Smart Growth Stories: Point C’s David Grannis on creating vibrant neighborhoods in downtown Los Angeles

The right development can strengthen the economy of a neighborhood, a city or even an entire region. Places with housing and transportation choices are increasingly popular, and can benefit municipal budgets as well. Too often, however, this type of development is blocked by restrictive zoning guidelines or other regulatory policies, which stand in the way of fiscally responsible development – and market demand.

This is why real estate developers have joined together with Smart Growth America to create LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors. LOCUS advocates for state and federal policies that help cities and communities get what they want from their spaces, while also investing ways that will remain viable for the future.

It is this shared vision for future development that drives people like David Grannis. Grannis is a managing partner of Point C, a strategic consulting group that focuses on land use and transportation and LOCUS member.

“The beauty of smart growth is that it’s actually happening everywhere,” says Grannis. “Downtown [Los Angeles] is much more economically viable than it was twenty years ago. It is a destination. It is a place to be, a place to live. I believe—and this to me is what LOCUS is really all about—that good policy follows good practice.”

And Grannis should know. Point C has played a huge role driving smart growth in southern California over the past few years. The firm has a long list of clients and development projects from both the private and public sector that have helped make southern California a more vibrant, dynamic place to work and live. Point C’s projects include the preservation of historic coastline, the construction of the Pasadena light rail Gold Line, and taking point on Vision Los Angeles, a partnership between the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and the Environmental Defense Fund to make Los Angeles more livable and more sustainable.

For Grannis, these kinds of smart developments make sense not only because they benefit investors, but also because smart growth is what many potential residents are looking for. According to Grannis, vibrant neighborhoods are “what people want. They’re not some kind of trendy, new product that we’re marketing on television. What we’re doing is we’re really providing the infrastructure necessary for people to pursue their lifestyle the way they want it.”

Grannis is quick to emphasize that smart growth is also good for the city itself. “What’s happened is that a huge amount of adaptive re-use and infill has occurred for both housing and jobs and services, which in turn has raised the population living downtown, which in turn has raised the economics of downtown,” says Grannis, speaking about Los Angeles.

In the end though, smart growth must also be future-oriented, creating a network that allows people to thrive and develop in a sustainable way, both economically and environmentally. “We can do a lot better for our kids and our grandkids,” Grannis believes, “not just through investing tax resources, but doing things more smartly, creating that operating system that continually is dynamically updated for future generations.”

By crafting the kinds of solutions that create smart, profitable development, Grannis and Point C are ensuring a better future for southern California, one that is sustained by its own investments in the future.

Download the full transcript: Point C’s David Grannis on creating vibrant neighborhoods in downtown Los Angeles [PDF].

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