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Thoughts about the 2005 Florida Growth Management Legislation

by Dom Nozzi

May 18, 2005

The 2005 Florida State Legislative session was billed as the most substantial growth management legislative modifications since the Growth Management Act was adopted in 1985. This legislation has been hailed by a large number of groups—from builders, to public interest groups and environmental groups—as something that “will finally allow Florida to make growth management much more effective.”

Not by legislating a sustainable, walkable, timeless vision for how communities should be designed. Not by providing quality of life tools such as required growth boundaries, reformed land development regulations, parking reforms, acknowledging that road concurrency is fueling sprawl and harming communities (recognizing, in other words, that in urban areas, congestion is our friend), property tax reform (to stop promoting sprawl and downtown ruin), or calling for road diets.

None of these actions were urged by legislators.

No, what our legislators decided to do to “improve” growth management and the future quality of life of Floridians was precisely what should NOT have been done to achieve these objectives.

The major action by the legislature? “Starting to properly funding growth management after 20 years of insufficient funding.”

Our state “leaders” voted to proclaim that the solution to protect our future quality of life is to pour billions of public dollars into building bigger roads so that we can “prevent growth from congesting our roads.”Untitled

So there you have it. Bigger roads means happier Floridians.

Oh, sure. The legislature took some baby steps with regard to water supply and schools. A tightening of the concurrency rule that requires development to “pay its own way.” But each of these were comparatively trivial actions.

By far, the big message from our legislators in 2005 was that we have “growth management” if we widen roads to “prevent further congestion.” The be all and end all of quality of life in Florida is “free-flowing traffic.” Happy cars is our sole focus to create happy communities.

At least that is what one is led to believe, when it is recognized that about 75 percent of the funding the legislators found to “fund growth management” is being directed toward roads.


We forgot (again) that we cannot build our way out of congestion. We forgot that widening soon makes congestion worse. We forgot that wider roads is like throwing gasoline on the fire of sprawl, auto dependence and community decline. We forgot that happy cars and happy people mix like oil and water. We forgot that widening roads is the most effective way to destroy community quality of life. We forgot that the impossible task of widening our way out of congestion will further bankrupt state and local government—thereby starving other essential public programs.

We forgot that what is good (in the short term) for our SUVs is NOT good for our communities.

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Filed under Politics, Road Diet, Sprawl, Suburbia, Transportation, Urban Design

Squandering Leverage in Town Planning


By Dom Nozzi

February 18, 2003

Florida has a community growth management law containing a “concurrency” rule: The rule requires that new development demonstrate that existing facilities are adequate to absorb new impacts from the development, or that such facilities be provided by the developer if such facilities are not in place.

As Walter Kulash has pointed out, such a rule might be fine for parks or sewers, but applying it to roads is counterproductive in the state efforts to discourage sprawl (and to promote livability).

Because available road capacity tends to be found in outlying areas, and Florida strives to minimize sprawl, Florida began granting cities the option of establishing “Transportation Concurrency Exception Areas” (TCEAs) in urban areas as a way to counter the fact that the state concurrency laws, in part, promote sprawl.

TCEA approval by the State obligates cities to establish transportation mitigation rules. In most Florida cities, such rules include a menu of mitigation options such as bus stops, sidewalks, etc. A developer must select from the options to achieve a point score that exceeds the minimum required by the city.

I believe that cities in Florida reacted to this TCEA option by “giving away the store” on their TCEA rules. It is very rare for a community in Florida to have any leverage over a development (in which we can say that we would want various conditions placed on a project in order for it to be approved). Florida communities have been a doormat for so long — low taxes, weak regs, no impact fees, etc.

But suddenly, TCEA gave Florida communities their first real opportunity to have some leverage: “We’ll only approve your proposed development project IF you provide X, Y, and Z with your project.” Because road concurrency is the only real concurrency rule that developers and cities care about (park concurrency, for example, is largely ignored — happy cars are the only real concern in Florida…), providing exceptions to road concurrency is, potentially, an EXTREMELY attractive, powerful leverage tool.

For the first time ever, Florida communities would have the leverage to demand quality urban design.

Unfortunately, nearly all Florida communities squander the TCEA opportunity. Nearly all of the TCEA mitigation menu options adopted in Florida are either trivial, do-nothing, band-aid features (more landscaping, sidewalks that no one will use, etc.), or are actually counterproductive (adding turn lanes or bus bays, for example).

Had I been in charge, the approach would have been quite different. “We’ll grant you a road exception. In exchange, you will grant us compact, walkable urbanism.”



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“Hometown Democracy” in Florida


By Dom Nozzi

September 10, 2004

In 2004, there was a voter referendum proposed in Florida called “Hometown Democracy.” It was an effort to substantially increase the use of direct democracy over representative democracy (due largely to many Florida residents feeling as if their elected officials were not listening).

