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England's Green and Pleasant Land - BROADBAND RECOMMENDED

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#41
jimi_d said:
Have you any idea how mountainous South Wales is? Yes, there are valleys, but they are quite steep. You should look at the gradient profiles of some of the railways round there. GWR men used to joke about the geographical coincidence of one particular line ending by the Abergavenny Lunatic Asylum.
I'd like to think I have a fair idea, having been out in it a time or two :-D . However, I bet the valleys themselves, where the majority of the development, is aren't over 50m above sea level and that is what it's going to need to be to survive a decent melt. A lot of the highground is scarcly useable because it is so steep.

What scares me most about the population spread into the British countryside is not the density. Or rather it is. If everyone wants their acre of the 'Good Life', then it's a pretty quick way of ending up in densities that make providing things public transport economically unviable. Much like the villages in the Home Counties that are only half miles apart, but have little transport beyond private cars between them. (Incidentally, the villages that I grew up in in Humberside were similar but seperated by several miles.) Also, in these villages, services such as shops, post offices and pubs are closing all the time, because they can't get enough money to stay open. From an economic point of view, this is a good thing. From a social and environmental point of view it is a minor disaster. The economic argument is not necessarily the only argument, it is just people tend to assume it is because it gives the immediate, short term benefits.

Finally, I agree, power from Whitehall is a good thing - we just need alternative power bases set up before the crash. :)

At this point, I would like to point out that I am not stockpiling food or weaponry, or for that matter building a shelter in a remote place, to escape/prepare myself for the bad times. I'm not sure I could say that if I had the money and the contacts, tho'... :-$
 

noj

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#42
Originally quoted by jimid: The migration to the country is also caused by the price of houses in London and Birmingham. How long is it until someone realises that the green belt policy has not worked?
That’s a very big statement to make against what is probably the most popular planning policy around (in the minds of the general public anyway). There have been negative impacts of the Green Belt policy, but what would have happened without it? In one word, sprawl. I realise there is an argument which says that the sprawl has just happened on the outer edge of the circle, instead of on the edge of the city and has therefore increased journey times and car movements.

Not far enough. We need real local government before we can get anything done.
I agree, but credit where credit is due. The fact is that the planning system is still trying to recover from the virtual decimation of the profession during the Thatcher years. We’re getting there slowly, but surely. And unfortunately following the rejection of Regional Government in the North East, ‘real local government ‘ is further off now.

And our transport system may be better than Amtrak, but it's still not good enough. Nevertheless, the government don't seem to know what they're doing to sort it out. To date, we have no Brumderground and no King's Line.
I agree. We desperately need proper funding of public transport, and especially trains. Again, a lot of this stems from the privatisation of the railways by Thatcher.

It's also led to some very silly developments. Look at the sites of the former mental hospitals in Epsom, Surrey, and you'll see that the developers have been allowed to develop the hospital sites, but not the wasteland alongside them. The other problem with this kind of redevelopment is that the little strips left for public transport infrastructure get built on, limiting our further capacity for development.
There are always negative points to every policy and ‘bad’ development can always be found to cite to advance your cause. Generally, however, IMO it was and is a necessary policy.

The current government doesn't care about Birmingham. They don't even care about real Londoners. Instead they waste taxpayers' money on schemes to benefit Canary Wharf SCAs trying to get to Airports. Then there's their diversion of billions of pounds to Defence, which really should be cut seeing as the only countries we border are also in the EU.
I agree on the Defence issue. The current government, as all Government, cares about its power, and where its votes are going to come from.

I'm going to vote Lib Dem for the first time ever. The Tory bandwaggons have now gone too far - their immigration policy at least is sheer populism and contrary to all economic sense.
I’m going to vote tactically, as always. The Tories are not a viable alternative and there are too many remnants of the Thatcher years. Speaking professionally as a planner, and personally as someone who has a lot of family in the South Yorkshire coal fields, I simply cannot stomach voting Conservative because of these memories.

