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Thread: Open space ratios

  1. #1
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    Open space ratios

    I am looking for some examples of per capita public open space ratios for urban settings. How many acres of passive and/or active green space per worker/resident is concidered acceptable in your communities? Do such norms for large metropolitan centers exist? What kind of open space standards do you use as a benchmark when writing an EIS? Any suggestions would be useful.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    From our subdivision regulations
    In all subdivisions that include 20 or more acres, the subdivider shall be required to plat a minimum of 500 sq ft for each dwelling unit. The minimum amount of open space provided shall be 1 acre. After this, we state what the open space can and can not consist of.

    Keep in mind, we are a semi-rural county that is getting development pressure from the nearby large city.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    This thread from awhile back might be useful.

    I also remember what a prof in school told us "Developers will always think they have to provide too much parkland, while the public feels they don't provide enough".
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  4. #4
    Cyburbian GISgal's avatar
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    I not as cyburbia savvy as I ought to be so if this link doesn't show as a link forgive me.

    I and Park and Recreation Directed used National Recreation and Park Associasion standards for acres per 1,000 people and did analysis to find out how many square per dwelling unit would be required for our community. Currently, all developments must either provide $350 for fees in lieu of land or 900 square feet per dwelling unit based upon the Park and Open Space Plan Recommendations and the Park Commission. The analysis can be found in Appendix C at this web address:

    http://www.town-menasha.com/CDWeb/do...DATE_FINAL.pdf

    Our ordinance can be found at http://www.town-menasha.com/Ordinanc...hapter%206.pdf Under 6.11 and 6.42.
    “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” - Thomas Edison

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Good way to encourage sprawl.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    I have generally seen it as a percent, like 10% of land in all new dev. must be dedicated to open space.

    It does spread things out (as ablarc said, “sprawl” ) but that is sorta the point of open space, to spread things out. It works best for a suburban community IMO. An urban area is better not requiring open space and instead dedicating parks. But if you want to be a suburban community open space will enhance that image.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Open space is a good thing in the 'burbs. If you have 100 acres and the options are...

    1. Put 200 houses on all of it and take up every conceivable piece of land for lot space.

    2. Put 200 houses on it and free up 20 acres for common space.

    Option #2 is better. Whenever you can get suburban homes closer together it is a good thing (less taxing on infrastructure).

    The suburbs aren't going away, we might as well design them in a way that lessens the financial burden of communities that support them.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Breed

    The suburbs aren't going away, we might as well design them...

    Oh, they’re going away all right. And when the bandwagon rolls around, it’ll be hard to find among all the good planners a single one who will own up to having supported the suburb. In 1946, you couldn’t find one self-confessed Nazi supporter in Germany, just as there are presently no former Communists in Hungary, Estonia or the Czech Republic. No, they were all busy undermining the system from within…

    .

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    Oh, they’re going away all right. And when the bandwagon rolls around, it’ll be hard to find among all the good planners a single one who will own up to having supported the suburb.
    Whatever. The suburbs are a symptom of our society. We use vehicles as our main source of transportation. Regardless of how much you hate it, that isn't going to change in the immediate future. Good planners are those that recognize the way society works and then tries to improve it rather than forcing society to conform to what they believe is acceptable and appropriate.

    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    In 1946, you couldn’t find one self-confessed Nazi supporter in Germany, just as there are presently no former Communists in Hungary, Estonia or the Czech Republic. No, they were all busy undermining the system from within....
    I think linking suburbs to Nazi Germany is a comparison lacking in taste.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Breed
    I think linking suburbs to Nazi Germany is a comparison lacking in taste.
    Like linking the Yankees to them?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    Like linking the Yankees to them?
    Lol... yup.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Breed
    Good planners are those that recognize the way society works and then tries to improve it rather than forcing society to conform to what they believe is acceptable and appropriate.
    Much as I would like to buy ablarc some manners when he zings people, consider this:

    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
    -- George Bernard Shaw

  13. #13

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    ablarc apparently never goes outside except to take his excellent photographs. The rest of us need a place to go toss the frisbee or take a turn around a track. A good park, including a good big park, is just as critical to the urban fabric as any other element. What would Portland be without Forest Park (the largest municipal park in the U.S., I beleive)? For that matter what would NYC be without Central Park?

