January 13, 2012

Parking

When I was at UCLA in 1980-82, the place to be on weekend evenings was Westwood, the dining and movie theatre district just south of UCLA's campus. Everybody drove from the suburbs, paid to park, and then walked around like they were living in a city. Then it went out of fashion. Today, Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena is the new Westwood for today's well-heeled young people who want to drive somewhere to find a vibrant urban experience (i.e., pretty girls walking around at night). There's nothing particularly wrong with Westwood these days, it's just kind of staid and empty compared to the old days.

I'd assumed that this was just natural generational change or a matter of taste. Westwood is mostly modernistic and kind of swoopy-looking, so it still looked kinda cool in 1980, while Old Pasadena is pre-Great Depression-looking, and early 20th Century urban looks are more in style these days. But an article in Los Angeles Magazine by Dave Gardetta attributes the change to differences in government regulation. 
People who once drove to Westwood on Saturday nights now visited Old Pasadena. 
“If you had told people in 1990 that this switch would occur,” says Shoup, “you would have been considered insane.” There are many theories about why Westwood died, and Shoup has his own. “It’s a myth to say Westwood died because of one high-profile homicide in the 1980s,” he says, referring to the 1988 death of a Long Beach woman named Karen Toshima, killed in crossfire. “Westwood had an unbelievably high parking requirement—ten spaces for every 1,000 square feet of restaurant. Old Pasadena had none. Westwood had dangerous alleys, crumbing sidewalks. If you want to know why Old Pasadena succeeded Westwood, parking was a big part of the story.” 
Cole had created the first Shoupista paradise: No parking requirements, parking meters where once there were none. His city grew rich off the notion—and nobody has tried it since. “For 5,000 years,” says Cole, “we built cities around people, and they worked well. For 50 years we’ve built them around the parking lot—a ridiculous use of land, of money, and an intrusion into the intimacy of human scale. Now we’ve painted ourselves into a corner. The saving grace is that the first 5,000 years might come back again.”

What I think this means is that Westwood (which is part of the city of Los Angeles) had onerous restrictions on new businesses, requiring them to provide lots of parking spaces, while Pasadena let entrepreneurs get away without investing in a lot of parking spaces, which attracted newer, more interesting businesses.

The idea behind mandating that new businesses provide parking spaces is to mitigate an externality so they have to meet the full costs. But maybe that degree of fairness slows new businesses down too much? 

87 comments:

Anonymous said...

LoL

The idea is to keep new businesses out and protect old businesses.

Michelle said...

Are the Chinese much wilder than Blacks ?

Danny said...

I haven't been to Los Angeles so maybe I'm way off, but it's not about encouraging businesses but about the fact that an urban environment that provides lots of parking is not an urban environment that is pleasant to walk around.
People want to walk around streets that have cafes, and boutiques, and most importantly other people, they don't walk to walk around parking lots.

beowulf said...

"The idea behind mandating that new businesses provide parking spaces is to mitigate an externality so they have to meet the full costs"

The general rule of thumb is that property taxes should be payable in US Dollars instead of parking spaces.

Anonymous said...

Too deep, Steve. There are dozens of libertarian economics sites that have done this kind of thing to death. Or too shallow, depending on your point of view?
Gilbert Pinfold

Anonymous said...

I live on a very nice pre-WW2-built street where all the houses are non-conforming according to the current zoning code. New houses must be set back much farther from the street, so any new infill development looks bad and breaks up the street.

Ed said...

Tyler Cowen's blog had a long post, followed by a lengthy series of comments recently. I probably shouldn't comment since I live in the center of a densely populated city and don't own a car, so I don't have much personal experience with this.

It does strike me that U.S. cities have gotten into this predicament by the national policy of pushing transportation costs as much as possible onto individual citizens and businesses. So the government won't put much effort into making places walkable or providing good mass transit service, but look, you can take out a cheap loan to get a car and we will maintain the roads!

Also, with mass transit there is usually some sort of interface between the transit itself and the city streets, like a depot. What I am leading to is that the best solution probably involved incorporating large parking garages, either municipally owned or privately owned but subsidized, into planning. But since private vehicle transit is less efficient than mass transit -you need more cars per passenger- the garages would have to be bigger than a bus or train depot and shed, and to keep them from being unsightly monstrosities that dominate the city center, crowding out the other businesses.

But yes, pushing public costs onto local businesses is usually a bad idea. Since governments have gone so far down this route, its hard to unwind without getting into a situation where no one at all is paying the costs.

RKU said...

