Manhattanization, from LA to SF

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By Tim Redmond

Joel Kotkin, the widely known urban writer and thinker, has a fascinating piece in the Sunday L.A. Times called "Why the Rush to Manhattanize L.A.?" I don't entirely agree with his argument for L.A.; he writes about New York-style density and says:

It's not so clear, however, that L.A., which has been expanding outward for more than 100 years and is famously sun drenched, car crazy, blessed with natural beauty and earthquake prone, should follow a similar course.

I think it's clear that L.A. can't continue to expand outward, and that it's far too car crazy, and that future growth should be driven by transit, not freeways.

But his larger point is that we are so enamored these days of "new urbanism" and a rush to build tall buildings that we aren't thinking about the long-term impacts:

Ultimately, it comes down to whether Los Angeles will have a serious debate about where it is headed. Jumping blindly on the Manhattan express, without considering the implications for the city and its many great neighborhoods, is not a promising first step.

In San Francisco, we've had this debate for years -- but right now, as the Chronicle is arguing only about which of a group of oversized highrises is the best, we aren't thinking clearly about why we're making these decisions.