America's first truly twenty-first-century metropolis, Los Angeles is often depicted as diverse, fragmented, polarized, and ungovernable, a city without a unifying geographic center or civic culture. The sprawling evolution of the city and its infamous problemstraffic, pollution, growing inequalityare usually attributed to a Wild West version of capitalismthe triumph of an unregulated free market over comprehensive urban planning. But market choices and lack of planning did not set the terrain of Southern California: Los Angeles has been profoundly shaped by a wide range of local, state, and federal public policies and programs.
Up against the Sprawl details how governmental policies and public agencies have dictated many aspects of the regions growth: infrastructure, transportation, housing, immigration, finances, civic and regional administration, the environment. The authors also argue that since public policy set the landscape, it can help forge the future. They explore countermovements by progressive activists to use innovative policiesfrom smart growth initiatives to the actions of living wage advocatesfor greater social, economic, and environmental justice.
This book is a major contribution to our understanding of past and present urban processes and policy, and highlights practical lessons for urban and regional policy makers and activists in Los Angeles and beyond.