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Heaven On Earth: The Most Beautiful Town In America (LONG)

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Sorry that this post is in eight parts, but I wanted to show you more than 20 pictures.


The current revival of interest in small town life manifests itself in movies (The Majestic, The Cider House Rules, The Truman Show, et al.) and in New Urbanism, which is just as successful at bringing back small town life as you would expect from exact replication.

So new towns have started to spring up here and there, spurred by persistent developers and a growing legion of architects and planners. These now collaborate to build communities the tried-and-true way, which-- being free of theories-- is guaranteed to produce a replication of the old pattern of life (including probably a certain small-town intolerance) that we now so nostalgically romanticize. Function follows form.

But in most places, the road to Small Town America is full of obstacles, of which the most entrenched and obdurate is zoning. This is the natural tool of the NIMBY, for zoning and NIMBYs share the goals of control and prohibition.

As a designer of buildings or communities, you are deputized by the state. This means having to enforce some perfectly idiotic laws, especially some provisions of the building code, and most especially, zoning.

If you are the architect of a project in the suburbs you no longer design the relationship between your building and your lot; you look it up. There are so many provisions in a typical zoning code, and they are so meticulously prescriptive and inflexible that, given a particular configuration of a building, there is usually only one solution to a site plan. Your job as an architect is to find it by looking in the zoning code. Your colleague, the other architect, will come up with the same solution. It is like a problem in mathematics, not like a commission in art.

This explains the numbing uniformity and the visual chaos of the suburbs. It explains why there is no sense of place and why there is no variation or specificity in the relationship between building and site. It explains why there is no delight to be found anywhere, no matter how diligently you search. There is none to be found, for it has been inadvertently banished by good intentions that are supposed to ensure environmental virtue by codifying it. Standardized virtue. Uniform virtue. The same virtue in all places. No wonder all places end up as the same place, and that place is no place.

In fact, architects of suburban buildings no longer visit the sites of their suburban buildings. This is why they can design buildings in distant places without site visits; everything they need to know is on paper. The design of the site is the mathematical intersection of the site survey and the provisions of the zoning code. All that is left for the architect is to look it up.

The town that has been called “Heaven-on-Earth” is different from other places in America, for it displays no outward evidence of zoning. There is zoning, of course, but it makes a completely different set of statements from the usual load of crap that you have in your suburban community, and I have in mine.

Heaven-on-Earth is different. And everywhere in the USA except where it is located, Heaven-on-Earth is illegal. So is Beacon Hill (but you knew that!), and so is San Francisco, and so is…fill in the name of any place you really like.

After decades of creeping suburban zoning, you can again do nice things, like Celebration or Seaside, but not as of right; your first step always is to insulate yourself from the zoning by getting a special zoning district declared. This process generally consumes several years, and gives the NIMBYs plenty of opportunities to torpedo your project.




HEAVEN ON EARTH: The Most Beautiful Town in America

Go ahead and ask me, I’m just dying to tell you:

The most beautiful American town I have seen is in California. It is Carmel-by-the-Sea. Some people who live there regard it as heaven on earth.

It is the outcome of a unique collaboration between God and man.


















This Image Copyright 1999-2002 Bruna Odello

Peculiar Carmel has no streetlights, no mail delivery and outside downtown, no sidewalks. Carmel is free of parking lots; parking is on the street.

Everyone in town goes to the post office daily to pick up the mail; eventually you will bump into everybody, and maybe get to know them. As at Seaside and Poundbury, residential streets have no sidewalks. Consequently, pedestrians walk in the street, and everyone drives at about 6 miles per hour.

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Monterey County, California

The town is named for the Carmelite Friars, who founded the Carmel Mission of San Carlos Borromeo (1771).

The Carmel area is a haven for the artistic community and has been since before the turn of the century (1900). Famous residents have included poet Robinson Jeffers, authors Lincoln Steffens, Jack London, and Upton Sinclair, photographers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, architect Charles Greene, and more recently Doris Day, Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Clint Eastwood, who was elected mayor in 1986.

From a travel website:

“Carmel, California is nestled between the world famous Pebble Beach golf course to the north and the spectacular Big Sur coast to the South. Featuring Northern California's finest wines, lodging, dining, and recreation, it is the gateway to the famous 17-mile drive.

By carefully guarding the natural beauty of the area, Carmel has created a European style retreat away from all the headaches of everyday life. Carmel's rural setting and leisurely pace help you relax, and its small elegant inns, restaurants and shops make sure your stay is five star.”

Location: Near the city of Monterey and Monterey Bay, 120 miles south of San Francisco. Carmel-by-the-Sea is positioned 36.55 degrees north of the equator and 121.92 degrees west of the prime meridian.

Population (2000 Census): 4081.

Land area: 1.087 square mile

Density: 3754 per square mile


Elevation: 0 - 220 feet above sea level

The climate for Carmel-by-the-Sea is extremely mild. It is never hot and never cold. Average temperature is 57 degrees F. Average annual rainfall is 25 inches per year.
There is no smog. Fog occurs mainly during the summer months.



Here is Carmel.

It will be presented by two voices:

1. Once [in plain type above images] by the starry-eyed enthusiast of wild and crazy beauty and a full, rich life.

2. And again [in italic boldface beneath images] by the reasonable voice of zoning, and other experts that plan for our environmental well-being.