    Ditto for open space. Or should we put the wetlands in pipes, ablarc? No city can function without its lungs and kidneys. It is true that some open space programs and regs keep space open that doesn't need to be, but that's not a reason to damn the whole concept.

    Sophie: Communities vary quite a bit in what works for them, so you have to be cautious. I have worked with several place where something in the neighborhood of 7 acres of neighborhood and community park space per 1000 population seemed to work out ok. But some the nicer communities I have worked with have 10+. A lot of it has to do with your specific populations' needs and history. If I was writing a regulation that required a dedication or passing an impact fee, I would use the American Recreation and Parks standards unless I had a really good reason to differ.

  14. #14
    Try requesting open space in a rural setting. The developers look at you like you are crazy. We have no parks within 8-10 miles of our town and get several request for them. The county parks and recreation people don't have the funds to do it because we are not populated enough. so we are trying to come up with a solution on our own. The idea now involves an old school site and would be perfect, so it probably will fall through. Something about Murphy's Law I think.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Parks

    I just finished a survey of some South Florida towns:

    Some require 5% flat dedication of land or fee in lieu
    Others require the 3 acres per 1,000 (2 for neighborhood and 1 for community) and up......

    The Miami-Broward-Palm Beach megalopolis has got to have the worst trail system in north america for any city/megalopolis over a million people. As for neighborhood public parks....a little bit better but still much lower than other places(one reason is the large amount of private parks available to condo associations and private residential neighborhoods)......The regional parks and county parks are "fantastic" But WAY over represented compared to the smaller more user friendly parks.
    Skilled Adoxographer

  16. #16
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Open space ratios are one of my pet peeves because they say so little about the quality of the space created. A well-designed 30x100' vest pocket park or public square can be so much more delightful than 100 acres of grass. These kinds of formulas advance simplistic notions of open space and its value to the user. I'm all for open space preservation for wetlands, wildlife habitat, etc., but so much open space ends up being underdesigned and underused. Suburban yards are often big enough for throwing a frisbee around. The need for parks in the suburbs is, I think, overestimated. You see so much underutilized parkland in the suburbs and rural areas.

    MZ, I like that GBS quote. Think I'll type it up at about 36pt and post it on my cork board.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    MZ, I like that GBS quote. Think I'll type it up at about 36pt and post it on my cork board.
    Off-topic:
    Believe it or not, I do attempt to be restrained. So I refrained from posting three or four related quotes. More from him can be found here: http://www.phnet.fi/public/mamaa1/shaw.htm Enjoy!
    Last edited by Michele Zone; 13 Dec 2004 at 12:12 PM.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian dankrzyz's avatar
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    Don't confuse empty space for an amenity.

    This is something that I've found through my work - quality over quantity. Well designed, accessible, aesthetically appealing, useable, well placed, and prominent open space (or maybe I prefer "common space") may have as much or more of an impact on the area. If open space is only there for the sake of open space - or even just to reduce density - it may not be worth it. Don't confuse empty space for an amenity.

    So much of the New Urbanist / traditional neighborhood design discussion is about pocket parks and public plazas and so forth - which really emphasizes what I was talking about above - function and form over area.

    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    Open space ratios are one of my pet peeves because they say so little about the quality of the space created. A well-designed 30x100' vest pocket park or public square can be so much more delightful than 100 acres of grass.

  19. #19
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    What about a 'No-Fence' regulation

    Creating Higer density suburban living ultimatly leads to smaller lots i.e. backyards. To further compound this, many people seek 'privacy' by erecting a fence around their yard.

    I was been tossing the idea of eliminating fences in backyards (except for the case of pools and other hazards), and the subsequent impact it would have on open space and human interaction.

    Just think about how much space could be freed up!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JVeltkamp
    Creating Higer density suburban living ultimatly leads to smaller lots i.e. backyards. To further compound this, many people seek 'privacy' by erecting a fence around their yard.

    I was been tossing the idea of eliminating fences in backyards (except for the case of pools and other hazards), and the subsequent impact it would have on open space and human interaction.

    Just think about how much space could be freed up!

    And think about those loss of privacy, broken windows and neighbourly disputes!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian dankrzyz's avatar
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    Community building?

    Could we consider backyard peeping and neighborly disputes as "community building"? Come on, Planners, use that spinnnnn...

    Quote Originally posted by natski
    And think about those loss of privacy, broken windows and neighbourly disputes!

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