We shouldn't demonise Jeanneret. There's a lot of good in his books, although you have to be nearly as mad as him to be able to read them.
LOL. Very true. I just look at the pictures. :)
 
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#43
That development you linked, Cambourne, looks much nicer than the average developments we have here. Maybe they composed their photos of the houses carefully, but none of the views seemed to have identical houses. Another thing I noticed is that the houses look more settled and solid. Maybe its the heavy use of brick and other masonry. They also seem to use larger trees and shrubs. Most of the new developments in the US tend to look more raw. Is that considered an upper-income project?
 

jimi_d

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#44
noj said:
That’s a very big statement to make against what is probably the most popular planning policy around (in the minds of the general public anyway). There have been negative impacts of the Green Belt policy, but what would have happened without it? In one word, sprawl. I realise there is an argument which says that the sprawl has just happened on the outer edge of the circle, instead of on the edge of the city and has therefore increased journey times and car movements.
And each of those places beyond the greenbelt is totally car-dependent, has no decent local facilities, etc. Just the sort of place you'd want to stick the young, the old, and the poor. Then the other effect of the green belt policy is to discourage development, resulting in cities which are too expensive for the young and the poor to live in. Then prices rise, living standards fall, DIY doomsday kinda thing - it's well on the way to wrecking London and Birmingham. The effect is exactly the same as the mediaeval city wall - economically speaking, it's part of a poor-be-damned, closed-shop, low growth culture.

Green belts are popular as a policy simply because they are universally understood. They are overly simplistic as a concept. Furthermore, they are geometrically unsound. A far more efficient ratio of green frontier to surface area is to allow the green space to hold the inside of the geometrical figure and allow development around all sides of it. Of course the average city park, consisting of a field, three trees, and a dilapidated tennis court, is totally inadequate as a natural habitat as well as a recreation area. We should be looking to larger expanses of nature. Take, for instance, Sutton Park in Sutton Coldfield, north Birmingham. It is totally surrounded by town, but nevertheless it contains an SSSI, a whole range of natural habitats, and wild animals ranging from voles to horses. Not bad for 2,800 acres. A similar area stretched around Birmingham's would have very little depth and mainly consist of monocultural poor to medium quality agriculture.

If we look at the six objectives of green belt land use (PPG2 1.6), 2,000-acre plus packets of truly useful green space seem a far better idea than a belt of poor quality countryside. These are

1 - to provide opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population;
2 - to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban areas;
3 - to retain attractive landscapes, and enhance landscapes, near to where people live;

All of which are equally fulfilled by large green spaces inside towns to a greater extent than a remote belt.

4 - to improve damaged and derelict land around towns;

Really contradicts the idea of the green belt - green belts allow wasteful dereliction as demand for agriculture falls and demand for urbanism increases.

5 - to secure nature conservation interest; and

Again, equally compatible with bringing the green space within the urban fabric.

6 - to retain land in agricultural, forestry and related uses.

This is bound to be a failure. If the demand is not there for agriculture, it won't be economic regardless. With British agriculture more efficient than ever, we are operating at a subsidised surplus. We need more urbanites to consume the farms' produce. You cannot buck the market, remember.

The designation of green belts is based on even more dubious criteria, however. The lack of relation to the lands fitness for purpose is really quite astounding. From PPG2 1.5:

1 - to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;

This would be far better done by being descriptive about what may and may not be built in urban areas. Green belts merely direct the market to socially brutal ends.

2 - to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;

This is a joke. The only sense in which Redditch is not part of Birmingham is that there are a few natty fields in between. Economically and socially, the metropolis shall prevail. Trying to halt development to preserve some "Deep England" is doomed - these guys should stick to sentimentalist fiction.

3 - to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;

Wow, descriptivism at its best. Yes, that's what a green belt does, but it isn't a reason. Also, note the emotive language. These guys would get a U in Philosophy.