Carmel is laid out on a grid. The permissive grid means there is about the same amount of traffic in all places (except Downtown, which has more). There is, as in New York, more than one way to get from any one place to any other. The main street (cardo) is Ocean Avenue, and the principal cross street (decumanus) is San Carlos Street.



Residential streets have cut-through traffic—more than if they were cul-de-sacs. Either block off some of the streets or put in speed bumps. Collect traffic onto feeder roads, for that hierarchy recommended by traffic engineers, and widen the feeder roads to accommodate the heavier traffic they will bear. That way everyone can drive faster.



Ocean Avenue, Carmel’s main street. This is an early morning photo before the cars arrived to line the roadway/sidewalk interface. One traffic light, otherwise stop signs. We are looking up from the ocean and beach in this view, with Greene and Greene’s war memorial visible in the median. This functions as an informal city gate.



Where are the street lights? Where are the crosswalks? Where are the No Parking signs? Where are the loading zones? Where are the handicapped spaces and signs? Where are the parking meters? Where are the turning lanes?


Ocean Avenue streetscape is small-scale and varied. Shops below, offices or small apartments above.







How do you handle the fire egress?


Ocean Avenue has no street lights. Beginning at dusk, light spills cheerfully out of the festive shop window displays, which beautify the night. Many shopkeepers provide supplementary sidewalk lighting attached to their storefronts. These fixtures are invariably decorative and put out beautiful pools of incandescent light, much cozier than the gaseous glare emitted by conventional street lamps. Besides, you can see better, because there are no glaring point sources that cause your pupils to shut down. Finally, you can see people clearly silhouetted against the storefronts.









Foot-candle (lumen) levels do not meet Illuminating Engineering Society of North America standards for illumination of streets and sidewalks. Hazardous conditions need to be rectified in order to get State of California street-maintenance funds. Install street lighting of a historic character that will not compromise the streetscape, such as sodium vapor fixtures in the shape of gas lamps. Hire a licensed consultant to accomplish this.


Commerce spills over onto side streets and some of the streets parallel to Ocean Avenue.
It gradually fades out, like the Cheshire Cat’s smile, as you get further from Ocean Avenue and into the residential wilds-- just the result you would expect market forces to produce naturally. Is there zoning here, where houses and businesses mingle? Who could will or foresee such a delightful mix?



The street line is not respected, the Normandy Inn front door is clearly not wheelchair-accessible, and diverse uses are housed in flammable light wood-frame construction without intervening firewalls or side setbacks.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
The sidewalk makes a kind of tunnel through the trees.



Good thing the power lines are underground. Otherwise we would have to trim back the trees.


Carmel has generous downtown shopping for a town of 4,000. This is due partly to its walking distance from all 4,000 souls, partly due to the tourists, partly due to the disintegration and rash commercialization of neighboring Monterey’s onetime larger downtown, partly because there is no major mall to provide competition, and mostly because Carmel’s citizens are wealthy and have plenty of disposable income to spend on strange necessities like art and antiques.





This storefront does not meet state and federal standards for energy efficiency, as it is clearly not made with thermopane glass. The fact that Carmel’s outdoor temperature hovers around room temperature most of the year is irrelevant. Rules are rules, and if we start making exceptions in one place…
We are allowing this because this store was built before energy guidelines went into effect and is grandfathered. When the owner decides to renovate his store, we will make him replace his storefront.



The restaurants are lively with locals who, after downing a few pints, will find their way home on foot. The Hog’s Breath Inn is retired Mayor Eastwood’s bar and grill. He will also rent you a room.





Saloons do not belong in residential districts. We need zoning to prevent such incompatible uses. Functions need to be neatly sorted by location and category. This is the only way to achieve order. Next thing you know, somebody will want to put in a steel mill next to Doris Day’s house.


Nooks and crannies abound to further increase the retail interface by opening the interiors of blocks, while lanes and stairways provide pedestrian links between downtown and residences, all in various flavors of Peter Rabbit architecture. They eventually lead into the countryside, for there are no suburbs. The last path leads to the Mission.



















 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Meanwhile, back in the mean streets of the urban jungle, we find that the architecture is actually fairly varied, with storybook tudor, mediterranean mission, steakhouse modern, arts and crafts-- and even coloniale-- all making an appearance in perfect harmony: stylistic variety unified by a consistent scale, which in turn is the result of a similar frequency of event and detail, and especially of the small increment of development. Think how disruptive of the scale a large footprint building would be here—especially a single-story large footprint building, such as a standard supermarket.













Like all good communities that care about their appearance, Carmel needs an aesthetic committee to promote greater aesthetic harmony. We need to draw up a list of approved building materials, a uniform brick color, and select a style that says CALIFORNIA loud and clear. No more of this Disney stuff: right out of Snow White. Oh, you say Carmel’s style precedes Disney? Whatever, we can’t have this fantasy/storybook stuff if we want Carmel to be a real place. And where is the public housing? You can’t have a real place without at least 10% affordable housing.


Some of Carmel’s buildings seem to have stepped directly from the pages of a children’s book. This has become one of the dominant architectural styles in Carmel, and is sometimes referred to as Storybook Style. It was inspired by the illustrations of Arthur Rackham and was introduced (1924) in Carmel by designer/builder Hugh Comstock:



Aw, come on now! If there isn’t a law against this kind of thing, we need to cook one up lickety-split. After all, we have to maintain standards of taste in this community. Next thing you know, it’ll look like McDonald’s around here.


