Study: Increased housing density helps combat climate change

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City planners in post-Measure S Los Angeles are beginning to work on updating LA’s 35 individual community plans, and the big question is how hard officials will push for increased housing density.

Density opponents may decry the so-called Manhattanization of their city, but there may be a new reason to support a taller, denser Los Angeles: Increased housing density might combat climate change, according to a new study by the think tank Next 10.

The study, titled Right Type, Right Place, examines the effects of an increased emphasis on building infill housing, or “compact housing in already urbanized land near transit, jobs, and services.”

Residents living in infill areas would drive 18 fewer miles per weekday and a total of 90 fewer miles per week, the study found. That would result in an annual reduction of 1.79 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing 378,000 cars off the road.

There’s economic reasons for infill housing, too. Living closer to jobs, schools, and increased transit options decreases a resident’s monthly spending on driving costs and utilities, saves the average renter $312 per year, and saves a homeowner $156. California would experience an $800 million increase in annual economic growth as a result of increased infill housing, the research showed.

Regardless of the study’s findings, there are still many political discussions to be had about density in Los Angeles. Carol Galante of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation warned that, despite the many benefits of building denser housing, “It won’t happen without the right mix of policies to facilitate this type of development.”

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