Zwartz Talk

Garcetti’s Sustainability pLAn is Based on Fatally Flawed Data

Density Housing 03by Scott Zwartz

April 29, 2015

What is Garcetti’s Sustainability pLAn?

.     Garcetti’s pLAn is another fraud.  It does not take long to see that the Mayor’s plan for a sustainable LA is based a completely false premise – i.e., that the City of Los Angeles will add another 500,000 people in the next two decades.  Here it is in Garcetti’s own words.

“Our city is flourishing. We expect at least 500,000 more people to call Los Angeles home by 2035.” pLAn p ¶ 4 of Garcetti’s opening letter

.     Let’s look at real data from the US Census showing how Los Angeles has grown since 1890.

Year         Population          Pop Increase

1890         50,395
1900       102,479             52,084
1910        319,198           216,719
1920       576,673           257,475
1930   1,238,048           661,375
1940   1,504,277            266,229
1950   1,970,358            466,081
1960   2,479,015            508,657
1970   2,816,061            337,046
1980   2,966,850           150,789
1990   3,485,398           518,548
2000  3,694,820          209,422
2010  3,792,621               97,801

.     In the last decade, Los Angeles had the smallest population increase of any decade since 1890 to 1900.  In the decade between 1890-1900, we added only 52,084 people.  However, that increase more than doubled the size of LA.

.     Anyone, except Eric Garcetti, can quickly see that extrapolating from the last decade’s very small growth will not give us an additional 500,000 people by 2035.  (97,801 x 2 = 195,602 people)

No One Should Rely on a Plan Whose #1  Premise is False

.     The last decade’s dramatic decline was not an aberration.   The dramatic downturn in the rate of growth was the result of socio-economic factors just as the prior decades of high population influx were due to specific socio-economic events. Eric Garcetti, however, is a True Believer and like other zealots who base their policies on faith rather than on facts, he has been leading Angelenos more towards Jones Town than towards a shining city on the hill.

.     The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy has identified the current factors influencing Los Angeles’s population for the upcoming decades and they repudiate Garcetti’s claim of an additional 500,000 Angelenos in the next 20 years.

Continuing Low Population Growth. Much slower population growth is foreseen in these projections than was expected in the early 2000s. . . .  The lone exception of high growth in the 1980s is increasingly viewed as an anomaly that has confused many observers about what is normal for a county as large and fully settled as Los Angeles. California Demographic Futures – The Los Angeles Projections, The Generational Future of Los Angeles: Projections to 2030 and Comparisons to Recent Decades, March 2013, Dowell Myers and John Pitkin

.     In trying to assess the future needs of a city, one needs to assess the underlying factors which will be influencing population growth or decline for the upcoming decades.  The Sol Price School goes on to identify the factors which affect Los Angeles now and in the future, and none of them support Garcetti’s claim of significant population increase.

.     1.    Low Birth Rates:  In 2011, the birth rate in Los Angeles county was fully 35% lower than in their peak year of 1990.

.     2.    The Annual In-Flux of New Immigrants is Decreasing:   This drop-off has been much steeper in Los Angeles than in the state as a whole.

.     3.    The Percentage of Foreign Born is Declining: The total foreign-born share of the Los Angeles population peaked at 36.2% in 2000 and is expected to remain stabilized at that level or slightly lower through 2030.

.     4.    A Soaring Senior Ratio:   With the ranks of young adults depleted by shrinking numbers of grown children, the ratio between seniors ages 65 and older and adults in prime working ages between 25 and 64 is expected to rise dramatically.

.     The Sol Price School has additional socio-economic factors, but none of them indicate a population gain more than 150,000 people in the next two decades.

Los Angeles’ Greatest Attraction is Gone

.     One of Los Angeles’ greatest attractions, which we know is gone forever, was its low population density per mile. Families moved here because they could own a single family home with a yard.  Over the decades, Los Angeles has become the most densely populated urban area.  That fact alone is the major deterrent to families’ moving to Los Angeles and density is the major force driving families away from Los Angeles.  Other places like Austin, Texas have great climates with much lower population density.

.     When we conduct population density comparisons, it is wisest to realize that New York City including Manhattan Island is an anomaly, as the island is 2.5 miles by 11 miles (28 sq miles).  Thus, it is extraordinarily different from Los Angeles City’s 497 sq miles.  Also, of extreme importance is the geography of Los Angeles.  Manhattan is a narrow island, while Los Angeles is a huge circular city.  As far back as 1915, Los Angeles’ own civil engineers explained the significance of Los Angeles’s not be a narrow island surrounded by water.  1915 Study of Street Traffic Conditions in the City of Los Angeles [The 1915 Traffic Study]

.     A circular radiating city like Los Angeles, however, expands outward when its original business district is saturated.  Trying to increase density after the saturation point has been reached is a fool’s goal.