CIVIC STRUCTURES (Are you ready?).
The city hall is the building with the long flight of steps and is off the main drag. It looks reassuringly unlike an office building or a Greek temple and more like a moose hall. Could it be that this town has hardly any staff, almost no bureaucracy? Where do the professionals hang out? Where are the master planners in the Planning Department? In fact, where is the Planning Department? Maybe [panic] there is no Planning Department. Maybe none is needed. Maybe it is all done by volunteer citizen committees. Maybe they all know each other from encounters at the post office. Well, these are rich people; they can be trusted, they have good taste.



Carmel needs a Municipal Building that is properly representative of the benevolent power of the government. The building needs to be on Ocean Avenue, it needs to be set back to signify its importance, it needs to be wheelchair-accessible, and it needs convenient on-site parking.
Additionally, it needs office space to accommodate various municipal agencies, especially an expanded Planning Department. This building should be the proud centerpiece of a new Carmel Master Plan, developed in consultation with citizens and experts in various disciplines, not forgetting studies of sun angles and shadows, wind effects, demographics and economic trends, approved styles, massing diagrams, parking, impact on wildlife and groundwater analysis.



The Library was designed by Bernard Maybeck in a kind of Monterey Spanish arts-and- crafts idiom, and is club-like with its large fireplace and cozy reading room. It suggests that Carmelites think that reading is important, and is presently the most monumental building in town. One measure of the importance of this particular street corner is that it proudly sports a street light.







Good that this building is properly buffered from the fumes and noise of the street. Carmel needs to adopt a tree ordinance to guarantee this kind of buffered, set-back relationship for institutional buildings. Carmel needs to hire a full-time urban forester to see to it that people plant only approved tree species, and at the proper spacing and caliper, and with sufficient permeable area around their trunks to permit healthy growth. Trees presently sticking up through the asphalt of roadways impede free flow of traffic, and need to be removed-- and if necessary replaced with speed bumps.


Finally, there are the monuments or civic adornments. This one is Juniperro Serra, the priest who founded Carmel in 1771. For a few decades Carmel was a feudal fiefdom of the Church, worked by Native Americans converted to Christianity and serfdom.



From the Michelin Guide to California: “The village was originally planned in the 1880s as a seaside resort for Catholics. By the turn of the 20C, however, that venture had failed, and Frank Devendorf, a young real estate speculator…began planning a community that would preserve the pristine beauty of the natural setting and attract ‘people of aesthetic taste.’…Soon the quaint village developed a reputation as a bohemian retreat.” Then, as is always the case in Bohemia, the rich took over. Been there ever since. I wonder if there is a monument to Frank Devendorf.

There is a War Memorial, another work of Greene and Greene. It marks the transition from beachfront to downtown:



There is a tree in the roadway. That tree constitutes a traffic hazard. I will instruct the highway crew to remove it tomorrow. Miss Rigby, take a memo.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Down at the foot of Ocean Avenue lies Beachwalk, Scenic Road and steps to the Beach. You can throw a baseball from the War Memorial onto the beach.













Devendorf does have a memorial; it is in the form of a park:




HOTELS. The best hotel belongs to Doris Day. It was built in the Twenties in an elegant beaux-arts Spanish style:





Other hotels run the gamut of styles. That last one actually has a parking lot, but because it is paved in brick it can double as a courtyard. Apparently they scrub away the oil drips. Too bad about the wheel stops; they shatter the illusion. Look how insouciantly the innkeeper grow vines on his neighbor’s wall:









Remove those wheel stops and I will revoke your certificate of occupancy.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Carmel is a town full of single family houses. They are referred to as carmel cottages, for they are mostly fairly small, and they are situated on minuscule lots. Many show the influence of Hugh Comstock:



This one is actually by Hugh Comstock; it used to be his studio. He obviously owned a car. The adjacent house sure is a homely beast, full of gaucherie (some people just don’t have any taste, even in Carmel). I am impressed, however, by how close they allowed it to be built to its neighbor. Some houses are set back, some are built right up against the street. No suburban monotony here:



Where are the setbacks, front and side? Where are the rated walls? The streetscape is dominated by garage doors. Should we allow living space above a garage?


How about the relationship of this next one to its trees? Can you imagine if setbacks had dictated this house’s location? Would the house perhaps have replaced the tree?



Those trees are being mistreated. Their root balls are being constrained. There is not a legal amount of permeable area in the immediate area of the roots. Tear down the house or cut down the tree.


Are you beginning to get the impression that these houses are very specifically tailored to the particularities of their sites and to their owners’ desires. Isn’t it obvious that this could never be achieved with any conventional suburban zoning ordinance. Why, let’s face it, they are written specifically to impede this kind of bizarreness. Individuality and individualism are the casualties, but you know most people don’t give it a second thought; they don’t even imagine that such unconventionality is possible.

Here is a person who values privacy. He has retreated behind rustic fences, like an ogre in his vest pocket forest, all woodsy and earth-toned. He is Mr. Badger, living among the roots. But his house is right up against the street. There’s more than one way to get your privacy; don’t have to waste your precious land on a useless front yard:



No front setback, fence does not meet guidelines, is much too high.


By contrast, this person wants you to sneak a peek into his yard as you go by, so you can see how light and airy he likes things to be. What? A barbecue in the front yard?:



Mr. Hedgehog lives here, with Mrs. Chipmunk:



This is the original Carmel cottage. They almost tore it down, but the town got together to save it. I guess it dates from bohemian times:



And here are its progeny. Does that last one really have a grass roof? How does the owner find someone to work on it?:









We need to enforce a minimum square footage to keep property values up.


