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Thread: Landscape circles/islands (cul-de-sacs)

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    Landscape circles/islands (cul-de-sacs)

    We have many, many cul-de-sacs in our city (which I hate)... we just received another prelim plat for a small subdivision with 3 of them (a thru road isn't really an option), I would like to impose on them the need for landscape circles/islands in the middle of their radius' but can't seem to think of any good reasons to make them do so (without changing our code)... anybody have any suggestions? a picture of the one we have is attached. thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by thaniel View post
    .... I would like to impose on them the need for landscape circles/islands in the middle of their radius' but can't seem to think of any good reasons to make them do so (without changing our code)... anybody have any suggestions? a picture of the one we have is attached. thanks in advance!
    Strong arm tactics? PUD process?

    BTW, who maintains the landscaping? If one of those were proposed here on a public road, our DPW engineers would go ape-$hi+ crazy....

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    They are nice but,
    I agree with RJ on the maintenance ?

    A different experience is that Census would designate it as a block.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    We deed restrict the plat so that one lot on the cul-de-sac is responsible for the maintenance. In most cases, they are outlots and not a part of the right of way.

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    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    As cul-de-sacs have been nightmares for guest parking, we try to incorporate some guest parking with landscape islands. The HOA maintains them. Perhaps a happy medium?
    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
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    Member hindered's avatar
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    In these parts, we love the landscaped circle. Our public works supt loves them. Serve as an ideal place to dump snow since cul-de-sacs are a pain for proper clearance with all of the driveways.

    I guess you could say "technically" the City should maintain, but more often than not, some neighbor "adopts" the circle. We have several that are planted full of perennials and annuals by nearby residents and/or landscaped with edging, rock, and a few plants for aesthetics.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    We fall into the "DPW and Fire Dept. hate them" camp. So be sure to check with them before changing or requiring anything.

  8. #8
    thanks, all good information so far. I'll be looking into it again in the coming weeks and see what happens!

  9. #9
    What if it could do something useful like collect storm water runoff?

    something like figure 3, p 3-11:
    http://www.metrocouncil.org/environm...mpCuldeSac.pdf
    Last edited by toplanornotto; 04 Jun 2007 at 3:44 PM.

  10. #10
    Excellent! Those diagrams help alot, I looked around for something similar to that but found nothing... thanks

  11. #11
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    You can also require the homeowners association to maintain them- that's what we do.
    Do you want to pet my monkey?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    Get the homeowners or establish some sort of special district that would take over the maintenance, replantings and what not.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    The WA State DOE LID manual recommends using loop islands for SW management... bioretention specifically.

    See Figure 3.5, pg 28:
    http://www.psat.wa.gov/Publications/...manual2005.pdf

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    We fall into the "DPW and Fire Dept. hate them" camp. So be sure to check with them before changing or requiring anything.
    Our DPW hates 'em too, but they don't really have any good reasons. They admit that they're easier to plow (we get a lot of snow) because it's harder to drive the plow in the middle of the cul-de-sac. Our standards always reference the minimum diameter, again, because the trucks always are on the outside of the circle.

    Biggest issue seems to be maintenance. Where we do have them, the neighborhood generally takes care of them.

    Maybe you need an assessment agreement, required at the time of platting, stating that if the islands are not maintained by the abutting lots that the City can hire a landscaping service to do it and assess the costs to the lots, including any cost of administration.

    ------------------------------
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  15. #15
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    After reading the post about grammar and spelling in the industry I feel compelled to mention that the proper plural form of cul-de-sac is culs-de-sac, not cul-de-sacs.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    It's too late for that, we all say "cul-de-sacs".
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Our local fire-chief has thumbs-downed two of these that a developer installed without asking for any approval for change of plan.

    Cul-de-sac has to be a minimum radius for turnaround of fire trucks, schoolbuses.

    I am serving developer notice to submit corrective design.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    When I was a kid...

    I grew up in a house located on a cul-de-sac. The development had several culs-de-sacs (HA, I've used both plurals - should make everyone unhappy).

    There were a lot of kids in the neighborhood and theses areas served as the kickball courts, big wheel smash up derby rings, etc.

    My educational background is landscape architecture and that part of me wants to see the landscape island but the kid inside remembers the fun part of culs-de-sacs (HA, did it again!).

    All things being equal, I wouldn't design in a cul-de-sac if I could help it for all the usual reasons BUT if that's what's going to be AND if fire, traffic, engineering, etc. all don't want the central landscape island then I wouldn't fight this battle - there are others more important to fight and win.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Reduced turning radius means fewer house lots can front on the public road, and they will have excessive rear lot area (wasted/inefficient development?), and there will be less street frontage for guest parking.

    There will also be less space for landscaping and storm water runoff detention.

