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If you build it, someone will come

July 26, 2007

Re "An L.A. big enough for tiny apartments," July 24

In the 1940s, when my husband attended medical school in New York, we lived in a 300-square-foot apartment similar to the ones you describe. The rent and the space were just fine for two hopeful people in their early 20s. When we visited the place 50 years later, that apartment had been turned into a co-op occupied by a single man.

Contrary to the predictions of developers and city planners, however, apartments of that size in L.A. will not attract just single businessmen or young professional couples. At $400 a month, those spaces will quickly fill with struggling immigrant families or unrelated men looking for work. Even with six and seven people per apartment, 300 fully equipped square feet, in a new, rat-free, roach-free building, will feel like paradise.

Don't kid yourself -- Los Angeles is not Manhattan.

Jean Sapin

Sherman Oaks

Urban affairs expert Joel Kotkin really needs to get over his contempt for people who, for whatever reason, aren't going to buy a three-bedroom house, stay for 30 years and raise 2.5 kids. Like it or not, the geographically stable, working-class nuclear family that built a Los Angeles of bungalows and ranches is a dying breed all over America. The city's environment needs to change to reflect this new reality.

As for this "Downtown L.A. isn't New York" nonsense, so what? If there's a market for tiny studio apartments, developers will build them; if there isn't, they won't. If the apartments end up being rented by transients, well, that means they're not on the streets.

Peter McFerrin

Los Angeles

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