Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blueprint Building

While having a committee, in the case of the blueprint model a committee of the community, is a very worthwhile preliminary source of information about what those on the committee would like to see in the communities, it takes visionary leadership able to balance that with knowledge of the market and what works to actually create communities.

History clearly shows that suburban living oriented to individual transportation methods, whether chariots, carriages, or cars, is how most people want to live.

In the ARPPS newsletter of January 2007 we reviewed the book: Sprawl: A Compact History
. Robert Bruegmann (2005), University of Chicago Press.

In his research for the book, the author, a professor of art history, architecture, and urban planning, found that the arguments against sprawl, the “sprawl crusade” as he terms it:

“Had generated a great deal of heat but not much light and was primarily of interest to a small group of academics…then in the mid-1990’s…the anti-sprawl crusade suddenly caught fire…Virtually overnight the anti-sprawl reformers’ new catchphrase “smart growth” seemed to be everywhere.” (p. 8)

However he found a much more positive history of suburban living, discovering:

“That sprawl is neither a recent phenomena nor peculiarly American, as many reformers argue. It is, instead, merely the latest chapter in a story as old as cities themselves and just as apparent in imperial Rome, the Paris of Louis XIV, or London between the world wars as it is in today’s Atlanta or Las Vegas, or, for that matter, contemporary Paris or Rome. I try to show that our understanding of urban development is woefully out of date because it is based on old and obsolete assumptions about cities, suburbs, and rural area. In fact, I argue that many of the problems that are usually blamed on sprawl—traffic congestion, for example—are, if anything, the result of the slowing of sprawl and increasing density in urban areas.” (pp. 9-10)

Editorial: Placer tide turning?
'Vineyards' project must break suburban mold
Published 12:00 am PDT Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Placer County's most important development project in the planning process appeared headed in the wrong direction for months, but suddenly things seem to be changing.
The development is called Placer Vineyards, a massive, 5,230-acre site just south of Baseline Road and north of the Sacramento County border.

As this region prepares to double in population, making the most of that land is absolutely vital. If it is a traditional suburban, car-oriented development, Placer Vineyards won't serve future needs.

The Placer County Planning Commission, when reviewing the Placer Vineyards proposal some months back, simply couldn't break out of the suburban mind-set. It endorsed a design that called for thousands fewer housing units than are necessary. But now that the project is before the Placer County Board of Supervisors in a series of workshops -- including one today -- things are looking up. And one reason seems to be Supervisor Rocky Rockholm.

Placer Vineyards, while seemingly on the fringes of civilization at the moment, will be a pivotal community in the decades ahead. It will be a short drive from thousands of jobs in Sacramento County at the nearby Metro Airpark (across from the international airport). It will be near Placer Parkway, which we hope will be an important transit corridor. If designed correctly, Placer Vineyards could be a bustling community in itself, with an urban-style core and compact housing that allows residents to walk to shops or to their nearby jobs. That means throwing out the traditional suburban design and crafting something with a lot more condominiums, apartments and smaller-lot homes than Placer is accustomed to endorsing.

That new way of doing community design is called "the blueprint," named after a landmark planning process by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.