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Kunstler: LA Almost Completely Hopeless

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James Kunstler came back, people. He came back to LA even though he thinks the city is hopeless and tragic and Kazakhstanish! In this week's KunstlerCast, the anxiety attack-generating urbanist discusses his recent trip to Los Angeles, and can you believe he had one nice thing to say?

But before we get to that, let's hear about what he didn't like. Kunstler starts off by calling LA "a place that kind of beats you down psychologically...it's a kind of a punishing place." As usual he hates that "even in the better districts, you feel like everything is subordinated to cars being able to move around."

And not just move around, but also stand still. He claims with all the valet parking, "you end up spending like a thousand bucks a week parking your car if you're a reasonably active person living anywhere near the Hollywood Hills or Hollywood or West Hollywood or Westwood."

Kunstler didn't limit his time here to just the valet-riddled greater Hollywood area: he calls downtown "screwed up" and describes South Central as full of "decay and disinvestment, and kind of sloppy adaptive reuse." BUT there is one neighborhood in LA Kunstler thinks is pretty ok: "I was surprised by the side streets in West Hollywood." Whoo, side streets in West Hollywood! Kunstler likes their density and unity, and practically embarrasses himself gushing "there are some magnificent apartment buildings there."

But then it's right back to the doomcasting: Kunstler thinks a balkanization is likely coming and he isn't "really sure the whole LA metropolitan area is gonna make it at the scale we're familiar with." He predicts troubles with the petroleum, water, and electricity supplies.

And then he leaves us with one last backhanded compliment. He says when he's out in LA he likes to imagine "how wonderful it would have been to be out there" in the early twentieth century, when there weren't many cars and there wasn't much pollution, when there was a streetcar system and the movie industry was just starting up. "It must have been really quite a paradise," he says.
· KunstlerCast #81: Los Angeles [The KunstlerCast]
· Kunstler Visits LA, Declares Us "Absolutely Hopeless" [Curbed LA]