People who once drove to Westwood on Saturday nights now visited Old Pasadena.
“If you had told people in 1990 that this switch would occur,” says Shoup, “you would have been considered insane.” There are many theories about why Westwood died, and Shoup has his own. “It’s a myth to say Westwood died because of one high-profile homicide in the 1980s,” he says, referring to the 1988 death of a Long Beach woman named Karen Toshima, killed in crossfire. “Westwood had an unbelievably high parking requirement—ten spaces for every 1,000 square feet of restaurant. Old Pasadena had none. Westwood had dangerous alleys, crumbing sidewalks. If you want to know why Old Pasadena succeeded Westwood, parking was a big part of the story.”
Cole had created the first Shoupista paradise: No parking requirements, parking meters where once there were none. His city grew rich off the notion—and nobody has tried it since. “For 5,000 years,” says Cole, “we built cities around people, and they worked well. For 50 years we’ve built them around the parking lot—a ridiculous use of land, of money, and an intrusion into the intimacy of human scale. Now we’ve painted ourselves into a corner. The saving grace is that the first 5,000 years might come back again.”
What I think this means is that Westwood (which is part of the city of Los Angeles) had onerous restrictions on new businesses, requiring them to provide lots of parking spaces, while Pasadena let entrepreneurs get away without investing in a lot of parking spaces, which attracted newer, more interesting businesses.