April 10, 2012

Challenging Current Perceptions of Los Angeles

New APA Planners Press book has readers rethinking LA.

Planning Los Angeles coverCHICAGO — Are you ready to challenge your current perceptions about the City of Los Angeles?

Planning Los Angeles, a new book from the American Planning Association, will dispel the urban planning myths that have persisted about the metropolis. The book will cause readers to rethink and reconsider the city they thought they knew.

Planning Los Angeles provides an in-depth look at how the city took shape and continues to change.

Meet the authors and read an excerpt from Planning Los Angeles.

Edited by David C. Sloane, professor of urban planning, development, and history at the University of Southern California, he describes Planning Los Angeles as a "labor of love." Sloane gathered more than 35 essayists to offer differing voices and viewpoints about the city, its planning processes, and its future. Sloane writes, "Readers will find surprises and unexpected complexities in these essays; they will also find humor, innovation, and controversy." 

The books' essays are arranged into six categories:

  • History of planning in the city
  • Evolving demographics
  • Land-use and environmental policies
  • Mobility and infrastructure
  • Parks and public space
  • Economic development

Perhaps one of the greatest myths surrounding the urban history of LA is the notion that the city just happened, that it was not planned. As contributor Todd Gish writes about the city, "Call it ugly, call it beautiful, call it dysfunctional — but don't call it unplanned."  

Citing "East Coast favoritism" to plans ranging from "ambitious to timid," Gish writes that LA is no different than any other American city. It faces the same complicated urban problems — "population growth, environmental concerns, economic imperatives, limited resources, social relations, public budgets, private interests, fickle voters, political agendas, and technological changes."

Contributors to Planning Los Angeles also challenge the idea that the city was and remains built for the car. Marlon G. Boarnet writes that while "LA led the nation into an auto-oriented vision of transportation planning; perhaps not ironically, LA is now leading the way out." Through bus rapid transit, voter-approved measures to raise funds for transit projects, and events like CicLavia, when downtown streets are closed to autos for a period of time, LA is changing. But recognizing that change is happening, even for locals, can be difficult.

Planning Los Angeles should be used by visitors and locals as a supplemental guide to the city. It looks at what makes the city tick, and at where the city is heading.

Planning Los Angeles (ISBN: 9781611900040) is available immediately from APAPlanningBooks.com for $34.95 or $24.95 for APA members.

Media review copies are available by contacting Roberta Rewers at rrewers@planning.org.


Roberta Rewers, APA Public Affairs; 312-786-6395; rrewers@planning.org