Is it worth possibly developing cancer to live in a convenient location? Los Angeles multifamily developers keep building apartment complexes near the freeways, despite evidence that such locations contribute to health problems for residents.
People who live within 500 feet of freeways are known to suffer higher rates of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and pre-term births. Los Angeles issued building permits for 4,300 homes near freeways in 2015 — a 10-year high — and approved another 3,000 units in 2016. Millions of dollars worth of public funds, are going to multifamily developers despite plans to build in so-called pollution zones.
Between 2000 and 2010, the population within 500 feet of a Los Angeles freeway grew 3.9%, compared with a rate of 2.6% citywide. And the city has a host of new multifamily developments underway along these noxious corridors, a trend that won't abate as long as residents insist on convenience.
Planning experts say cities could ease the problem by rezoning areas near heavy traffic to prohibit new residential development or strengthen building standards.“If there's a political will to protect people from this type of development then cities certainly know how to use zoning to accomplish that,” James Kushner, an expert in land-use, development and urban planning at Southwestern Law School, told the Los Angeles Times.