This is my take on this constitutional amendment to go to direct democracy…

In general, I am quite uncomfortable with the idea. In some ways, the amendment would be an obstacle to the “re-use of vacant/abandoned lands” efforts that have become an important issue, because citizens would have a high likelihood of voting against nearly all proposals to intensify a land use designation on a property — and such “upzoning” is often needed to make it viable to re-use abandoned lands.

It also strikes me that the direct democracy folks are an extreme form of NIMBYism (the Hogtown Greenway Bike/Pedestrian Path Debacle is a good, infamous example of the dangers of direct democracy in Gainesville). While I am sympathetic to the thought that nearly all upzonings in the past have delivered us bad development (auto-oriented national chains and big box retailers and huge asphalt parking lagoons), and that it would therefore be handy to have citizens be able to trump weak-kneed politicians who so often cave in to Supercenters and Drive-Throughs (etc.) by reversing a zoning or land use decision, it seems to me that this is a sledgehammer rule that would lead to a lot of unfortunate, unintended consequences.

Indeed, in so many places (including Gainesville), if we were to lock in the status quo by having NIMBY citizens always voting against upzonings, we’d be locking ourselves into a dispersed, suburban, auto-oriented downward spiral that we are in today. Often, we need to have selected properties upzoned from residential to non-residential so that we can have a more walkable, compact community that is vibrant, sociable, and less dominated by excessive car travel. But it would seem that with direct democracy, about 99 percent of all such upzonings would be voted down.

It strikes me that the crucial change we need is to revamp the land development codes for places like Gainesville so that in-town developments deliver us walkable, pleasant, friendly projects that don’t overwhelm neighborhoods with big roads, big traffic, big noise pollution, and big light pollution. In other words, requiring that development build in a neighborhood-friendly, traditional manner.

The key to a better future does not lie in stopping all growth and development. The key is stopping auto-oriented development, rapid land consumption at the periphery, and BIG roads. We desperately need well-designed, walkable, in-town development.

Gainesville’s land development regulations require project design that delivers suburban, auto-oriented development everywhere. In my opinion, we must move away from that destructive, one-size-fits-all approach that says everyone should live the suburban lifestyle. Some of us should have the option of living a walkable urban lifestyle or even a rural lifestyle. The Gainesville code largely says we have only one choice: suburban.

I say we should revise our codes so that we set up at least 3 lifestyle zones, with accompanying regulations. Urban Zone gets compact, walkable design regulations, Suburban Zone gets big setbacks and other car-oriented dimensions. The Rural Zone gets small village cluster and farm/woodland regulations. That way, citizens will increasingly urban-to-rural-transect-Duany-Plater-Zyberk-smbe accepting of new development projects in their neighborhoods. They will hopefully live in their lifestyle zone of choice, and will eventually find that the 3-tiered development code results in new projects that promote their lifestyle. The nearly universal desire to fear the next proposed development in the neighborhood (no matter what it might be) can transform to that happy time in our decades ago past when we actually looked forward to the new development proposal.

As Padriac Steinschneider once said, the opposite of bad development is good development, not no development.

However, I might be sympathetic to the idea if it were somehow restricted to unincorporated areas remote from cities where we don’t want any development.


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Filed under Politics, Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design

The Charade of Being a Member of a Transportation Design Team


By Dom Nozzi

July 17, 2003

What a fiasco. What a charade…

I just came out of yet ANOTHER extremely tense and emotionally stressful Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO) Design Team meeting.

At nearly all of the meetings I’ve been to since I was assigned to that committee a few years ago while I was a senior planner for a Florida city, there were hostile exchanges and questions/rebuttals between local folks on the design team and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) staff. These are meetings where FDOT is laying out their latest plans – plans for destroying the city where their road plans are proposed.

On July 15, the Design Team had a rather crowded agenda chock full of FDOT projects to “improve” my city and otherwise make the city more “safe.”Carmageddon highway

Of the 15 members of the Team, I was the sole “no” vote on 10 of the 11 projects on our agenda that day.

Several new turn lanes. Resurfacing huge roads with no plans to shrink the excessive number of lanes. Speeding up traffic.

It was the usual plans to incrementally move my city towards a future of extreme car dependency. A future that inevitably leads to an extreme decline in quality of life and sustainability.

On two of the projects, FDOT wanted to resurface BIG, MULTI-LANE monster roads. In the committee discussion, I confirmed with the City traffic engineer that these two road segments are WAY under capacity. Only a tiny handful of cars use them each day.

No-brainer candidates for seizing the opportunity during resurfacing to restripe these overweight five-laners to three lanes. As usual, my suggestions were met with derision, scoffs, nervous chuckles and, ultimately, deathly silence. Discussion quickly changed to other “more important” ideas such as adding a few trees or shrubs. No one made a comment about my proposed lane reductions.

One of the items was a discussion about FDOT plans to essentially buy the front yard of some unfortunate folks to add bike lanes. Land owned by a university and adjacent to the project were deemed off-limits because they were part of a “bird sanctuary” — I guess it is perfectly fine to take land away from human habitat within a city, though…

Taking land was needed to install bike lanes and straighten out the road. Which, by the way, would SPEED traffic and REDUCE safety.

