L.A.’s love of sprawl made it America’s most overcrowded place. Poor people pay a deadly price if they venture out of their neighborhoods.
The Los Angeles area is America’s most crowded place, according to a new report, a finding that will be of keen interest to lawmakers, business owners, activists and families alike.
The report, produced by the University of Southern California’s Institute for Global Family Policy, is the most detailed effort to date to determine the relationship between sprawl and poverty in California’s largest cities.
“When people talk about sprawl being the root of all evil, they’re completely missing the point,” said David Stauffer, dean of USC’s School of Social Work and founding director of the institute. “People need access to health care, they need affordable homes, they need the ability to walk to work, they need the ability to walk to school.”
Los Angeles has become America’s most densely populated major city since 1970. The most densely populated major city is New York City, which has been growing at a pace of 40 square feet per resident per year since 1890. L.A.’s growth was 50 square feet per resident per year until 1970.
Other major cities have grown at a much faster pace, such as Washington, D.C., where the population grew by 20 square feet per resident per year from 1890 to 1970.
That meant people in L.A.’s core were paying an incredibly high price over the past few decades. The city’s median household income fell 33 percent over the 1990s and 2000s, from $33,922 to $27,965 over the past 12 years.
For those who have to travel outside their core, the price tag is even more dire. A family of four living in West L.A. would need to spend $31,958 to get from point A to point B. That’s nearly $10,000 more than a family living in the city’s north and east, a relatively unspoiled part of the city