No one argued with the fact that LA's generally mild climate requires minimal energy for heating and cooling. However, they didn't believe that Angelenos generally endure shorter (in distance) commutes than the national average.
Like I wrote in Hometown, there is a huge disconnect between the way people actually live in LA versus the portrayal in Hollywood movies. Firstly, a sizable portion of Angelenos are poor. They don't consume much because they can't afford to. Even amongst Angelenos with money, they still consume less resources than their economic peers around the country due to climate and density.
In general, the denser the neighborhoods, the closer the services*. The population-weighted density of the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana (12,114) metro area is on par with San Francisco-Oakland (12,145). In fact, we are second only to NY-Northern NJ-Long Island metro (31,251).
Compare the density of my soon-to-be Boulder neighborhood
The Racial Dot Map to create both.
The large blank/white areas represent commercial zones and employment centers. Some of the smaller ones are parks, but most are retail and commercial zones. Notice the absence of a dense city core and the checkerboard effect of neighborhoods interspersed with white areas? This checkerboard helps explain why so many workers are able to bike or walk to work in metro LA.
LA is NOT a paragon of greenness. We can definitely be greener. I only make the point that it does better than the popular misconception believed by many.
If we could combine the density and diversity of LA with the bike path network and environmental awareness of Boulder, the beauty of the beach with the beauty of the mountains, it would be my dream community. However, having a foot in both communities won't be a tough life. ;-)
* There are exceptions in highly dense poor areas ignored by retailers.
Aside:America's Truly Densest Metros brings up an interesting point about density as a function of distance from city hall (their proxy for the city center).
light rail is slated to return.
This density plot explains the unique hell that is LA traffic. There is literally nowhere you can go to escape density and traffic. Hence, Bad Dad and I made the decision to be non-combatants in the freeway scrum even though that limits our job prospects and the size of our house. We are not unique in coming to this conclusion.
The average commute time interactive map shows that LA commute times are about average for the nation overall, despite the larger reliance on public transit (slower) and traffic gridlock. This is true only because people live closer to work. Don't be fooled by the large darker red areas. Few people live there, so the population-weighted commute distance/times is much, much shorter than the area-weighted one.