|Photo: Google Maps|
One of the biggest obstacles to doing transit oriented development (TOD) in LA is the perception that it is incompatible with neighborhoods of detached houses. Personally, I think people get too squeamish about denser construction near transit. Transit needs a strong base of potential riders to thrive and be convenient. However, it's worth remembering that with good design, density doesn't have to look out of scale.
Boyle Heights illustrates this beautifully just south of the Pico / Aliso Gold Line Station. As you can see in the photo above, this section of Utah St. features a walk-up apartment building and small-lot detached cottages. Each house sits on just under 3,000 square feet (279 square meters) which is almost 15 units per acre (36 units per hectare) excluding streets, very high for detached houses (I did this calculation using ZIMAS).
By using vertical space (i.e. being two stores), the houses can sit on small lots yet still enjoy adequate interior room. They're in-scale with the surroundings and I think the design is pretty sharp. It's certainly possible to criticize this for not being denser immediately adjacent to a light-rail station, or for having too many parking spaces (although that's a City requirement), but I still think it illustrates an important principle and points a way out of the all-too-frequent political logjams that stymie TOD. I tip my hat to you Boyle Heights, for showing that there's more than one way to design for density.
If you're at CicLAvía 3 10am - 3pm today, which you should be, because it's awesome and free, you can actually visit this place without going too far off the route. In case you haven't heard of CicLAvía, it's an event where some LA streets are closed to cars and open to fun, bike-based or otherwise :)