Tag Archives: comprehensive plan

Are Master Plans Useful?

By Dom Nozzi

I was told that “a lot of the smaller towns need to go vertical now or, at the very least plan for it. As increased density is the easiest way to stave off the ‘crowding’ from lack of infrastructure development that seems to go along with suburban sprawl around here.” This person asked if I “had a chance to review the master plans for the county and local municipalities?”

I responded by pointing out that I agreed about our needing more height and density to reduce the perception of “crowding.” However, I think it is best, like much of Paris, to avoid going higher than five stories with building heights.

I have mostly not looked at any Greenville County (South Carolina) or City of Greenville master plans.

Having spent 20 years writing such plans professionally, I learned that 99 percent of master plan content is little more than lip service and vague platitudes.

Little known fact: Nearly all cities and counties adopt plans that people assume are tailored for the local community, yet nearly all of these plans end up saying nearly the same “feel good” things that every other city and county say in their plans. In communities that are utterly lacking in leadership — such as my former city of Gainesville FL — the master “plans” are not plans at all. They simply document what the city had agreed to do or was in the process of doing already. So the “plans” are perhaps more accurately called history books that used “happy” words.

If someone was to ask me to state the top two or three things that Greenville and Greenville County should do to improve quality of life, safety, economic health, public health, happiness, and pride (ie, the two or three things that a master plan must call for above and beyond anything else), those items would be to adopt the following Master Plan.

Dom’s Master Plan for Greenville SC (and nearly every other American city)

American cities – after a century of single-mindedly allocating vast sums of public dollars to promoting motor vehicle travel – have created a world designed primarily for motor vehicles rather than people. The following are the three primary ways this must be corrected.

(1)  Because motor vehicles consume so much space, a century of efforts to promote motor vehicle mobility means that American cities are dying from the disease known as “Gigantism.” It is a self-perpetuating downward spiral.

To escape, we must — in our town center — shrink the size of roads, including converting one-ways back to two-way, and removing continuous left-turn lanes. Also, we need to shrink highways, intersections, parking lots, building setbacks, and minimum lot and house sizes. We need to reduce the height of signs, lights, and skyscraper buildings. And couple this with bringing an end to the extremely dangerous practice of employing forgiving roadway design in local traffic engineering manuals, and to instead adopt manuals that promote slower, safer, more attentive driving;

(2) Adopt a form-based rather than a use-based development code, a code which would obligate much more compact development, a vast increase in walkable neighborhoods, require traditional/historical rather than modernist architecture, and adopting geographically calibrated development regulations that provide for all lifestyle choices.

We need to further promote compact development by inverting property taxes. Conventional tax rate structure used by nearly all cities taxes buildings instead of land. The higher the value of a building on a piece of downtown land, the higher the tax. Instead, tax land itself, not the building on it, so that there is a tax disincentive for keeping land vacant or underused in the town center; and

(3) Significantly increase the amount of (paid) on-street parking in the town center, coupled with a conversion of required minimum parking to a maximum allowable amount of parking for new development, as well as unbundling the price of housing from the cost of any parking provided for that housing. Adopt other motorist user fees such as electronic road tolling.

My guess is that none of the above is called for by local master plans. And whereas those master plans are surely hundreds of pages long, my master plan (above) is about one page long.

I can even write a master plan that consists of one sentence: “The City shall re-establish the timeless principle of designing to make people happy rather than cars.”

That captures nearly everything important that needs to be done in American cities.

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Primary Concerns About the Boulder Colorado Draft Transportation Plan

By Dom Nozzi

August 5, 2014

Here are primary concerns I have about the Boulder Transportation Master Plan (TMP), and transportation reforms that I think are necessary in Boulder. I list below my top three, followed by several additional concerns.

Too little (or nothing) is said about GIGANTISM: Boulder has oversized several roads and intersections. Road diets (right-sizing) are needed for major town center streets: Canyon, Broadway, Folsom, Colorado. A moratorium should be established on street sizing: No future street widening should exceed five lanes. No intersection widening should exceed one turning lane. In the town center, the maximum street size should be three lanes.

A citywide traffic calming (speed reduction) program should be adopted that obligates motorists to slow down and be more attentive based on street design. Tools, again, focus on right-sizing, and include roundabouts, traffic circles, chicanes, narrowing of travel lanes, street trees, shrinking the size of the turning radius at intersections, added on-street car parking, raised medians, and “bump-outs” at intersections and mid-block.