    Don't forget about turning space and parking space for moving vans and garbage trucks to allow for other vehicles to pass. (I suppose school buses would not enter cul-de-sacs, because children should be expected to walk a reasonable dead-end length of 500 to 900 feet or so. Also, school buses should not be expected to back up in a three point deadend situation - too dangerous for the kid that is always late.

  20. #20
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    I guess you could say "technically" the City should maintain, but more often than not, some neighbor "adopts" the circle...

    in my previous area (triangle nc) the neighborhoods streets seemed to be the last to get plowed.

    i guess there was some sort of plow triage. even lesser non cul de sac streets would be low on the plowing order but they and the cul de sacs usually got plowed.

    maybe less over all traffic and wear on cul de sacs cancels out the additional time for plowing a small cul de sac?? having to plow in and reverse the truck perhaps.

    . (I suppose school buses would not enter cul-de-sacs, because children should be expected to walk a reasonable dead-end length of 500 to 900 feet or so.

    in my previous area the school buses didnt go to every regular street or only to a portion of them .

    i dont know about the legitmacy of the hating cul de sacs claim.

    maybe they really do hat cul de sacs for some reason.

    from the fire dept standpoint i am not sure how they view cul de sacs. i have seen fire depts close off regular streets to fight a house fire. the fire truck remains in one spot for quite a while while the fire is extinguished. i wouldnt think a cul de sac would impede that to any great degree. hyrdrant placement would seem important.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 27 Apr 2010 at 1:53 PM.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by thaniel View post
    I would like to impose on them the need for landscape circles/islands in the middle of their radius' but can't seem to think of any good reasons to make them do so (without changing our code)... anybody have any suggestions? [/IMG]
    Play fair. Change the code.

  22. #22
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    While that big round area now typically required at the end of dead-end roads can provide a landing zone for emergency helicopters, that is not its primary use. The primary use is for turning around vehicles so that they can enter and exit. The various standard turn-arounds (cul(s)-de-sac(s) [sack-butts?] are sized so that typical automobiles can turn around in a circle. Emergency vehicles are another matter. The typical fire truck, limiting the discussion to mid-size rural volunteer fire department vehicles, not the huge urban vehicles, cannot make a circular turn around in the standard turn-around. Less so if, as is still common among rural volunteer fire departments, it uses armstrong power steering.

    Sometimes a “T” or “hammerhead” turn around is substituted for a round turn-around. For fire trucks, it best to think of a round turn-around as an omni-directional “T” turn-around.

    The big difference is in who is doing the turning. A professional driver can readily handle a “T” turn around. In a rural volunteer fire department, the driver could easily be an amateur driver like me. For a quarter of a century, it was me, an amateur driver. With lots of practice, I can attest that a circular turn-around is much easier to successfully navigate as an omni-directional “T” than is a “T” turn around.

    An island in the middle of a circular turn-around eliminates the omni-directionality. A typical mid-size rural fire truck cannot negotiate the donut. I know this because we did field tests. A developer proposed turn-arounds with islands. Our response was “will it work?”

    So, we did field tests. Flat, paved ground, with cones. Three sets. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, using the vehicles they would deploy to our county (none stationed here). US Forest Service, using the vehicles they would deploy. And a selection of typical local volunteer fire department vehicles, including some with armstrong power steering, driven by volunteers, including me. We came up with “donuts” that would work. They did not correspond to the standard radius with an island.

    Those “donuts” have not yet been incorporated into code, but have been identified as designs that meet the standards for exceptions from the code under the provisions for exceptions. The basic standard for an exception is that the design works as well as what the code requires.

    If you want islands in your turn arounds, design them so that they work for your emergency vehicles. If your emergency services have professional drivers and post-armstrong power steering, use what you have,

    Deployment of fire fighting resources is a whole ‘nother issue. Your department may “stage” up the road a piece, but a usable turnaround remains a critical part of the deployment. Folks spend a lot of time and money learning about that stuff. For many of us, it is our time, our money -- that is what it costs you to be a volunteer.

    And, yes, play by the rules. If your job is enforcing the rules, you need to follow them. Otherwise the rules are devalued. Down that road lies chaos.

  23. #23
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    Store water

    Can you require the developers to commit that space to a stormwater retention basin (grade the paved circle to drain to the center) with alternating layers of sand and gravel that seep down to a drain to the stormwater system.........

    Cover the circle with either permeable unit pavers or grasscrete pavers in a designed pattern (each circle different) and just weed eat it or cut the grass if you install grasscrete pavers.

    Should an awkward fire truck driver wander into the space he can drive across the circle to exit without causing too much damage.

    Sometimes forcing landscaping into a very utlitarian space can be more harmful than good.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    "...Cover the circle with either permeable unit pavers or grasscrete pavers in a designed pattern (each circle different) and just weed eat it or cut the grass if you install grasscrete pavers..."

    This is what I hoped to get from a designer, but the 'hood got together and agreed to take over maintenance as a condition of City acceptance, fire dept shrugged and the matter declared over.

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