Here’s another cottage by Comstock. The lady inside devours children:



And here’s a contemporary builder-special. The square footage is up, reflecting its owner’s means. It tries hard to stay in the spirit, but it suffers from current builder detailing. Could be worse; still doesn’t have a front yard:

 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
When the rich guys arrived, they colonized the tops of the cliffs. This extravagant house
was designed by Charles Greene of Greene and Greene (think Gamble House, Pasadena):





It even came with a wall and a gate:



Where is the building?:



Frank Lloyd Wright got into the act with a house near the beach:





Greene designed for himself a modest stone cottage for a studio:



And poet Robinson Jeffers built the Tor House with his own hands out of the local stone:



Writhing trees at a gatehouse; God lends a helping hand to the beauty mavens:

 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Just on the outskirts of this one-square-mile town lies Carmel’s crown jewel, the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, 1771. The current stone church was completed in 1797.























There is an additional working monastery in a field.





Preparing for heaven…why, it’s right here on earth.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
Preparing for heaven…why, it’s right here on earth.




































If the zoning will let you have it.



Of course, along with the good aspects of small-town life come the not-so-good, such as busybodyism, but there is plenty of this in the suburbs too. In a town at least it comes with a community attached, though this can lead to lynch mobs. That may be the price we pay for community; if you want liberal open-mindedness and tolerance, you need to live in a city (Nothing new in this; we all know that small towns have traditionally fostered small-mindedness).


CARMEL DEMOGRAPHICS


Carmel-by-the-Sea City, California Statistics and Demographics (US Census 2000)

Number Percent
Carmel Population: 4081 100.00%

Sex and Age
Male 1777 43.54%
Female 2304 56.46%

Under 5 years 73 1.79%
5 to 9 years 93 2.28%
10 to 14 years 137 3.36%
15 to 19 years 144 3.53%
20 to 24 years 73 1.79%
25 to 34 years 271 6.64%
35 to 44 years 477 11.69%
45 to 54 years 833 20.41%
55 to 59 years 390 9.56%
60 to 64 years 332 8.14%
65 to 74 years 584 14.31%
75 to 84 years 493 12.08%
85 years and over 181 4.44%

Median age (years) 54.3

18 years and over 3678 90.12%
Male 1587 38.89%
Female 2091 51.24%
21 years and over 3620 88.7%
62 years and over 1458 35.73%
65 years and over 1258 30.83%
Male 509 12.47%
Female 749 18.35%

Race
One race 4026 98.65%
White 3860 94.58%
Black or African American 18 0.44%
American Indian & Alaska Native 13 0.32%
Asian 92 2.25%
Asian indian 2 0.05%
Chinese 17 0.42%
Filipino 21 0.51%
Japanese 32 0.78%
Korean 14 0.34%
Vietnamese 2 0.05%
Other Asian 4 0.1%
Native Hawaiian & Pacific Island. 6 0.15%
Native Hawaiian 2 0.05%
Guamanian or Chamorro 2 0.05%
Samoan 1 0.02%
Other Pacific Islander 1 0.02%
Some other race 37 0.91%
Two or more races 55 3.0 %

Hispanic or Latino and race
Total Population 4081 100.00%
Hispanic or Latino(of any race) 120 2.94%
Mexican 61 1.49%
Puerto Rican 5 0.12%
Cuban 3 0.07%
Other Hispanic or Latino 51 1.25%
Not Hispanic or Latino 3961 97.06%
White alone 3783 92.7%

Relationship
Total Population 4081 100.00%
In households 4081 100%
Householder 2285 55.99%
Spouse 924 22.64%
Child 533 13.06%
Own child under 18 years 378 9.26%
Other relatives 84 2.06%
Under 18 years 15 0.37%
Nonrelatives 255 6.25%
Unmarried partner 91 2.23%
In group quarters 0 3.6 %
Instituntionalized population 0 0%
Noninstitutionalized population 0 0%

Households by Type
Total Households 2285 100.0 %
Family households (families) 1109 48.53%
With children under 18 years 265 11.6%
Married-couple family 924 40.44%
With children under 18 years 178 7.79%
Female householder, no husband 132 5.78%
With children under 18 years 68 2.98%
NonFamily households 1176 36.8 %
Householder living alone 1007 44.07%
Householder 65 years and over 459 20.09%

Households with individuals under 18 years 283 12.39%
Households with individuals 65 years and over 947 41.44%


Based on 2000 US Census data. For more information on population visit U.S. Census Bureau.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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I had the good fortune to have a vaction at the Four Seasons Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, and ventured into Carmel By The Sea.

It ties for best urban experience in my book, with Stratford Upon Avon.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
An interesting post. Carmel is certainly lovely, and I don't necessarily disagree that many zoning regulations are shortsighted or even negative.

Overall, your post, though makes some very broad generalizations. First, how can there be one "most beautiful town"? This is so subjective. There are so many factors that make a town or a city "beautiful":

Landscape and architecture are certainly important. Carmel certainly has a dramatic landscape, but even this is a very subjective taste. A northwesterner, for example, may prefer more trees; a northeasterner, more distict seasons.

