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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Are the days of sprawl over for LA?

Experts weigh in on LA's upward — not outward — expansion

September 23, 2016 08:30AM

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The downtown skyline is framed by cranes at a construction site near Staples Center in 2006.

The downtown skyline is framed by cranes at a construction site near Staples Center in 2006. (Credit: Getty)

Has L.A. run out of developable land? Mayor Eric Garcetti seems to think so.

“What’s that old cliché?” Garcetti said in a recent interview with The New York Times. “The sprawl has hit the wall in L.A.”

For decades, La La Land was known as a metropolis that somehow defied the normal rules of urban growth — a city and the suburbs at the same time.

But with the influx of new residents in recent years, housing demand has crept to sky-high levels, prompting real estate development to follow suit. Cranes are saturating the skyline, from Downtown to Santa Monica. Residents stubbornly holding onto the idea of L.A. as a tree-lined, low-lying town seemingly have no choice but to accept the fate of their home.

“It’s not whether or not density is going to come,” Garcetti told the Times. “It’s whether we plan for it or not. People are like, ‘Oh my God, this is L.A., and they are going tall?’ Height makes you think it’s more dense. And it doesn’t always compute that way. You have to convince people.”

The mayor is not alone in believing the inevitability of L.A.’s vertical growth spurt.

“Los Angeles is doubling back on itself, building in its midsection as opposed to gobbling up new territory along its periphery,” Christopher Hawthorne, the architecture critic for the L.A. Times, told the New York Times. “We have finally realized that there are real benefits — in terms of water use, for example — to be gained by living more densely and more vertically.” [NYT]Cathaleen Chen

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