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De-car-ing in Los Angeles
Emily Gertz, 21 Aug 07

Being able to walk a comfortable distance to do basic tasks like food shop or enjoy one's surroundings is a valuable amenity of urban life. For instance, recently I was in Santa Monica visiting my brother and his family. "We moved here because we can walk places," they told me, like the beach or a good grocery market. Born and bred on in dense east coast cities, they'd naturally managed to find one of the apparently few areas in L.A. where they could walk -- and not because they were motivated by environmental concerns per se, but because it makes for a more pleasant way of life.

It struck me as a great example of how important good urban planning is to a sustainable future, one that give people convenient and effective alternatives to reliance on personal cars.

If you want to experience how walkable it is in far west Los Angeles, tag along with green LA girl as she de-cars and walks Santa Monica.

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I can testify to the walkability of Santa Monica. My wife and I got rid of 1 of our cars when I started working from home, leaving me with only my bike and my feet. Since March, I have only needed to rent a car once for a meeting across town; otherwise its been bus, bike or feet. Its a great place!

Posted by: David on 21 Aug 07

But the cost of living in Santa Monica is among the highest in L.A., rivaled only by Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Palos Verdes, etc... You would expect a community flush with proerty tax revenue to provide for a very walkable city. Problem is, many of the surrounding communities cannot afford the lifestyle enhacements found in S.M.. Moral of this story: with enough money, we can change the world.. :-(

Posted by: John L on 21 Aug 07

I de-carred a couple of years back for about 18 months and, other than the occasional frustrations of late or no-show buses, it worked out surprisingly well. I live in West Hollywood-Hollywood area, 15 minutes' walk from the Highland-Hollywood Red Line station, a block from a Sunset MTA bus stop and a couple of blocks from the Fairfax and La Brea bus lines, so that certainly helped.

I needed to have car during a film shoot, but I gave it up again in January, and I have been so grateful not to have it in my life anymore. I walk more, ride a bike now, and I spend more time in my local area, which has been nice.

I'm moving to Boston in a few days and looking forward to being in a much more walkable city, with even greater public transit options, but I would like for my fellow Angelenos to consider more strongly the possibility of going without a car. It's easier for many of us than most people realize.

Posted by: Eric Prescott on 22 Aug 07

First, thanks for the shoutout, Emily :)

To John L. -- You gotta factor into this cost of living the cost of owning / maintaining a car! :) I moved to Santa Monica on a grad student income, specifically cuz I realized that despite the higher rent, I'd have fewer monthly costs due to de-car-ing! :)

Posted by: green la girl on 22 Aug 07

Hi, Emily. I de-carred a while back in San Diego. Like L.A. it's not always an easy task to not have a car, but I've managed when I absolutely have to have a car through car sharing program FlexCar. Sometimes I do miss the convenience, but it's mostly just a nice unencumberance. Thanks for the post.

Posted by: Mike Corrales on 23 Aug 07

It is surprisingly easy to remove yourself from the car culture in LA. Although it seems to be quite the thing to do in Santa Monica right now, it is equally, if not more feasible elsewhere in L.A.

  • Pasadena does well for its car-free residents, with regular transit, plenty of walking locations, and it is often more affordable than Santa Monica

  • Hollywood (especially including North and West Hollywood areas) very nearly works better for people who do not have a car.

  • Downtown is absolutely wonderful. From subways to busses to Amtrak, great culture, and many places within walking distance (and the beach within a 30 - 45 min bus ride), it is a side of L.A. that many never see.

  • In the Valley, Ventura Blvd serves almost the same function as Wilshire on the other side of the hill. Shopping, work, housing, transit, and dining can all be found along this strip

Metro ( has its problems, but in the 2 years I've been taking their transit (1.5 without a car), they have improved by leaps and bounds.

Los Angeles needs, more than anything, more subways (or monorails, or rail ONLY ways - anything that doesn't involve lightrail and thus become part of the traffic jam). The walk-ability quickly follows (take a look at any of the stops along the red line to see what I mean. Most recently, check out the urban renewal at the NoHo station)

Posted by: Nobody Walks on 23 Aug 07



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