Boulder should move away from the outdated “forgiving” street design. Within the town center, geometries and dimensions of streets shall employ “low-speed” sizing.

Each year, the total number of car parking spaces in the town center shall be reduced to a quantity lower than the number in the prior year. Over-sizing is a fertility drug forjuly-2015-2 cars.

Too little (or nothing) is said about making car parking efficient: Price more parking, share more parking, require more parking cash-out, unbundle the price of parking from housing, and convert minimum parking requirements to maximum parking requirements (probably need to start by applying this to places that are compact, transit-rich, and bicycle and walking friendly, such as the town center, Boulder Junction, etc.).

The “Congestion Objective” in the TMP (no more than 20% of road mileage shall be congested) should be either replaced with less outdated, counterproductive and less outdated measures such as a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) cap, or should be revised so that the town center is exempt from this objective. Most every change in behavior that a citizen engages in when responding to traffic congestion – such as avoiding rush hour driving, living closer to daily destinations, driving slower, traveling on non-major streets, trip chaining (combining, say, a trip to get groceries with a trip to the doctor), foregoing low-value car trips – is good for the community. By contrast, many (most?) actions a government agency takes when responding to traffic congestion – such as widening a road or intersection, downzoning in the town center, adding more free parking, synchronizing traffic signals for car speeds, converting a two-way street to one-way – is undesirable for the community. The much more progressive way to address traffic congestion is not to reduce it (which is nearly impossible given the HUGE space-hogging nature of cars, and given a healthy city), but to create ALTERNATIVES to congestion so those unwilling or unable to tolerate it can avoid it (via alternative routes, traveling at non-rush hour times, driving on routes optimized by pricing, or traveling by bicycling, walking, or transit).

Replace of the awful, unattractive, dangerous continuous left-turn lanes on east Pearl Street and North Broadway with raised medians coupled with “turn pockets.”

Restore the traditional two-way operation of the one-way loop in the Boulder town center.

Eliminate of any land development code obstacles that may exist for the replacement of asphalt surface parking lots with retail, office, or residential buildings.

Lobby the State of Colorado to pass the law used successfully in Idaho, where bicyclists are able to treat stop signs as yield signs, and traffic signals as stop signs.

Boulder should adopt a “Stylebook” for written and oral communication. “Plain English” rather than bureaucratic jargon, and “unbiased” transportation terminology instead of “biased” terminology. I succeeded in having the Gainesville FL Council of Governments (the DRCOG of that region) adopt such a stylebook, and suggested that TAB push for this more than once at our retreat.

Boulder should lobby the State to be given authorization to toll state roads within city limits.

Increase the use of motorist user fees: Parking, tolls, VMT fee, pay-at-the-pump car insurance, etc.

If signal lights are to be synchronized, they should be based on the speed of buses and bikes, rather than cars. This method is used in Portland OR.

More housing, more mixed use, and more compact land use patterns shall be attained along important transit centers and corridors.

Affordable housing shall be achieved, in part, with more mixed use development patterns (reducing the number of cars a household must own is a powerful way to make housing more affordable).

Service vehicles allowed within city limits should be restricted in size. Oversized trucks and other large vehicles often compel engineers to over-size streets and intersections (because they use the huge truck as their “design vehicle”). That is ruinous and backwards. Huge vehicles should not be determining the size of our street infrastructure. Sizing, instead, should be based on safety for pedestrians & bicyclists, human scale, and overall quality of life. Peter Swift conducted a study in Longmont CO that found car crashes (and the number of transportation injuries and deaths) increased when cities increased the size of their streets and intersections. Ironically, those increased sizes were often pushed by fire/rescue officials seeking to reduce response times for fire trucks. The Swift study found that the lives saved from reduced response times was far less than the number of lives saved by keeping street dimensions small. The focus, therefore, should be on life safety, not just fire safety (which is a subset of life safety).

The need to build extremely expensive street underpasses for bikes/peds should be a signal to us that we have failed in the design of that street (because the street has been made a “car-only” street with too much space and speed given over to cars). A much less costly and more sustainable strategy is to use road diets that make at-grade crossings more feasible (and underpasses less necessary). I acknowledge that underpasses dramatically increase bike/ped travel and are sometimes necessary.

The draft TMP says too little about road diets, slowing cars, transportation user fees, and needed land use reforms.

The creation of “bus queue lanes” (as is used on 28th Street) or “cycle tracks” should not replace on-street parking, and should only be used when replacing existing street lanes, rather than widening the street to find room for such facilities.

The “reduce congestion” phrase, and calling for additional through and turn lanes (page 5-16 of my draft of the TMP) should be stricken.

The plan should openly acknowledge the following:

Transportation tends to be a “zero-sum” game rather than a “win-win” game. That is, when we improve conditions for car travel, we almost always worsen conditions for bike, ped, and transit travel. Economists call this the “barrier effect.” “Happy car design” creates barriers for other forms of travel.

The “travel time budget,” the “triple convergence,” “induced demand,” and the “urban to rural transect” are critically important to understand.

To increase non-car travel, taking away space, speed and subsidies for cars is much more effective than providing bike lanes, sidewalks and more buses.


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TCEA and Not Engaging in Real Town Planning

By Dom Nozzi


The policies of the Transportation Concurrency Exception Area (TCEA) used by the Florida city I work for as a long-range town planner are rather mushy because nearly all of them are optional or are simply insignificant window-dressing. Will we really have transportation choice if a developer installs more bike parking or sidewalks or bus stops?


It is highly disappointing and embarrassing to realize that there are people that actually believe such facilities will reduce car trips.

I wrote the Urban Design portion of the long-range comprehensive plan for this city, but the director of the department watered it down severely. He threw out a third of it (which included my prized “toolbox” describing the benefits and mechanisms for nearly all of the critical urban design features). He also put in a large number of policies that merely state that the City shall do things that have already been agreed to (i.e., the City shall implement the previously adopted special area plan for a neighborhood in the city).

While there is some merit to doing that, since a new commission majority would find it a bit harder to throw out the plan, doing so is not really planning at all. All it says is that we will do what we’ve already agreed to do.

A secretary could have written such policies. Why does the City need professional planners if we’re not doing any planning? Also note that policies in this long-range plan mostly do not get translated into land development code requirements, especially if they are mushy policies, as ours are.sprawl-development

I was forced to chop out numbers in the policies of the plan, since I was told that numbers need to be left for the code-writing stage.

In other words, don’t expect much meaningful revision to our land development code.

Through this watering down, it is fairly easy to claim to the Florida Department of Community Affairs that we’ve implemented policies, even though we have not meaningfully done so.

The comprehensive plan and code changes will give us almost nothing, and it bothers me, since we’re giving away the store and getting nothing in return when we exempt proposed development from concurrency requirements. This is the one big chance the City has to finally stop acting like a doormat. We should say, “yes, we’ll exempt you from our concurrency requirements, but only if you give us some meaningful concessions.”

For example, the City should (but doesn’t) require such design in the town center in exchange for concurrency exemption:

  1. Buildings must be pulled up to the streetside sidewalk.
  2. No parking is allowed in front of your building.
  3. On-street parking is required.
  4. At least 80 percent of your units must be within 1/4 mile of a bus stop if you are residential, and transit passes and parking fees are required for your employees if you are non-residential.
  5. Your building must be a minimum of 2 stories for non-residential buildings.
  6. Walkable town center design is required (above rules, plus mixed use, gridded street pattern, connections to surrounding residential neighborhoods, etc.).
  7. No more than 4 fueling positions are allowed for a proposed gas station.
  8. You must contribute to greenway trail construction, or cash-in-lieu if your project is not near a trail system.

Only with such conditional requirements does a City avoid giving away the store when exempting a proposed development from state concurrency requirements.

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Putting a Cap on Road Size


By Dom Nozzi

January 13, 2003

When it comes to issues pertaining to evacuation plans, communities need to be on guard against people who want to widen roads to promote sprawl and free-flowing, high-speed car travel. Commonly, the Happy Car lobby will use “emergency evacuation” as a scare tactic. By mentioning evacuation, the road widening lobby can achieve the “moral high ground.” Who, after all, could be opposed to evacuating the population if there is an emergency?

The hidden agenda, of course, is to widen the road to promote sprawl, real estate, and happy cars.

The community needs to use whatever tools it has available (state laws, local plans, etc.) to establish a MAXIMUM SIZE for its roads. In the case of Gainesville, Florida, where I was a town planner, the City adopted my suggested maximum that the City shall never build a road bigger than 4 lanes. Because, as I point out in many of my transportation speeches, big roads are very harmful to the quality of life (and sustainability) of a community.

The community could decide (if it is using a growth management tool) that, say, 4 lane roads are the maximum size roads allowed. The maximum is a tool chosen by the community to protect its quality of life. That becomes the “level of service standard” that the community adopts in its growth management plan.

The 4-lane maximum road then becomes, indirectly, a limiting factor for population growth in the community. The community could turn the destructive evacuation strategy I mention above on its head. The community could, for example, use a growth management laws as leverage to say to a proposed new residential developer: “I’m sorry, but our adopted plan does not allow you to build here. If you build here, there will be “X” number of new car trips that will need to be evacuated in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately for you, our evacuation plan states that we must be able to evacuate our community in “Y” minutes. If the new car trips from your proposed project were added to our 4-lane roads, we would not be able to evacuate fast enough. Since our plan clearly states that we will not exceed 4 lanes on our roads, we cannot approve your project.”



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An Unintended Consequence of Development Regulations Consistent with Long-Range Plans


By Dom Nozzi

February 26, 2003

Florida adopted a rule that requires all cities and counties to adopt a 10-year comprehensive plan every 10 years, and also requires local governments to make their land development regulations consistent with their (hopefully) visionary long-range comprehensive plans.

Sounds, at first, like a wonderful idea. After all, isn’t it true that lack of consistency between the two documents is an important cause of a failure to implement the long-range plan vision?cover2-2

But this consistency is not necessarily cause for celebration, at least from what I learned about watching it work (or not work) in Florida. Sadly, there is an unintended consequence.

Because comprehensive plans must be consistent with land development regulations, communities quickly realize that such long-range plans can be quite powerful in shaping development regulations, which makes the development community very nervous.

The solution?

Ensure that the adopted long-range plan is relatively reactionary.

An example of this is that land use designations adopted in the comprehensive plan tend to merely acknowledge the status quo – the long-range land use map simply mimics the existing land uses and zoning already in place. There is therefore little or no “vision” in the adoption of the comprehensive plan land use map. In my community, for example, our 10-year comprehensive plan update simply made a few trivial tweaks to our existing land use designations – designations that were originally and largely established based on existing zoning and uses for parcels in the city.

Note that the above occurred in my community DESPITE the fact that the majority of city commissioners who voted to adopt our comprehensive plan were visionary new urbanists.

In retrospect, perhaps there is something to be said for a comprehensive plan that is “advisory” rather than “mandatory”.

The former creates more of a likelihood that the plan will have a vision.


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Consequences of Increasing the Amount of Required Parking in a City


By Dom Nozzi

March 28, 2003

During my tenure as a town planner for a Florida city, my city proposed to increase the amount of parking required for new developments within the city. This is an extremely common tactic for reducing parking problems.

It is also a horrendously bad idea.

Here are some of the consequences of a city increasing the amount of parking required for developments within the city:

Increased suburban sprawl, increased stormwater pollution, increased flooding, increased “heat island effect,” increased auto dependency, increased per capita car use, less walkable neighborhoods and commercial areas, increased political demand for bigger roads, increased pressure to build and enlarge Big Box retail in the area, increased number of injuries and deaths due to increased car use, increased gasoline consumption in the city, increased household transportation costs, increased loss of natural features paved over by Macys-at-29th-St-July-2015-smasphalt, reduced transportation choice, reduced neighborhood quality of life, decreased agglomeration economies, reduced neighborhood compatibility with nearby commercial, reduced property values, reduced residential densities within the city, increased air pollution, reduced bus ridership, reduced walking, reduced bicycling, increased single-occupancy vehicle travel, increased cost to agencies, increased cost to businesses (who must provide an increased amount of parking), increased number of instances in which a business cannot be created (or renovated, or expanded, due to inability to increase parking), increased per capita consumption of land, reduced amount of market demand for mixed-use development.

Nearly all of these consequences of increasing the amount of parking that new development must provide are in direct contradiction to an enormous number of goals, objectives and policies of the long-range plan of the city I worked for. Makes one wonder if this “plan” is worth the paper it is written on. Or if the plan is utterly, systematically ignored.