Hmmm... Isn't Los Angeles only about 20% white European these days? Seems to me that college students and other young people living in huge cities which are maybe 80% non-white European often tend to have their nightlife recreational patterns influenced by factors other than trends in dining fashionability and parking regulations. But Steve seems to think that's the main difference since he was at UCLA at the beginning of the 1980s, when the city was still overwhelmingly white.

It's amazing just how few non-Californians reading this blog tend to pick up on these sorts of reality-check "clues"...

slumber_j said...

In my experience, people who like to think about externalities tend to think about negative externalities to the exclusion of positive ones. The same businesses (restaurants, e.g.) that create parking "problems" also create a vibrant street, jobs, and so on. It's an obvious point, but you wouldn't know it from listening to some people...

dearieme said...

Many years ago when I lived there, Edinburgh had two interesting parking policies. First, some of the car parks didn't open until 10:00 and closed again at 16:00 - the point being that they would be used by shoppers and people on business calls, not by commuters. Naturally, they might re-open in the evening.

Secondly, when planning permission was given for an office block, it always specified a niggardly maximum number of parking spaces that the business could provide for staff.

One upshot of these policies was that the city traffic kept moving, and public transport continued to be well used: the city bus service was particularly good. A second was that the city wasn't blighted by acreages of parking space.

The city's more recent experience of public transport is, however, An Awful Warning, not a subject for emulation. They've built (or half-built) a tramway. Oh dear God.

Carol said...

Wow Old Town in Pas was cool in the late 60s too, when the Free Press Bookstore opened on the corner of Colorado and Live Oak. There was an Ice House folk music venue there and at least one other club. I lived out east past PCC but it was easy to take the bus down Colorado to get there.

It was all ghetto-adjacent. Has that changed?

Dahinda said...

Everybody in Chicago just takes trains!

Anonymous said...

"parking meters where once there were none" - hence somewhat reducing the externality since if people park on the street and have to pay a rent for that, they'll be less inclined to pay high ticket prices.

Anonymous said...

Duh.. Freedom is always better than central planning, always on average and nearly always on a case by case basis.

Except for East Asians, at least occasionally and much more often than the rest of the world, they generate prosperity/general welfare out of central planning.

Anonymous said...

Is there a term for guys who are expert on a subject and then see everything through the lens of that one subject? Like a meteorologist who can explain his favorite baseball team's performance on fluctuations in the humidity or something. Since that's what this sounds like. For most people, parking is, I think, an inconvenience, not a dealbreaker. No one I know has ever canceled a trip into Manhattan or Hoboken because of their terrible and costly parking. Parking may have been one factor but I suspect there were a lot more cultural contributing ones.

Anonymous said...

I went to UCLA from 1999 to 2004. Basically the Westwood Homeowners Association didn't like lots of people coming into the area, so they passed a lot of regulations to kill off the businesses there. Supposedly there was a shooting in Westwood back in the late 1980's that freaked everyone out.

neil craig said...

In theory it is a proper function of government to ensure such externatities are paid for.

The problem arises when government sets the charge far higher than any rational assessment of the cost to society of what is being done, purely for ideological/politicval reasons. If the amount of parking space required was excessive that looks like what has happened. After all such rules hurt both nusiness and car drivers & what could be a better ideoligical double hit?

Amigo said...

Karen Toshima's death and the increased bands of thugs walking around Westwood didn't help. But I thought the real attraction to Westwood was the number of movie theatres offering first-run films a week ahead of all other theatres.

Christopher Paul said...

The area Steve refers to is Westwood Village and it still does a brisk business, if not from suburbanites. Parking is a nightmare as ever. Having been to both Westwood and Old Pasadena, I find the comparison a bit off. Pasadena is leafy, airy and out of the way; Westwood is just another chokepoint in the clogged L.A. grid. Both places require driving and parking, as does everything worth seeing in SoCal.

The system of parking in garages works fine. Usually there are plenty of spots available — space wasted, the Shoupistas would argue. Then again, if the garages were full to capacity, it would show the need for "alternatives"....you see how this goes.

Anyone looking for places to walk around and be hip is spoiled for choice, from Santa Monica down to San Clemente. But wherever you go, you'll have to drive there and park first.

Matt said...

It seems likely enough. Although, I'm suspicious of attempts to blame regulation as the sole cause of something or other. Most regulations are stupid, but there are such things as fads.

Urban renewal is such an interesting topic, because it exposes the weird prejudices we have about what cities should be. When most people think of a vibrant city, they imagine a number of boutiques and $10 sandwich-and-latte cafes, fancy nightclubs, and other such places. Everything is nice and clean, everyone is more or less well dressed, and there are certainly no panhandlers around.

Well, such places exist, but they are invariably expensive. Not just for the minorities that make up a large part of American cities, but also most of the whites. If you look at a real functioning city, you see lots of people in various states of shabbiness, lots of cheap and non-organic fast food restaurants, boring convenience stores, crummy coffee bars, and so forth. It's all very plain and rather unexciting, and people would rather just save the trouble and go to the suburbs where they can get the same thing and have some room to breathe as well.

edgy gurl said...

That's really quite the cutting edge piece. Maybe you should ask for donations now. It's been a while.

Robert Holmgren said...

But Steve, it's fashionable to say things against the primary mode of transport as well as keeping praise on our all knowing leaders. If you're going to be hip you'll have to accept the benefits of social engineering.

Anonymous said...

"Now FBI's looking for man let go from County Jail" Not only lose control of guns sold to Mexican criminals via 'fast and furious' but lose control of illegal alien criminals as well.

Chris Anderson said...

I've never been to either location so can't comment on whether parking is really at the root, but I have a more general observation.

Parking requirements in zoning are a crude tool, based usually on square footage, and tend to overestimate the actual need.

Parking requirements suffer from a classic knowledge problem: no amount of expertise will allow someone to accurately predict just how much parking a business will need. It's too fluid and there are too many variables. It begs for a market solution.

FYI - this may not be true in Los Angeles, but most cities in the US do NOT require developments in their downtown areas to provide their own parking. This is also true in some cases for other dense, walkable business districts.

Anonymous said...

Free lunch abuse. Offer something for free and everyone wants it. This is why Obamacare will fail--and indeed was designed to fail so that we'll eventually move to single payer system of rationing.

L'Esprit de l'Escalier said...

Whether parking for its customers is a cost that ought to be borne by the business that attracts them is precisely the question at issue. Customers have to eat, and some businesses choose to feed them, but you are permitted to run a hardware store that sells nothing edible and see if the public is willing to come and visit you after getting their own breakfast. Similarly, some stores offer babysitting, but most don't.

ELVISNIXON.com said...

Ice Cube is now a "family friendly" Disney star- lest we forget he started his career with the rap group NWA ( Niggaz With Attitude) a group whose biggest hit "Straigh Outta Compton" featured Mr Cube boasting about how he didn't "care about a bitch who got shot"

His crowd of Compton gangstas killed Westwood and the Los Angeles Times drove away more young people with its manufactured outrage saying that African American murders in places like Lynwood were overlooked in favor of the killing in Westwood

Message delivered- message recieved

Anonymous said...

But Pasadena has plenty of parking. It is provided on Municipal lots - so the costs are bourne by all taxpayers, not individual business owners.

Anonymous said...

Is this total Yglesias bait or what? I look forward to an item on this article showing up on his Slate column later today...

regular joe said...

er...its not just the financial benefit to newer hipper businesses...its that if you are selling a retro urban experiance: temporary pedestrianism, sidewalk cafe's, people watching,interesting architecural environment, then having large lots inteferes with that. That's one reason has you park far away from Main Street USA and trams you to it, because the cars are like the garbage, everyone wants them hidden away. Its an aesthetic thing. People choose the benefit of 'more pedestrian/ prettier' at the cost of 'more hassle to park' for something with high opportunity costs, like a Saturday night activity. For something more mundane, like your daily place of work or residence, the hassle of parking becomes the dominant factor.

Marc B said...

I was in Old Pasadena for a weekend conference and enjoyed it. Seeing people out walking around the city was a nice surprise. The architecture is appealing and it seemed like a safe and pleasant place to roam and enjoy cooler evening temps. The restaurants left a bit to be desired, but I don't think people go there for the dining.

Anonymous said...

"Westwood is mostly modernistic and kind of swoopy-looking, so it still looked kinda cool in 1980, while Old Pasadena is pre-Great Depression-looking, and early 20th Century urban looks are more in style these days."

I think that architecture was the deciding factor in which Brooklyn neighborhoods got gentrified over the last 20 years and which didn't. Only neighborhoods with beautiful (i.e. pre-WWI) architecture got gentrified. It's ironic that hipsters, the principal creators of bad art, would be so drawn to real art in their private lives.

OT: Steve, you haven't written anything about Tebowmania.

Prof. Woland said...

One or two well built parking structures in an area can make all the difference between an area that thirves and one that languishes. It is what pulls in the surburban shoppers who have the money. Some developers are building 4 or 5 level parking garages that have shopping on the street level and hidden parking on the upper stories. The buildings have a facade so they don't have that bombed out factory in Stalingrad look to them like many of the modern / efficient parking lots have.

agnostic said...

L.A. faces an obvious over-population problem, but like all rationalistic efficiency experts, this moron Shoup wants to make it even worse -- let's make urban spaces even denser!

Greater density within the same area only drives up the total number of people milling around. Now, if people in a very sparse area want to grow denser so they see each other more than once in a long while, go for it.

But Shoupistas and fellow travelers want to turn American cities into Asian mega-hives, where people have zero connection to anyone else, a predictable consequence of having so many people crammed into so little space.

"For 5,000 years," says Cole, "we built cities around people, and they worked well... The saving grace is that the first 5,000 years might come back again."

How much more clueless can you get? Cities have always been population sinks, filthy, epidemic ground zeroes, hotbeds of depravity, especially the denser ones like the New Urbanists want.

Better public health has made them cleaner, but there is no water treatment solution that will make the people feel connected to each other, willing to watch out for one another, and so on.

It's astonishing how deeply we've buried the pastoral ideal of low to medium density. Any American who craves high density can ship off to Delhi, Bombay, or any number of slum-choked Indian hellholes.

Anonymous said...

This seems to approximate an instructive story contrasting progressive versus conservative (or Dem vs. Republican) notions:

Dems: You have to have regulations on businesses if you want your neighborhood and town to stay nice and provide a clean environment for all. Don't let cars and crowds take over, and the people....they will come.

Repubs: Let the market work. If the regulations aren't prohibitive, the businesses will come. If the businesses are decent, the people...they will come.

Former Angeleno said...

Okay, Steve, prepare for the deluge!

Parking regulation, you see, is not an economic question, but an emotional one. The disciples of Shoup will now hector you on how urban parking is underpriced, causing excess demand, global warming, and tooth decay. Even though the usual incentives for bad regulation seem to be absent (politicians don't get any graft from minimum-parking requirements), Shoupians will airily dismiss any suggestion that such requirements might have been prompted by any rational considerations (whether or not the policy has some undesirable side effects).

A noticeable fraction of Shoupians, eager to demonstrate that they are "more Catholic than the Pope" will even demand that minimum parking requirements be replaced with maximum parking limits. Shoup is ostensibly against that, probably because restrictions really do activate the rent-seekers. (When asked directly, Shoup doesn't advocate parking restrictions. But when he offers casual comments, he seems to favor them, as when he criticized the Disney Hall parking lot to that LA Magazine writer because “L.A. required 50 times more parking under Disney Hall than San Francisco would allow at their own hall.” [emphasis added]

I once had an unsatisfying email exchange with Virginia Postrel about off-street limits. She had written a paean to Shoupianism and blamed various problems of the City of Los Angeles on minimum parking requirements. I pointed out (citing chapter and verse, with a link to the LA City Zoning Code) that she was wrong about some problems around Bunker Hill downtown because there the City had forbidden developers (of big buildings with many tenants and visitors) to construct off-street parking-- apparently a Baptists-Bootleggers compromise to please the Westside Greens but also to gratify the owners of (then) $20 per 20 minutes private parking lots near the courthouses and the towers (with the Greens figleafing them, I'm sure the parking-lot operators showed their gratitude to City Councilmen in material ways). When I pointed out that LA's rules (at that time) weren't what she assumed, so her theory of the problems was unsupported, Postrel blew me off curtly.

Orthodox Shoupians, though, officially want private developers to choose for themselves how much offstreet parking to supply.

Orthodox Shoupians also want to reduce the real amount of street parking in all areas by 15%, because that is their rule of thumb for how many spaces must be kept open to avert "cruising for parking." The guru himself says that meter rates should be increased until at least 15% of would-be visitors can't afford a spot.

[continued below]

Mitch said...

I think he's saying that the consumers need to pay the cost of parking, not the businesses. He's a bike rider that doesn't want parking to be subsidized.

Former Angeleno said...

[continued from above]

Shoupians also hate offstreet parking provided by merchants to customers, even though the costs are fully internalized by the merchants and utimately paid by the customers. Though Shoupians revile minimum-parking rules intended to mimimize street-clogging externalities, they also hate businesses which internalize parking costs.

In short, the Shoupians hate automobiles, probably because most Shoupians are folk-Marxists who think everyone should go to Coney Island (and everywhere else) together at the same time on the train, said train to be operated by a nobly featherbedded crew of union workers (and said train to be stopped whenever the proles get antsy, since it's hard to revolt when you're on foot and the secret police are in armored cars with machine-gun turrets on top).

Listen to the Shoupians in LA Magazine: “The garage—designed to serve the public good—instantly made the Metro immaterial to concertgoers... Like any parking lot entrance, the one on Bunker Hill sucked air from street life.”

Get that? Parking is bad because people who can drive themselves need not take the train! Leaving aside that the Red line cost taxpayers $4.8 billion 1985 dollars, is filled with toxic hydrogen sulfide gas, requires a continuing subsidy from special sales and property taxes of more than $20 per boarding (so a couple taking the Red Line to and from Disney Hall* would soak taxpayers for more than $80 in addition to paying their own fares, compared with them paying $9 to park, which LA Magazine reports is enough to finance the garage they use with no additional taxpayer subsidy).

And what does "sucked the air from street life" mean? It means: before and after seeing the show in Disney Hall, the patrons went where they wished to-- to friends' homes in Silverlake, to eat in Koreatown (Park's BBQ--yum!), to check out the night sky at Griffith Observatory, or just home to bed in Diamond Bar or wherever. It also means Disney Hall patrons avoided mingling with downtown's aggressive bums, dope dealers, and con artists. Quelle horreur!

(It's marvellous how LA Magazine apparently disapproves of Disney Hall hosting many shows, because that increases demand for parking(!). They would prefer fewer shows? Do they think either the patrons or the performers would be better off with fewer shows? Such idiocy amazes me.)

Anyway, while parking regulation might explain part of the shift from Westwood to Pasadena, that story is woefully incomplete: the crowd actually moved from Westwood to Santa Monica before it ever moved to Pasadena-- and Santa Monica attracted said crowd by providing a ton of cheap/free parking in municipal structures right behind the promenade district.

agnostic said...

"Usually there are plenty of spots available — space wasted, the Shoupistas would argue."

Or what a biologist would call redundancy in the system, or an engineer might call slack.

Maybe there is too much redundancy, but these Shoup people in practice want to drive it down close to 0, "minimizing inefficiencies," like having no savings account and living paycheck to paycheck.

Truth said...

"His crowd of Compton gangstas killed Westwood ..."

Uh, South Pasadena's a ghetto also, Sport.

ELVISNIXON.com said...

@Truth

Can you tell me the rap superstar from South Pasadena who launched his Disney career by boasting of his "homies" murdering Asian women on teh streets of Old Town Pasadena?

Ice Cube and Dr Dre are millionaires today as a result of their role in killing off Westwood as a safe spot of youth.

Former Angeleno said...

Thank you, agnostic, for pointing out the Shoupian idiocy which says that the maximum capacity of the parking system should be reduced to the average demand.

To an engineer, it is obvious that peak capacity is the figure of merit.

Shoup and his acolytes make this error constantly. According to their logic, the Pasadena Rose Bowl should have only a thousand seats instead of about 100,000 because it's only filled 1% of the time. Think of all the valuable hard plastic seats wasted because people only want to sit in them a few times yearly.

The Shoupians bitch that both home driveways/garages and urban parking spaces are wasteful because they are never full at the same time. It never occurs to Shoupians that by the same token bedrooms and offices are both wasteful because one is empty when the other is full.

The whole point of industrial civilization is to enable us enjoy a variety of pleasures. We can sit in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. We can sleep in our beds at night. We can park our cars at home while we sleep and at the mall while we shop. None of those facilities is wasted; each provides the benefits we wish from it.

Shoup's only valid points, perhaps 30 pages worth of his famous 730-page book, are that urban street parking might in some cases be better priced, and that zoning rules are often, like all government regulations, poorly justified, obsolete, or insufficiently nuanced. (Of course the complexity of government rules presents insoluble difficulties-- if very simple, the rules produce bad results in many cases. If very complicated, the rules produce bad results in many cases.)

The LA Magazine article points out how lonely Shoup is professionally while trying to paint him as a neglected messiah instead of as a crank.

I suspect alternatively that Shoup's supposed big insight-- that all the ills of modern cities stem from irrational demand for "free" parking-- is simply wrong.

helene edwards said...

OK, I just went to Google Images for Westwood, but I still don't know what you mean by "swoopy."

Anthony said...

"the beginning of the 1980s, when the city was still overwhelmingly white."

No, it wasn't. It was probably majority-white back then, but not Portland levels of white.

Anonymous said...

"Cities have always been population sinks..."

Urbanization everywhere seems to go together with a fall in birth rates. I don't know whether that's because people feel that it's wrong to raise kids in apartments, without much space to run around, whether they think it's simply inconvenient to do so, or because the sort of people who choose to live in real cities wouldn't have had many kids anyway. The bad schools argument applies to modern America, but it didn't apply to a thousand other periods and places where cities were population sinks.

theo the kraut said...

OT, @Steve: I notice you never mentioned Bill Bishop's The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart (though you dealt with the subject). Haven't read it, but seems to be interesting. Apparently Bill Clinton discussed and recommended it--FWIIW...

From the website:
"The Big Sort will draw comparisons to Robert Putam's Bowling Alone and Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class and will redefine the way Americans think about themselves for decades to come."

Anonymous said...

Parking is the key to small/medium live entertainment venues ... which are the basis of all booming nightlife scenes.

Live entertainment parking requirements are much more extreme than for simple bars/restaurants in certain cities like Tempe and Scottsdale.

Scottsdale is actually 25sf per parking space for live entertainment at night so a 1000sf postage stamp sized bar with a stage needs 40 spaces! The last cowboy bar still open in old town with live music is a tiny place surrounded by NYC type restaurants, spas, jewelry stores and galleries etc.

Discos for blue state voters rule Scottsdale. Ethnic cleansing accomplished!

Anonymous said...

I don't think the matrons on the city councils of affluent places want a nighttime street scene. Laguna Beach matrons are trying to kill the scene there.

Steve Sailer said...

Bill Bishop's The Big Sort is a good book.

Truth said...

"Ice Cube and Dr Dre are millionaires today as a result of their role in killing off Westwood as a safe spot of youth."

Wow, I had no idea there was so much money in that!

beowulf said...

Free lunch abuse. Offer something for free and everyone wants it. This is why Obamacare will fail--and indeed was designed to fail so that we'll eventually move to single payer system of rationing.
Can't happen soon enough

As for the guy ranting against Shoupism, presumably he's not talking about David Shoup the Medal of Honor Marine Commandant who came out against the Vietnam War, but rather Donald Shoup, the UCLA economist (obviously if Whiskey had posted that, you could assume the opposite).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_M._Shoup
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Shoup

beowulf said...

OT but the MLK stone temple is back in the news.
Martin Luther King III told CNN: “That was not what Dad said.”
Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert noted that it was “to the point. Not Dr. King’s point, but still. Brevity is the soul of saving money on chiseling fees.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mlk-memorials-drum-major-quote-will-be-corrected-interior-secretary-says/2012/01/13/gIQAnjYvwP_story.html

Ha ha, of all the things that the Chinese sculptor would have skimped on.

Maguro said...

The architecture explanation makes more sense to me. Lots of places that require developers to provide parking are doing just fine.

Kudzu Bob said...

Wow, I had no idea there was so much money in that!

That's why Dr. Dre and Ice Cube are rich, and you're a non-entity.

Truth said...

Uh oh, your loyal servants are starting to rebel like it's 1859.

Get ready for Natto Turnero!

Steve Sailer said...

Or maybe there's a natural generational cycle where lots of one generation's young people say: I want to make my home in the cool part of town where the good looking young people hang out. And some do exactly that, so a generation later they are still there, but they aren't good looking young people anymore. Meanwhile, the new generation of good looking young people goes somewhere else where there aren't all these depressing oldsters around.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing stupider than whining about parking. Having trouble parking in a place means a lot of people want to go there, which means it's good. Americans' retardation about parking is emblematic of their blind selfishness. If you can't park, you're also part of the problem, jackass.

Anonymous said...

"But Shoupistas and fellow travelers want to turn American cities into Asian mega-hives, where people have zero connection to anyone else, a predictable consequence of having so many people crammed into so little space."

Are you aware that making a city denser does not increase the total number of people? If the people who want to live in high population density were able to, the rest of the country would have less people than it does now.

Anonymous said...

People want to walk around streets that have cafes, and boutiques, and most importantly other people, they don't walk to walk around parking lots.



But they have to somehow get to the places with cafes, and boutiques, and most importantly other people. And teleporters are still a long way off.

Anonymous said...

"Uh, South Pasadena's a ghetto also, Sport."

A ghetto of wealthy white NIMBYs. White yuppies in the last decade have taken over the previously ghetto Hispanic neighborhoods in Los Angeles that surround South Pasadena as well.

Pasadena's hood is the northwest part.

And yeah, parking plays a big role. Instead of each business having to create its own ugly parking lot that costs a lot of money and impedes walkability, Old Pasadena has huge ass municipal structures that are paid for out of community reinvestment and business improvement district funds. It's a good model.

I swear by my beating heart I will continue to run until I burn away said...

Good iSteve-ish book by EO Wilson coming in 2012: "The Social Conquest of Earth". From:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/e-o-wilson-rsquo-s-theory-of-everything/8686/?single_page=true

“Within groups, the selfish are more likely to succeed,” Wilson told me in a telephone conversation. “But in competition between groups, groups of altruists are more likely to succeed. “Within groups, the selfish are more likely to succeed,” Wilson told me in a telephone conversation. “But in competition between groups, groups of altruists are more likely to succeed. In addition, it is clear that groups of humans proselytize other groups and accept them as allies, and that that tendency is much favored by group selection.” Taking in newcomers and forming alliances had become a fundamental human trait, he added, because “it is a good way to win.” “Within groups, the selfish are more likely to succeed,” Wilson told me in a telephone conversation. “But in competition between groups, groups of altruists are more likely to succeed. In addition, it is clear that groups of humans proselytize other groups and accept them as allies, and that that tendency is much favored by group selection.” Taking in newcomers and forming alliances had become a fundamental human trait, he added, because “it is a good way to win.”

That and two other books will make 2012 a good year.

-- warning, this was off-topic.

Ray Sawhill said...

When Santa Barbara wanted to draw more people downtown, the city didn't just build a bunch of new parking lots and structures, it made them cheap, convenient and attractive. First 90 minutes is free, I'm pretty sure, and longer stays aren't pricey. And they genuinely look good -- their presence doesn't destroy the appeal of blocks they're located on. (They're a real lesson in how badly most cities design parking.) A city planner in Santa Barbara told me that the new parking arrangements played a big role in reviving the city's downtown. It's now almost as easy to zoom into the city center, park, shop and amuse yourself as it is to go to a mall. Plus it's cooler and funner, because it isn't a mall.

Eric said...

People want to walk around streets that have cafes, and boutiques, and most importantly other people, they don't walk to walk around parking lots.

This. Parking lots lower the density of interesting, eye-catching businesses. Which lowers the density of interesting people. Southern California is stuffed to the gills with strip malls - why go out of your way to visit one in Westwood?

Anonymous said...

"Uh, South Pasadena's a ghetto also, Sport."

You gotta love my boy Truth. "Look at me! I actually read that book we were assigned in high school!"

Congratulations, my man: you have the literary knowledge of a 9th grader.

Anonymous said...

"Shoupians also hate offstreet parking provided by merchants to customers, even though the costs are fully internalized by the merchants and utimately paid by the customers. "

Paid by *all* the customers, including those who don't or can't drive to the merchant. Why should such people be forced to subsidize the luxuries of automobile drivers?

As a partially blind person - Anonymous for this reason - who will never have the luxury of sitting behind the wheel of an automobile, it makes me angry every time I think of how much of my money has gone to subsidize a majority whose privilege over those that don't have it dwarfs anything experienced by more-recognized "majorities", so hated by the Left, like whites and heterosexuals.

Automobile drivers can always choose not to be drivers if they want to take advantage of a walkable neighborhood. But non-drivers can never take advantage of automobile-only infrastructure -- and the vast majority of US society presupposes that every adult has an automobile.

Let's build human-scale cities that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Anonymous said...

Lots of anger in UK over Thatcher movie.

Ed said...

I second Ray's point about Santa Barbara, though I will point out that in fact they built a bunch of malls downtown. However, they don't look like malls, they are designed to blend in with the older fake Spanish colonial architecture. And the place is more fun than a normal mall, especially as you get closer to the train station/ waterfront.

The point is the "build malls and lots of parking downtown" strategy has been tried repeatedly, and usually fails, but it is usually implemented really badly.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

The Pasadena represented in "Big Bang Theory" seems very hip, so I guess art imitates life in this case. But I imagine that because Cal Tech is such a small school, it doesn't affect the culture of Pasadena to the extent the show would have you believe.

beowulf said...

You gotta love my boy Truth. "Look at me! I actually read that book we were assigned in high school!"

To be fair, The Great Gatsby is a pretty decent book.

Anonymous said...

you should write about "sons of anarchy" and kurt sutter. the second season seems as if the SPLC wrote it.

Anonymous said...

to another commenter: mass transit is cool in Finland but in America its no fun unless you look spending your time around black thugs,

Truth said...

"That's why Dr. Dre and Ice Cube are rich, and you're a non-entity."

I wouldn't exactly say a non-entity, Robert; after all, like Monroe, Kennedy, Lennon, and Pressey, one of the everyday posters here has chosen to immortalize me!

Anonymous said...

'“But in competition between groups, groups of altruists are more likely to succeed. In addition, it is clear that groups of humans proselytize other groups and accept them as allies, and that that tendency is much favored by group selection.” Taking in newcomers and forming alliances had become a fundamental human trait, he added, because “it is a good way to win.” '

This is a raw, controversial set of declarative statements not backed up by evidence. I couldn't care less about the theories some anthropologist generates based on the many fictions that constitute the discipline. The theory is simplified, encouraging people to adopt such a perspective without questioning. In reality, as ever, the devil is in the details. An excellent counter example would be the experience of North American Indians who used the strategy extensively and who are currently a small, disenfranchised culture living on the margins of the dominant culture that replaced theirs.

