[N]ew guidelines [in Hollywood] will make it easier for developers to build more and higher buildings around subway stations and bus stops. Supporters, which include business groups and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, say it is a visionary change that will allow Hollywood to fully realize a decade-long transformation from a seedy haven for drug dealing and prostitution into a smartly planned, cosmopolitan center of homes, jobs, entertainment and public transportation.I'm as much in support of the new liberal approach to city planning as anyone. But a "smartly planned, cosmopolitan center" of mixed commerce and residential space? That could describe virtually any growth area in the country right now. The future of city planning is bright, but it's also full of dully homogeneous cities. If the planners get their way, everywhere from Charlotte to Hollywood to Dallas will look roughly like this:
I genuinely believe people will be happier living in these cities, but it's hard to deny you can't get rid of the blight and seediness and inefficiency without also getting rid of a lot of the local texture.
The policy solution, I think, is historic preservation; ultimately, I doubt it's really good enough. Saving a few building fronts won't turn back the market forces the liberalizers want to unleash on our cities. And anyway, the liberalizers hate historic preservation too. Ultimately, this is a problem for philosophers and artists, not for planner and policymakers.