The Core of the  Garcettism© Density Fraud

.     The 1915 Traffic Study warned everyone about the ills of Density Fraud.  At that time, the City’s civil engineers explained the mathematics of artificially trying to re-create population density.  Their purpose was to deter a few wealthy land owners and industrialists from interfering with the proper expansion of Los Angeles in order to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.

.     Density of population, then, is a prime necessity for profitable operation of sub-surface transit lines.  A city area given over to private dwellings, each with its own premises, can not furnish a population sufficient to support a subway unless the ride is short and the rate of fare high.

.     The ride is not apt to be short as realty values in the central part of any city are ordinarily so high that people must go some distance to have separate houses, and if the fare is high the great majority of the inhabitants cannot afford to pay it and are forced to live in crowded quarters and within walking distance. The great advantage possessed by Los Angeles, or any other city of the radial type, in being an aggregation of one-family houses, becomes a disadvantage when the development of a costly means of transportation is concerned.  1915 Traffic Study

.     Now one understands Villaraigosa’s and Garcetti’s war on the Single Family Home.  Their developer friends need subways to feed their high rises and that requires the destruction of single family homes.  The Subway to the Sea planned to add enough housing density along the subway route to be the equivalent of a line of single family home from Santa Monica almost to Las Vegas.  The only way to build that many more apartments and condos is to destroy the residential neighborhoods for 3 to 4 blocks the entire length of the subway route.  This is the same plan that the developers had in store for the Beverly Hills Freeway, but now it is being applied to the Subway to the Sea.

Density = Profitability!

.     The real estate developers like CIM Group and the international corporations which construct subways need the population to be extremely dense — Manhattan dense – in order to make a profit.  As the finances show, a subway cannot pay for itself without Manhattan type density.

.     For Angelenos, more subways with higher density destroys the quality of life, but for the real estate speculators and the international construction companies like Siemens, subways and density re-enforced combine in order to make high profits.  Garcetti claims we need subways, and when the subways are build, there is not enough rider ship.  Then, Garcetti declares that we need TODs to provide the dense population to support the subways.  The 1915 Traffic Study warned Angelenos about Density Fraud.

[N]o municipality is justified in adopting a policy which would tend to retard the removal of business centers to their natural geographical location. Such a policy would be nothing less than a deliberate exploitation of civic resources for the benefit of the limited number of property owners enjoying abnormal incomes from rental privileges; and at best, could only serve as a palliative, since the final location of the business center of any growing city is regulated entirely by its topography and is altogether beyond individual or corporate control. Such removal; or partial evacuation of territory, involves no municipal loss.  The 1915 Traffic Study

.     As the civil engineers proved in 1915, Manhattan’s topography may call for subways due to pre-existing dense population, but no city should adopt a policy to retard the expansion of businesses and people in a huge circular urban area so as to artificially create density so that a few land owners can make huge profits from their projects, while harming the rest of the community.

.     Any attempt to re-densify neighborhoods which have reached their saturation point requires looting the city treasury to subsidize a few developers to the detriment of everyone else.  The funds to support the financially unwise projects always come from tax dollars which are needed to construct and maintain the infrastructure for the rest of the city.  That is exactly what has happened to Los Angeles.  Over $2 Billion has gone to these developers.

L.A. Has The Wrong Type of Density

For Fixed Rail Transit

.    As explained by Eric Eidlin in What Density Doesn’t Tell Us about Sprawl [ 2010 Density SPRAWL article], Los Angeles’ suburbs are very dense.  In fact, the Los Angeles urban area is more dense that either Chicago or Greater New York City.  That distribution actually works against a subway system because it is impossible to construct a subway which will reach enough people.  Everyone has to live within ½ mile of subways station in order for them to use it and it is not possible to construct a functioning subways system for such a vast circular area.  The requirement of all people living within ½ mile of a subway station was the standard in 1915 and it is still the standard used today, e.g. it was used for the Subway to the Sea, etc.

.     The result is that people who live the high rises own cars, but few of them use them to go to work since the subway covers only 5% of Los Angeles.  Even those who use the subway still need a car since the subway reaches so few places and take such a long time.  In addition, the subway is worthless for shopping or doing the many errands which require a car. Thus, residents of TODs own and drive cars and that creates an enormous increase in traffic congestion.  Even if the mixed-use projects are only ½ full, they can triple or quadruple the number of cars in a very small area, creating gridlock.

The Unreliable Manner in Which We Gather and Report Population and Traffic Data

.     One cannot rely on data based only on the city of Los Angeles since that data excludes Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Inglewood, and unincorporated county areas like much of East Los Angeles.

.     The County, on the other hand, includes neighborhoods that are many miles from the Basin.  They are so far away that they are require inter-urban transit, which involves entirely different topographical, mathematical, and financial considerations.

