Prior to the 1950’s the urban core of LA centered around Downtown was relatively small. However it was also much more compact and vibrant than it was in the second half of the 20th Century. Now there is renewed interest in urbanism and walkable communities in LA.
While LA is now just in the early stages of creating an integrated metro system the region once had a vibrant street car system connecting the urban core with extensions to street car suburbs such as Santa Monica and Pasadena.
According to Curbed LA “in 1945, a sinister corporation called National City Lines took over the thriving Los Angeles Railway, which served most of the sprawling region. Then, over the course of the next two decades, LA’s extensive streetcar network was eliminated and the iconic Red Cars that Judge Doom mentions were replaced with shiny new buses.
The principal investors in National City Lines? None other than General Motors (a prominent bus maker as well as an automobile retailer), Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Standard Oil of California (now Chevron), and Phillips Petroleum.”
This conspiracy is depicted in the iconic 1988 film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
This led to LA’s urban core including downtown becoming a blighted wasteland and increased the demand for new car oriented suburbs where there were once grasslands and agriculture.
Leading up to the rise of suburbia William Mulholland secured water rights for LA which Inspired the film ‘Chinatown and built up The San Fernando Valley which later became the idealized version of the California dream attracting the middle class in droves. Michael P. mentions in his San Fernando Valley Photo Essay that “The San Fernando Valley was known as ‘America’s Suburb’ (think the original Karate Kid and Fast Times at Ridgemont High)” and was based on the idea of owning a single family home in the suburbs.
These new auto oriented suburbs, such as the San Fernando Valley, were much more spread out and less pedestrian friendly than the older Street Car suburbs such as Pasadena. However, they provided a high quality of life for the middle class for the time being.
Since then The Valley has changed drastically as The LA Weekly reported on Middle-Class Flight From San Fernando Valley ” in 1970, 60 percent of Valley families could afford an average house and college costs, far outpacing other urban areas recently evaluated for the same era by the Pew Research Center. Even before the recession hit in late 2007, the Valley had lost a huge swath of middle-class workers, with just 43 percent of families by 2006 earning $50,000 to $149,000 — the identical income group, corrected for inflation, that made up 60 percent in 1970.”
The article also quotes California State University Northridge geography professor Eugene Turner, “It means exactly what we think it means: a growing population that’s not in that great middle class.”
Turner says that “the exodus accelerated in the 1990s as skilled, private-manufacturing jobs were replaced in L.A. with low-paying and increasingly unskilled work.”
The ideas of building single family home suburbs made sense in the 1950’s when there was a baby boom and land seemed plentiful. However the combination of the demographic transformation of the Valley, loss of high skilled jobs, and the limited supply of new housing has led to more sprawl in far out exurbs such as Santa Clarita.
And just as the middle class in the San Fernando Valley was replaced by lower income immigrants from Latin America Steve Sailer points out that the San Gabriel Valley has transformed into an Asian Ethnoburb.
Up in the Bay Area in more affluent communities the Wall Street Journal reports on the The New White Flight in the Silicon Valley community of Cupertino in response to Asian immigration. And according to the 2010 US Census the Asian population of the East Bay Suburbs of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon more than doubled, from 25,232 to 65,575.
As with the Bay Area Asians have also become the dominant demographic in affluent Irvine in Orange County. Irvine as with the rest of Orange County has traditionally been a White Republican stronghold but in the last election it voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump.
Mentioned in an article for the blog Urbanize LA by Jason Lopata, urban critic Mike Davis, has argued that “although many of the movement’s concerns about declining environmental quality, traffic and density were entirely legitimate, ‘slow growth’ also had ugly racial and ethnic overtones of an Anglo gerontocracy selfishly defending its privileges against the job and housing needs of young Latino and Asian populations.”
The original NIMBY movement in LA in the 70’s and 80’s was not just a reaction to increasing density and aesthetic changes, it was also a reaction by the traditional White Middle Class to the demographic transformation of California.
For example if you listen to AM Conservative talk radio in Southern California who’s audience is largely made up of older middle class Whites there is strong opposition to mass transit, density, and hysteria about Agenda 21. Their stance against urbanism while reactionary and misguided is an implicit reaction to demographic changes.
