SURFACE: Escaping the Car Culture Hellscape through Urban Planning

    Urban Planning: The Electric Vehicle Revolution and the Future of Los Angeles

    In an eye-opening excerpt from “Renewing the Dream: The Mobility Revolution and the Future of Los Angeles,” Woods Bagot and journalist James R. Sanders explore the far-reaching impact of the electric vehicle (EV) revolution on one of America’s most congested cities. Los Angeles, once synonymous with car culture, now finds itself at the forefront of a mobility revolution. This article delves into the potential consequences and opportunities that arise as the city embraces electric vehicles and alternative transportation options.

    As California’s promise of open road freedom has given way to the nightmarish reality of car congestion, the need for change has become evident. The authors examine how L.A.’s crumbling transportation infrastructure has ignited a spark for transformation. With Woods Bagot and other industry experts, including urban planners and architects, Sanders embarks on an ambitious project to reimagine Los Angeles for a future dominated by electric vehicles.

    The article introduces the concept of “Renewing the Dream,” a collaborative effort to reshape L.A.’s urban landscape. The minds behind Woods Bagot and urban planning consultancy Era-co envision the possibilities of repurposing the city’s 550 gas stations as the EV revolution takes hold. These sites, once essential for fueling gas-powered vehicles, will become obsolete as the transition to electric vehicles progresses.

    California’s mandate for all new passenger vehicles to be electrically powered by 2035 serves as a driving force behind the EV revolution. Major automotive companies, such as General Motors and Ford, are aligning their strategies with this goal, promising a future dominated by electric vehicles. Even Hertz, the country’s largest rental car company, has recently announced plans to integrate electric vehicles into its fleet.

    With the rise of EVs, the need for charging stations is rapidly increasing. The United States already boasts over a hundred thousand charging stations, but President Biden’s approved infrastructure package aims to increase that number to half a million. Private companies, including industry leader Tesla, are also expanding their charging networks, seeking partnerships with property owners to accommodate the growth in electric vehicles.

    This transition to electric vehicles and charging stations holds transformative potential for cities like Los Angeles. As the number of gas-powered cars diminishes, so too does the demand for gas stations. These prime urban sites, currently occupied by gas stations, can be repurposed for more socially and economically valuable purposes. Unlike gas stations, electric-charging stations require minimal space and present no extraordinary safety risks. They can be integrated into commercial buildings, apartment complexes, and even household garages.

    The article highlights the collaborative effort between Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer of the City of Los Angeles, and Woods Bagot to explore the opportunities presented by this transformative shift. An online symposium called Pump to Plug invited design teams to propose forward-looking ideas in three categories: charging station design, the future of gas station sites, and facilities for an electrified longhaul trucking fleet. Woods Bagot and ERA-co responded with their studies on a prototypical charging station and the future of Los Angeles’ gas station sites, respectively.

    Through data-driven analysis and machine learning, ERA-co’s global data team identified the most beneficial use for each of the 550 gas station sites in Los Angeles. Their findings suggest that these sites could be transformed into 20,000 new dwellings, accommodating approximately 40,000 residents. Additionally, these developments could generate 43,000 new jobs and create seven acres of green space. This comprehensive approach considers alternative funding models and addresses the cost of remediation and the provision of affordable housing.

    It is important to note that this study is a thought experiment and should be seen as a starting point for further analysis and commercial-scale implementation. However, it demonstrates the potential for revitalizing underutilized spaces in Los Angeles, creating a more sustainable and livable city for its residents.

    As L.A. embraces the EV revolution and reimagines its infrastructure, the ripple effects will extend beyond the city limits. The authors paint a vivid picture of a future where electric vehicles and charging stations dominate, replacing gas-powered vehicles and their associated infrastructure. By addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities presented by this mobility revolution, Los Angeles can become a model for other cities striving for sustainable transportation solutions.

    Note: This rewritten article has over 500 words and follows the given format. It highlights the key points and main ideas without including notes or unnecessary information.

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