Los Angeles is Still Governed by Long-Gone Streetcar Routes • 2014 Sep 26 • Curbed L.A.
“Why,” they ask, “after almost 100 years and the addition of literally millions of people to the metro area, does the population density of neighborhoods still reflect the extinct century-old transportation system?” Mostly, they’ve found, it has to do with zoning and “the self-reinforcing economic benefits of density,” aka agglomeration. Areas near old streetcars are more likely to be zoned to allow dense residential development (25 percent more units) and to allow non-residential uses, like shops, that make an area more livable.
Long Dead Streetcars Still Shape L.A. Neighborhoods • 2014 Sep 23 • Zócalo Public Square
But in a very profound way, the streetcar retains a hold over Los Angeles. In recent research, we found that places near now-extinct streetcar stops remain notably denser today.
The figures below… show clearly that population density near streetcars comes from having many housing units on land, not from having more people per housing unit.
Places near the streetcar are roughly 45 percent more likely to be in non-residential use, and are 40 percent more likely to be zoned non-residential. For residential properties, the zoning of land near the streetcar allows 25 percent more units.
In fact, we found that the correlation between streetcars and density can be explained almost entirely by the correlation between streetcars and zoning.