As for architecture-Carmel, is to my tastes, a little too cutesy, almost sicky sweet. As lovely as it is, I'm not sure I would want to live in a Thomas Kincaid poster full time. The neotraditionalists do make good points about mixed use and urban design. I just wish all of their projects didn't look like 1875 and their towns require such rigid, overbearing overregulation to prevent the messiness of daily life from creeping in. I know there are exceptions to this idealized Middle America circa 1902 design pallate (Prospect in Longmont, Colorado comes to mind), but my teeth ache when I look at your photos, as lovely as they are.

Also, though , I really believe "beauty" requires economic and social balance. Carmel can be quaint because "real life" and real economics" are pushed elsewhere-into Monterrey, and Seaside, and the other much less superficially lovely towns on the penninsula. I bet the service class in Carmel, and most of the residents, do a lot of their real shopping in big boxes by the freeway.

Nor does Carmel, or any resort town, have much social balance. Carmel is a very rich town of cute $1 million cottages that imports all of its labor from elsewhere. Its a retirement village, a second home community. I'm not sure that the lessons are that transferrable, even if I wished they were.

There's my rant for the day. They were certainly lovely photos, though.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
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2,713
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24
Well said, a bit pompous, but well said and point taken.

I am with BKM on this, your right, but overly general. Those zoning regulations that you so despise were necessary to prevent UN-carmel USA from being completly barried in less than mediocrity. If we get mediocere design, it is prefereable to slab front design with no windows cause it is cheaper to build it that way.

Obviously Carmel has many things going for it. Affluent residents first of all. Second, it has a true history that has managed to preserve large chunks of its history in building form. Great, good for you.

Tell me though, when McDonalds comes to my town and insists on having a traditional drive through in a pedestrian area, am I going to prevent that with a highly interpretable code? I can tell you that we do not have Carmels base.

The late 60's and 70's were rough here as they were in all of the rustbelt. How then do you propose to set controls that force creativity? We have this problem, our fix is called PUD. We will work with a developer wanting a PUD, then we can force them to build something other than Soviet era east german cookie boxes.

I liked some of your suggestions for how to get some things done. Thats great for a motivated developer. I once read on a stone carving site this little idea "We are now told that stone carving and true masonry is too expensive to include in todays structures. Well, the truth is that it has ALWAYS been very expensive to include. The difference is that it was considered worth doing in the past but not now". That sums up what most of us face when we encounter developers regularly. That is why we dislike Wal Mart in general.

Code is restrictive and formulaic, but it protects more than development by right would.

I do suggest getting rid/turning off street lights at night. Most studies provide reason to believe that they only help light the target for a rober.

If you have a historic storefront with non-standard glass, and it is old, declare it a historical structure to be protected. Storefront stays.

Many solutions can be applied without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
Amazing pictures. Carmel is obviously an amazing, beautiful and unique town. I would love to visit sometime.

Now I know what happened to the Hobbits. They moved to Carmel, married pretty senoritas, made a mint in the real estate market, and built Spanish-style hobbit homes.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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The Irish One said:
You lived very high on the hog that day!, Didn't you. I live 20 minutes from the four seasons, very shwankey

Actually, I was there for an entire week prior to the Green Bay Packers play off game in San Diego. The room was $975 a nite. :)
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
Like BKM this town makes my teeth ache, too much sugar! I need rustic. I like Eureka, it has all of the zoning setbacks that frustrate people but it is lower to middle class and has historic houses all over the city. It's not eye candy by any means and spending just a bit of time there you might think it's a dive. Having said that, the town has potential for affordable living conditions.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
I also visited Caramel on a trip from San Fran to Lost Angeles a couple years ago. It is pretty, and amazing to think it was done only by a relatively small group of like-minded, extremely rich people. Oh wait, maybe that sin't so surprising after all.

I agree with you up to a point in saying that zoning can be overly limiting. More recently, there have been moves to design flexibility into zoning ordinances. Even so, we'll still face the problem of builders who only know one way to develop, and a market that often has little appreciation of ideas like "charm" or "character."
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
Plus, many home buyers are interested in a house that can be easily sold once their company transfers them or they move on. "Quirky" is out-quirky means a slower sale when its time to move on. The flexibility and freedom of American culture also contributes to our placelessness.

Irish One: Speaking of the North Coast, check this out: www.arcataeye.com. Look under Police Log :)

It has to be one of the best examples of small town sarcasm I have seen :) The tales of "the fun bunch" are never ending.
 

The Irish One

Member
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Ah, The Peoples Republic of Arcata -I love it.


One of my favs

1:47 p.m. Self-described "hippies" were reported asking passersby for donations of marijuana or magic mushrooms. The autumnal, "Why Lie? We Need Weed" plea eventually gave way to the more businesslike but still impish, "Hungry Hungry Hippies." And when it got rainy last week, a new, no-nonsense sign appeared: "Motel Room Needed." On at least one of the signs, upper and lowercase letters were intermingled with wild abandon.
 

Wulf9

Member
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923
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22
I lived in Carmel for 8 years and served on their Preservation Committee for a few years. It is a beautiful place. However, it is also very intense. No planning battle is ever over. It keeps coming back like a bad lunch. Victory, defeat, reversal, re-reversal, re-re-reversal.

It was almost a physical relief to move to Pacific Grove (America's Last Hometown) a few miles away. I liked PG a lot more.

If you ever want to see extreme zoning, take a look at the Carmel Z.O. It has requirements you won't believe. How about "volumetrics" to measure house volume? Or a requirement that businesses must be a single use only, using an expanded SIC to differentiate between land uses.