Architectural aesthetics are heavily connected to demographic changes and tensions. One example is historic preservationist opposition to ‘Persian Palaces’ built by wealthy Iranian immigrants on the Westside of LA which stand in contrast to European aesthetics such as Spanish Colonial, English Tudor, and Mid Century Modern.
While opposition to demographic change and concerns for architectural aesthetics are totally rational the problem with White NIMBY’s is to quote the infamous 14 words that state “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
The reality is these White Boomer NIMBY’s might be thinking about the immediate impacts of development and demographic changes but they are not taking into account a future for their children and grandchildren.
Many of these middle and upper income single family home neighborhoods are rapidly ageing, homes are being bought up by wealthy immigrants, and White Millennials in Urban California are either living at home to save on rent, leaving California altogether, or if they have a decent job or a trust fund become childless urban Hipsters.
While Conservative NIMBY’s have failed to provide a solution at least they are somewhat ideologically consistent. A major driving force behind the NIMBY movement is Wealthy Liberals who hypocritically promote mass immigration.
For example a NIMBY Ballot Measure was supported by actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Steve Sailer point out that Ultra Exclusive Malibu declared itself a sanctuary city while Open Borders advocate Rob Reiner opposed a Whole Foods on a vacant lot in Malibu.
Steve Sailer points out that “It’s not that Rob is against Whole Foods, it’s the principle of the thing: the idea that Malibu might change, that more people might come to Malibu, that people from the … San Fernando Valley might not just come to use the beach but would stay.”
The combination of restricting the housing supply while allowing for massive levels of immigration has only exacerbated the housing crisis, driving out the middle class and contributing to further sprawl.
In contrast with middle class conservatives who are fleeing to Red States suburbs and Alt-Righters who are dreaming of an ethnostate, ironically these White Liberals are actively engaging in White Colonization or a Reconquista of former white communities to the protest of many left wing anti-gentrification activist.
There is another aspect of implicit Whiteness in the sense that these communities emulate a European aesthetic with sidewalk cafes in rejection of the bland American suburban identity.
Due to declining birthrates and White flight out of California the number of White people for gentrification may be limited. Besides the Asian ethno-burb another growing trend is Asian gentrifying working class Latino communities.
Examples of this is Asians moving into historically Latino El Monte in the San Gabriel Valley and the luxury highrise building boom in Koreatown which is now spreading into poorer Central American communities.
While the dissident right as plenty of legitimate concerns about massive Asian immigration these are areas that were long abandoned by Whites and a place like Koreatown is now being transformed from a once crime ridden impoverished area into a safe, walkable, urban community.
And unlike the White Hipster communities in Echo Park and Silver Lake which primarily caters to young adults from an upper income background, the Korean community is both economically diverse and have amenities that cater to people of all ages including families. As European Americans increasingly become a minority and no longer have the luxury of White Flight they must look to communities like Korea Town for inspiration.
This debunks the pretense put out by sprawl apologist Joel Kotkin that suburbs are necessary for a strong middle class. The past shows us that prior to social changes such as mass immigration and school busing LA, San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Chicago all had vibrant urban middle classes that lived in apartments and row houses.
Besides the many problems that make it difficult for the middle class to thrive in cities Americans as well as new immigrants moving to Ethnoburbs have bought into this notion that the American dream is owning a single family home in the suburbs.
Certainly LA’s Koreatown pales in comparison to futuristic cities in Korea. Giovanni Dannato talked about his experience living in a self-contained highrise coplex in Korea which had a thriving middle class.
“In many city centers people live in apartment buildings where the bottom floor is all businesses. Within a block of someone’s flat, they can stop by the pharmacy for aspirin and by the bakery for a loaf of bread. They get a little bit of exercise, and come into constant contact with strangers who live near them. The same activities that are annoying chores in the suburbs can be part of a pleasant daily routine where residences are organized around human needs.
Clearly, the village structure where commerce and residences coexist in a walkable core should arise as the new unit of urban organization, even as we get further from city centers. That way, they aren’t as far and they are compact enough that public transport remains practical.”
In E. Michael Jones’s The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal As Ethnic Cleansing about how the elites destroyed working class urban White ethnic communities, replacing them with public housing for African Americans, driving the original inhabitants out into suburbia and diluting their political influence.
