California has always been “progressive” when it comes to dealing with huge populations. In the 1950s and 60s it was the most aggressive state in the union at building infrastructure—the interstate system in Southern California could be considered a wonder of the world. But this aggressive approach also created an environment where the negatives of massive public projects have been chased by new laws, legislation and equally bold “solutions.”
Often pointed to as the example of what “no one wants” for their community, Southern California’s urban sprawl in particular has become the favorite subject of planners looking for a way out. The Wall Street Journal recently uncovered one dramatic new proposal: to manage future urban planning by increasing the density of projects to unheard-of levels.
As author Wendell Cox writes, “To understand how dramatic a change this would be, consider that if the planners have their way, 68% of new housing in Southern California by 2035 would be condos and apartment complexes. This contrasts with Census Bureau data showing that single-family, detached homes represented more than 80% of the increase in the region’s housing stock between 2000 and 2010.” Cox continues with the opinion that, “California’s war on suburbia is unnecessary, even considering the state’s lofty climate-change goals. For example, a 2007 report by McKinsey, co-sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions could be achieved while ‘traveling the same mileage’ and without denser urban housing.”
Photograph by max_katz