Envionmental Psychology

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Los Angeles Commutes

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

For decades, California has been known as a land of lots of cars and long commutes--commutes that turn freeways into endless parking lots. But with the price of gas heading above $3.00 a gallon, even Californians are beginning to look into the possibility of living closer to downtown areas.

The trend toward revitalizing downtown areas isn't new. Witness the rebirth of such downtowns as Detroit, Michigan, or Portland, Oregon. But Californians seemed to buck that trend, continuing to move farther and farther from their jobs and commuting on congested, pollution-spewing freeways for hours on end. But that may be coming to an end, because the Golden State seems to be experiencing the rebirth of many of its downtown areas, as well.

Such areas as Hollywood, South Bay, and San Fernando are seeing building booms in their downtown areas, and even downtown Los Angeles, the automobile capital of the world, has begun to emerge from the ashes of neglect and apathy. The boom is being drive by high gasoline prices and less willingness on the part of people to commute long distances in heavy traffic.

In Los Angeles, the area around CBS Television City is growing by leaps and bounds, including a new upscale mall and several nicely designed multifamily structures that fit in well with the elaborate mansions that still dominate the area north on Beverly Boulevard. The actual boom began in 2004, when gas prices began to rise rapidly.

Suddenly, both small and large builders began to realize that consumer sentiment concerning urban living was beginning to change quickly in California. So builders in Los Angeles, Burbank, and Long Beach began to rethink the concept of urban residential living and went to work to fill the growing demand for livable spaces closer to downtown areas. In 2005, the boom really took off, including a 325 percent increase in new attached housing units in various Southern California downtown areas in just one year.

Numbers like that were bound to attract more builders to cash in on the trend. That was the case in places like Inglewood, where the urban building boom is now in full swing, driven by people who no longer want to fight California's world-famous traffic--especially people who work at Los Angeles Airport (LAX).

So it appears that California is being forced to join the rest of the nation in revitalizing its downtown areas, which will be a boon to everyone involved--including Planet Earth, which will see less pollution as Californians take to the highway in fewer and fewer numbers.

Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

Earth Day 2006 - Good News for the Environment
Even though American rivers donít catch fire anymore and the smog levels have decreased in most major cities, thereís still a long way to go. But we must all work to continue the momentum set in motion by the first Earth Day in 1970. Earth Day

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