Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.
ART OF TRANSIT: A Gold Line train passes over Alameda Street in downtown L.A. on Friday. The photo was taken from the City Hall observatory deck. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.
Houston rising — why the next great American cities aren’t what you think (Daily Beast)
Here is an article intended to provoke. Drawing on a variety of stats, Los Angeles-based writer Joel Kotkin argues that the fastest growing cities in the U.S. in recent years are also the kind of car-centric, sprawling suburban-dominated places that are often ridiculed in urban planning circles. Among those: Raleigh, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Charlotte and Phoenix.
One common article of faith among mainstream urbanists, at least when they stop to note this growth at all, is that these cities grow mainly because they are cheap and can house the unskilled. But in reality many of these metropolitan areas are also leading the nation in growing their number of well-educated arrivals. Houston, Charlotte, Raleigh, Las Vegas, Nashville, and San Antonio, for example, experienced increases in the number of college-educated residents of nearly 40 percent or more over the decade, roughly twice the level of growth as in “brain centers” such as Boston, San Francisco, San Jose (Silicon Valley), or Chicago. Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas each have added about 300,000 college grads in the past decade, more than greater Boston’s pickup of 240,000 or San Francisco’s 211,000.
Kotkin frequently writes about density and urban planning. He has certainly needled attempts to make L.A. more dense and transit friendly, authoring a 2007 op-ed in the L.A. Times alleging that Los Angeles is turning into Manhattan. That’s of course a ludicrous thing to say — and usually only said by people who have either never been to New York or Los Angeles or believe that their readers can’t tell a tall building from a short one (L.A.’s most dense sections are less than half as dense as Manhattan’s densest sections).
That said, I think this new article is super, uber-interesting. Kotkin is on to something: The car-centric cities of the middle of America are still very popular. And they’re changing, with old neighborhoods being revived and, in some cases, downtowns being rediscovered and new park systems being built. And, of course, many are investing heavily in transit and light rail (an effort dismissed by Kotkin as “quixotic”), a list that inclues Phoenix, Houston, Charlotte, Dallas and Orlando.
What does all this have to do with Los Angeles? That’s a great question. L.A. in some ways competes with other cities and states for jobs, economic opportunities, businesses, new residents, scholars, etc. So that’s important for our local leaders and residents to keep in mind — no one wants to be Detroit, although I don’t think L.A. is remotely close to that. More importantly, perhaps, I think it points to a broader trend: America is becoming an urban nation and even some of the most dreadful cities are coming back. If the majority of Americans are going to live in cities, then perhaps it’s time for Congress to recognize that fact and start investing in those places.
Azusa gets $650,000 grant from Metro to plan for transit-oriented development (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
Azusa will be home to two Gold Line Foothill Extension stations — one in downtown Azusa and the other just north of Citrus College. The grant from Metro will help the city plan transit-oriented developments and re-work its zoning code to permit more density near the stations. There is certainly room in downtown Azusa and I think the first, easy move that Azusa officials can make is an easy one: call officials from nearby Claremont, who have done a splendiferous job revitalizing their downtown.
High-speed rail a highlight of Brown’s China trip (Sacramento Bee)
Gov. Jerry Brown is visiting China and will be checking out China’s vast and relatively new (and highly government subsidized) high-speed rail system. With California’s bullet train still many billions of dollars shy of the funding it needs to complete a San Francisco-to-Los Angeles leg, Gov. Brown will also be inquiring about Chinese interest in investing in the California project.