As an aside, the redesign of the paired streets in question was originally intended to primarily improve safety, but again, we only care about CAR safety at HIGH speeds, not pedestrians, bicyclists or transit – no matter that the project is next to a large university campus where there are an enormous number of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

In any event, I pointed out that as a long-time bicycle commuter who has traveled that segment of the street thousands of times, it was my opinion that it is, by far, the most crucial bike lane installation need in the county — particularly because it is next to a major campus, and the lack of bike lanes would be at a very dangerous pinch point — even for experienced bicyclists such as me.

So I told the committee that while I did not at all support the FDOT “solution,” adding the lanes there was essential. I pointed out, hopelessly, that the only reasonable design solution was to go back to the design that was nearly approved a few years ago — to remove one of the three travel lanes and create two-way traffic (one lane in each direction) and turn pockets — essentially creating a very ped-friendly, bike-friendly, neighborhood-friendly, LOW-SPEED design. We’d then have plenty of room for bike lanes without the need to take two-thirds of a front yard of a home. My suggestion was met with silence and the topic quickly changed to something like…oh, I don’t know…the paint color to be used on street signs.

As an aside, it should be noted that FDOT staff ALWAYS gave the citizen Team pure engineering drawings. In other words, drawings that contain a vast, complex web of hundreds of solid and dashed lines and dimensional measurements that are completely irrelevant to a lay audience trying to make a decision about the project. As in meetings past, I pointed out at the meeting that it was completely impossible for me to figure out ANYTHING about what was being proposed on most of the projects. The drawings were a cluttered, jumbled mess. If FDOT was seeking to hide what they were doing on the projects, the drawings they give us is an excellent way to do it.

One must suspect that this is not a coincidence.

For several of the items, I began the conversation by asking FDOT to tell me, in plain English, what on earth they were proposing, since I had spent days unsuccessfully trying to decipher the packet we’d be given. On a number of them, I had no idea. Even the City traffic engineer had to ask FDOT staff at the meeting what was being proposed on a few of the drawings. One certainly has to wonder if FDOT DELIBERATELY gives the committee engineering drawings KNOWING that only geeky engineers could make heads or tails of what is being proposed.

The Design Team is an embarrassing joke, and I’ve made that known to my supervisors a number of times since being appointed (asking my supervisors more than once to be taken off the Team). All they do is argue heatedly for window-dressing trivialities such as asking FDOT for a few more trees or shrubs — all to make driving a car more aesthetically pleasing to the motorist speeding by at 45 mph. No thought is ever given by this GARDEN CLUB committee to designing streets for FUNCTIONAL improvements. No thought or care is directed toward the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, or transit users — in part because there is very little knowledge of what those sorts of travelers need. But all of us sure know how to design for faster sport utility vehicle driving, though.

And FDOT staff regularly gets quite defensive about their projects, or says the trivial little landscape things asked for are “outside the scope of the project.” Sometimes, though, their proposed destruction of the city is obvious even to them, and they will ease their guilty conscience by throwing us a few more trees to put a band-aid on their latest atrocity.

It is a complete waste of my time. And humiliating, because just by being there, I am implicitly and erroneously sending a message that I think the items that are pushed by the majority of the Team is anything more than insignificant.

I’ve come to learn that it is a waste of time to make motions for functional and effective design strategies, since I’m never able to even get a second to a motion.

Gotta get back to arguing for another crape myrtle…

And to add extreme insult to all of the above, it was announced to the Team during the meeting that JEB!, our fearless governor at the time (Jeb Bush, that is), had a few hours earlier just signed legislation which allows FDOT to EXEMPT itself from local rules. “No stinkin’ local regs are going to stop us from ramming a freeway through your town, boy!”

One has to wonder what point there now is to having a Design Team, or even an MTPO. Now even our nearly meaningless local government landscape and sign rules can be ignored. FDOT ALREADY had the defacto power to trump local laws. Now it is official. I wonder if they are going to even TELL us locals about their plans to “improve” our roads in the future, before their bulldozers show up…

As Duany has pointed out, state DOTs have been more destructive of southern cities than General Sherman and the Union Army during the Civil War…


A response to the above from a friend and colleague:

Dom, remember you are George Washington.  Your goal is to keep an army together until you win.  You cannot win a direct battle with the Redcoats (FDOT).  However, you can win surprise attacks, such as Trenton on Christmas Day.  Of course, I want to be there when you cross the Delaware in your boat through the ice.  Your vision is the future.  The highway engineer’s vision is of the past.  You will win, but you will spend many winters in Valley Forge.  I want to be there, also, at Yorktown.  You will win.  The only question is when.


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Transportation and Land Use Reforms in Alachua County Florida

By Dom Nozzi

September 16, 2008

Florida Statutes (§163.3180) requires that land use and transportation facilities be coordinated to ensure there is adequate transportation capacity to support the future land use adopted in the Comprehensive Plan. Policy 1.1.8 in the Transportation Element of the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan requires that adequate roadway capacity needed to support new development shall be required to be available “concurrent” with the impact from development.

This statute is perhaps the most disastrous ever adopted by any state in the US, which is bitterly ironic, given how the 1985 state growth management law is touted nationally as a model. It is a hideous example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. The primary objective of the framers of this language was to discourage costly sprawl and promote quality of life. Yet this language powerfully states that there is a state law requiring all communities in Florida to establish a mechanism that profoundly promotes suburban sprawl and an eradication of a quality of life. It enshrines the ruinous hypothesis that “free-flowing traffic” is the be-all and end-all of quality of life and the means of discouraging sprawl. Because cars and people have strongly clashing habitat needs (the world that makes a Ford happy is nearly opposite of the world that makes Fred happy), and because “adequate roadway capacity” tends to be in remote sprawl locations, this statute is exactly the opposite of what FL communities should strive to adopt.

Objective 1.1 of the Transportation Mobility Element requires that “Level of service standards, in accordance with the latest version of the Level of Service Handbook developed by the Florida Department of Transportation Systems Planning Office, shall be adopted in order to maximize the efficient use and safety of roadway facilities in order to coordinate capital improvement planning with land use decisions to meet the requirement that adequate roadway facilities be available concurrent with the impacts of development.”

Transportation Mobility Element is a profound blunder in word choice for this Element. I lost this battle when I tried to name the long-range transportation plan I wrote for Gainesville FL the Transportation Accessibility Element. I was over-ruled by my supervisors. As Reid Ewing points out, it wrongly puts the focus on moving motor vehicles, rather than the word access, which properly puts the focus on moving people. Indeed, high mobility is an effective way of reducing access for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users (due to what Todd Litman calls “The Barrier Effect”). High mobility also destroys quality of life (even for a Ford, in the long term).

As Ian Lockwood points out, “efficient use” and “safety of roadway facilities” are biased terms that put the emphasis on high-speed motor vehicle roadway design (“free-flowing traffic” enshrinement) and promoting “safety” for driving at 80 mph, rather than safety for Suzy and Bobby. They are, in other words, counterproductive code words leveraged by traffic engineers to suboptimize happy cars instead of a better community.

This wording is also backwards. “…adequate roadway facilities be available concurrent with the impacts of development” should instead state that “roadways shall be designed in such a way as to be compatible with the community development vision.” In other words, if the community vision is a walkable, charming, low-speed, mixed-use, human-scaled main street corridor, the roadway should be built no larger than two lanes and should use low-speed street dimensions. The street should not be widened or speeded up or scaled for cars to be made “adequate for proposed development” because such an “improved” road undercuts the community vision for development along the street. Instead of walkable charm, the “improved” street will inevitably deliver unsafe, high-speed strip commercial, retail and office vacancies, and loss of civic pride.

The State’s Growth Management Act calls for implementation of the mandate know as concurrency through a combination of regulation and capital improvement programming. As applied to roadway-based level of service standards, the regulatory component consists of a review of the impact of new development to determine if there is adequate roadway capacity to serve the traffic generated by the new development. Concurrency approval is granted to the new development if there is sufficient roadway capacity available at the time of approval or if new capacity is fully funded for construction within three years of development approval (see s.163.3180 (2)(c), F.S.). Local governments are also required to adopt a financially feasible Capital Improvements Element (CIE) to provide the roadway capacity needed to maintain adopted roadway level of service standards. The State’s Growth Management Act has included a longstanding requirement that a local government include a Capital Improvement Element (CIE) in the adopted Comprehensive Plan that identifies capacity enhancing transportation projects required to serve the impact of future land uses. Local governments have been required to show in the five year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) that needed transportation capacity can be fully funded and constructed in a five-year period to meet projected demand needs. The legislature has put added emphasis on the requirement for a financially feasible Comprehensive Plan, mandating that local governments update their CIE to ensure it is financially feasible by December 2008 (emphasis added) or be subject to various sanctions (see s.163.3177(2)(b)(1), F.S.), such as prohibitions on the ability to amend the future land use map.

The Concurrency Management System in Alachua County, especially in the western urban area, has been under an increasing level of stress as a number of roadways in the western urban area are operating either near or over capacity.

This is a good thing, despite this biased wording.

The majority of roadways over capacity are operating below the adopted level of service (LOS) due to reserved trips from already approved development.

Adopted “level of service” should not be a measure of free-flowing traffic, as is done by the County. It should be based on the health of retail, offices, and residential along the street, the quality and extent of transportation choices provided along the street, and the health of property values along the street.

Proposed developments along portions of Archer Road and Newberry Road are currently unable to receive final development plan approval due to a lack of available roadway capacity.

When development in areas intended for higher densities is unable to receive plan approval due to state law, we have an excellent example of the unintended consequences of the law.

The County does not currently have a transportation plan to address roadway concurrency within the Urban Cluster.

Which is fortunate, since the “plan” would undoubtedly be to widen. Widening and speeding up roadways powerfully disperses the lifeblood of an area. Densities and intensities plummet. I suspect this is not what the County would like to see in an “Urban Cluster.” (Congestion and low-speed streets, by contrast, promote clustering, huge turn radius for roaddensification and intensification. So why does the State and County have laws requiring that roads disperse development away from Clusters by making sure the road capacity is “adequate” — i.e., widened?)

The concept of concurrency was well intended, but the application of it has led to unintended and unsustainable consequences.

Why did it take over 20 years to realize this? Why did it take so long for an enormous number of NIMBY, environmental, progressive and no-growth groups to see this?

Instead of ensuring that adequate roadway capacity is available concurrent with development, as urban areas approach build-out, new development in those areas is restricted under the regulatory component of concurrency management, creating pressure to allow more development in rural areas where capacity is available. The end result of this approach to concurrency is that denser development within urban service areas is stopped or significantly delayed due to a lack of capacity, while a favorable climate is created for sprawling development in rural and agricultural areas.

It is becoming increasingly evident that local governments and the state cannot build their way out of congestion by adding more roadway capacity.

Once local governments stops development through concurrency and begins accepting proportionate fair-share contributions to add roadway capacity; they can find themselves going down the slippery slope of continuously having to add new capacity to mitigate the impact of new development. This unsustainable pattern has proven to be an ineffective means to provide mobility.

Change “mobility” to “access.”


Arlington County rightly emphasizes accessibility over mobility. Part of their plan is a strong call for moving people, not just vehicles.

And by the way, it is telling that I was marginalized and essentially run out of town for saying these things over and over again for the last 10 years of my career in city planning in Gainesville.

It is also telling that Florida communities must engage in complex, costly, time-consuming planning in order to set up “special exception” districts such as MMTDs, TCEAs, and TCMAs as a way to avoid the unintended sprawl consequences I note above.

In Urban Clusters, urban areas and town centers, this should be the law, not the special exception requiring costly studies. Urbanized and urbanizing areas are incompatible with concerns for “adequate road capacity.” In urbanized and urbanizing areas, the default rules should be an absence of concern for adequate road capacity. In such areas, the complex and costly studies for special exceptions should be required to show why such places are not urbanized or urbanizing.

By putting the onus of burdensome calculations and justifications on urbanized or urbanizing areas, the County and State have it backwards. It should be easy to do the right thing and difficult to promote sprawl. Right? Requiring special districts and “Transportation Concurrency Exception Area” studies in urbanized or urbanizing areas does the reverse. State law, in other words, needs to have context-sensitive concurrency rules. In urban or urbanizing areas, LOS is focused on making people happy. In suburban areas, the focus is more toward conventional (car happy) LOS rules.

There was draft legislation proposed in Florida to correct some of this mischief through the creation of a mobility fee based on vehicle miles of travel that would potentially replace both proportionate share and transportation impact fees. It ultimately failed to be adopted.

This was an excellent idea already being used in other parts of the nation, I believe. With such a system, well-designed walkable neighborhood/town center development would pay dramatically lower fees. We need the transportation system to move substantially in the direction of user fees (via road fees and parking fees), instead of keeping motorists on welfare.

If the County were to actually find funding to start improving walking, bicycling, and transit trips, most all of the money would be wasted by building quality facilities that would be almost entirely unused, and the under-use would be a unforgivable waste of public dollars. These facilities, by themselves, will not deliver more bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users. They must be coupled with the “Four S” ingredients: Less Space for cars, less Speed for cars, less Subsidies for cars, and Shorter distances to destinations.

Because the County saw much of its development occur in a world of huge and high-speed roads, massive amounts of free parking, and cheap gas, low-density dispersal is the only form of development available. Rapidly rising motor vehicle costs are beneficially changing the price signals, but major portions of the “Four S” ingredients will remain unused for a very long time (which makes the popularity of bike lanes, buses and sidewalks extremely unlikely). It is irresponsible, therefore, for the County to spend large sums of public dollars for these needed facilities until essential tasks are completed:

  1. Lots of road diets to reclaim street space. In general, no road in the county should exceed three lanes in size.
  2. Removal of an enormous amount of off-street parking (converting it to residential and commercial buildings) and properly pricing the parking that remains. An essential County task: require that the price of parking be unbundled from the price of the residence or commercial building. And in urban or urbanizing areas, convert parking minimums to maximums.
  3. A substantial effort to use traffic calming (speed lowering) street design.
  4. A lot more mixed-use, compact development.

Without congestion, lower speeds, proximity and proper prices for roads and parking, it will be irrational to use even high-quality buses, bike lanes and sidewalks. Indeed, elected officials and its professional staff get a well-deserved black eye if they spend millions and billions of public dollars for buses, bike lanes and sidewalks that no one uses.

When the County sets up these more walkable places, the County land development regulations must be tailored to be compact and human-scaled (rather than suburban). There should be no Floor Area Ratio max. Landscaping should not be required (except for formally-aligned street trees). Stormwater basins should not be allowed to consume land at-grade (when needed, it should be underground or on roofs, as basins powerfully reduce walkable compactness). Front facades of buildings must be required to be built up to the sidewalk (instead of set back). Off-street parking is not required, but if it is provided, the price must be unbundled and special studies must be performed to show why it is needed. It also must be behind or at the side of buildings. (fee-in-lieu of parking should be made an option, by the way). All buildings within such urban places are allowed to contain all types of residential and non-residential uses (in other words, there is no use-based zoning). However, certain uses are prohibited from the urban place, because they are inherently detrimental to compact walkability: Gas pumps, car washes, parking as a primary use, garden centers).

Any adopted transportation fee must strongly de-emphasize motorized travel. Western Alachua County has way too much road capacity, and needs a number of road diets. For a transportation fee to actually improve the community, it is absolutely essential that there is no possible way that any of this revenue can be used to widen roads, or add turn lanes, or synchronize traffic signals, or build bus bays, etc.

The County needs to openly state that it will not widen roads to try to reduce congestion.

The County and its citizens face decades of costly pain as a result of its blunderous past: big roads, abundant free parking, and low-density suburban development. Bike lanes, sidewalks and transit will do very little to change that unsustainable environment—until the changes I mention above are in place.


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The Unintended Consequence of the Florida Growth Management Law

By Dom Nozzi

Florida adopted growth management laws in the mid-1980s to address, among other things, the perceived harm being caused by rapid, substantial residential and commercial development in Florida. Having been a senior planner employed by Gainesville, Florida for 20 years to help that city comply with those laws, certain things became clear to me:

1. The Florida growth management law paid quite a bit of lip service to environmental conservation, reducing traffic congestion, promoting smart/infill growth, etc.

2. The “concurrency” rules in the law (new development is not allowed unless facilities and services are in place to serve the new development) were seemingly a matter of common sense, but in practice the only concurrency that mattered was that roads needed to be wide enough to serve new car trips served by the new development. Because available road capacity tends to be in sprawl locations and in-town locations had no available capacity, the unintended consequence of implementing the growth management law was to strongly promote sprawl and discourage infill development. One result is that road concurrency was used as leverage by NIMBY no-growthers to stop in-town infill development (and thereby indirectly encouraging more sprawl via NIMBYism). Road concurrency even discouraged walkable, compact, mixed use new urbanism in sprawl locations, since conventional administrators, elected officials, planners and engineers could not be convinced that such design would reduce per capita car trips.

3. Planners in Florida had no time or encouragement to engage in any form of planning or visioning. Planners were mostly bean counters, and the “Future Land Use Maps” planners were asked to create were nearly identical to the existing land uses already found in the city. The urban design element I wrote for Gainesville’s long-range plan was optional, not required.

4. In 20 years, I was aware of no city or county in north central Florida which laid out a “smart growth” or new urbanist plan as part of their update of their long-range plan for the growth management law. This was largely because while the law paid lip service to “smart growth,” there were no incentives or requirements in the law to create transect-based (or form-based) land development regulations (regulations that would properly place emphasis on design for walkable sustainability rather than the conventional, exclusive concern for what happens within the building).

Again, all that mattered was that available road capacity exist for the new development.

In sum, while the law paid lip service to smart growth, the law and its implementation was the antithesis of smart growth or new urbanism. The law powerfully and effectively PROMOTED sprawl, car dependency and enormously wide roads.

In my opinion, Florida was, in many (but not all) ways, made worse – ironically — after 20 years of implementing a growth management law intended to protect its transportation, its quality of life, its economics and its natural environment. Again, this was mostly because all that mattered was road concurrency, and because the law provided no guidance or incentives or requirements for smart, compact, sustainable growth. The law was mostly responsible for ramping up the amount of vision-less bean counting in Florida.

My hope is that out of the ashes of the now-repealed Florida growth management law, we will see the emergence of new land development laws that effectively promote or require smart growth – growth that promotes the full range of lifestyle and travel choices (rather than promoting only one choice – the suburban, driveable choice).

A Better Path for Florida

The state should have “smart growth concurrency” rather than “road concurrency” – no new development unless a form-based code is in place. Laws, in other words, that promote transportation choice and lifestyle choice. Laws designed to make people — not cars — happy.

It is not clear to me, however, whether the state of Florida will show the wisdom and leadership to reform its land development laws in such a way. Hopefully, emerging energy, political and fiscal crises will compel the state to be smarter than it has been in the past.


Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.

Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com

Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:


My Adventures blog


Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog


My Town & Transportation Planning website


My Plan B blog


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Is It Bad or Good that Florida’s Growth Management Law is Being Dismantled?

By Dom Nozzi, AICP

I served as a long-range comprehensive planner for the City of Gainesville, Florida for 20 years – just after the nationally famous state growth management laws were adopted. I was hired in 1986, and the law was adopted in 1985.

I was hired to help Gainesville comply with this 1985 Growth Management Law that the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) administered. The 1985 Growth Management law was adopted largely as a way to protect quality of life in FL and prevent costly sprawl.

Despite the widespread praise that the Florida growth management law has won throughout the nation since 1985 (including the mimicking of much of the Florida law by other states), I would find it difficult to shed tears if DCA (or the Growth Management law) were dismantled.

The Florida law, despite all of its admirable intentions, has almost entirely failed to reduce sprawl or promote the quality of life in Florida. Indeed, a good argument could be made that the law actually accelerates sprawl and the downward spiral of quality of life in Florida.

The primary reason for the failure is that the “teeth” of the Growth Management law is something called “road concurrency.” That is, new development cannot be approved unless it is demonstrated that adequate road capacity is available to serve the new development. This road concurrency standard, therefore, had as its implicit assumption that ensuring adequate road capacity and “free-flowing” traffic is the key to promoting quality of life and discouraging sprawl.

Many other “concurrency” measures are required by the state law (such as adequate recreation, schools, water, and housing), but road concurrency has evolved into the only concurrency rule that really matters. All of the others are routinely ignored.

The unintended consequence of the law as it is applied, then, is that roads are widened, in some cases, to maintain “adequate” road capacity, as a condition for development approval. When that is not possible, the developer is either not given permission to build, or the density of the proposed development is substantially reduced as a condition for development approval.

Sprawl is therefore powerfully and unintentionally promoted because widened roads are the most powerful engine I know of for sprawl inducement and the destruction of both quality of life and the economic health of town centers. And the Growth Management law is largely compelling developers and communities to widen roads, ironically and counterproductively.

Another enormous irony is that the road concurrency standard is anti-urban and anti-infill (which promotes sprawl). Why? Because town centers and other infill areas tend to have the LEAST available road capacity (the least amount of unused road space), and remote sprawl locations have the MOST available road capacity. So the unspoken message from the Growth Management law is to build in sprawl locations — not in town center locations — to get road concurrency approval.

In addition, if road capacity is not available for the proposed new development, it is quite common for the developer and the community to have insufficient funds to widen the road for more capacity. The common in-town solution is to therefore reduce the proposed development density (to reduce the number of car trips loaded onto the roads serving the development).

In other words, the effect of the Growth Management law in this case is to make the development more suburban in density—including new development in town centers, where more compact, higher-density development is desirable from the point of view of achieving community economic, transportation and quality of life objectives.

Given this “we are our own worst enemies” law, my hope is that this current challenge—in 2011–to the existence of the Department of Community Affairs and the Florida Growth Management law will result in much-needed reform.

What sort of reform?

Reform that can actually serve to promote quality of life, urbanism and sprawl reduction objectives. Florida needs a substantially revised Growth Management law. One that does not emphasize “adequate road capacity” as the key condition for development approval.

Instead, it needs one that requires something more in the direction of transect-driven, form-based coding as the key condition for approval (ie, one that is focused on providing for the full range of lifestyle and travel choices, not just the suburban choice).

See http://www.formbasedcodes.org/ and http://www.transect.org/rural_img.html for more information about form-based regulations and the rural-to-urban transect.

The Florida growth management reform, then, needs to be one that as its centerpiece is designed to reward walkable, town center development – not punish it. One that is designed to promote a quality habitat for people, not cars.

All of this is not to say that the current Florida governor (Rick Scott) is in any way sympathetic to new urbanism and the principles I describe above. I don’t at all know where Scott stands on urban design, for example.

But I do believe that like with major hurricanes in Florida and Louisiana in recent times, this “dismantling” of the Department of Community Affairs and the Florida Growth Management law may be a critical opportunity for new urbanists and others seeking to reform and improve community design to be involved in the much-needed reform of state planning laws and the state planning agency (DCA) so that the law delivers what it is intended to deliver: compact urbanism, not car-based sprawl.


Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.

Visit: www.walkablestreets.wordpress.com

Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here: Paperback = http://goo.gl/9S2Uab Hardcover =  http://goo.gl/S5ldyF

My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607Car is the Enemy book cover

My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:


My Adventures blog


Run for Your Life! Dom’s Dangerous Opinions blog


My Town & Transportation Planning website


My Plan B blog


My Facebook profile


My YouTube video library


My Picasa Photo library


My Author spotlight


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Why Dumping Florida’s Growth Management Law Is Not Such a Bad Idea

By Dom Nozzi

For 20 years, I was a long-range comprehensive planner for Gainesville, Florida. I was hired by to be a planner in 1986 to help that city comply with the 1985 Growth Management Law that the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) administered.

Frankly, I would find it difficult to shed tears if, as was proposed a few years ago, DCA (or the Growth Management Law) were dismantled.

The 1985 Growth Management Law was adopted largely as a way to protect quality of life in Florida, and prevent costly sprawl in Florida cities and counties.

