When I was an undergraduate student in Bethlehem, PA, I made a friend from California who told me something I still remember to this day: “You belong in Los Angeles.” I didn’t understand fully what she meant, and she didn’t elaborate. I had always been an East Coast guy—raised at the Jersey shore, and spending a lot of my teenage years and early twenties in the glorious frenzy of Manhattan. But shortly after graduating from college, I boarded a jumbo jet in Newark and soon descended into LAX. I was awestruck by California’s natural beauty—the tallest palm trees I had ever seen soared into the pink-tinged, dusky sky. My friend picked me up in an Infiniti, we opened the moonroof and windows, and hit the highway to Pasadena!
We also hit traffic. A lot of traffic. My friend said, “There are more cars than people in LA.” Impossible, I thought. But an hour later, I believed her. “You need a car to live in LA,” she said.
“Why don’t people use public transportation?” I asked. My friend looked at me in incredulous horror. “There are buses,” she admitted. “But no one would be caught dead in them.”
Turns out that I do love California. From the over-the-top glamor of Hollywood to the beaches and art of Laguna, way up to the vibrant hodgepodge of San Francisco, Cali is an amazing state. But the state of its traffic problem is dire (as is NYC/NJ at rush hour, admittedly).
Fortunately, California is on the verge of passing a bill that will mandate “smart growth” throughout the state. This trailblazing land-use initiative of Sen. Darrell Steinberg will require each metro region to enact a “sustainable community strategy” that will encourage development of compact housing options closer to where people work. Shorter commutes equal less greenhouse gas emissions and less traffic. In the urban/suburban sprawls of Los Angeles County, this plan could make residents breathe much more easily—cleaner air and less road rage.
For a more detailed explanation of the smart growth proposal, you can check out this article from the LA Times.
Business Facilities LiveXchange conference, held in Huntington Beach, CA this November, also will address the topic of smart growth. Here’s an inside peek at our expert speaker.