Supporting the need for greater density in Los Angeles at a symposium sponsored by The Downtown Breakfast Club on Nov. 21 are (from left) architect Wade Killefer, planner Simon Pastucha; Carolyn Ramsay, chief of staff for Councilman Tom La Bonge, developer Wayne Ratkovich and Bill Roschen, past president of Los Angeles Planning Commission.

LOS ANGELES-Los Angeles is the nation’s most dense city, according to experts at the recent Impact on Density Symposium at The Downtown Breakfast Club. Defined as people per square mile, Los Angeles beats New York City and Chicago with 7,000 residents per square mile. By comparison, New York City has 5,319 people per square mile.

According to experts at the symposium, density is increasing and the city needs to alter building codes to accommodate increased population growth. Specifically, architect Wade Killefer proposed doubling floor-to-area ratios, currently at 6 to 1. In terms of overall building height, multiple high-rise complexes have been built on Wilshire in the past 5-10 years because there is no height requirement. Killefer also noted that there have been several mid-rise complexes to come online, but attributed the uptick to the recession. “Since developers respond to market and financing factors and construction costs for high-rise buildings, cost 25-35% more than mid-rise structures, smaller buildings are currently in vogue,” he added.

Public transportation also plays an important roll in accommodating increased density. Architect and former president of the Los Angeles Planning Commission Bill Roschen encouraged linkages between developments and train stations, adding that as population increases, people should “live where they work.” The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority recently hosted a conference to encourage funding and support the light rail extension between Azusa and Montclair. The full extension project totals 24 miles and would link Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona and Claremont.

New development is an important part of this equation. Simon Pastucha, head of the Urban Design Studio of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, explained that the city is making accommodations based on the General Plan Framework and Housing Elements. “We also plan on shaping new development with urban design activating under-utilized buildings, addressing the need for more hotels and expanding the Convention Center. Increased density certainly will be reflected in the new projects,” said Pastucha.