.     We need to not only look at how specific projects impact the nearby census tracts, but we also need to think how those projects appear if we change our perspective.  When one takes a project like the Millennium Towers in Hollywood and places it the vacant desert land east of San Bernardino and north of Redlands, you realize what a foolish thing we’re doing. There is no need to super-saturate Hollywood, DTLA or any other part of Los Angeles.  Not only do people move away, but Southern Californians need to pay attention to creating a significant urban area beyond San Bernardino.

.     Pasadena, for example, should be looking towards Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino rather than towards Los Angeles.  In fact, during morning rush hour, one can commute more easily from Pasadena  to San Bernardino than from Pasadena to Santa Monica.  Distance is measured in Time, and population density increases the Time – Distance between two points.

.     As Joel Kotkin has written (, a major planning error in California has been its coastal-centric nature while ignoring the Inland.  The last thing Garcetti and the other L.A. Density Mongers want is for people to look Inland.  Remember, their formula is Density = Profit.  People, however, seek a better quality of life for themselves and their loved ones – not how to suffer in order to make Garcetti’s billionaire friends wealthier.

Population Shift Is More Harmful than Population Loss

.     The best way to understand the impact of population density in areas which have already reached their saturation point is to focus on the neighborhoods on the census tract by census tract basis.  This more narrow focus reveals harmful population shifts caused by the subway and mixed-use projects.

.     All of Hollywood’s population loss from 2000 and 2010 came for the census tracts contiguous to the subways stations and where garcetti placed the mixed-use projects.  In fact, the conditions deteriorated so much that Garcetti’s losses swamped the population gains in La Bonge’s CD 4 far away from the subway stations and mixed use projects.

.     Neither Garcetti nor the mixed-use developers will admit that they cannot force people to remain in areas with the TODs.  People, who can afford it, move away from the urban deterioration which densification brings.  Although Garcetti’s CD 13 lost over 15,000 people, the real threat is the re-distribution of Hollywood’s population within his former district.

.     Formerly, CD 13 Hollywood had a sizable middle and lower middle class.  Now, its population appears to be dumb belling – there are a lot of transient Millennials at one end and a lot of elderly at the other end.  Employers shun areas with transient youth and retired people.  Employers want the stable families as they are the back bone of any work force.  They are not as likely to move away.

.     As Patrick Range McDonald demonstrated in 2013, Garcetti’s policies targeted mostly Latinos. 2013-1-3, LA Weekly Latinos, however, were mostly lower middle class, which is the ideal core population for a vibrant city when it is composed primarily of families with children.  They tend to be stable for many years even after the children graduate from school and move elsewhere.  We saw the same pattern with Jewish families after WW II in Boyle Heights.

.     When Millennials want to settle down, they leave the living in their glorified dorm rooms in some high rise in Hollywood or DTLA.  The Millennials are the people who are moving to Texas, Nevada and North Carolina.  That is why new businesses also locate in those states.

.     Over 80% of Americans still favor the single family home with a yard, while Garcetti had declared war on the middle class dream of home ownership.  He is committed to turning Los Angeles into a city of renters  – what he and the former mayor called “elegant density.”  Remember, Garcetti and the developers have staked everything on the equation of Density = Profit.

.     The Density = Profit Formula omits quality of life for the city’s inhabitants.  Garcetti is creating a Los Angeles with a rapidly deteriorating quality of life, and his Sustainability pLAn set forth the same fatally flawed data which the Court found created the exodus from Hollywood.  The US Census data show that these foolish policies are seriously harming Los Angeles.  It is not only the loss of population, but the shift in the nature of our population towards the poorer and the less educated.  Garcetti is catering to the fickle Millennials, while being unable to dislodge the seniors.

.     Once people heed Joel Kotkin’s advice and look inland, people will realize that Rancho Cucamonga, Chino, and the open spaces east of Redlands offer the ideal location for urban life without being coastal-centric.  Young Hollywoodians who now dream how wonderful it would have been to be in Hollywood in its formative youth should realize that inland desert now offers the same potential as the coastal basin offered 80 years ago.

.     That outward migration, however, will bankrupt Los Angeles due to Garcetti’s years of looting the city pension funds to pay for his densification. Common Sense, Case Study: Los Angeles’s Pension Slide, 2003-2013, By Adam Tatum | February 28, 2013


.     The Density = Profit Formula was based on greed and on the abuse of power. As predicted back in 1915, the Density = Profit Formula made the few very wealthy while harming everyone else.  The more Garcetti pour hundreds of millions of tax dollars into more highly dense projects, the more th middle class will flee, leaving a city with a higher percentage of poor, untrained and uneducated.

.   People are already voting with their feet.  Since Angelenos have to construct a new infrastructure, it doesn’t make sense to do it here in L.A. under the grip of crimogenic City Hall.  To paraphrase Horace Greeley, “Go East young man.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on 04/29/2015 by .
%d bloggers like this: