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Coherent argument about cul-de-sacs

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#61
Take a look at the Radburn superblocks: cul-de-sacs with an extensive interior walkway and park system to make it safe for the kiddies to meet and play. But those feeders betwenn the superblocks do lead to that late night "thump-thump." Why not make the feeders discontinuous in the center of each superblock, with a small visitor parking area surrounded with some benches? Something like Vancouver did to break up the grid but not impede pedestrians. Make local traffic use the outer ring roads, but put concrete pads or pavers and a gate at the center of the feeders so emergency vehicles can still have access.
 
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#62
Grand Schemes

Ah yes, blame the planners. I'm not sure to what "grand schemes" you are referring, but I know I follow state law regarding comprehensive planning, then use that to create good development code. You may not like all of it, but it isn't about you. It's about the people who will be living in your development.
Hello Mr. Mastiff,
I think that you just answered your own question. Your "Grand Schemes" are typically embodied in your "Comprehensive Plans". These plans are giant "wish lists" full of unrealistic goals. Are you not aware that the State of Florida is full of roads that are failing the "Level of Service" mandated by the Comp Plans ? LOS standards are set (by senior planners) at levels that are impossible to fund.
FDOT standards are ignored in favor of stricter standards. Computer programs are manipulated to cause roads to fail. The whole state is in financial crisis over property taxes. A big part of the crisis is caused by the funding for the infrastucture demanded by the unrealistic goals set by planners. The politicians I have talked to don't have a clue as to the nuts and bolts of these matters. They are being kept in a fog by the senior planners.
 
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Mercer

Cyburbian
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#63
The politicians I have talked to don't have a clue as to the nuts and bolts of these matters. They are being kept in a fog by the senior planners.
Wow, as a Senior Planner, I wish I had the power to keep the "politicians in a fog". Inventor, you must realize that the Planners don't write the Comp Plan per say, generally it is done as a consenus document by citizens, planning commission, planners AND DEVELOPERS. Also, it must be approved by the "politicians in a fog". Your argument holds no weight.

Back on topic. I laugh when people say the cul-de-sac offers a place for kids to play as one poster did a few posts back. You really want your kid playing in the road? Traffic circles are the way to go. Cul-de-sacs are also a huge waste of land and contribute to drainage problems since they massively increase impervious surfaces. As a developer, you should know that you are generally giving up at least one building lot in order to provide the standard 90 foot cul-de-sac.
 

Mastiff

Gunfighter
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#64
Hello Mr. Mastiff,
I think that you just answered your own question. Your "Grand Schemes" are typically embodied in your "Comprehensive Plans". These plans are giant "wish lists" full of unrealistic goals. Are you not aware that the State of Florida is full of roads that are failing the "Level of Service" mandated by the Comp Plans ? LOS standards are set (by senior planners) at levels that are impossible to fund.
No, what you think is incorrect, at least in my case. First, our comp plans are mandated by law, and they must address certain issues. It is far from the giant "wish list" that you claim. Until such time as people see fit to deal with a "zero growth" model, someone is going to have to prepare for all the new people who are going to need places to live and the services they require.

But to answer your question, no... I have no idea what Florida has as problems. I know what problems are being faced in my state, including dwindling funds and increased demand for service. As things change, plans need to be updated. That's what we do. If you see something like an expanded sewer plant as a "wish", then you're going to have serious business problems. Because what you may see as "anti-growth" is a really a political subdivision that cannot afford the cost of improved, upsized, or new facilities.

You see, I have one up on you... I'm the public works guy as well as the planner, and I can tell you exactly where the issues are regarding infrastructure. Add into that the service deliveries such as police, fire, and ambulance, and you have a whole lot of things that need to be provided to your customers. It's especially tough is states like mine, where your customers have voted to lower their own taxes! So... since we've been given a beer budget, don't ask me for the champagne. Know what? I think I'll write that into the next comp plan amendment!

FDOT standards are ignored in favor of stricter standards. Computer programs are manipulated to cause roads to fail. The whole state is in financial crisis over property taxes. A big part of the crisis is caused by the funding for the infrastucture demanded by the unrealistic goals set by planners. The politicians I have talked to don't have a clue as to the nuts and bolts of these matters. They are being kept in a fog by the senior planners.
Um, okay... Again, I know nothing of the Florida problems. However, politicians aren't nuts and bolts people, that's why they hire planners and engineers and such. But no "senior planner" does anything like that... unless they are in some very small town. Senior planners answer to department heads and often administrators who give a broad picture to the politicians. Moreover, the politicians approve budgets, and that is when questions are often asked and answered regarding the big issues. But, even further, planners don't set goals, unrealistic or otherwise. Goals are set by City Councils, County Commissions, and other such bodies, not the people doing the "nuts and bolts" work.

I hope this makes things more clear to you.
 
