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Jacobs: I don't know. You're probably better informed than I am on that. I'm talking about the city of Portland itself.
Reason: The criticisms of Portland are these: By fixing boundaries and limiting growth by government fiat, they are guaranteeing that prices of housing will go up higher within the boundaries of Portland and that traffic will get worse. And this has happened.
Jacobs: Well, my goodness. Portland is not a dense city and never was. Whoever made that prediction, that densifying the city itself would have all those bad consequences, they don't know anything about it.
Reason: I lived in Los Angeles for 12 years. When I moved there in 1977, I just loved it immediately. It was so open and free and full of life and vitality. Not only the people, but there seemed to be a lot fewer rules and regulations about what you could do and couldn't do. Peter Hall says in Cities in Civilization that L.A. was built on freedom, and when I read that, I thought, "That makes sense to me."
Jacobs: Well, it does if you are able to drive a car and have enough money. But only in those cases.
Reason: Los Angeles wasn't too bad for money. My daughter is a lawyer and she had to leave San Francisco because she couldn't afford living there.
Jacobs: It's gotten so popular....
Reason: I remember interviewing the head of regional planning in Los Angeles. He shocked me, because I had grown up thinking Los Angeles was the best example of bad city planning. That it was sprawled all over the place, and it was just a mess, and nobody was in charge or anything. This was 1984, and this guy told me, "Now I have people coming from around the world to Los Angeles to see how we did it, how we established a city that had so many city centers -- and not just two or three big centers, but 18." The answer was that no one planned it, obviously. It just happened that way and there is not any way to arrange it to happen in this way.
Jacobs: That's what I say: Every city is different. But don't think that because Los Angeles can do that, and it turned out that way, that every city can be a Los Angeles.
Reason: Some people say cities are destined to become workplaces by day and entertainment centers by night and weekend. Do you think that's true?
Jacobs: To a certain extent. Cities have always had a lot of leisure things that people use after work hours. But there are a lot of people who don't work during the day. Children have short working hours, you might say. There are seniors who don't have a lot of work during the day. I think it's important that there be recreational places during the day, too. Places where people can swim. Community centers. Places where they can bicycle.
Reason: In the city center area?
Jacobs: All over the city. The idea of this strict segregation of hours is fairly ridiculous. There are also more and more people who are working at night. Especially people who work at home.
Reason: A couple of years ago, Jesse Walker, an associate editor of REASON, wrote that your ideas are being seized by the sustainability crowd and are being abused. He wrote, "To the extent that they have digested Jacobs, they have romanticized her vision, bastardizing her empirical observations of how cities work into a formula they want to impose not just on cities but on suburbs and small towns as well."
Jacobs: I think there's a lot of truth to that. For example, the New Urbanists want to have lively centers in the places that they develop, where people run into each other doing errands and that sort of thing. And yet, from what I've seen of their plans and the places they have built, they don't seem to have a sense of the anatomy of these hearts, these centers. They've placed them as if they were shopping centers. They don't connect. In a real city or a real town, the lively heart always has two or more well-used pedestrian thoroughfares that meet. In traditional towns, often it's a triangular piece of land. Sometimes it's made into a park.