Los Angeles is making major moves toward encouraging residents to give their cars a rest (e.g., the Great Streets program, pushing for more parks, making over the LA River), and it's really starting to have an impact now. Well, a little one. A new report out from Smart Growth America and George Washington University (via the LA Times) shows that LA ranked eighteenth out of 30 metros nationwide for "walkable urbanism," with about the same share as office and retail located in walkable neighborhoods as Columbus, Ohio or Kansas City (16 percent). As urban as Kansas City! They found 54 walkable neighborhoods in LA in total. The middle of the list may not seem like an incredible and impressive place to rank, but the study also looked at in-progress developments (LA's many rail projects, for example) and projected that in the future it'll rank eleventh* out of 30. Becoming "a major walkable urban metro" is in the cards for Los Angeles.
The report notes that Los Angeles is a "natural place to urbanize" given all its little town centers. It also called out the huge leap in walkability in Downtown and surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, the numbers show that pedestrian-friendly areas in Los Angeles are already seeing a rise in rents for office and commercial space; as walkability becomes more desirable, those who want it may be forced to pay a premium or move out to a more car-reliant neighborhood. The study also warns that zoning and approvals processes have to be in line with the walkability agenda, ensuring that it isn't any harder or more expensive to build dense housing oriented toward pedestrian traffic.
· Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America's Largest Metros [SGA]
· 9 Big-Deal Ways LA Is Ditching Its Reputation For Car-Centricity [Curbed LA]