The Covid-19 pandemic has turned “density” into something of a four-letter word.
The virus could deal a blow to what was an otherwise growing movement to build more housing near transit lines and expand that infrastructure, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Elected officials and activists have touted urbanization as a way to address housing crises — especially in housing-strapped cities like L.A. — and reduce the carbon footprints of cities, but the pendulum has swung in the other direction.
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo highlighted density as a key factor intensifying the spread of coronavirus in cities across the country, saying that “the dense environments are its feeding grounds.”
Whether or not safety and density are mutually exclusive, the pandemic has given opponents of the urbanism movement more ammunition.
“If the coronavirus becomes the example where it becomes more clear to everybody how delusional the push for more density is, it shows the opposition we’ve been bringing up all along was well founded,” said Susan Kirsch, a “slow-growth” activist in Marin County.
California State Sen. Scott Wiener, who’s been trying to pass a bill that would allow significantly denser development across the state, said he expects the pandemic to be used in arguments against densification.
Wiener is still pushing for more density in California, though. He argued that Cuomo’s inaction was to blame for New York City’s issues with the virus, not density. He also said the housing crisis isn’t going away, Coronavirus or not. “It’s not environmentally sustainable to keep sprawling out further and further,” said Wiener. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch