Are We Seeing the End of the Exurbs?

Change in population distribution 2000-2010 mapThe Census Bureau garnered headlines when it reported that the LA connurbation was among the most densely-populated in the United States. It was a man-bites-dog story: famously sprawling Los Angeles beats highly-centralized cities like New York and Chicago on density. And that’s despite the dearth of comparable mid- and high-rise housing. Where are our bustling downtown streets? Crowded metros? Do the new census numbers suggest an epochal reversal is underway?

It’s counter-intuitive, isn’t it? These United States of yawning open spaces and family farms is not as rural as it would appear. In fact, it’s not even as exurban as we might think as we drive from Ventura to San Bernadino. In fact we’re urban – and that is a stark contrast to the message telegraphed by 19th century area boosters. They advertised our region as perfect for a small farm. Later boosters pictured the fast-industrializing Southland as single-family home with lawn, picket fence, and fruit tree. The factory was safely distant on the horizon.

Far from that vision of the California Dream, the reality is much different today and long has been. In the intervening years, we used land use, transportation, and lending policy to drive the growth of suburbs, and today they reach into Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernadino counties. For too long, these homebuyers provided the demand that supported a market for larger homes ever more distant from jobs and transit. We also encouraged ‘greenfield’ commercial development near freeways.

For all of these places, we just didn’t plan how we would one day, post ‘peak oil,’ get people from those places and back. Washington still favors highways to transit and people-powered mobility: in 2008, the freeways got 75 cents of every federal direct transfers dollar (or $30 billion). That’s 5 times the total support for transit and a multiple of about one hundred on ped and bike investment. The gas tax funds it today, but of course not all motorists make use of the freeway system extensively. Heavy users, then, are heavily subsidized. They don’t call them ‘freeways’ for nothing! And of course we’re still building suburban housing and that won’t change tomorrow.

US new home sales 1990-2010 chart

The curl of the wave tells the story: unsustainable growth at the exurban periphery.

But the bloom is off the rose now that demand has tapered. Prices have fallen and new homes are built smaller. But the real focus is no longer at the fringe but nearer to the center. We are urbanizing at a rapid clip, the census showed, and population growth in urban centers is outpacing the country as a whole.

These trends are not new. The consolidation of farms long pushed households to nearby towns. The growth of towns into today’s urban ‘clusters’ (as defined by the census: fewer than 50,000 people) was perhaps inevitable as our absolute population increased. And of course the growth of early suburbs around nucleus cities created large urban areas that we’re recognizing today. Yesterday’s suburban Westchester or Encino or Woodland Hills is today’s fully-urbanized city of Los Angeles, and it is a hop on the freeway from nearly anywhere else in the urban area (heck, Encino looks just like West Los Angeles. Ouch!)

What is remarkable here is the relative shift to urban living. It seems that in spite of the flight to the suburbs over many decades, not only have we increased urban population but we’ve just broken the 80% threshold countrywide. We’re urban, baby! (Read more about population change from the Census Bureau’s brief.)

More locally, according to the census the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim urbanized area is home to 7,000 people per square mile – a higher density than even the New York urban area. (We’re the fifth fastest-growing urban area in the US by absolute population increase). That figure suggests that our households are spread like peanut butter across the land. So what we lack in uber-density we make up for with consistent distribution because our growing communities have grown closer together.

Several factors contribute to an urban nation. In our area chief among them:

  • Reversal of last decade’s accelerated flight to exurban areas (‘greenfields’ in the planning parlance) for cheaper – and more spacious – housing. The recession played a key role, economists say, as foreclosures and tight credit undermined non-sustainable communities.
  • Higher transportation costs and longer commute times sapped quality of life. Stories abound of 90+minute commutes, or trips to work that begin before 6 am.
  • Devaluation of exurban communities. Hardest hit in the downturn, not coincidentally, are the places far from urban areas where most of us wouldn’t want to live anyway, like the Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario urban area where commodity housing suddenly lost value (-25% over 2008-09!) with the change of market winds [American Community Survey property value estimate].
  • The increasing attractiveness of urban areas. Crime has decreased and cultural amenities have multiplied. Policymakers renewed their focus on education. And investment that once flowed to exurban areas (and drained inner-city areas) now finds opportunities closer to the city center.

Our Means of Mobility Must Evolve Too

Now it’s time for our housing, transportation, and development finance policies to catch up with the reality. Recreating the rail system that we dismantled a half-century ago is slow and expensive work. Light rail is less-efficient than subways. And buses are a sub-optimal substitute for light rail. How or whether we make these transit investments will be more clear after November, when local elections are concluded and some clarity comes to Washington.

Bike Facilities In Historical Context (Part I)

As pedestrians we take comfort in the sidewalk. Separated from motor traffic and bounded by a curb, we take this basic feature of life in the Western city for granted. We roam among other pedestrians and we’re immeasurably safer for it. But sidewalks didn’t magically appear but instead were engineered to bring order to the mobility chaos of the industrial city. Of course, for the past century motorists have had their run of the streets. But what about cyclists? We fend for ourselves, as unwelcome in the streets as on the sidewalk. Why aren’t policymakers and engineers looking out for us with our own dedicated facility?

The Sidewalk: Engineered Pedestrian Mobility

Think for a moment how revolutionary was the ordinary sidewalk. Roads were long the primary means of personal and commercial transport between settlements. On foot, we shared it with those on horseback & horse-pulled carriages. As cities industrialized, they concentrated production in larger cities. Districts sprang up to differentiate the various aspects of production like finance, factory, storage, and labor ‘reproduction’ (aka domestic life.) To work more widgets presses, capitalists beckoned many more migrant workers, which made teeming cities more productive but more of a challenge to manage too.

Teeming nineteenth-century cityMobility was a key problem since roads serving all users quickly became overtaxed. Freight had to be shipped. People moved. Produce hawked. Carriages, wagons, and trolleys (and later buses, trucks and cars) clogged the urban street – a scrum into which the poor pedestrian entered taking life into hand, as this image suggests, taken from the Municipal Journal’s handbook, Planning Streets and Designing and Constructing the Details of Street Surface, Subsurface and Super-surface Structures of 1914.

Turn-of-the-century Sociologist Georg Simmel organized a treatise around the emergent problems of the urban titled, The Metropolis and Mental Life. Specifically, Simmel concerned his inquiry with the psychological effects of city life. This was prior to the turn of the century, when the frenetic activity characteristic of the urban “money economy” literally spilled into the streets. He warned of its disparate impact on the sociology of city dwellers, whom he saw sacrifice the emotional comforts of home:

“With each crossing of the street, with the tempo and multiplicity of economic, occupational and social life, the city sets up a deep contrast with small town and rural life with reference to the sensory foundations of psychic life.”

Market Street circa 1904 - an early view of transit chaosWatch the historic footage of San Francisco’s Market Street at the turn of the century to see firsthand just how chaotic nineteenth-century city streets were. Baseball enthusiasts will remember that Brooklyn’s famous baseball team took their ‘Dodgers’ moniker from the poor fans who dodged electric trolleys on their way to the game.

The regulated city keeps travel modes separatedSegregating transportation modes went a long way toward improving pedestrian safety. It also imposed some order on the city to increase traffic flow.

Well-planned roads and traffic regulation especially was essential to making the modern city work more efficiently, as suggested by this view from 1914 (also from Planning Streets).

At the forefront of these innovations were the city engineers and transportation technocrats who created the systems that managed growth the nineteenth-century city. Centralized water delivery and sewers for waste, for example, were also crucial in accommodating a higher population density while improving health and welfare. Planner-historians see this as the emergence of the ‘city functional.’

Creating the City Functional

Constructing quality roads and sidewalks was one of the most significant city planning initiatives of the nineteenth-century city. City Engineers played a key role in shaping the city: they regulated the development of private land and land uses and generated plans and standards for the streetscape. In the eyes of the engineers, development and transportation worked together, and without some discipline in every aspect, a city couldn’t function properly. It was all about systems!

Amid the cacophony of competing modes of mobility, the humble sidewalk was a key element in the transportation system. It separated pedestrians from the more rapid flow of mechanized transit. In literally carving out a refuge for the walker, the sidewalk practically engineered mode-conflict out of daily urban mobility. Before the sidewalk, commercial traffic and horse-drawn transit had ruled the road to the detriment of the pedestrian. Once pedestrians were provided a sidewalk, some semblance of order could be restored. And motor traffic itself could be better regulated too.

City engineers have long fought to exert an influence in how the city would develop. Here in Los Angeles, the position was public – an elected office as early as 1886 – suggesting the importance of the post and the accountability it demanded. Municipal engineers organized professionally into societies and conducted annual conferences dating to the turn-of-the-century, where they shared best practices.

Perhaps no invention has so enhanced individual human mobility as has the bike. It is the most efficient human-powered mobility machine known to man. As journalist Robert Penn writes in his homage, It’s All About the Bike [review], the device matured from novelty to primary means of everyday transportation as innovation after innovation multiplied human effort while improving safety for the rider.

The widespread use of the bicycle in the late-nineteenth century attracted the attention of municipal engineers because they placed a new demand on city streets: they had to be well-engineered and of good quality. The Municipal Engineers Journal, published by the Municipal Engineers of the City of New York in 1915, noted that American city streets suffered in comparison to European city streets – “a fact first brought to public attention in our country by the bicycle.” (p. 35).

Sidewalk elevated with Granite curbThe Journal went on to reference a catalog of excellent European street and sidewalk examples, lamenting for cyclists in particular “the absence of any plan for regulating the positions of pipes, ducts, and manholes, other than that of interests controlling each one.”

To the chaos of the disorganized city, municipal engineers would bring order! In Los Angeles, Public Works was organized as a city department in 1872 and within twenty years had laid down 78 miles of paved city road. Municipal engineers also brought innovations to the street, including durable granite curbs (above left) and even double curbs to further separate pedestrian from motor traffic (below right).

Sidewalk with double curbIndeed the ‘city functional’ concept and its high standards worked exceedingly well for pedestrians and vehicular traffic, but it hit the skids when it came to cyclists. Municipal engineers created no mode-segregated facilities for bikes. They specified no special signaling for two-wheelers. Most importantly, they neither called for, nor received, any dedicated funding or subsidy for bike-friendly innovations like the Veloway.

The bike, the most efficient and economical transportation device ever to hit the street since the cobbler’s shoes, lay largely beyond the municipal engineer’s purview. It just didn’t fit into the urban systems in a conventional sense, and makes few appearances in engineering journals of the period.

The Demise of the Bike

Well prior to the turn of the century, cyclists had attracted the engineers’ attention and even played an important political role by securing road improvements as part of the Better Roads movement. They introduced new transportation innovations to the city before the turn of the century, like mode-segregated, private rights-of-way built especially for cyclists, but these didn’t catch on with the systems folks. What a shame.

Dobbins Veloway connecting Los Angeles to Pasadena

Dobbins Arroyo Seco Veloway: the first ‘superslab’?

‘Veloways’ represented the marriage of opportunity to need: cyclists needed a more safe and efficient way to move about the crowded city; and money men saw a profitable opportunity to provide a facility that would serve as a limited-access bikeway that bypassed existing streets. These private roadbeds sometimes elevated bike traffic above the urban transportation cacophony, as did our own privately-financed ‘Veloway’ to connect northeast Los Angeles and Pasadena.

The Veloway is not entirely lost to history, however, Today the ‘flyover’ is sometimes recommended if bike traffic must move though a dangerous intersection. The Veloway was its forerunner – mode separation taken uber seriously – but such innovations didn’t capture the imagination of municipal officials. For more than a half-century, engineers and policymakers had progressively engineered a city of ever-greater efficiency, but for this single most efficient form of transportation they constructed nothing.

What an oversight. We’ve planned for the horse carriage, trolley, and metro. And when the automobile grabbed the public imagination, we planned for that too to the lasting detriment of cities everywhere. But we never did plan for bikes.

Long Live the Bike!

But it is the unsubsidized bike that may well deliver us to a better future. Though it remains an ingenious and efficient personal transportation machine, it still doesn’t get some lovin’ like the auto and public transportation industries do. In fact, cycling facilities receive scant support from our federal transportation dollars. We limp along on less than the one-half of one percent that federal transportation funding affords active transportation uses. If we’re lucky, pick up a few grants – again, like so much Dickensian gruel.

Trying to secure bike-friendly improvements in the face of a well-financed and well-connected auto & transportation industry lobby has our work cut out for us. Complete Streets-style accommodations and universal access principles are our best hope, though, of returning some balance to the urban mobility paradigm (literally) cemented in place by municipal engineers well over a century ago.

But Complete Streets will only get us part of the way there. We need a full-on press for out-of-the-box, bike-friendly innovations that will make cycling much more attractive, exciting, and efficient to the non-cycling public. And we need transportation officials to pick up on the challenge and return themselves to the leadership position on mobility issues they once commanded.

It’s clear that there is a precedent for making the effort and investment, and looking back at the history of urban transportation innovations as we’ve done here is a start.

After all, when we needed to accommodate pedestrian travel safely, we provided sidewalks. When we understood that traffic had to be accommodated, engineers created uniform streets. When it was clear that it had to be regulated too, policymakers crafted traffic law and managed road conflict through signals systems.

Yet transportation planning as utterly failed the cyclist. Municipal engineers and transportation technocrats are no longer solving our mobility problems. Today, transportation officials rely on funding from LA County Department of Health to do what is essentially a municipal function: creating safer roads (and even then too few and far between). Other cities, like our own Beverly Hills, look for help on the cheap from an intern – when they can be persuaded to bother at all.

What a travesty: the professional corps of municipal engineers would turn over in their graves at the sheer lack of planning for cyclists despite 56 deaths to date this year in Southern California.

It’s Still a DIY Project

Indeed it is the cycling community that is working to return this most marvelous means of mobility to the forefront of the nation’s transportation consciousness. We carry the torch for Complete Streets principles and universal access to public roads while transportation officials and their professional organizations are largely silent. (Beverly Hills here too is a case in point: there has been zero policy discussion about incorporating Complete Streets principles into city plans.)

Isn’t it ironic that more than a century after private interests first cut the ribbon on the Veloway, that serious effort at segregating bike traffic, getting even any bike accommodations on American roads is still a do-it-yourself project?

Freeway ribbon cuttingOur challenge is to recall for policymakers the long history of planning for the next era of urban transportation and then get them to make the investment necessary to get us to the next era of urban mobility: active transportation.

Thinking back to the humble sidewalk and its continuing role today as a carved-out safe haven for pedestrians, that innovation came directly from municipal engineers and today remains a model for mode-separated urban transportation. We need to get the professionals to apply some imagination to our mobility problems today if we are to change the old auto-centric, freeway-era motoring paradigm.

Policy Opportunity Arises!

Aerial view of the Gateway properties under discussionOn March 24th, the Beverly Hills Planning Commission (an appointed, quasi-judicial body) heard a zone change request for a development project on a key site near the city’s Western Gateway (seen at right). Located at the sharp, west corner where Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica North meet (aka the Starbucks site), the land under the proposed project spans parcels currently zoned either low-intensity commercial (C3) or transportation use (T1).

Model of the proposed Gateway projectThe prospective project for which the Commissioners heard the zone change request before would present a more intense commercial use for land under the single-story shops along Santa Monica South, as well as the vacant land along Santa Monica North that backs up against those mentioned commercial structures. The proposed project, exhibited in an early, prospective design (left) shows 3-story commercial building with a 2:1 floor-area ratio (calculated by comparing the project’s eventual floor area with to the buildable area of the site).

A Big Change for this High-Profile Block

Compared to the current use for the assembled project parcels, the proposed commercial development would signal a marked change from the unfinished character of the intersection today. Indeed this is a high visibility site. Upon entering Beverly Hills from the West via Wilshire or Santa Monica, it would present itself as one of our city’s more significant commercial projects.

Hence the elevated concern about the zone change and the scale of development on the site.

But there is another reason why this proposed zone change is worthy of bike advocates’ attention: changing the zone would set a precedent for the entirely of the current T-zoned land along the south side of the Santa Monica Boulevard corridor. This project is only one of three contiguous blocks of land that could benefit immediately from changing the zone from T-1 to commercial use. In time, the entire T-zone strip could be claimed for development, precluding future transportation uses. Consequently, Commissioners have been sensitive to precipitous changes in use. This old light rail right-of-way remains undeveloped because policymakers chose not to rezone it in the past.

Precedent-Setting Policy Decisions

Parcels that Comprise the proposed Gateway development The project under discussion in the March meeting is one of three properties (each of which may include multiple individual parcels owned by the same party) that would claim the T-zone for development. And all have a long history with the Planning Commission. This history is relevant because the landowner today is pressuring the city to make good on what he believes were implied promises to allow development, contingent on a series of developer-funded traffic studies (which were completed).

The backstory

The owner purchased this property more than a decade ago and was fully cognizant that the T-1 zone precluded commercial development. This is not at all uncommon in the land development business, where you pay not for the entitled use exactly but what you believe you may be able to develop. It’s about arbitraging the difference between what’s allowed and what you may be able to get allowed.

The thorny problem is the intersection: perennially F-grade, it can’t accommodate additional development through mitigation. Impacts would be impacts. (‘F’ refers to a volume of traffic – or ‘level of service’ in transportation parlance – that exceeds the ability of the intersection to handle it.) This intersection is already failing even without a three-story commercial building on the site.

After all, a zone change is tinkering with established land use policy, and in this case with potentially far-reaching impacts for the entire Santa Monica Boulevard corridor. Changing this property’s T-zone to C-3 would likely have knock-on effects along the entire T-zone strip, the city has resisted making such a change…though not without some ambivalence.

Gateway corridor map with temporary garages highlightedThe precedent of turning over land zoned for transportation for everyday development is worrisome both to transportation advocates and to the local community.

Looked at this corridor as a functional connector, maintaining the T-zoning keeps open the possibility of reusing the land once again for transportation use (for example a pedestrian promenade and/or a bicycle route). Just because the light rail is long gone, as one Commissioner said, doesn’t mean that a transportation use is necessarily foreclosed. The string of public garages on the south side of the boulevard were meant to be temporary (30 years later!) until the use of the corridor was resolved.

It’s still not resolved. What most concerns Better Bike is the precedent set by changing the zoning from the T-1 zone (transportation) without a broader prescription for the corridor. We’re thinking about what transportation means for the larger Westside going forward.

Local Impacts are Feared

If the city’s desired use for this land and the rest of the T-zoned parcels is unclear, the concerns of the local community adjacent to this parcel is not so ambiguous. Residents seem attached to the low-rise commercial buildings, and indeed the General Plan identified this area as a possible gallery district – with a consequent boost in local property values.

Related is the loss of control that the city would experience should C-3 zoning be adopted here. At present, there is an opportunity to craft a zone that would accommodate commercial uses at the city’s discretion, giving it an ongoing say in the scale, massing, and character of new structures. That is key when we think about the importance of setbacks from the lot line, for example, or the quality of design that is appropriate for the city’s western gateway.

Then there is the fear of an influx of auto traffic should the city allow a relatively outsized commercial project to proceed. This is a relatively narrow site with definite design challenges. Squeezing in sufficient floor area means building vertically, the developer suggests. But that comes at a cost to the neighborhood’s current low-rise character.

Moreover, should the C-3 zone be adopted for this land, the developer would enjoy greater latitude under ‘by right’ allowances. As long as his project conforms to the C-3 zone, the city has no leverage to demand additional concessions.

Getting It Right: Let’s Think Outside the Box

New York's High Line - a model to emulate?Concessions are the name of the game! For advocates who see non-motor transportation as the future of Westside travel, and who see Beverly Hills as an under-realized mecca for individual people-powered transport, consigning this intersection to a double-F grade (no such grade exists but we may need it!) is unacceptable. Why not incorporate a new way of thinking about moving people, and not only cars, though one of the Westside’s most chronically-clogged intersections?

For matter, why settle for ordinary (if palatable) structures when new ways of moving pedestrians and bikes can be incorporated right into the structure of the project itself? Viewing the presentation prepared by the applicant, the challenges were clear but so was a possible solution: internalize a bike/ped transportation corridor right into projects built on the T-zone. Something outside the box like NYC’s High Line (above) or Paris’s Promenade Plantee (below) come to mind – urban spaces that cast a fresh light on moving people.

Paris's Promenade Plantee - the progenitor of the High LineThese examples reuse relict transportation rail infrastructure (thing Rails-to-Trails) but there is no reason why we can’t envison and demand that new projects incorporate new modes of people-powered transit right into their very bones. With the C-3 zone change, the city loses leverage. Persuading the city to retain the T-zone, or to develop an ‘overlay zone,’ or specifically-tailored special use zone, as Commissioners suggested, on the other hand, would be a way to retain a measure of control and secure truly imaginative projects that suggest the future of transportation beyond the car.