However we can learn from some of these past urban renewal projects, despite their flaws as how do revitalize the run down inner ring suburbs such as much of the San Fernando Valley and bring back the middle class that has fled out to the distant suburbs.
To make way for new middle class communities housing has to also be provided for lower income residences.
Highrise Public housing has gone out of vogue, many have been demolished such as the notorious Cabrini–Green in Chicago, and the view of many leftist as well as mainstream conservatives who constantly like to say that “Liberals are the real racist” is that the massive highrise public housing projects were motivated by racial segregationist views.
While these highrise public housing projects have their flaws now that they many have been destroyed many of their former residences are moving out into Section 8 Housing turning former middle class suburbs into ghettos. There might be some humanitarian motivations for this but a major factor is that the urban Liberal Elites want to remove their “undesirable” populations with added bonus of changing the demographics of White Middle Class suburbs.
It is important to make sure the under class are taken care of by providing them with shelter, food and healthcare, and learn from the mistakes from the past but low density public housing or section 8 housing in the suburbs allows for the under class to occupy a larger swath of real estate and remain demographically dominant squeezing out the middle class.
Once the run down inner ring suburbs are ready to be retro-fitted the potentials are boundless.
One of the most urban renewal projects that never came into fruition was Le Corbusier’s Plan For Paris who ironically also influenced the public housing projects with his towers in the parks concept. Le Corbusier’s plan would have destroyed the historic core of Paris but it puts out a functional and aesthetically pleasing vision that could be used for revitalizing inner ring suburbs.
The only major flaw with Le Corbusier’s vision is that it relies on highways and the towers are too far spread out. Ideally the towers would be clustered together connected by walkways, sky-bridges, elevators.
These self contained cities must have communal amenities such shopping complexes, schools, recreation, and park lands.
This type of urbanism which is referenced in the Giovanni Dannato article is popular in Asia but is not for everything. There are plenty of other models and it is important to create a wide variety of aesthetically pleasing visions.
My article is specifically about Retrofitting Aesthetically Pleasing Suburb from a model of single family homes lined up against one another to a model of villages surrounded by open space. However these ideas could also be used retrofit blighted inner ring suburbs and sprawling middle classing suburbs but on a denser scale with aspects of New Urbanism, Richard Register concept of an interconnected eco city, and Ellen Dunham-Jones’ concept of Retrofitting Suburban commercial corridors into mixed-use, walkable developments where people live above where they shop.
There is a problem of cities becoming IQ Shredders for both the middle and upper classes. In Singapore which is a high IQ, high density city state former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew commented on the nation abysmally low birth rate of 1.2. And that’s taking into account Singapore is based on Social Nationalist policies while in San Francisco the share of children in San Francisco fell to 13 percent.
Besides equating urbanism with demographic change this is another major factor that conservatives who are focused on “family values” have a strong dislike for cities in favor of suburbia.
Its not cities themselves but the policies
I support increasing density in the urban core however for families the idea of turning inner ring suburbs into aesthetically pleasing walkable communities makes a lot more sense.
While there can be free market zones there must be zones of housing set aside for the missing middle.
importance to break up the school district because bad public schools have pushed out the White Middle class, and even put strain on the Upper Middle Class who stress out sending their kids to exclusive Private schools they can hardly afford.
In the article and in my podcast The YIMBY Movement & The Alt-Center I discuss how
One solution is to both limit immigration and increase the housing supply which will both provide housing for middle class and upper middle class millennials in California and lead to an increase in European Americans moving here from the Midwest and East Coast.
The children of the old middle class in California are basically gone so the new middle class are the children of downwardly mobile upper middle class SWPLS
How the increase in Asian immigration may push upper middle class SWPL’s who grew up in places such as Orange County, The San Gabriel Valley, Silicon Valley, and the Bay Area’s Tri-Valley into the immigration restriction camp.
They will be more open to alternative urban ideas than conservatives from the old middle class who are focused on the single family home model. This will also create a new political and cultural movement(reference Alt-Center article) which will hopefully flourish raising families in aesthetically pleasing communities rather than turning into bitter life long NEET’s or Childless SJW Hipsters.
The origins o the YIMBY movement as a millennial movement and how the YIMBY movement is very pro immigration.
Positive aspects of YIMBY movement and need to create a faction of it that is more focused on aesthetics and independent from the open borders left.
New political movement.