4 - to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and

Special character as far as socio-economic distinctness has already gone. Otherwise, ever heard of listed buildings? As for setting, it is best to direct planners to use their artistic judgement sympathetically rather than tie their hands (tools such as conservation areas are more appropriate here). There are some beautiful mediaeval village settings within our towns - look at Yardley, Birmingham.

5 - to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Sequential development does not require green belts. Sometimes a relocation onto green land will free up brown land for further development. Flexibility is a must.

I agree, but credit where credit is due. The fact is that the planning system is still trying to recover from the virtual decimation of the profession during the Thatcher years. We’re getting there slowly, but surely. And unfortunately following the rejection of Regional Government in the North East, ‘real local government ‘ is further off now.
Thatcher was dangerous. She had some very good ideas and more sensible people were very slow to hi-jack them and therefore her danger was left unchecked.

As for Labour's regions, they are a half-baked, one-size-fits-all approach to local government, typically based on higher electoral boundaries. I do not know the North-East well enough to comment, but the West Midland Region as proposed consists of at least four real regions (namely Birmingham, Coventry, Stoke, and the rural Welsh Marches), the combination of which neuters the prospective purpose of any of them. Nor does it look like any real power is in the deal. It seems to be more a matter of taking from the City Council than taking from Whitehall.

I agree. We desperately need proper funding of public transport, and especially trains. Again, a lot of this stems from the privatisation of the railways by Thatcher.
It was Major, but privatisation was definitely a bad thing - to think they didn't learn after the mess they made of the Corporation Buses.

(on crazy definition of brownfield sites)
There are always negative points to every policy and ‘bad’ development can always be found to cite to advance your cause. Generally, however, IMO it was and is a necessary policy.
It's definitely a policy improvement, but it needs tweaking to stop more silly applications of it.

I agree on the Defence issue. The current government, as all Government, cares about its power, and where its votes are going to come from.
Well, I didn't vote for them, so I suppose I'm no loss to them.

I’m going to vote tactically, as always. The Tories are not a viable alternative and there are too many remnants of the Thatcher years. Speaking professionally as a planner, and personally as someone who has a lot of family in the South Yorkshire coal fields, I simply cannot stomach voting Conservative because of these memories.
I can't forgive them for abolishing University College Cardiff. I mean, I wanted a Fellowship!!!! ;)

(on the unreadability of Le Corbusier)
LOL. Very true. I just look at the pictures. :)
He was quite an artist. Although he was totally barking, I found his writings very thought-provoking and, if nothing else, they improved my French. I often wonder what a Hegelian synthesis of Jeanneret and Kevin Lynch would be like!
 

jimi_d

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#45
noj said:
If you're into satanic mills, then I actually live within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, no less. See Derby council site and also 'Derbyshire - the peak district site' (probably better) for details. Masson Mill has been converted into shopping, but actually has been done quite well; retains most original features including some floors, and has museum. The orginal Arkwright Mill is a two minute walk from my house and is slowly being done up sympathetically, after being virtually derelict in the 1970s.
WOW!!! And there's a great bookshop in Cromford!!! (You lucky sod for living in such a great part of the country.)

Anyway, I've often wondered how they got away with Masson. It seems to fly in the face of Planning Policy (for instance, look at PPG6 1.8ff).
 

jimi_d

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#46
Journeymouse said:
I'd like to think I have a fair idea, having been out in it a time or two :-D . However, I bet the valleys themselves, where the majority of the development, is aren't over 50m above sea level and that is what it's going to need to be to survive a decent melt. A lot of the highground is scarcly useable because it is so steep.
Parts of Cwm Rhondda are over 200m above sea level. Of course, Cwm Nedd would be totally screwed (I can just imagine the denizens of Neath running up the Cimla)! You lose some, you draw some, as the Cardiff City fan said.