But it almost entirely failed to do either.

The reason for its failure was that the “teeth” of the Law was “road concurrency.” That is, new development could not be approved unless it was demonstrated that adequate road capacity was available to serve the new development. This road concurrency standard, therefore, had as its implicit assumption that ensuring adequate road capacity and “free-flowing” traffic was the key to promoting quality of life and discouraging sprawl.

The consequence of the law, of course, was that roads were widened, in some cases, to maintain “adequate” road capacity, as a condition for development approval. When that was not possible, themonstor hwy development was either not given permission to build, or its density was substantially reduced as a condition for development approval.

Sprawl was therefore powerfully and unintentionally promoted because widened roads are the most powerful engine I know of for sprawl inducement. As noted above, the Growth Management Law was largely compelling developers and communities to widen roads, ironically.

Another enormous irony is that the road concurrency standard is anti-city and anti-infill (which promotes sprawl). Why? Because town centers and other infill areas tend to have the LEAST available/unused road capacity, and remote sprawl locations have the MOST available road capacity.

So the unspoken message from the Growth Management Law is if you wish to get road concurrency approval to obtain permission to construct a development project, you should build in sprawl locations rather than in town center locations to get road concurrency approval. After all, that is where the road capacity can be found!

In addition, if road capacity is not available for the proposed new development, it is quite common for the developer and the community to have insufficient funds to widen the road for more capacity. The common solution, as I noted above, is to therefore reduce the proposed development density (to load less car trips on the roads serving the development). To make it more suburban in density. Low suburban densities are ruinous to cities, and promote extremely high levels of unsustainable car dependency (by making walking, bicycling and transit extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Given this, my hope is that a challenge to the existence of DCA, the Growth Management Law, or both, in Florida will result in much-needed reform. Reform that can actually serve to promote quality of life, urbanism and sprawl reduction objectives.

Florida needs a substantially revised Growth Management Law. One that does not emphasize “adequate road capacity” as the key condition for development approval. Instead, it needs a law that requires something more in the direction of transect-driven, form-based coding (see http://transect.org/transect.html) as the key condition for approval. One that is designed to reward walkable, town center development – not punish it. One that is designed to promote a quality habitat for people, not cars.

All of this is not to say that Florida has a governor and legislature that is in any way sympathetic to quality urbanism. But I do believe that like with major hurricanes in Florida and Louisiana in recent times, this “dismantling” of DCA or the Florida Growth Management Law may be a critical opportunity for proponents of form-based land development codes to be involved in the much-needed reform of state planning laws and the state planning agency (DCA), so that the law delivers compact urbanism, not car-based sprawl.

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Filed under Bicycling, Politics, Sprawl, Suburbia, Transportation, Urban Design, Walking

What the Top Florida Planners Think Florida Needs to Do to Fix It’s Growth Laws

By Dom Nozzi

I went to a forum held in early 2005 at a hospital auditorium in Gainesville, Florida. It was an assembly of each of the state Department of Community Affairs secretaries (directors of the state planning office) since the state growth management act was adopted in 1985. Each discussed at great length what they thought was working and not working with the state act in trying to “manage” growth.

I was astonished by the almost complete lack of awareness of what this state needs to do in order for there to be a decent, livable future here.

And this was a collection of the head honcho Florida planners over the past 20 years.

John DeGrove, the “godfather” of the 1985 law, thinks the crucial need is funding. I guess his sole focus is on the “dire” need to be sure that we widen roads concurrent with new population growth. Most of the others agreed that funding is critical so that the act can work.congestion

In other words, we’ll have good growth management and retain our quality of life as long as we can keep widening roads for free-flowing traffic (the major – yet unspoken — reason for the Act). We also need, they say, to build larger wastewater treatment plants, and building bigger insecticide factories (Oops! I mean public schools.)

Apparently, we have a desperate need to do this so that we can perpetuate the sprawl machine in Florida – which, by the way, is strongly incentivized by the Florida Growth Management Act (via its road concurrency rules).


No one acknowledged the crucially important point that I wanted to jump out of my seat and scream: For cities, congestion is our friend because it inevitably delivers us an enormous set of beneficial community objectives. Since the biggest “crisis” that most Floridians see with growth is congested roads, transportation concurrency is the only level-of-service standard that anyone gives a damn about in the state Act. The imperative is to not allow new growth if it will further congest our roads. Which often means that the development is approved only if there is an agreement to widen the road. Because most/all available road capacity is in our sprawl locations, transport concurrency is a powerful sprawl engine — totally counter to the growth management objectives.

Not only that. Because the needs of cars strongly clash with the needs of people, a quality car habitat (through the free-flowing traffic delivered to us by a “properly” functioning transportation concurrency law) effectively and substantially degrades the people habitat.

In sum, the state growth management law so many of us are proud of is a superb recipe for ruining the State of Florida for people. But an excellent recipe for creating a paradise for SUVs.

Who needs enemies when we have ourselves?

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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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