Let LA be LA (And New York, And Cleveland...)

MLewyn's picture

I recently read a blog post asserting that Los Angeles must be a suburban city, because "what makes LA LA is that people do want to live in a suburban environment."    Since I don't live in Los Angeles (and have never been tempted to move there) perhaps this is none of my business.

But it seems to me that a city as large as Los Angeles (or even, for that matter, as large as Cleveland or St. Louis) should offer a variety of living arrangements.  Some people will want big houses, some people will want small houses, some people will want garden apartments, some people will want high-rises, and so forth.  

Contrary to what some people might believe, that's the way things are here in New York where I live.  Even in Manhattan not everyone lives in a high-rise; plenty of people live in rowhouses (though admittedly detached single-family homes are hard to come by).  But if you want a single-family house with a yard, it is simply not true that you have to move to Los Angeles to get home.  All you need do is move to my neighborhood in Queens (and of course suburbs as well).  A city with millions of people has room to accommodate all of these preferences.   

So if the current residents of Los Angeles want to live in houses, they should be able to buy them.  But that doesn't mean they should use zoning to prevent the city's future residents (or the non-homeowner minority of current residents) from choosing other options.


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