Over the past 10 years, Carmel has lost a lot of the unique retail to art galleries. The problem with the galleries is that they can survive with just a few sales per month, but, in excess, they don't have as much appeal to normal retail customers. The downtown has suffered because of that concentration of low-volume/high value uses.

Also, the census shows more than 30% vacant units because so many are second houses. It's hard to maintain a viable town of 4,000 people when so few are permanent. At times, I think they have more registered voters than permanent residents.

On the Eureka side of things, Eureka, Arcata, and Ferndale (where the Majestic was shot) are towns I like a lot. My daughter lives near Eureka, so we get up there pretty often. Ferndale is like a nascent Carmel.
 

tsc

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the photos are lovely... but a bit Disney like. I also appreciate the rustic and worn.... mixed with the beauty...like what is found in Provincetown, Mass.
 

Wannaplan?

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$$$

Median value for all owner-occupied housing units = $660,200

Median gross rent = $1,120

Heaven on earth indeed!
 

Cardinal

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Wulf9 said:
On the Eureka side of things, Eureka, Arcata, and Ferndale (where the Majestic was shot) are towns I like a lot. My daughter lives near Eureka, so we get up there pretty often. Ferndale is like a nascent Carmel.

Yes, Ferndale is a beautiful little town, and the drive from there along the Lost Coast south to the redwoods is spectacular.
 

H

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albrac, I with out a doubt believe in the principal on most of the comments you have made regarding the creativity and sense of place achieved by not following the normal city “template” we have created here in the US. Originality is a good thing, although you would never know it when you look around in most parts of the country seeing nothing but the same formulated house farms and Applebees’.

However, your town is not my heaven on earth. Heck, I couldn’t even afford to live there.

My heaven on earth would be more diverse and urban and not so “snow-white” cottage like. And my heaven on earth would definitively NOT be in California. (sorry Califorinialites) :)
 

BKM

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And my heaven on earth would definitively NOT be in California. (sorry Califorinialites

PLease, please, H Spread your anti-California gospel to the millions and millions projected to somehow cram into the state.

Its SO expensive here, there are all these fruits and nuts here. There are earthquakes. You all can visit, but please, please don't move here/ You don't want to move here! :) :)
 

Wulf9

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Re: $$$

Wanigas? said:
Median value for all owner-occupied housing units = $660,200

Median gross rent = $1,120

Heaven on earth indeed!

Ah, the innocence of non-Californians. That's the price in many areas of California, including lots of areas that are less beautiful than Carmel.

Of course, what they don't tell you is that most houses in Carmel are limited to 1,400 square feet more or less.

Note the disparity between ownership and rent costs. House ownership in California has such a high government subsidy that costs are extreme. I won't get on my government subsidy of housing rant at this point, but super high costs is one result.
 

H

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BKM said:
Its SO expensive here, there are all these fruits and nuts here. There are earthquakes. You all can visit, but please, please don't move here/ You don't want to move here! :) :)

That was my point exactly. Cal. is very pretty and I always enjoy it when I visit, but it has waaaaay toooo many problems for me to want to live there or to be ‘heaven on earth’. :)
 

biscuit

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H said:
That was my point exactly. Cal. is very pretty and I always enjoy it when I visit, but it has waaaaay toooo many problems for me to want to live there or to be ‘heaven on earth’. :)


My maternal Grandfather and a few of his brothers all moved out to Eureka during the Depression for jobs. My mom was born there and I even have a few relatives who stayed (Although I really have only meet them a couple of times - They don't visit "back East"). It is indeed a beautiful area to visit but I don't think I'd care to live there on a full time basis.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
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713
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20
Carmel Zoning

Wulf 9, as a former resident of Carmel, and someone obviously familiar with the zoning, how about regaling us with ten or twelve tidbits from the zoning ordinance that produces this particular (and peculiar) wonder.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
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It's been a couple of year since I was in Carmel last but my impressions are similar to BKMs. Too artsy-fartsy for this common man and I didn't think there was much of a community feel to the place. So good bars to hang in, though.

Is it still true that residents of Carmel are required to pick up their mail at the post office because there's not delivery service? As I recall, city officials didn't want to see all those ugly mail boxes on the fences of homes.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

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BKM said:
Its SO expensive here, there are all these fruits and nuts here. There are earthquakes. You all can visit, but please, please don't move here/ You don't want to move here! :) :)

Yes you do. Because if you don't, you will move to my state.;)

Intersting pictures of Carmel. After viewing them, and considering this time of year, I think of it as the Christmas ornament town, but without snow. Many of those buildings and homes look like ones on several ornaments I have seen.
 

Gedunker

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Jane Jacobs wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961):

"Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them. By old buildings I mean not museum-piece old buildings, not old buildings in an expensive state of rehabilitation--although these make fine ingredients--but also a good lot of plain, ordinary, low-value old buildings, including some run-down old buildings."

I affirm.
 

ablarc

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Run down buildings

...and, of course, some poor people to live in them. And if there are no poor locally, do we import them? Or do we just go ahead and make some people poor who are presently prosperous?

What should we do in deprived Luxembourg, where there are no poor?

"For ye have the poor always with you..." --Matthew 26:11
 

Wulf9

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Re: Carmel Zoning

ablarc said:
Wulf 9, as a former resident of Carmel, and someone obviously familiar with the zoning, how about regaling us with ten or twelve tidbits from the zoning ordinance that produces this particular (and peculiar) wonder.