What scares me most about the population spread into the British countryside is not the density. Or rather it is. If everyone wants their acre of the 'Good Life', then it's a pretty quick way of ending up in densities that make providing things public transport economically unviable. Much like the villages in the Home Counties that are only half miles apart, but have little transport beyond private cars between them. (Incidentally, the villages that I grew up in in Humberside were similar but seperated by several miles.) Also, in these villages, services such as shops, post offices and pubs are closing all the time, because they can't get enough money to stay open. From an economic point of view, this is a good thing. From a social and environmental point of view it is a minor disaster. The economic argument is not necessarily the only argument, it is just people tend to assume it is because it gives the immediate, short term benefits.
Strictly speaking, economics isn't a matter of good or bad - it's amoral. You just have to guide society towards using the market as good citizens would.

At this point, I would like to point out that I am not stockpiling food or weaponry, or for that matter building a shelter in a remote place, to escape/prepare myself for the bad times. I'm not sure I could say that if I had the money and the contacts, tho'... :-$
Don't weirdoes do that kinda thing in the American West?
 
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#47
jimi_d said:
Don't weirdoes do that kinda thing in the American West?
I claim societal osmosis - I spend waaaaaaaaaaay to much time escaping into online games. And World of Warcraft is better than the tv adverts...
 

noj

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#48
jimi_d said:
WOW!!! And there's a great bookshop in Cromford!!! (You lucky sod for living in such a great part of the country.)

Anyway, I've often wondered how they got away with Masson. It seems to fly in the face of Planning Policy (for instance, look at PPG6 1.8ff).
Thanks very much! My commute isn’t that nice, but it makes it all worthwhile coming home for the last 10 minutes through Crich etc. It is a very nice part of the country and the bookshop is very good too! Keep meaning to take some pictures of Cromford and put them up, I’ll get round to it soon.

I know what you mean about Masson; my main thoughts are that it was possibly granted permission prior to 1996 (quite possible, given the pace of many things around here), or alternatively that the benefits on restoring the listed building and returning it to a active and viable use outweighed the other planning considerations.

Arkwright/Cromford Mill is coming on slowly but surely. Suffered a big set back last year when some numbskull in a lorry ran into an attached cast iron aqueduct. The Grade I listed aqueduct was put up in 1821 to carry water to a water wheel driving the mill. As far as I know nothing happened to the lorry driver; there’s loads of signs warning of height restrictions etc, but he just walked away after destroying a piece of history :-@
 

jimi_d

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#49
noj said:
Thanks very much! My commute isn’t that nice,
Well you can't put decent roads through that scenery now... I shudder to think what it must've been like when the A6 was *the* main road from London (okay, Barnet) to Manchester.

but it makes it all worthwhile coming home for the last 10 minutes through Crich etc.
Ah, the trams!

It is a very nice part of the country and the bookshop is very good too! Keep meaning to take some pictures of Cromford and put them up, I’ll get round to it soon.
You should! And show everyone the bit of Masson they turned into a MSCP!

Arkwright/Cromford Mill is coming on slowly but surely. Suffered a big set back last year when some numbskull in a lorry ran into an attached cast iron aqueduct. The Grade I listed aqueduct was put up in 1821 to carry water to a water wheel driving the mill. As far as I know nothing happened to the lorry driver; there’s loads of signs warning of height restrictions etc, but he just walked away after destroying a piece of history :-@
Should be hanged, drawn, and quartered if you ask me... As for the signage there, there's rather a lot of it - ISTR that the street's even got two names!
 

Alaithea

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#50
Stepping in a bit late here... I want to thank ablarc for another beautiful post, as always. And it sounds crazy, but those photos started to bring me to tears somewhere in the middle of it. 8`-|

Gotta get out of this inhuman, sprawl-infested, unwalkable, community-less place.
 

BKM

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#51
jimi_d said:
If we look at the six objectives of green belt land use (PPG2 1.6), 2,000-acre plus packets of truly useful green space seem a far better idea than a belt of poor quality countryside. These are

1 - to provide opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population;
2 - to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban areas;
3 - to retain attractive landscapes, and enhance landscapes, near to where people live;

All of which are equally fulfilled by large green spaces inside towns to a greater extent than a remote belt.

