by Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
As the Director of Government & Public Affairs for the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|LA), I’m often asked to provide critical input on an element of urbanism that although may not directly relate to architecture (or aesthetics), always seems to relate to quality-of-life issues especially pertinent to land-use, mobility and/or environmental performance.
Led by an esprit de corps of architects, and with the responsibility to represent their professional interests, it often becomes apparent that there is one giant bubbling cauldron of urbanity out there and it’s impossible to separate the chocolate from the egg (Greg Lynn; “Architectural Curvilinearity - The Folded, The Pliant and the Supple”), for even though each remains a distinct layer marbled within a continuous mixture, the various elements becomes intrinsically folded into each other - architecture, land-use, mobility, circulation and environmental performance all become one inter-operable condition. A firmament of order, chaos, friction and momentum, decay, growth, recidivism and, most strikingly scattered throughout, reluctant pops of vainglorious luster - all enabling one another to hold forth remarkable form, shape and context.
Therefore, on behalf of the profession, I often share opinions about the condition of the atmospheric connectivity between many of these layers. (Yes, I realize I am mixing a mishmash of metaphors - but bear with me). One such condition is that of just getting around town. The choices we inspire each other to make inevitably influence the built environment and thus adding mobility options to an urban eco-system will eventually influence the behavior of the people of a metropolis and the architecture that surrounds them.
At present, as instructed by Council File 13-0192 (LaBonge, Koretz) Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) is exploring recommendations to add a point-to-point scenario to their car-sharing pilot program, As a proven opportunity to expand mobility options citywide, car-sharing programs help enrich the lives of all by enabling more people to live a car-free and/or car-lite lifestyle and to optimize the benefits of our expansive regional transit system. For someone like myself that benefits extensively from our regional transit-system, there are indeed moments when an additional mobility option (beyond foot, bike, bus and rail) serves as an helpful extension to a safe and efficient journey.
As The City of Los Angeles works to implement a permit-based car-sharing program, City Council should direct LADOT to expand their focus beyond the traditional round-trip, fixed-based car-sharing model and integrate an option for a point-to-point car-sharing system – a system which works well in such cities as San Diego, Austin, Redondo Beach, Seattle, Portland, Berlin and Washington, D.C.
It’s important that we integrate a variety of car-sharing programs at a regional scale. This will open the market and provide greater ease of use, access and flexibility to a vast array of neighborhoods and essentially let the consumer decide which type of car-sharing program best complements their mobility needs.
After the two year pilot program, LADOT can evaluate all of the various car-sharing programs and identify the ones that are the most successful given the unique urban nature of the Los Angeles region, with an added-value emphasis on which programs serve the greater public to the widest extent. The pilot-program can also serve as a chance to identify potential improvements to the overall system, integrate best-practices and to mitigate any unforeseen consequences.
Fundamentally, as a car-free angeleno living in Downtown LA, the car-sharing program that resonates the most with many is a point-to-point system, for it lessens the burden of returning the car to its point of origin, which in essence may lessen the appeal and, thus the benefit, of this particular mobility-option.
For the car-sharing pilot program to be inherently successful it must integrate a wide array of delivery models to ensure flexibility, progression and ease of use for all in an effort to expand mobility options though out the region. And it is those expanded mobility options that re-connects us back to the spirit of architecture and how it relates to our daily lives.