I'm pretty rusty because it's been a while. but here's what I remember

Most lots are 4,000 square feet. FAR is 40% (1200 square feet plus 200 for a garage (1,400 square feet). Bulk is determined by volumetric analysis (don't ask me to explain) to keep developers from circumventing the size limits/

Maximum sign size on most commercial is 3 square feet. You get one sign.

Most commercial space gets one use (determined by an expanded SIC code) plus a maximum of 15% of another use.

Carmel logo merchandise has limited square footage. New tee shirt shops not allowed.

New real estate and jewelry stores are not allowed in the core downtown. (Responding to a 15-year old problem. They didn't do that for art galleries, which create the same problem.)

Franchise restaurants are not allowed, including fast food or any other franchises. (However, a couple of higher quality franchises have located there. I think the staff evaluates the quality of food when deciding whether or not to apply that ordinance standard.)

I don't think they have regulations on franchise retail (St. Helena has those.)

They don't have design review --- but I had a friend whose house color was denied because "it was the wrong shade of white."

And for those of you in other areas, who think California's housing wierdness is limited to California -- remember that Californians can sell their houses at bloated prices, move to your neighborhood, increase your housing prices, and have a quarter million left for spending money. It's happening as we speak.
 

Wulf9

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Is it still true that residents of Carmel are required to pick up their mail at the post office because there's not delivery service? As I recall, city officials didn't want to see all those ugly mail boxes on the fences of homes. [/B]


Actually, Carmel residents don't want mail delivery. It was resident driven, not city official driven. The post office is a social center of town.

Carmel is a town that has narrow streets, no sidewalks, no street lights in residential areas, no mail delivery, cottages tucked into a forest setting (with trees obscurring a stunning ocean view). People in Carmel like to suffer. At night, Carmel residents carry a flashlight, because there are no street lights.
 

Gedunker

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Re: Run down buildings

ablarc said:
...and, of course, some poor people to live in them. And if there are no poor locally, do we import them? Or do we just go ahead and make some people poor who are presently prosperous?

What should we do in deprived Luxembourg, where there are no poor?

"For ye have the poor always with you..." --Matthew 26:11

Carmel-by-the-Sea is saccharine and so far from reality that I can see nothing of merit in it for any planner trying to give some rust belt 'burg a chance to shine again.

OT: I'm positively for making the prosperous poor by taxing the wholly sh+t out of em and redirecting their wealth to those who do not have the power and influence. What is wrong with the idea that this be a land where few have too much and fewer have too little?
 

Gedunker

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Re: Gedunker

ablarc said:
You would enjoy life in Cuba.

Positively not. I need four seasons :-D

My quote was from Denmark, actually, a land that really does have "few with too much and fewer without".

Do not mistake social democracies for communism.
 

ablarc

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Good-humored comeback, Gedunker. I appreciate that.

I agree that we can eliminate poverty by practicing some wealth redistribution, but we do not have to make the prosperous poor to get there. There is more than enough wealth to go around without indulging in vindictiveness. Not only Denmark, but also Luxembourg are examples, and you can probably add Switzerland and Iceland to the list. Sweden? Norway? Finland? Liechtenstein? Tax-free Monaco?

Are you English?
 
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Gedunker

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Yes, ablarc, humor goes a long way in this forum.

I am not English. I am a Jersey boy lost in the midwest.

I suppose what bothers me about Carmel-by-the Sea is a native skepticism. Where are the workers that make this idyll possible -- the trash collectors and domestics, the plumbers and the teachers? Where do they live -- or better -- how do they live? What value do they derive working there?
 

statler

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447
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14
Luxembourg

I was stuck by ablarc 's comment about Luxembourg having no poor, so I did a little research and sure enough 0% of thier population are living below the poverty level (at least according to the CIA World Factbook.) But I can't find any information on how they, as a country, achived this. Is it some sort of government redistribution of wealth? A kind of public/private cooperation? Is there a model other countries can follow?
 
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gkmo62u

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Messages
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24
ablarc did you take the day off to post that?

Oddly enough I am going to agree with most of my brethren on this one. Sure Carmel is absolutely beautiful. But its Pretty rich, Pretty white, and pretty darn expensive.

It would not be able to compete for the "best" town in america, no matter how beautiful it is.
 

Wulf9

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22
Carmel is more like a "neighborhood" on the Monterey Peninsula than an isolated city with all of the negative social characteristics assigned to it in previous posts. There are seven cities with very distinct individualities on the Monterey Peninsula. It makes for an extremely interesting area to live and to work.

Carmel is interesting because it started as an artists colony (very well-known artists) and a retreat for University professors. A lot of its individuality comes from maintaining elements of the art colony 1900-1930. There is a consensus-based, self-imposed mutual suffering -- Narrow, poorly maintained roads, no street lights, no curbs, gutters, sidewalks, roads must go around trees rather than removing trees, very small houses in an area of great wealth, and no mail delivery.

One of the reasons people find it attractive is the continuation of a pattern started by very creative people.
 

BKM

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Carmel is more like a "neighborhood" on the Monterey Peninsula than an isolated city with all of the negative social characteristics assigned to it in previous posts. There are seven cities with very distinct individualities on the Monterey Peninsula. It makes for an extremely interesting area to live and to work.

