Ten planning lessons from mighty Los Angeles

Despite its detractors, every time I’m in Los Angeles, the city impresses me more. From the first time in 1970 to just recently, the changes are palpable, especially the move(s) away from being so car-centric and increased densification. Below, is my list of ten planning lessons learned from mighty LA. Given the city’s sheer size and scope, many more could have been listed, but these are fine for the time being. Peace!

  • Once known as the poster child for urban sprawl (now its Houston, Phoenix, or Atlanta), Los Angeles has grown upward into a remarkable city of vibrant, dense midtown neighborhoods and an impressive downtown skyline.
  • Many surrounding node cities like Glendale (shown above), Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Long Beach have established their own unique identity and vibe.

Typical scene on I-710 – Source: latimes.com

  • The sheer volume of truck traffic generated on the freeway system by the Los Angeles and Long Beach container ports is staggering. The number of trucks has gotten to the point where a separate expressway lanes solely for trucks to/from the harbor solely may needed to reduce the near gridlock conditions, especially on I-710 (shown above) and to a lesser extent on I-110. A less disruption alternative for those abutting the freeway would be to establish an inland container port (dry port) further out, thereby allowing only railroads and local trucks to service the harbor.

Source: money.com

  • Our unified familiarity with places in and around Los Angeles from both film and television (Rose Bowl, Disneyland, Griffith Observatory, “Hollywood” sign, Brady Bunch home (shown above), Malibu, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica Pier, etc.) actually makes visiting Los Angeles feel like a nostalgic homecoming.
  • Los Angeles is the first place this retired planner has ever seen street signs declaring an “anti gridlock zone.” These prohibit on-street parking during peak hours of the day to facilitate traffic movement throughout the city.

Source: urbanrail.net……………………………………..Source: thesource.metro.net

  • The addition of numerous HOV/carpool lanes, bike lanes/trails, commuter rail systems (Metrolink), subways/light rail (Metrorail), and busways in Los Angeles have helped transformed this car-centric commuter city into a multimodal transportation dynamo. It is nice to see so many people waiting at train stops – each one or two representing that many less cars on the roadways.

Source: dailynews.com

  • The proposed aerial tramway/urban gondola linking a downtown Metrorail Station with Dodger Stadium (shown above) is an excellent last-mile solution to major sports venues and could help reduce the need for acres of inefficient surface parking surrounding them.
  • Griffith Park (shown above) is certainly one of the most impressive city parks in the nation, as it successfully melds the tranquil subtleties of Mother Nature into this vast urban landscape. Even more impressive is how little trash or graffiti one finds in the park when visiting.
  • One cannot help but be impressed by this compelling and energetic city – few places exude such brute force of industry and commerce while also being so visually serene. LA is an economic powerhouse with few equals in the United States and worldwide.
  • Art is at the very heart of LA – its movies, music, television shows, video games, and other media represent the collective voices of America as delivered to the rest of the planet. Without Los Angeles, the American dream could have not gelled so compellingly in the hearts and minds of those seeking a better life.


If Los Angels and Southern California intrigue you as much as they do me, here are a couple of books on the topic that are available on Amazon.com.* The Mirage Factory is highly recommended reading by this blog author and I hope to read Everything Now soon, as the reviews have been excellent.

Link – The Mirage Factory …………………………….. Link – Everything Now

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using the above links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This entry was posted in Active transportation, Alternative transportation, architecture, art, bicycling, branding, business, cities, civics, commerce, culture, density, distribution, downtown, economic development, Economy, entertainment, entrepreneurship, environment, fun, geography, Highway displacement, highways, historic preservation, history, humanity, immigration, industry, infrastructure, land use, logistics, Maps, mountains, movies, music, nature, Passenger rail, peace, pictures, placemaking, planning, pollution, rail, Railroads, recreation, skylines, skyscrapers, spatial design, sprawl, Statistics, Television, topography, tourism, Trade, traffic, transit, transportation, Travel, trucking, urban design, urban planning, walking, zoning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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