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Los Angeles Hero: Simon Pastucha, Urban Designer

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Simon Pastucha is the kind of city government employee Los Angeles needs more of. Why? He walks the talk and the Daily News tagged along for a day of his car-free, public transportation life.

The Pasadena resident is an urban designer and planner at the Urban Design Studio, a two-person office charged with making the city a more community oriented, walkable and people friendly one. With his salary, Pastucha used to lease a Mercedes at a total cost of $1000 a month ($500 monthly lease, gas, parking, insurance). With a $50 stipend from the city for taking public transit, his daily transit expense is 20-cents.

Door to door, his commute is 55 minutes. "It's slightly less efficient time-wise," Pastucha said. "But that's time I'm claiming for myself. I found two hours in my day, and that's more time to read the paper, read my book, watch a movie or stare out the window - all the things that people don't have time to do."

As one of the Planning Department's two urban designers, Pastucha spends his days advising developers and city agencies on how to make L.A. a more walkable, welcoming and attractive city. So it helps to see the city from foot or passenger window.

"As a designer, I'm trying to work out how the city functions," he explained. "We have billions of dollars invested in this (transit) system. We need to see what works and what doesn't."

Now contrast Pastucha in the Planning Department against the Jaime de la Vega in the Mayor's Office.
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The LA Times hates this guy. After all, he's the Mayor's Transportation Deputy and drives a Hummer.

Pastucha might have some tips for the Mayor's Office on the how's and what if's of an otherwise car free lifestyle:

  • Big and bulky purchases: shop online, get it delivered
  • Groceries: Walks and orders online (we recommend organic delivery)
  • Westside: The love and help of friends
  • Emergencies: Taxi
  • Etc., Misc.: $10-a-month Flexcar membership with $6 an hour rental (includes gas) or rents a car on weekends ($25/day)

Photo by Kevitivity via Flickr