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Thread: California villages

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    California villages

    The development community has expressed interest in having the city I work for modify the development standards within downtown in order to make development projects more financially feasible. Suggestions included increasing the density to around 40 to 50 dwelling units per acre and allowing building heights of up to 45 feet. In order for City officials to get a better understanding of what such a change might look like, I would like to receive your suggestions of places in California that provide an example of this type of density and height while still maintaining a small-town or Village feel.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally posted by AugieDog
    The development community has expressed interest in having the city I work for modify the development standards within downtown in order to make development projects more financially feasible. Suggestions included increasing the density to around 40 to 50 dwelling units per acre and allowing building heights of up to 45 feet. In order for City officials to get a better understanding of what such a change might look like, I would like to receive your suggestions of places in California that provide an example of this type of density and height while still maintaining a small-town or Village feel.
    50 du/acre while remaining a "village"? In California? Wow. can't think of any small towns or villages or subdivisions at that density that have a "village" feeling. Heck, the only place with that density range period is certain older parts of San Francisco (Nob Hill, Tenderloin, Russian Hill???)

    The only thing I could think of might be some of the new UC Berkeley student housing complexes. But 50 du/acre is very, very dense for California.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I'd agree with BKM, you cannot have a "village" feel with 40-50 units per acre. The villages I typically work with have a density of less than half of that.

    On the other hand, I also understand the developer's perspective. When costs are high it can be very difficult to be affordable to a significant part of the market without increasing density. I am also generally opposed to hight limitations, as an somewhat arbitrary height of 45 feet can pose difficulty in trying to get four stories, especially if it is a mixed-use project.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I don't know of any off the top of my head that tops out at 40 du/ac. The closest I can think of is The Crossings in Mountain View, CA, which is about 30 du/ac. It still feels pretty village-ish though. I think they have a link from Calthorpe's page. Aggie Village in Davis, CA is about the same I think.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally posted by nerudite
    I don't know of any off the top of my head that tops out at 40 du/ac. The closest I can think of is The Crossings in Mountain View, CA, which is about 30 du/ac. It still feels pretty village-ish though. I think they have a link from Calthorpe's page. Aggie Village in Davis, CA is about the same I think.
    Wow. Aggie Village is that high?

    As for Mountain View, they do have apartment projects downtown that are that high in density (I believe they are five-stories, including the retail first floor). Does this project in itself have a "village" feel? I'm not sure I would call it that. The overall core of Mountain View has a nice small town feeling, but the residential areas that dominate it are mostly lower density "small town Americana" kinds of places (except for the specific example Nerudite gives). Looking through a booklet, though they do have townhouses that contribute to an overall urban village feeling at a higher density. Still, is a five story building that much of a "village" feeling? Maybe an urban neighborhood center feeling, which may be what you are really asking?

    I would recommend you look at the City of Mountain View

  6. #6
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I don't really know what a 'village feel' is, I mean not in a concrete way. I would think of it more as an 'urban village', but not a village in the sense of an incorporated area in the middle of 'nowhere'... know what I mean? Maybe we could get more clarification of what a 'village feel' means. These definitely would not be bucolic kind of locations. I believe that Aggie Village is pretty high, if you don't count the retail portions... but it's been about a decade since I saw the development initially so my memory could be off.

    Edit: BKM, you're right... AV is only 20. D'oh! Senility is setting in.

  7. #7
    It doesn't meet your density requirements, but my former place of residence, Claremont, might give you some ideas.

    http://www.ci.claremont.ca.us/ps.topics.cfm?ID=12

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    50 units per acre is pretty dense. And in my experience it seems improbable to get to that density with a limit of 45 ft. in height. Heck three story town house are that tall today due to 10 ft ceiling height throughout.

    At this density, I assume you are talking about quite dense, urban surroundings with little open space or parking. Not really a village per se.

    4 story garden apts can usually acheive say, at most 20 to 30 units per acre.

    town house development, maybe 10 to 14 units per acre.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Some of the beach communities in Southern California might be good examples of higher density village-like communities. Manhattan Beach, the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, and Huntington Beach in O.C. come to mind.

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