4 - to improve damaged and derelict land around towns;

Really contradicts the idea of the green belt - green belts allow wasteful dereliction as demand for agriculture falls and demand for urbanism increases.

5 - to secure nature conservation interest; and

Again, equally compatible with bringing the green space within the urban fabric.
The San Francisco Bay Area has regional park districts that attempt to meet many of these goals. For example, the entire ridgeline in the East Bay hills (Oakland/Berkeley) is one continuous park strip (over 25 miles). Of course, if the Hayward Fault jumps by nine feet during a particularly dry and windy October day, all of the hills may become (well-charred) open space, but them's the breaks living on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" (My townhouse is a "soft structure, with living space above a garage, so can you say "pancake")

As for agricultural preservation, the Bay Area tries to do that, too. Less through "green belts" (although many cities, including my employer, are quite rigid now about further expansion), but definitely through conservation easements and the like. The only saving grace is the growth of specialty agriculture (there are dairies and cheese making operations in Sonoma County now that give European cheesmakers a run for their money-at Euro prices!)
 

ablarc

     
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#52
BKM, Would that every state had California’s enlightened land-use policies. My kids,who are well-traveled and familiar with Europe, declared: “It’s like a foreign country.”

More closely than any other state California resembles England or France, though the Los Angeles area is an exception. Elsewhere California shares with England large swathes of undevelopable and well-kept countryside immediately accessible to dense population centers.

As in England, there is some sprawl, but not enough to form the dominant impression. Consequently California is dazzlingly scenic; most places, you know what the land looks like, because it hasn’t been carpeted with the inane and uniform dvelopment patterns that you might find in interchangeable Memphis, Charlotte or Indianapolis. Consequently California retains a pungent sense of place.

Satellite photo of San Francisco Bay area reveals sharp line between dense urban development and immediately adjacent, largely unspoiled land, mostly government-owned:



Rectangular form at peninsula’s end is city of San Francisco, forming a compact, 47 sq. mi. square, into which are packed about 700,000 connoisseurs of urban living who have bid housing prices to dizzying levels.



This is almost exactly the same as the city-limit area of Boston (about 600,000 pop.), and Paris (a bit over two million).

Just across the narrow straits of the Golden Gate, and linked by bridge (walking distance from the city!!) lie the wild and windswept Marin headlands, like the moors of Devon.



Visible from the city (foreground), the picturesque waterside town of Sausalito (far right) clambers part way up a mountainside, halted by the imposed limits of development:



You can drive for literally hundreds of miles along the coast without seeing a billboard, a convenience store, or any other kind of roadside junk:



The livelong day you can choose the company of scenery that looks like this:



And California’s the most populous state. You don’t know how lucky you are, boy.

.
 

BKM

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#53
Of course, this all comes at a cost ($400,000 for a 1956 1100 square foot rancher-in "less desirable" inland Solano County) :)

It's not all nirvanna, though. The Central Valley is exploding with population growth. Throw in "country" living increasingly scattered through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Land use planning-or lack thereof-alone cannot save us when the state is growing so fast.

Plus, Californians are spinning off into places like "The Utopia of Clowns" (Las Vegas)
 
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#54
Is rural England really that quaint and picturesque across the board, or are we seeing pix here of the best little villiages and countryside landscapes?
 

ablarc

     
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#55
Definitely not that quaint and picturesque across the board. But there's plenty enough to say definitively that they do a better job of conserving the beauty and character of the land than we do. Remember, England has eight times the population density of the U.S.

The best landscape conservation we have is in California, which shares some policies with England; even in states like Wyoming the overwhelming impression is raunchy a dismaying percent of the time. And Wyoming isn't very near a major population center.
 
