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Los Angeles Is 87 Percent Urban, According To Angelenos

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A recent survey shows that Los Angeles may be, despite its reputation, surprisingly urban—at least in terms of how the people who live here describe it. Those of us who call downtown or Koreatown home may have already felt like we live in a very urban area, but for many—mostly outsiders—Los Angeles conjures an image of sprawl. The U.S. Census basically clumps urban and suburban together—regardless of whether someone lives in a huge mixed-user next to a subway station with ground floor retail, or in a single-family home in a subdivision. Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, decided to try to find a better way to more clearly define urban and suburban areas, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Kolko and Trulia surveyed 2,008 people across the country. Each was asked to describe whether their neighborhood was urban, rural or suburban. They did not give residents any kind of description of what these terms meant, and used the residents' ZIP codes as their neighborhoods. Based on these responses, they then mapped out the areas. Los Angeles came out as 87 percent urban. You can compare that to NYC and Chicago—both 100 percent urban—or San Diego (49 percent) or Phoenix (30 percent).

Granted, a person's perception of where they live isn't always a great indicator of what that place is, and the distinction between urban and suburban largely varies based on a person's lived experiences. A New Yorker and someone from a smaller Midwestern city might feel very different about what constitutes as a city, or what seems bustling or sprawling.

It seems as though people in this particular survey were inclined to say they lived in an urban neighborhood if they lived in a dense area, or one with over 2,213 households per square mile. If residents lived in areas with 102 households or fewer per square mile, they often described their neighborhood as rural. If that number was somewhere in between, respondents were likely to define their home as suburban. The survey also found that people were more inclined to say they lived in urban areas if they were near other dense ZIP codes, lived in low-income areas or lived near a lot of businesses.

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[h/t Curbed LA]