If there is one change in the Land Development Code of the city I worked for that more overwhelmingly and comprehensively subverts the long-range plan than increased parking requirements, I am not aware of it.

What are the benefits that would outweigh the above harms when my city went ahead and increased its already excessive parking requirements?

I know of none.

Does it mean anything that ALL of the planning literature over the past 15 years strongly argues AGAINST increasing parking requirements — parking requirements that are ALREADY excessive in my city?

What ever happened to the efforts of my city to be “business friendly” (requiring more parking will substantially increase burdens to business — particularly small, local business).

Is city planning a waste of time?


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Deletions from My Land Use Plan for Gainesville FL 2000

By Dom Nozzi

The following illustrates how professional planners like me can be transformed from someone who has some energy, enthusiasm, vision, wisdom, and concern for the future welfare of a community to becoming a safe, boring, do-nothing bureaucrat that excites no one, puts people to sleep by what he writes and says at public meetings, and gets nothing done.

A good example of how this common process of converting people into boring bureaucrats works is the text I wrote below, which the planning manager has requested all be deleted from my draft Gainesville Future Land Use Element of the Comprehensive Plan.

I was, instead, given a very clear message: Just stick to what the State Growth Management law requires, don’t upset anyone, just include a bunch of dry data and numbers that no one understands, and for goodness sake, don’t include any inspiring visions.

The following is the text I had written that was deleted by my supervisors from my draft Land Use plan.

[The more recent suburban model] contains three overriding objectives: the free and rapid flow of car traffic, free and abundant parking, and…

Cities throughout the country face many of the same problems that the more recent model brings—increasing traffic problems, worsening air and noise pollution, the loss of outlying farms and open spaces to suburban sprawl, the growing need for costly road widenings and the provision of expensive urban services to such remote development, increasing visual blight, traffic injuries and deaths, wildlife habitat loss, the decline of downtowns, loss of independence for children and seniors who cannot drive, loss of civic pride, a growing household financial crisis, a loss of serendipity, and a loss of a sense of place and community. City character becomes blurred until every place becomes like every other place—all adding up to no place.

Our streets become increasingly congested and our destinations further and further away, we increasingly spend our time as anonymous individuals waiting at the traffic light instead of socializing with friends at the corner store or playing with the kids at the park.

All the places where people could meet in public and experience a sense of community—the square, the corner pub, the main street—have been replaced by oceans of asphalt for the movement and storage of space-hungry cars.

[Neighborhood design principles] that characterized development in the U.S. before WWII. The following principles exemplify these conventions:

* Neighborhoods are limited in size and oriented toward pedestrian activity. In general, “limited in size” means that most every form of daily household need is within a five-minute walking radius (approximately one-quarter mile);

* Residences, shops, workplaces, and civic buildings are interwoven within the neighborhood and in close proximity, which creates a vibrant, livable neighborhood featuring transportation choice. This mixed use is primarily achieved by calling for compatibility of scale and intensity;

* Streets are interconnected and the blocks are small. This street pattern, in combination with other design features of the TND, strikes a balance between the needs of the car, the bus rider, the pedestrian and the bicyclist;

* Civic buildings are given prominent, high-visibility locations that thereby act as landmarks, symbols and focal points for community identity. These buildings are therefore assigned the proper level of community priority and serve as places of assembly for the neighborhood;

* There is a distinct edge, or transition, between the developed area and outlying farmland and greenbelts;

* Public spaces create a pleasant, safe public realm and are formed and defined by the proper alignment of buildings;

* A full range of housing types is provided, which allows all age groups and income classes to be integrated.

A traditional neighborhood also features the following benefits:

* gives people without access to a car, such as children, the elderly, and the disabled, more safety and independence in their world.

* substantially reduces government and household costs—especially because of the enormous savings in the building and maintaining of road infrastructure, and the purchase and maintenance of cars.

* features streets designed to slow traffic. It increases travel choices and reduces the length and number of vehicle trips. This, in addition to providing proximity by mixing land uses, allows the TND to achieve a relatively high “trip capture rate,” which vastly reduces the significant transportation impacts the neighborhood displaces to the larger community.

* contains structures built for permanence, instead of structures designed, as too many contemporary structures are, for a short-term “throw-away” life.

* makes walking feel more enjoyable.

* minimizes strip commercial visual blight.

* increases citizen access to culture.

* creates a good environment for smaller, locally-owned businesses to become established and to operate in.

* creates a sense of place, a sense of community, a sense of belonging and restores civic pride and place-based loyalty.

* increases transit viability, primarily through density, [Recommended by the Gainesville City Commision-adopted “Major Issues” report, 9/28/98] access, traffic calming, community-serving facilities, compactness, mixed use and pedestrian amenities. For these reasons, City land development policies and land use categories should be revised to make such traditional, “timeless” development more feasible – particularly because such development is highly desirable for the reasons described above, yet there is little or no choice to live in such developments. Important ways to incentivize such traditional developments:

* Adopt a traditional neighborhood development (TND) ordinance.

* Revise land use categories to make TNDs allowed by right.

* Establish activity center design guidelines that will transform centers into walkable, transit-oriented developments (TODs). See the Transportation Element for a description of TOD elements.

* Reduce fees, and the review and approval process for TNDs and TODs.

The Ahwahnee Principles (adopted in the long-range plans of several communities around the U.S.)


Existing patterns of urban and suburban development seriously impair our quality of life. The symptoms are: more congestion and air pollution resulting from our increased dependence on cars, the loss of precious open space, the need for costly improvements to streets and public services, the inequitable distribution of economic resources, and the loss of a sense of community. By drawing upon the best from the past and present, we can, first, infill existing communities and, second, plan new communities that will more successfully serve the needs of those who live and work within them. Such planning should adhere to these fundamental principles:

Community Principles

  1. All planning should be in the form of complete and integrated communities containing housing, shops, work places, schools, parks and civic facilities essential to the daily life of the residents.
  2. Community size should be designed so that housing, jobs, daily needs and other activities are within easy walking distance of each other.
  3. As many activities as possible should be located within easy walking distance of each other.
  4. A community should contain a diversity of housing types to enable citizens from a wide range of economic levels and age groups to live within its boundaries.
  5. Businesses within the community should provide a range of job types for the community’s residents.
  6. The location and character of the community should be consistent with a larger transit network.
  7. The community should have a center focus that combines commercial, civic, cultural and recreational uses.
  8. The community should contain an ample supply of specialized open space in the form of squares, greens and parks whose frequent use is encouraged through placement and design.
  9. Public spaces should be designed to encourage the attention and presence of people at all hours of the day and night.
  10. Each community or cluster of communities should have a well-defined edge, such as agricultural greenbelts or wildlife corridors, permanently protected from development.
  11. Streets, pedestrian paths and bike paths should contribute to a system of fully-connected and interesting routes to all destinations. Their design should encourage pedestrian and bicycle use by being small and spatially defined by buildings, trees and lighting; and by discouraging high speed traffic.
  12. Wherever possible, the natural terrain, drainage, and vegetation of the community should be preserved with superior examples contained within parks or greenbelts.
  13. The community design should help conserve resources and minimize waste.
  14. Communities should provide for the efficient use of water through the use of natural drainage, drought-tolerant landscaping and recycling.
  15. The street orientation, the placement of buildings and the use of shading should contribute to the energy efficiency of the community.

Regional Principles

  1. The regional land use planning structure should be integrated within a larger transportation network built around transit rather than highways.
  2. Regions should be bounded by and provide a continuous system of greenbelt/wildlife corridors to be determined by natural conditions.
  3. Regional institutions and services (government, stadiums, museums, etc.) should be located in the urban core.
  4. Materials and methods of construction should be specific to the region, exhibiting continuity of history and culture and compatibility with the climate to encourage the development of local character and community identity.

Approve proposed accessory dwelling units, such as “granny flats”, carriage houses, garage apartments, and add-ons to a detached single-family residence. When done properly, this allows the city to retrofit higher, more livable densities without harming neighborhoods. Encourage or require a mix of housing types. [Called for by Major Issues, 9/28/99]


* The City will promote a mix of land uses and activities that will maximize the potential for pedestrian mobility throughout the city.

* Buildings should be sited in ways to make their entries or intended uses clear to and convenient for pedestrians.

* The location and pattern of streets, buildings and open spaces must facilitate direct pedestrian access. Commercial buildings should provide direct access from street corners to improve access to bus stop facilities.

* Creating barriers which separate commercial developments from residential areas and transit should be avoided.

* Direct sidewalk access should be provided between cul-de-sacs and nearby transit facilities.

* Traffic calming should be further developed on city streets to enhance the safety of street crossings. Curb radii should be minimized to reduce the speed of right-turning vehicles and reduce the distance for the pedestrian to cross the street. Calming should be used to discourage speeding and cut-through traffic. Street widths should be as narrow as possible.

* The City will encourage the provision of pedestrian scale improvements that fit the context of the area. The color, materials, and form of pedestrian facilities and features should be appropriate to their surroundings, as well as the functional unity of the pedestrian network.

* The City will encourage housing development near major employment centers to foster travel to work by all forms of transportation.

* The City will encourage a variety of housing types and densities, including mixed use developments, that are well-served by public transportation and close to employment centers, services and amenities. In particular, the City will promote the siting of higher density housing near public transportation, shopping, and in designated neighborhoods and districts. [Recommended by “Major Issues”, 9/28/98]

* The City will recognize accessory housing units as a viable form of additional, and possibly affordable housing, and will develop special permit procedures, criteria, and restrictions governing their existence that are designed to facilitate their development while protecting existing residential neighborhood character. [Called for by Major Issues, 9/28/99]

* Neighborhood streets and sidewalks will form an interconnected network, including auto, bicycle, pedestrian, and transit routes within a neighborhood and between neighborhoods — knitting neighborhoods together and not forming barriers between them. Dead ends and cul-de-sacs should be

avoided or minimized. Multiple streets and sidewalks will connect into and out of a neighborhood.

* To keep all parts of the community accessible by all citizens, gated street entryways into residential developments will not be allowed.

* On long neighborhood blocks, intermediate connections in the pedestrian network should be provided, with a maximum distance of about 500 to 700 feet between walking connections. In particular, direct walkway and bikeway routes to schools should be provided.

* All multiple-family buildings should be designed to reflect, to the extent possible, the characteristics and amenities typically associated with single-family detached houses. These characteristics and amenities include orientation of the front door to a neighborhood sidewalk and street, individual identity, private outdoor space, privacy and security.

* Home occupations should be allowed in all residential areas provided they do not generate excessive traffic and parking, or have signage that is inconsistent with the residential character of the neighborhood.

* To foster visual interest along a neighborhood street, the street frontage devoted to protruding garage doors and driveway curb crossings will be limited. Generally, garages should be recessed, or if feasible, tucked into side or rear yards, using variety and creativity to avoid a streetscape dominated by the repetition of garage doors.

* If possible, the view down a street should be designed to terminate in a visually interesting feature.

Converting Conventional Shopping Centers into Walkable Urban Villages

[Called for by Major Issues and EAR, 9/28/99] Conventional shopping centers containing only retail, office and service uses, tend to be designed only for the car. Asphalt parking lots tend to be enormous, and push buildings a tremendous distance from the street. This form of “auto architecture” significantly reduces transportation choice, makes access difficult for those without a car, create urban “heat islands” and stormwater problems, and eliminate the possibility of buildings defining a pleasant, human-scaled public realm. The atmosphere tends to be unpleasant. There is no sense of place, sense of community, unique character or sense of civic pride.

Increasingly, however, such shopping centers are being rebuilt to form a pleasant, walkable urban village. Shops, offices, and residences face each other in a compact atmosphere reminiscent of traditional main streets.

Because they promote transportation choice, they equitably allow access and enhance environmental conditions. And they provide a superior quality of life and ambiance that allows them to profitably compete with more conventional centers.

Clustering higher density housing near the walkable urban villages can substantially increase transit use.

Features of a Walkable Urban Village:

* A gridded street network lined with street-facing buildings, and interspersed with squares and plazas.

* A comprehensive sidewalk and street tree network.

* Compact, vertically and horizontally mixed land uses including residences, retail, office, service, and civic activities.

* A “Park Once” environment.

* A strong connection to transit service.

* Transit centers bounded by relatively high residential densities. [Recommended by “Major Issues”, 9/28/98]

* A vibrant public realm created by healthy pedestrian volumes, street vendors and performers, a broad mix of uses, and 24-hour activity.

