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Master Street Grid


Is anyone aware of an example of a city government that has, in addition to establishing traditional neighborhood development guidelines, created a master street grid system to further form and guide the development of greenbelt areas in an effort to establish a more interconnected and efficient road network as property develops?


Dear Leader
Staff member
Shane said:
Is anyone aware of an example of a city government that has, in addition to establishing traditional neighborhood development guidelines, created a master street grid system to further form and guide the development of greenbelt areas in an effort to establish a more interconnected and efficient road network as property develops?

Welcome to Cyburbia!

Aside from city governments of old, some good examples being New York City and Washington, D.C., most American cities don't have a predefined street grid for local streets. A comp plan may include the location of major arterials and describe how minor arterials, connector streers and so on should be placed, but usually nothing more specific.

I think that any efforts to pre-assign a grid, unless it's on municipally owned property or doe with the coordination of the property owners, could be considered a taking; please don't quote me.

Here's what I've included in "The Oakland Principles," a resolution adopted to establish guiding principles for future compehensive planning efforts. It's based in part on based in part on the Congress for New Urbanism’s “Charter for New Urbanism” and the Local Government Association’s “Ahwahnee Principles.” I've included the justification text, but the sections relevant to you are in bold text.


WHEREAS, the Planning and Zoning Board have been conducting special workshops to identify challenges that will be faced by Oakland’s built environment in the future; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Oakland has been blessed with a unique “sense of place” that many other communities have lost; and

WHEREAS, increased development pressure, combined with inadequate land use regulations and a comprehensive plan that does not address progressive planning principles or current market forces facing Oakland, threaten to harm the “sense of place” that new and long time residents cherish; and

WHEREAS, current land use regulations and the current Comprehensive Plan do not accommodate growth in a manner that would protect the town’s “sense of place” or shape that growth in a manner that would respect the town’s form; and

WHEREAS, the Planning and Zoning Board and Town Commission have expressed the need for revising the Town’s land use regulations and updating the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, to preserve Oakland’s “sense of place,” and accommodate the inevitable growth faced by Oakland in a manner that enhances the quality of life of Town residents; and

WHEREAS, the Town Planner created the Oakland Townscape Principles, based in part on the Congress for New Urbanism’s “Charter for New Urbanism” and the Local Government Association’s “Ahwahnee Principles,” to quantify elements in the built environment that contribute to the town’s “sense of place,” and reflect the desired outcome of the Planning and Zoning Board and Town Commission for land use planning efforts in Oakland; and

WHEREAS, the Oakland Townscape Principles set a firm foundation for guiding comprehensive planning efforts that will result in a built environment that retains the “sense of place” Oakland residents treasure, while providing for growth that will enhance Oakland’s quality of life and desirability as a residential community, rather than detract from it.


The Town hereby adopts the Oakland Townscape Principles as the guiding principles and fundamental policy for land use planning efforts in the Town.

Developers are encouraged to honor the Oakland Townscape Principles for future projects in Oakland.

It is understood that the Oakland Townscape Principles do not substitute for land use regulations or the Comprehensive Plan, but rather form the foundation for their revision.

The Town will actively work to update its land use regulations and Comprehensive Plan to achieve the objectives of the Oakland Townscape Principles.


Oakland is a small, geographically constrained community with a very special, fragile built and social environment. Because of its strategic location, Oakland is facing intense development pressure. A single development will have a disproportionately large impact on the town compared to other communities, and poorly executed projects or inappropriate land uses may cause irreparable harm.

Lowest common denominator development, like that typically found in many North American suburban and exurban communities that have developed through the late 20th century, threatens to irreparably harm the unique character of Oakland, and diminish the quality of life its residents enjoy. Symptoms include increased congestion and air pollution, the inability to provide open space to serve a growing population, the lack of a true town center or gathering place, commercial development that is dominated by uses or business that do not serve resident needs, residential development that is indistinguishable from subdivisions in other communities, and the loss of a sense of community and place.

Built up portions of west Orange County and east Lake County, encroaching towards the town, contain land use and development patterns that are seen as undesirable models for Oakland’s built environment. However, by drawing upon the best from the past and present, we can plan for a more livable community that will accommodate appropriate growth, while preserving the character that draws residents to the town, protecting property values, protecting the town’s name and reputation, and ensuring a built environment that has the potential to attract more than lowest common denominator uses. Such planning and development must follow certain fundamental principles.

Town form

6. Streets, pedestrian paths, and bike trails must contribute to a system of fully-connected and interesting routes to all destinations, preserving the visual and functional connectivity found in Oakland’s original grid street pattern.

7. The transportation system should be designed to accommodate both automobiles and alternative forms of transportation. Transit, pedestrian and bicycle systems should maximize access and mobility throughout the town, while reducing dependence on the automobile for short trips.

8. Appropriate road design, not signage, should be used to control traffic speed. Traffic calming techniques that do not incorporate gates, barriers, speed bumps, or other vertical protrusions should be used to slow vehicle traffic.

9. Infill development in the Old Town area is encouraged, to conserve environmental resources, reduce the need to extend existing infrastructure or build new infrastructure, and reinforce the area as the core of Oakland.

10. Infill development should be done in a sensitive manner that respects and protects the character and scale of existing development, preserves the social fabric, reenergizes marginal areas, and maintains the low density “rural village” feel of Old Town.

I'm in the process of rewriting the town's land development regiulations. The urban form section will include requirements on street interconnectivity; not necessarily maintaining a strict grid, but rather preserving the interconnectivity and sense of belonging to a larger community that is inherent with it. We're probably going to require breaking up blocks at regular intervals (maybe 150 to 200 meters, or a bit longer if there are mid-block greenswards), banning the cul-de-sac (but permitting "loop lanes" and eyelet streets), and allowing some gentle curvilinearity in a manner similar to what's found in 1910s and 1920s era planned communities.


I agree with Dan, in that there are not many communities that establish actual local street grids as part of long range planning. Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with Florida State Statutes.

The closest thing I can think of that can establish local street grids are Specific Plans. This is something that we used in California, and occasionally, if an area is remote or has serious land use constraints, Cities could use the Specific Plan as a way to establish street patterns.

The guidelines for development a Specific Plan in California can be found here, and an example of a Specific Plan map (that shows emergency access, local streets, and arterial streets), can be seen here.

Here in Alberta, we use a process called Area Structure Plans for each neighborhood that establishes the general pattern of local streets. However, the actual circulation pattern is established as part of the subdivision procedures and streets are allowed to vary somewhat from the adopted circulation maps. Arterials and collectors are shown as required locations, and changes need to be adopted by City Council.

Hope this helps...


Thank you both! In Orlando, we're working to ensure that an interconnected grid road network similar to that found in the Traditional City develops in the southeast greenbelt area. Your replys are appreciated, I'm currently interning with the Transportation Planning Bureau and you helped to confirm my research on this.


It's great to hear that in sprawlville they are interested in smart growth principles. A green belt and grid in metro Orlando,interesting.