It's a dog's life in DTLA

Hosted by

The creation of place is as much about the social experience as the physical, especially when it comes to home. And home to many means the company of a pet.

But many Los Angeles renters find property owners don’t allow dogs and cats. That’s especially true for the homeless. Supportive housing often forbids pets, so a homeless person who is offered a room is forced to choose between their four-legged friend and a roof over their heads.

Last week the LA County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to draft an ordinance requiring all county-funded housing to allow homeless people who move into that housing to bring their pets.

A dog walker is kept busy at a South Park residential tower in downtown LA; photo by Frances Anderton.

This got DnA wondering where you can find dog-friendly rentals generally.

Turns out, the place with the least number of backyards in LA might be where you find the most welcome mats for dogs, and other pets: DTLA.

An estimated 85 percent of downtown landlords now go out of their way to attract renters and condo-owners with dogs, who in turn have helped grease the wheels of development in this urban neighborhood.

After all, says Hal Bastian, leasing agent and realtor, it took dogs to create community in the fledgling revival of the historic district.

The dog park by the LAPD headquarters in downtown LA; photo by Frances Anderton.

Following the passage of the adaptive reuse ordinance 19 years ago, Bastian was working on the leasing of 230 apartments in the historic district developed by Tom Gilmore. It was a challenge because there were homeless encampments on the streets. But the design team had exposed and epoxied the concrete floors, and “in a moment of intuition, I said, let's be dog friendly. I ended up leasing 230 apartments to 350 people with 150 dogs and the world was changed.”

Since then developers of new residential towers have followed suit. 

"Half of the population in the modern high rises have dogs now," says Olivier Somerhalder, principal with the architecture firm Gensler. Gensler designed Metropolis, a hotel and two towers in South Park by the 110 freeway, for a Chinese-owned development company called Greenland USA. Its LA spokesperson Winston Yen told DnA their dog park on the 9th floor "was not part of the original plan." But once they realized dogs were a very important part of American lifestyle they thought, "let's try to entertain this idea." 

DnA talks to Hal Bastian and Downtown LA News Editor-in-chief Jon Regardie about how dogs have changed the amenities in new residential buildings and upstaged children in creating community in the most urban neighborhood in LA County.