Next Stop: City Council

The intelligent and animated discussion before the Planning Commissioners in this March meeting raised policy concerns of such import that landowners, city officials, and elected leadership agreed to meet in April to continue a higher-level discussion.

[Update: Several months later, the Council has not yet moved to resolve the issue.]

NYC Invests in Cycling

Map of bike-friendly NYC BridgesNew York City has really stepped into the forefront of planning for alternative transportation. It is laying down bike lanes like nobody’s business. It’s opening more riverfront to pedestrians and cyclists than I’ve ever seen in my life in the Big Apple. I(See the map at right.) NYC is closing sections of main thoroughfares like Broadway and opening pocket parks seemingly every day. And not least, it is making available more information about how to cycle safely and park your ride securely than perhaps any other city outside of the Northwest. New York is the big Magilla of cities and increasingly it’s setting the nation’s big-city cycling agenda. Indeed it is succeeding in innovating new approaches to active transportation across the five boroughs where policymakers have in the past literally paved the way for non-motorists.
Making change in the transportation arena in the Big Apple is not without its challenges, of course. Residents are fighting back against bike lanes in some quarters of the city. And the Bloomberg administration may have lost some high-profile battles in Albany – no bastion of progressive idealism in transportation or any other policy area.  Mayor Bloomberg made a big push for ‘congestion pricing’ to put a cost to auto travel into the center of town. And he wanted to impose tools on (now-free) East River bridges. They cost a fortune to maintain and serve motorists most conspicuously, but unlike nearly every other crossing they are free, free, free. A pedestrian or cyclist pays more to take a subway than a motorist does for the convenience (not to mention negative effects) of driving into the metropolis. But policymakers balked.

The parochial thinking that often dooms progressive policies stands in stark contrast to what has been achieved. Take for example the city’s rollout of an ambitious bike routes program under Janette Sadik-Khan, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation appointed by Bloomberg in 2007. As the map (right) indicates, the city has identified what amounts to a five-borough network of interconnected routes and set about making them a reality.

Kahn also spearheaded the closure of Broadway to motorists in Times Square, which was absolutely unthinkable until the city proposed it only a couple of years ago. Ditto for a rapid busway down the center of 42nd street, which pre-Bloomberg (remember Rudy Giuliani?) would have driven taxi drivers to riot. Somehow in today’s Big Apple, polished to such a gloss that a born-and-bred New Yorker only faintly recognizes the place, these ideas not only are proposed, they actually happen.

NYC cycling map

New York's new cycling map shows just how far the city has come in planning for active transportation. Not only policies and infrastructure but also the supporting material that raises awareness of cycling as a convenient transportation mode choice.

NYC ride responsibly flyer

New York's efforts have extended to the creation of a suite of excellent maps and flyers.

New York shows how it’s done. Ancillary support materials can make a big difference in how cyclists perceive the institutions. That helps get us past mistrust and working toward the collaborative pursuit of policies to keep us safe on the roads.

You’ve got to be a real dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker to miss the wormy aspects of the Big Apple of yesterday, and today one has to venture into the boroughs to rediscover the New York of yesterday. Thanks to the new network of bike routes, one can get out to these places on two wheels. The city has even carefully marked routes across bridges (on main map) and provided a handy cycling do-and-don’t  tip sheet.

New York’s efforts have extended to the creation of a suite of excellent maps and flyers (at left) that communicate the rules of the road and the basics of two-wheel etiquette (at left).

These maps, brochures, well-marked routes and especially the new infrastructure of lanes all suggest to stakeholders and motorists alike that cyclists belong. That’s a message welcomed as long-overdue by the cycling community.

Here in the Los Angeles region, we’re still catching up. Perhaps even worse, our unique patchwork of municipalities and counties makes coming together around a regional bike map – much less a regionally-coherent set of policies – that much more of a challenge.

New York is 8 million people, many of whom already use non-auto transportation on a daily basis. As a city with centralized political control (and a strong-mayor system) they can get things done.

Los Angeles, by contrast, is a city of 4 million, but it’s only a drop in the bucket in the larger auto-centric LA region. Los Angeles tends to set the agenda where cycling is concerned (a recent change!) but the political challenges remain: getting policymakers from cities throughout the region – including Beverly Hills – on board.