“It lacks the sex and violence to be another Chinatown, but it’s still quite a story!”

Environmental law expert and UC Berkeley Law professor Dan Farber reviewed Railtown today, and he provided an accurate and insightful summary of the LA rail story:

It took several decades to get the current rail system built. There were many detours and delays along the way. Mass transit in LA has to confront not only a sprawling geography but a sprawling political situation, which meant that the route was set as much by neighborhood politics as planning needs. For instance, although Wilshire was a prime candidate for rail, because of its population density. But environmental icon Henry Waxman blocked the ideal route, seemingly in order to protect a neighborhood with which he had a class connection. Partly because of political delays and poor management, construction costs went way over budget.

Overall, he described the book as a “fascinating account of LA’s move away from an almost religious attachment to the automobile. The LA story has some important implications for other cities.” You can read more from Dan on the Legal Planet blog, to which I am also contributor.