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#65
Gating it off presents some problems but it is certainly the best solution to keeping the undesirables out.
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I'm sure you use this argument to sell homes, but it's a fallacy. Every gated community is full of sex offenders, burglars, drug dealers, etc. Residents buy into this myth because of the "undesirable" marketing ploys, but really, do they know what their neighbors have done in the past? Nope. My ungated, older neighborhood has a much lower crime rate than many gated communities in my county. The reason: we know each other and have a lot of older folks who keep an eye out. Oh, and no cul de sacs. No cul de sacs means they have to keep circling the roads where residents will see "that car that doesn't belong". And they call the cops.
 
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#66
Florida Comp Plans

Um, okay... Again, I know nothing of the Florida problems. However, politicians aren't nuts and bolts people, that's why they hire planners and engineers and such. But no "senior planner" does anything like that... unless they are in some very small town. Senior planners answer to department heads and often administrators who give a broad picture to the politicians. Moreover, the politicians approve budgets, and that is when questions are often asked and answered regarding the big issues. But, even further, planners don't set goals, unrealistic or otherwise. Goals are set by City Councils, County Commissions, and other such bodies, not the people doing the "nuts and bolts" work.

I hope this makes things more clear to you.
Hello Mr Mastiff, Mercer, Zoning Goddess
I can only speak to Florida issues. Our Comp Plans were mandated by the State about 20 years ago. Model Plans were provided and passed after local input. I am not sure how much input occurred at that time. After 20 years of contant revisions and amendments the Plan now reflects this massive input from the senior planners and in particular the department head, who is in fact the head planner. The public input into the Plan is just for show. I don't think it really amounts to much.
The membership of the Commmission changes every election cycle. They are clearly not on top of this stuff, and the Planning Board likewise is most often, not always, happy to defer to staff.
They have been monkeying around with this thing for 20 years and I guess they still don't have it right because the changes never stop. I know that a development process, that once took 2 or 3 months, can now take two years if you can get through it it all. In the end the development is no different than it was 20 years ago.
Everyone wants the developers to pay for infrastructure that lies outside their development because the counties have not kept up the collectors and arterials. They have squandered the huge windfalls that resulted from the recent high growth and run-up in real estate values. I hear this constant harping that "growth should pay for itself" when in fact, the Florida tax structure has caused the new growth to carry the load.
People just don't like growth, but they don't complain about the better hospitals, schools, restaurants and shopping, or the modern and efficient law enforcement.
People just love cul-de sacs, I don't need to convince them.
 
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Jeff

Cyburbian
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#67
I dont think the city of Philadelphia has a single cul-de-sac....we're over 200 homicides this year.

The argument that cul-de-sacs promote/prohibit crime is just bunk.

There is a giant white elephant in the room, and nobody wants to point it out.

Developers love cul-de-sacs because they can sell the lots as a premium, they can typically get a few extra lots on the site, you can run a road around an environmentally sensitive area.

Planners hate cul-de-sacs because: they arent the best option for transportation (but what is in these areas anyway?), the inhibit connectivity, developers love them, its what the people want, not what they planning textbook wants.
 

Mastiff

Gunfighter
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#68
Off-topic:
They have been monkeying around with this thing for 20 years and I guess they still don't have it right because the changes never stop.
I'm trying to explain, and you aren't listening. Comp plans are supposed to change with new information. The plans where you work may be great, or they may stink, but if they are stagnant, they are worthless.

Now back on topic of the cul-de-sac. Start this elsewhere if you must.
 
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#69
Gating it off presents some problems but it is certainly the best solution to keeping the undesirables out.
It may -seem- that way, but really you're creating more privacy for criminals to use to shelter themselves from witnesses. You can have some pretty horrific crimes in sheltered communities that would be unthinkable on a more open area because it would be impossible to keep it out of public view.
Recently I have noticed that Marion County Florida is refusing to maintain certain public roads in subdivisions. They apparently just want to maintain the collectors outside the subdivisions.
Interestingly, if you develop on some variant of a grid, they can't use that argument, because every road in the development has through capacity. That's less cost for your residents, because the state can't shuffle its responsibilities off onto you.
Now they are looking to force the developers to pay for infrastructure outside their own property. Planners seem to be oblivious to the money end of things.
I have a pretty keen head for that sort of thing. Bad housing that forces the state to have to continually re-expand the overstressed arterial next to it is costing a lot of money. Making people drive their teenagers a quarter mile because the previously mentioned bloated arterial is in the way adds even more fuel to the fire, both in health costs that will have to be made up in ridiculous healthcare costs to other people and in road maintenance, as well as lost productivity. The 'affordable housing' issue is in a large part because of the NIMBYs who panic at the idea of a flat being anywhere in sight of them.
Maybe we are just going to put up with more traffic.
Oh, I assure you, you'll be "putting up with" a lot more traffic regardless, especially in your tree cul-de-sac. You'll also be "putting up with" things like having to miss work because you have to drive your teenager to somewhere a stones throw away, well within walking distance, because there's a cul-de-sac bloated arterial in the way that makes it damn near impossible to travel any other way. You know the phrase "Mum's Taxi"?
 

Streck

Cyburbian
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#70
We find that cul-de-sacs work fine in our area.

Many times we have odd shaped tracts that can only be developed efficiently with cul-de-sacs that reach into the odd corners.