The City should adopt land development regulations that lead to the transformation of conventional shopping centers to walkable urban villages. [Called for by Major Issues, 9/28/99]

Causes of sprawl:

* Widening major roads with travel lanes and turn lanes;

* Free and abundant parking for cars;

* Lack of quality public facilities in core areas, such as schools, parks, and trails;

* Poor codes enforcement in core areas, which leads to excessive noise pollution, car parking problems, unsightly signage, and unkempt homes;

* Poor public schools in the city center, and construction of public schools and community-serving facilities in areas remote from the city center;

* Land development codes which excessively promote the convenience of the car instead of transportation choice;

* Water and sewer extension policies;

* Low-cost gasoline;

* Poor quality transit service;

* Low overall quality of life in the city;

* Flight from crime, poverty, and “auto architecture”;

* For non-residential uses, more convenient access for cars throughout the region due to abundant space for parking, lower costs for building construction, lower land values, and easier access to Interstate highways;

Negative effects of sprawl:

* Increased city costs for infrastructure and services;

* Increased per capita trips by car;

* Increased travel times;

* Increased household expenditures for transportation;

* Reduced transit cost-effectiveness and frequency;

* Increased social costs (increased air, water, noise pollution);

* Loss of farmland;

* Reduced farmland productivity and viability;

* Loss of sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat, or fragmentation of such areas;

* Loss of regional, community-separating greenbelts and open spaces;

* Increased urban ugliness due to “auto architecture”;

* Weakened sense of community, sense of place, and sense of civic pride;

* Increased stress;

* Increased energy consumption;

* Reduced historic preservation;

* Segregation by income, age group, and race;

* Separates low-skill, high unemployment areas from new jobs;

* Increased fiscal stress for the city;

* Increased rate of inner city decline;

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Contents of the Urban Design Plan I Prepared for Gainesville, Florida

By Dom Nozzi

The following is the table of contents for the January 20, 1999 draft of the Urban Design Plan I prepared for Gainesville, Florida.

Data and Analysis


Definition of Urban Design

Existing Land Use in Gainesville

Vision for Alachua County

Vision for Gainesville

A Toolbox for People-Oriented Urban Design

Land Use        

An Urban-Suburban-Rural Gradient

Urban Growth Boundary

Centrally Located Social Condensers

The Gainesville Greenway and Park Network

Sustainable, Livable Density

Mixed Uses

Retrofitting Conventional Shopping Centers into Mixed Use Villages

The Traditional City

Traditional Neighborhood Developments

Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to Support Transit

24-hour Activity in Commercial Core Areas

Natural Area Setbacks

Transit Links & TODs

Auto-Intensive Uses Discouraged

Walk-In’s Instead of Drive-Through’s

Streets and Transportation

Gateway Streets

Accessibility for Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Transit Users

Tree-Lined Streets


Connected Streets

Street lighting

Traffic Calming

Narrow Streets

Raised, Landscaped Medians


Street Furniture

Modest Turning Radius

On-Street Parking

Parking Maximums

Fire Trucks Small Enough to Allow Well-Designed Neighborhoods

One-Quarter Mile Walking Distance

Modest Block Face Length

Underground Utilities

Modest Signs

Permeable Neighborhoods Instead of Gated Subdivisions

Parking Garage with 1st Floor Retail

Surface parking must be bordered by an attractive 3 to 4-foot screening wall

Pedestrian features must be installed (such as kiosks, seating/picnic areas, playgrounds, water feature, clock tower, canopy, arcade, colonnade,

arches, display windows)

Buildings and Lots

Mixed Housing Types and Incomes

Recessed, Subordinate Garages

Modest Front Yards

No Front Yard Parking

Building Faces Street

Width Between Buildings and Building Height Frames Public Realm

Narrow, Smaller Lots

Front Porches

Articulated Instead of Blank Walls

Aligned Building Facades

Development Scaled for People

Eyes on the Street and Citizen Surveillance

Vistas Terminated

Icon Architecture Minimized

Quality Walls and Fencing

Hidden Trash Containers

Hidden Outdoor Mechanical Equipment

Modest Transmitter Towers and Dish Antennas

Modest Building Paint Colors

No service bays or service doors facing street

No flat roofs, or only if combined with parapets or eves

Exterior building materials must be high quality (brick, wood, etc.)

Attractive, well-defined building entrance

Articulation rules applied to side and rear of building

Multiple roof planes

Goals, Objectives and Policies

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