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#56
I read there is now talk of relaxing restrictions on development to make more land available for development in Cali. People are starting to think that all that scenic beauty is putting home ownership out of reach for many. It will be interesting to see how the debate develops. BKM, do you see a lot of griping about high home costs, e.g. letters to the editor, that sort of thing? Is the consensus that it is environmental regulations causing the trouble?
 
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#57
Well Ablarc- I have certainly enjoyed this 'three & a half' month old thread! :) Your photos of England were absolutely fabulous!!!! I loved, loved, loved looking at them! I am positive I lived in a thatched-roof cottage in Europe in a previous life- I have always been drawn to them. It's funny -I grew up in the East Bay (east-across the bay from San Francisco... a concrete jungle from hell)- I hated it- and didn't even know why.... I moved north- to Santa Rosa (1 hour from San Francisco)- and my living experience has improved by light years! You're right- we've got lots'o beautiful open space and the local tax payers voted several years ago to support a local Agricultural Preserve & Open Space District- the result (at least partially) are beautifully preserved areas- some required to remain in a 'Forever Wild" state. The other factor is that I'm a planner there- on a mission to protect the hillsides from un-ruly development :)
 
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#58
Is the consensus that it is environmental regulations causing the trouble?
I can speak for SoCal which is very different from NoCal. Every election season the developers go nuts with blaming "enviromentalist" for traffic and inadequate schools. If we just develop farther out everything will eventually fit into place. :cool: I'd say it hightime for building up and offering new choices for people.
 

BKM

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#59
boilerplater said:
I read there is now talk of relaxing restrictions on development to make more land available for development in Cali. People are starting to think that all that scenic beauty is putting home ownership out of reach for many. It will be interesting to see how the debate develops. BKM, do you see a lot of griping about high home costs, e.g. letters to the editor, that sort of thing? Is the consensus that it is environmental regulations causing the trouble?
No. Because most people who write letters to the editor are, to put it bluntly, ancient curmudgeons who got theirs years ago and whose main fear is "high density" housing. There is talk all the time, around the water coolers etc. But, that talk leads to Nevada, or Oregon. Is that bad? Shouldn't the population be spread out a bit more rather than concentrated in a few major metropolitan regions?

I see no interest in allowing development in the Bay Area's regional parks or agricultural preserve areas (like western Marin County or the San Mateo Coast). The reality is, the pent up demand, plus impact fees, mean any new housing will be expensive, anyway. It would take years and years of unrestrained development to overcome the shortfall. And, another real difficulty is that housing does not pay for itself. Property taxes do not pay for the costs of services. (I know there are indirect revenues from the accompanying commercial development, but is that enough?)

Should California even BE cheap, anyway? This is a state that faces serious long term water shortages. Facilitating population growth in an area that WILL have a major seismic event within my lifetime seems shortsighted. Should the State (or the country) be encouraging suburbanization in some of the most productive farmland in the country? There ARE other places where people can easily afford their dream suburban house on a 1/4 acre. Am I selfish? Maybe. But, the reality is that I, too am limited by the market. I would much rather live in San Francisco, but I can't afford homeownership there. Them's the breaks.
 

BKM

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#60
Nor Cal Planner Girl said:
Well Ablarc- I have certainly enjoyed this 'three & a half' month old thread! :) Your photos of England were absolutely fabulous!!!! I loved, loved, loved looking at them! I am positive I lived in a thatched-roof cottage in Europe in a previous life- I have always been drawn to them. It's funny -I grew up in the East Bay (east-across the bay from San Francisco... a concrete jungle from hell)- I hated it- and didn't even know why.... I moved north- to Santa Rosa (1 hour from San Francisco)- and my living experience has improved by light years! You're right- we've got lots'o beautiful open space and the local tax payers voted several years ago to support a local Agricultural Preserve & Open Space District- the result (at least partially) are beautifully preserved areas- some required to remain in a 'Forever Wild" state. The other factor is that I'm a planner there- on a mission to protect the hillsides from un-ruly development :)
One word, fellow California Planner: Fountaingrove :-@ :-c :-@
 
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