Cul-de-sacs also discourage thru traffic in residential areas. This relates to "gated" communities (or only one or two ways in and out) for a sense of security and child protection. Not so with a gridded system.

A cul-de-sac system not only protects the young child, but leads him gradually into the world of his subdivision some distances by having basically only one or two ways around in it. He can go as far as he likes in a cul-de-sac and loop system and wind up at the same place he started. Children can easily get lost at the second look-alike gridded street system. Not to mention who might be cruising the neighborhood looking to see if they can "help" some poor lost kid find his house!

Having cul-de-sacs collect traffic and deposit it onto neighborhood collector streets then thoroughfares is better than a gridded street layout where so many driveways let cars into street traffic that is slows thru traffic - especially when backing onto a street.

The collection of traffic onto thoroghfares then allows traffic to move much faster to the next destination. Going across town by gridded street is much less efficient. Think of all the intersections, stop signs, and traffic lights that slow traffic movement.

Have we not improved since the grid?
 

CJC

Cyburbian
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#71
Have we not improved since the grid?
That all depends on what you're trying to improve. Most of your references were to vehicle traffic - and certainly in many ways a non-gridded system is better for vehicular traffic.
 
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#72
I see cul-de-sacs as valuable by in large. They do offer some sense of ease for parents with young kids, and even a feeling of privacy I would bet. However the suburban cul-de-sac is certainly different from the urban. The difference, is in the arterial roadways, and the systems used to move residents throughout the community. Urban areas are more than likely equipped with the neccessary pedestrian walkways, paths, bike lanes and mass transit options. The suburban community may not have those sidewalks or paths that run the perimeter of every roadway. We see those in the parks or only along the major thoroughfares. I don't see the cul-de-sacs as a problem so much as I see the communities infrastructure in the way of moving pedestrians as a problem.
 
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#73
Hi there everyone,

This is my first post. I am an architect/developer in Guadalajara, Mexico. The topic of cul-de-scas caught my attention because here in Mexico their popularity is increasing enormously. Mainly, cul-de-sacs in Mexico offer a safer environment for the people living in them, because of the very high crime rate that governs most of the country's big cities. Like in the U.S. or Europe, there are a lot of detractors of cul-de-sacs in Mexico, mostly architects and planners. They argue that they isolate communities, empty street life outside the cul-de-sac, thus making the street available to delinquents, creating a vicious cycle.
As a developer, I have found that there are two main visions of cul-de-sacs in mexico. One is of newly created families, recently married couples who want to raise their small children in a safe environment (most cul-de-sacs in Mexi co are gated), and this provides the perfect environment. Others, consider them a higher standard of lving, frequently associated to high-level gated communities.
On the other hand, some people hate them because they simply cannot get along with their neighbors well enough, and they have a feeling of being trapped. Unfortunately, few people in Mexico know the term community living outside small towns (where communities are really close knitted) as I suppose may happen in any other country's very big city.
As a conclusion, the abbundance of cul-de-sacs in Mexico is the result of people trying to protect themselves from the outside world, full of crime and drugs, and to the delight of developers such as myself, are a wonderful marketing strategy for selling homes. For the urban environment, however, I consider them a sad reminder of the mistakes urban planners, myself included, often make.
 

Luca

Cyburbian
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#74
As you correctly point out, it's nto so much a amtter of planners/architects/developers making "a mistake". Rather, the dangers of improperly acocmodated auto traffice and (worse) street crime and unpleasnatness make the cul-de-sac attractive, whatever its urbanist drawbacks. It is not an urban plannign issue but rather a law enforcement issue.

As I've mentioned many tiems before, it think a good compromsie is the 'loop' system (see picture below - disregard the architectural syle)

 
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#75
As you correctly point out, it's nto so much a amtter of planners/architects/developers making "a mistake". Rather, the dangers of improperly acocmodated auto traffice and (worse) street crime and unpleasnatness make the cul-de-sac attractive, whatever its urbanist drawbacks. It is not an urban plannign issue but rather a law enforcement issue.

As I've mentioned many tiems before, it think a good compromsie is the 'loop' system (see picture below - disregard the architectural syle)

Surely, I've used the loop system quite often in designs, it is a good idea to provide recereational space within the cul-de-sac. In mexico, we normally call this system "cul-de-sac with common provate areas", unavailable to the regular pedestrian, but only to the cul-de-sac's residents.
Most of the time, however, and due to economical and space reasons, any regular loop in Mexico's new middle-class developments consists anywhere from 10 to 40 homes.
 

Luca

Cyburbian
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#76
Surely, I've used the loop system quite often in designs, it is a good idea to provide recereational space within the cul-de-sac. In mexico, we normally call this system "cul-de-sac with common provate areas", unavailable to the regular pedestrian, but only to the cul-de-sac's residents.
Most of the time, however, and due to economical and space reasons, any regular loop in Mexico's new middle-class developments consists anywhere from 10 to 40 homes.
The idea on this loop is that the street you see at the bottom of thr picture is a public road, i.e. a series of smallish loops within a proper grid. I think ocne you start lookign at loops of tens of houses, you are getting into the usual problems of dead-end roads and collectors.
 
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