Wulf: I think that was my (our) point. Carmel in itself is not a complete town. Its like the rich neighborhood in any metropolitan area. Monterrey is a fascinating area (I even like Salinas-although it is becoming a commuter suburb for Silicon Valley). "Best" town in America still to me implies more a balanced community.

Still, it is a lovely place-I can't deny that. I pulled out my copy of "Storybook Style" last night, a book written by the Chronicle's architecture critic. More focus on Berkeley and Oakland and LA, but still an interesting era.
 

ablarc

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713
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Luxembourg Economy

statler,

As measured by per capita income, Luxembourg is the most prosperous country in the world by a country mile: half-again the GDP per capita of the USA. There are plenty of rich people in Luxembourg and no poor ones, so maybe that old Marxist saw that the two are inevitable bedfellows doesn't always hold water.


LUXEMBOURG ECONOMY

(see also: Economic Portrait)

It was the discovery of the iron ore around 1850 which marked the turning point for Luxembourg and meant its economic take-off. An important steel industry came into being in the south-western corner of the country, drawing tens of thousands of foreign workers into the ore mines and steel factories, and bringing prosperity to the whole country.

The steel exports constitute one quarter of the value of the Luxembourg export trade. The Arcelor group alone (previously known as ARBED), produces 90% of the whole Luxembourg steel output. In spite of severe labour-shedding during the eighties, Arcelor remains the largest private employer in the country. Arcelor is the world's biggest producer of Flat Carbon Steel and Long Carbon Steel, among the leaders in Stainless Steel production, and among the largest firms in Europe for Distribution, Transformation and Trading.

Since the end of World War II, great efforts have been made to bring diversity into the former monolithic industry. Aluminium, glass, cement, tyres, magnetic tapes and computer manufacturers have established plants, dams have been built in Esch-sur-Sûre and Rosport; Vianden houses Europe's second largest pumping station producing peak hydro-electricity; the ASTRA satellites are controlled from Luxembourg.
Tax rebates, help in obtaining credits, and a host of other incentives are offered to companies intending to set up plant in the Grand Duchy. However, despite these continuing efforts, Luxembourg's industrial labour is dropping in numbers, marking a slide into the service sector. (see also: Luxembourg in Figures (sub Employment and Unemployment))

Luxembourg plays a major role as a prominent international financial centre. Numerous banks and important investment trusts have settled in the capital, as the fiscal legislation, which dates back to 1929, favours Banks and Holding Companies.
Luxembourg as an international centre numbers more than 14000 domiciled Holding Companies, some 1300 investment funds, and 220 banks which represent the greatest banking concentration in the European Community. More recently still, Luxembourg has reaffirmed its importance as a centre for Eurobonds with a big emphasis in ECUs, and the future seems likely to attract more and more investment funds in European Currency Units to this comparatively young, but steadily growing centre.
In parallel with the growth of private banking, which year on year emerges as the core activity for Luxembourg's banks, the development of other sectors, such as Investment Fund Promotion and Services, as well as Life Insurance are reinforcing Luxembourg's claim to be Europe's premier centre for all forms of Personal Investment business.

Tourism contributes significantly to the National Accounts.

Its economic structure and its geographical position have necessarily led Luxembourg into a close co-operation with other countries, and particularly with Belgium since 1921, and with Belgium and the Netherlands since the second World War, with the creation of BENELUX, an economic Union which was the first step towards the present larger European Community.



More detailed information IN ENGLISH:

http://statec.gouvernement.lu/html_en/portrait_economique_du_luxembourg/index.html
 
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Messages
146
Points
6
Re: Luxembourg Economy

ablarc said:
statler,

As measured by per capita income, Luxembourg is the most prosperous country in the world by a country mile: half-again the GDP per capita of the USA. There are plenty of rich people in Luxembourg and no poor ones, so maybe that old Marxist saw that the two are inevitable bedfellows doesn't always hold water.

Or maybe in an age of globalization, the have-nots to match up with their haves aren't in Belgium.
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
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713
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20
BKM

What makes Carmel a town, and not just a neighborhood, is that it has its own government. This means that Carmelites are masters of their own destiny, as I guess we all should be. There are no outsiders telling them how to do things.

Because Carmel is identifiably different from other places, it does make a difference to live within its city limits.

The really deplorable thing is that in many places, it makes no difference that you live there, because they are interchangeable with most other places, thanks often to similar zoning and other regulations that deprive a place of particularity, or a sense of place.

Reminds me of Kropotkin's idealized description of medieval Europe: economically specialized towns with different cultures.

Transylvania was like this until quite recently, when Ceausescu started deporting homogeneous populations village by village and destroying their highly evolved and specialized physical environments.

He had a solution for parochial factionalism: move everyone to high-rise public housing.
 
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simulcra

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
this is the problem i have with many sunbelt booms. i find myself wondering why people select one city over the other. why would you want to live in dallas or houston or phoenix in particular? they're all the same subdivisions by the same nationwide developpers with the same plans with the same landscapping with similar weather. there's no identity, no soul...

just the jobs.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

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2,713
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24
Re: BKM

ablarc said:
.....He had a solution for parochial factionalism: move everyone to high-rise public housing.

His idea was hardly novel. The Russians beat him to it :)

Anything left in Berlin after WWII on the east side was poorly maintained as to become a danger to casual padestrians below from falling building facades. Anything new after that made Cabrini green look like a palace (but without the cage covering the open air portions :) )

Ah, I never believed that all these places I have been would ever come in in so handy :)
 
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