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Thread: What would make a good community?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    What would make a good community?

    Okay Folks, here it is. You have the opportunity to design and build your own town. You are tasked to create every detail from the building and construction-to the site design-road design-and landscaping. EVERYTHING.

    Where would you begin?
    What would you like to have?
    What would you implement/design in order to assure a good community from both a planning AND sociological standpoint?

    I know a couple of us have Amish Sim Cities here, and please feel free to make you opinions known. I also think some of us have some ideas that are dying to get out.

    Here's your chance.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    To start out, I would aim at a population of between 15,000 and 30,000. A balance of about 1/3 rental and 2/3 owner occupied housing seems good. The city would need a town center. I have always been partial to town squares, which can be adapted to a variety of community purposes from open space to festival grounds, etc. This downtown would need to be designed with amenities of modern shopping areas - parking in particular, but would still look more traditional than the "new downtowns" being built today.

    I'd use a modified grid for the street network, except to use the topography of the site to create neighborhoods with a more organic character. Single family homes and apartments would be better mixed than typical - no clusters of apartments. There would be some small lots, but most would be 8-12,000 square feet and some would be perhaps an acre. There would be a park in every neighborhood, and they would be well connected with trails and green space.

    There would have to be a location for industry. I would envision this as transitioning from the downtown to what would be a predominantly office district to more of a manufacturing zone, all on a sector from the center outward. I would try to accommodate big boxes and other large retail uses in a neighboring sector, contributing to, rather than creating an isolated downtown core.

    Hmmm... maybe I'll sketch it out. Is this how an Amish Sim City starts?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    > Transect based planning
    > Modified grid street pattern
    > Totally with da lil' red boid on the public squares: I'd say 3-4 small ones rather than one big one
    > Don't think I'd mandate %s of rental vs. owner-occupied
    > You'd want some economic base and good extra-urban transport links
    > Public schools with high standards; somebody's gotta dig ditches too, I say.
    > Parks and garden squares with small private areas rather than large yards
    > Pre-plan areas for underground parking/thru-ways (ideally surface traffic should be local and speed-calmed)
    > Keep pedestrian-only areas to small enclaves
    > Public buildings in historical classical styles
    > Private buildings any style they choose as long as it's not modernist or post-modern
    > Lemme take that back, buildings less than three stories and less than 50 sq. meter footprint can be modernist. Still no PoMo
    > Zero-tolerance, high-grade policing
    > No urban limit as such, but agricultural/natural Land can only be expanded on a cascading density basis (as existing areas/transect segments, rise in density due to demand, allow the outer, less dense ring to expand outward - discourage non-contiguous development)
    > The above requires regional-level planning.
    > Property tax levied on Sq. Meters of floor-space but only for the ground floor (residential/industrial/retail) and first two floors (wholesale/office). Any development that is gated / not linked to the grid: the whole area counts as floor-space, since it is private, including internal roads, shoulders, etc. Private green space counts as sq. meterage but still taxed.
    > Tax breaks for a few, targeted eco-friendly and/or beautification improvements
    > Pedestrian-friendly parking, sidewalks, intersections, tree canopy.
    > No limits on chains, etc. but assess locally sourced profits for taxation
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  4. #4
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    > Don't think I'd mandate %s of rental vs. owner-occupied
    I think that that is VERY important. I wouldn't want a very transient population where the turnover is so great you don't know who's living next to you. This I think leads to people becoming so introverted with their neighbors. They won't know if it's Marcia Cross or Linda Blair behind the door when they come knocking to borrow a cup of sugar. The transient population may not care so much for the "community" since they're here "temporarily", not "putting down roots" or investing in the community.

    I agree that good schools are very important and that isn't even a planning function.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Just build a bunch of freeways and only about four exits. Then hand it all over to the developers and watch the chaos.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by IlliniPlanner
    I think that that is VERY important. I wouldn't want a very transient population where the turnover is so great you don't know who's living next to you. This I think leads to people becoming so introverted with their neighbors. They won't know if it's Marcia Cross or Linda Blair behind the door when they come knocking to borrow a cup of sugar. The transient population may not care so much for the "community" since they're here "temporarily", not "putting down roots" or investing in the community.

    I agree that good schools are very important and that isn't even a planning function.
    On what basis do you even regulate that? You can tell a developer that if he builds two hosues he's got to build an apartment that MUST be rented, not sold. What if ther e is a shrotsage of hosuese and rental apartments are empty or, worse, there are people forced to rent becuase the sellable houses are to expensive and NO MORE CAN BE BUILT. Why not let supply/demand regulate that? Or vice wersa, no rental amrket even though there is mroe demand for it? What about soem guy that buys a plot of land, can he build a rnetal or a seller only if the 'quota' is not filled? Doesn't sound workable or even desirable to me.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  7. #7
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    On what basis do you even regulate that?
    I don't think you can regulate it on a small-scale or on an infill basis, but you could definitely do so in the petition for Pre and Final Plat in the development of a subdivision through the CC & R's. Many times we will require language that the units shall be owner-occupied.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by IlliniPlanner
    I don't think you can regulate it on a small-scale or on an infill basis, but you could definitely do so in the petition for Pre and Final Plat in the development of a subdivision through the CC & R's. Many times we will require language that the units shall be owner-occupied.
    I'm sorry, but that is unnecessary, heavy-handed, uber-Planning. Do you (the Municipality) enforce the CC&Rs? Because, if you don't...what's the point of requiring it in the Plat process?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by IlliniPlanner
    This I think leads to people becoming so introverted with their neighbors.
    What if you're introverted anyway? I know a lot of ideal planning revolves around the sense of community and mingling with neighbors, but some of us have no desire to do that. I'm a bit of a recluse and enjoy being alone. What's funny is that this was much easier when I lived downtown than it is now that I'm in a neighborhood. I loved the anonymity of the urban apartment complexes.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  10. #10
          quink's avatar
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    - Big interchange station surrounded by a 100 metre parkland buffer right in the middle, and one on the edge of the community closest to a freeway with a non-central park-and ride at the outer interchange.
    - Hexagonal or general polygonal street pattern radiating outwards. Radial roads are regular intervals.
    - CNG Buses around radial routes, trams around spikes. All at 5-15 minute intervals throughout day and night, vary capacity only. On-demand buses or fixed routes to neighbouring communities.
    - 6 public squares of about 5 acres at same distance from the city centre.
    - No 4-lane roads/streets. Ever. Not even buslanes. The busiest parts should be covered well by tram.
    - Mixed use. Commercial on bottom, residential generally on top. Big stores have to be on the second level throughout, creating a staircase effect. Higher density along spikes (4-levels) as opposed to 2-level standard.
    - Public lighting throughout.
    - Shortcuts through the radial pattern only accessible by bike/pedestrians.
    - Good extra-urban links. (Not if the scenario takes place in the US).
    - Two relatively central schools for every level. (Should foster at least some competition.)
    - Shared swimming pools.
    - Many trees and bushes.
    - Through-traffic should go through the outer edge of the circle.
    - Out-mandate concrete, insist on more metal/wood/glass in facades.
    - Buildings can be any style. Mixed-use should weed out the ugliest by itself. Hopefully.
    - Low speed limits (50 km/h max), except for the outside.
    - Defined edge.
    - Tree canopy along the bike corridors with setback from buildings of 20m.
    - No tax breaks for "beautification" or "historical styles". If they want to succeed in a place like this, they better stand out.
    - Buildings must contain at least 50% sloped roofs.
    - Roundabouts instead of signalled intersections.

    Of course, the circle/hexagon pattern can be adopted to fit the constraints of the land or the size of the community.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Nice balanced park system, nice neighborhood schools
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  12. #12
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    Do you (the Municipality) enforce the CC&Rs? Because, if you don't...what's the point of requiring it in the Plat process?
    There are some issues that the City does enforce, most notably when detention/retention facilities are required as part of the development. We end up getting calls from residents who complain to us about problems (clogged, not draining properly, mosquitoes, etc.), because they have no idea who is on their Homeowners Association Board. Or they complain about the condition of their streets and they turn out to be private streets. We don't have many of those anymore since many of the subdivisions end up giving the ROW's to the City after a few years because they can't keep up with the maintenance.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    A good community for me is one that does not allow leaf blowers, dogs, loud car radios or exhausts.

    Sorry Leaf blower, dog or loud car owners.

    I just fine the noise they make bothersome. When I go home I want peace and quite. I don't want their noise makers to infringe upon my quite.

  14. #14
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    A good community for me is one that does not allow leaf blowers, dogs, loud car radios or exhausts.

    Sorry Leaf blower, dog or loud car owners.

    I just fine the noise they make bothersome. When I go home I want peace and quite. I don't want their noise makers to infringe upon my quite.
    Then you shouldn't live in a city....or any urbanized area for that matter.

    Some level of noise is implicit with living in an urbanized area.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    Then you shouldn't live in a city....or any urbanized area for that matter.

    Some level of noise is implicit with living in an urbanized area.
    YES and NO. I do live in the city and NONE of my neigbors have leaf blowers, dogs or loud music in their cars. Yes there will be some level of noise in a city. That is fine. If it is kids playing kickball in the street and laughing and having a good time. The more the better.

    But when someone is out in their yard with a gas powered leaf blower blowing EVERY leave off their yard for 1.5 hours and I can go out there with a rake and do the same thing in peace and quite, and get some exercise in less time, why not. People have gotten so lazy.

    As far as dogs go, there is not reason for a dog to bark nonstop for hours on end. If your not going to let the dog in the house, why have such a pet. And on the car, if you can't hear you music at a reasonable volume level turning up the volume so I can hear it is not going to help his/her problem.

    Yes there will be noise in the city but I think noise pollution has increased significantly in the last 10-15 year. It is a matter of respect.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    A good community for me is one that does not allow leaf blowers, dogs, loud car radios or exhausts.
    The worst are the exhausts on the cars because you can see that the car has been retrofitted with a different exhaust. The windows of my house rattle when he drives by. While we have police regulations stating that revving an engine and retrofitting is prohibited, the last thing I want to do is complain because somehow the neighbor will find out that I did the complaining just by assuming that because I work for the City that I have an in-road to the "top guy."

    And then there are the mini-motorcycles for kids. Worse than the leaf blowers!
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    How cow! No one responds to this thread out right-- I forget about it, and then I come back and there are more responses. Cool. Have to read them now...
    ___________________
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  18. #18
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    + Underground utilities, especially through city neighborhoods.

    Barking dogs, leaf blowers, and loud cars are right up there with pointless spotlights. I have a poor neighbor that is absolutley flooded with another fellow's idiotic back porch light.

    No four lane roads. Ever. sweeeet I like the radial city idea posted by quink. Detroit is a great example of that urban design concept. Makes me think of the pleasantries of Gratiot and Woodward....

    Many good posts here, I'll have to think about the question and post more later.......

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