Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Not built out

I often hear people in Southern California speak of the areas of suburban sprawl as "built out". This has always bugged me, we are nothing like built out. To see why, take a look at the list of cities proper by population density, and list of cities proper by population. Los Angeles, one of the most built out parts of Southern California, has a population density of about 3,000 people per square kilometer.

Going to the list of population densities we see the highest population density in the world is Manila, with a population density of 43,000 people per square kilometer. This is a population density fourteen times that in Los Angeles!

To put that in perspective, if we just built Los Angeles up to that density level we could fit fifty million people within its city limits. If instead we built out the entire Los Angeles Metropolitan area to that density, we could have nearly four billion people!

Now of course, other limits would start popping up if we went anywhere near the four billion figure I don't see us lining the side of the mountains with sky scrapers, but with a few battles with Central California for water we could easily fit a hundred million.

What we do have though is a whole bunch of NIMBYs and zoning restrictions which drive the prices of homes up, and drive more reasonable people to places like Texas where they can afford a better lifestyle. If we were to construct housing for several million more people in the next decade they wouldn't go vacant though.

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