A Historical Look At Building And Construction In Los Angeles

Los Angeles, situated on the nation's West Coast, bounded by the San Bernardino Mountain Range, is the most populous city in California. The city has come a long way since it was established in 1781 by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. Building and construction has proceeded at a somewhat uneven pace over the years. LA's downtown, in particular, is currently enjoying something of a rebirth, with many historic buildings being changed into expensive lofts. The majority of major downtown department stores once operated out of stand-alone buildings in the area. A good few of them were closed in the 1970's and 80's, as there was a movement away from stand-alones and into modern office centers and shopping complexes.

Given the city's westward shift of the commercial center, downtown LA was devoid of much nightlife until recently. Despite the fact that the building and construction process proceeded apace, the LA City Council sped things up by enacting a reuse ordinance, which made it easier for developers to turn vacant old office buildings to high-class lofts and exclusive apartment complexes. A slew of professionals, tired of the city's notorious rush-hour gridlock problems, were quick to move in. The residential count in downtown LA has blossomed since the early 2000's, in part due to all the building and construction, with a more than 15 percent increase to approximately 28,000 persons.

This amount superseded estimates and, with many more housing units being built, has pushed the population count to possibly be more than 40,000 by the conclusion of 2008. Unfortunately, the number of available jobs in the area has decreased to 418,000, down from an estimated 605,000 a decade ago. In 2007, the City Council approved major changes to the downtown's zoning laws.

Staunchly advocated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the changes facilitate more building and construction by allowing for bigger and more closely-packed developments. Additionally, builders who withhold 15 percent of their units for poor residents are to be exempt from certain building requirements and edifices can be constructed that are more than 30 percent larger than existent zoning laws call for. Interestingly, a number of the core downtown buildings date way back in the turn of the century. Between then and the late 1050's, an ordinance kept building heights at under 150 feet, giving rise to a fairly consistent skyline.

Allegedly, it was done not for fear of earthquakes, but to maintain a uniform height in the area and to avoid New York City style congestion. None of these laws are in effect today, as a skyline full of tall office buildings bears evidence to.

Matt Paolini is a Web content writer for CityBook.com, the family-safe business yellow pages, which carries an extensive directory of Los Angeles land preparation contractors industry-related businesses.

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