Los Angeles Unified School District?s Campus Construction Project and the Revision of Los Angeles?s Urban Landscape: Is there room for all the communities? needs?
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Los Angeles, like many large metropolitan centers, has overwhelming needs to provide for and limited finances and open space to do so. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest district in the country with over 730,000 students, has seen its outdated facilities, most of which date back prior to 1960, become increasingly overcrowded due to a population upsurge that began in the 1980s. Meanwhile, this population growth has stressed LA?s housing stock to the breaking point, with rental rates growing by 4.6% last quarter alone. However, LAUSD is in the unique position, due to almost $15 billion in bond funds from three local and three state-wide initiatives passed since 1997 and its ability to acquire property through eminent domain, to build 160 new schools into next decade that will affect massive change of Los Angeles?s urban landscape. Furthermore, Los Angeles?s sprawling, yet surprisingly dense urban environment provides a paucity of suitable school sites that are undeveloped. A research process including analytical reading, participant observation, and interviews revealed that in the context of limited options for land development, competition for space between needs like schools, affordable housing and parks becomes zero-sum. Joint-development and joint-use agreements are ways to lessen the zero-sum quality of the situation; public opinion, political will, and dedicated funds for planning and facility maintenance are vital components needed to influence the institutions involved to work collaboratively towards these unique solutions.