[O]ne wonders why density is being promoted at a time when West L.A. is already one of the two most densely populated urban areas in the country. In addition, proponents of densification need to stop circulating the false claim that the Land Use and Circulation Element promises increased density with no increase in vehicular traffic.
The authors claim that making Downtown more dense is imperative to reduce global warming (“Santa Monica’s sustainable, smart, healthy development,” Room For a View, July 10). A similar argument was made to residents of Portland, Ore. recently when it was proposed that a new apartment building on Southeast Division Street be built without parking facilities.
As a result, “the city’s landmark lesbian bar” was demolished to make way for a four-story, 81-unit apartment building. It is one of about 30 parking-free apartment buildings recently completed or in development, particularly along Division Street. Seventy percent of the tenants of the new building, however, own automobiles, now parked on adjacent residential streets with resulting inconvenience to neighbors. Residents have also been disturbed by a sense that this building and others are “out of scale” with the neighborhood.
Urban planning needs to be grounded in the first instance on demonstrable improvements in the local quality of life. When it comes to densification, it’s better to avoid abstraction. What does “dense” mean in terms of population and visitors? When is “dense” too dense? What shapes does density take? How big? How high? At what cost to the city, now and in future years? Where is it to be located and how much of the existing urban fabric is or has been destroyed to make way? What services are to be sacrificed? Who is affected most directly and how? What are the collateral effects? Without answers, it’s all ideology.