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Sustainanble Portland? A Critique, and the Los Angeles Counterpoint

Harry W. Richardson and Peter Gordon
This paper examines the Portland experience as America’s most widely regarded example of urban sustainability. It suggests that appearances are deceptive. It compares some characteristics of development in Portland with similar trends in Los Angeles, not known as an exemplar of sustainability. The data suggest that Portland and Los Angeles are much more alike than different. In fact, from some points of view, Portland is less sustainable. It sprawls more (with densities about one-half of Los Angeles), its housing is less affordable, it consumes more land for urban development, it has more roads, and its minimal reliance on transit is similar.