Anonymous said...

Perfect metaphor for club med Europe.

Anon87 said...

OT: Head Start A 50 Year Flop? Say It Ain’t So, Joe

Anonymous said...

Aren't these parking requirements and zoning laws (houses must be on so much land, set back so far, only so many housing units per block, etc.), effectively a subsidy of the automobile industry?

~ Risto

Anonymous said...

"Meanwhile, the new generation of good looking young people goes somewhere else where there aren't all these depressing oldsters around."

Greenwich Village was already bohemian, and hipsterish avant-la-lettre 100 years ago. It's still like that now. I've read of tours of 1910s Greenwich Village whose purpose was to show ordinary people some of the bohemian weirdness that was already then associated with it in the popular mind. Are modern Paris's bohemian neighborhoods all the same as 17th century Paris's bohemian neighborhoods? I don't know. In my mind the words Montmartre and Left Bank imply trendiness through many centuries, but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Charles Murray's new book looks full of iSteve goodness.

I cannot wait for review and subsequent posts.

morleysafer said...

I wonder if parking spaces are such an isolated factor, when West L.A. was growing mildly in the 90s while the Pomona-San Bernardino sprawl exploded. Old Town is (was) as much as a 1 hr shorter drive from inland. Also they've successfully destroyed the shopping haven of Glendale (independent city) then cannibalized the Burbank/east Valley audience. Old Town's retailers are nearer to the Scenic Rose Bowl Area than to low-rent PCC and frankly either one is nicer than "NoHo"/Pacoima/Slumville. I confess to not reading fully the comments about Shoupians. Perhaps something to it, but sounds ad hoc. I did laugh when someone called South Pas "a ghetto, old sport"--maybe he thought the post was about Pasadena in Texas or Florida or Newfoundland. Not exactly a brilliant Internet jab there.

Anonymous said...

When blogs go lame isn't it an act of mercy to shoot them?

Kylie said...

"When blogs go lame isn't it an act of mercy to shoot them?"

I take it the mercy you suggest for lame blogs you wouldn't like applied to lame commenters such as yourself.

Anonymous said...

"Let's build human-scale cities that can be enjoyed by everyone."

I agree, but it is too late for us. It will take a very long time to change the city patterns in the US. It is best just to try and find a place that has what you are looking for already built.

Streets for People by Rudolfsky is a good book.

http://www.amazon.com/Streets-People-Americans-Bernard-Rudofsky/dp/0385042310

An Unmarried Man said...

Though the parking dynamic is important in certain contexts regarding civic regulations, I believe it is minimally important in the context of Pasadena's vs. Westwood's "success.

Pasadena's supremacy as a function of parking availability and aesthetics would only matter if it catered to people who cared about that stuff. The demographic which populates night hipdom doesn't care about crowds, lines, traffic...these are marks of pride they claw through and which makes the night out seem more legit.

There is a psychological timbre that cause one neighborhood to blossom while another withers.

If anything, I think Pasadena suffers from a favorable historical and geographical advantage over Westwood. Pasadena is the proud owner of the Rose Bowl, the Rose Parade, and other inanities related to Rose-anything. Pasadena is also home to old big money and thus glitters the golden hue that night urban crawlers are attracted to. Pasadena is centrally located (especially in comparison to the outpost that is Westwood). It is close to the Pasadena Fwy/Ventura Fwy interchange which is simple access to arteries leading to the Valley and other parts of LA proper.

David said...

Free parking on weekends, charge on weekdays. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

"I take it the mercy you suggest for lame blogs you wouldn't like applied to lame commenters such as yourself."

You and your friends are doing a lousy job of pretending to be Steve Sailer. Don't get mad at me for stating the obvious in this matter.

I'm not even sure why the blog wouldn't just go dormant as it has in years past.

Reg Cæsar said...

Remember Mayor Willie Brown's comment during that World Series? San Francisco has everything but parking, Anaheim has nothing but parking.

Probably the smartest thing he ever said.

There's an inherent contradiction here: good parking is dead space.

Reg Cæsar said...

Don't know how it affects parking, but Pasadena has several places named after Oneonta, the upstate N.Y. hometown of the king of "interurban" rail, Henry Huntington. (That was similar to commuter rail, and not to be confused with "intercity" rail, of which his uncle Collis was also a major baron.)

Almost everywhere yo u see that name outside Otsego County, it means that Huntington was playing a major role there. Imperial Beach is another, as is the town in Alabama.