore., has a serious homelessness problem. Portland is often called the City of Bridges -- more than a dozen cross the Willamette and

Does killing urban coyotes create more problems than it solves?

We all want wildlife, it seems, we just don¿t want it to inconvenience us very much.

Which NFL stadium proposal would screw up L.A. traffic the least?

There's been a lot of talk about which professional football team should return to Los Angeles, and which stadium proposal -- Carson or Inglewood -- is the

Stealing a few shady hours in an offramp's not-park

All I want for Christmas is a rain barrel system that works

How we can use data to prevent cycling deaths in Los Angeles

Funiculars like Angels Flight don't just have to be for tourists

Why L.A. needs more green space, now

If L.A. wants to be a world class city, it needs to stop micromanaging its public spaces

In recent years, Los Angeles has invested mightily in its public spaces in efforts to create a "world class city." From the loudly-hyped debut of Grand Park, to

What L.A.'s Piggyback Yard Olympic planners can learn from Sydney

Every Angeleno who regularly takes the 5 Freeway past downtown has glimpsed the Piggyback Yard, a sprawling 125-acre stretch of Union Pacific railroad tracks

Water desalination is here. But is it sustainable?

In a very dry state, turning to the sea as a source of water for drinking, bathing and irrigation has its attractions. Desalination is drought-proof -- the

The view of 'new L.A.' has an eastward tilt

Los Angeles' landscape has changed dramatically in just the last few years, part of a demographic shift reshaping the urban cores of major American cities. And the view from afar has been shifting along with it, eastward.

A local take on the transformation of Frogtown

What L.A. can learn from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics

A calm before the storm of gentrification on Crenshaw

Lewis MacAdams: Give the L.A. River a seat at the Olympic negotiating table

I love the Olympics. I moved to Los Angeles just before the last Games were held here, in 1984. I adored the city's empty streets, the preternatural calm, the