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The front yard

Linda_D

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#41
I don't think most in this thread are advocating no front yard at all. I like my front yard, because it's small.

My girls actually prefer to play in the front yard, because they can ride bikes, etc. But they don't play in the yard itself necessarily. Tonight I had to force them into the back yard, because I'm not completely comfortable letting my 5-year old be out there with no supervision.
I think this is where the preference for backyards comes from. Parents feel they can leave the kids there in relative safety.

I will also add that if the yards are mostly unfenced, that it leaves a large, safe play area for the neighborhood kids. We have that in my neighborhood. Only two of us (we have pups) on my block have fenced our yards which creates a nice open space for the kids young and old to have kickball or football games. It also makes it easier and safer for younger children to play with friends on adjoining streets.
 
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#42
I think there is a good deal of clove in the back yard and I appreciate a lawn full of little flowers that attract bees to my garden!
 

Streck

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#43
I am convinced that landscaped front yards are one of the least expensive ways to add to the perceived value of the home and this is reflected in maintaining property values and the tax base.

Areas with old homes that needed some repair were still perceived to be in a desireable neighborhood and home values were maintained.

I understand that some areas of the country and some parts of the inner city are not able to have this appearance, but that is also what makes some places and areas of the country more desireable to live in.

We have been successful in maintaining the perception of a college campus in our small city where we have nice large front yards, and our community has won a few national awards for being a desireable place to raise a family.

We try to protect our front yard setbacks vigorously.
 
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#44
I am convinced that landscaped front yards are one of the least expensive ways to add to the perceived value of the home and this is reflected in maintaining property values and the tax base.

Areas with old homes that needed some repair were still perceived to be in a desireable neighborhood and home values were maintained.

I understand that some areas of the country and some parts of the inner city are not able to have this appearance, but that is also what makes some places and areas of the country more desireable to live in.

We have been successful in maintaining the perception of a college campus in our small city where we have nice large front yards, and our community has won a few national awards for being a desireable place to raise a family.

We try to protect our front yard setbacks vigorously.
So, your uniform setback laws make your city "a desireable place to raise a family." Can you explain that logic?

I know of several cities with large setbacks that are not considered desirable places to raise families.

I also know of many places with deep setbacks where property values are depressed, sometimes because large parcels are more expensive to maintain.
 
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#45
Deep setbacks may be alright in rural areas, but as the context becomes more sub-urban and urban, the setbacks need to become more shallow. Planners should be in the business of providing options and variety, partly to ensure economic sustainability through diversification.
 

Linda_D

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#46
Deep setbacks may be alright in rural areas, but as the context becomes more sub-urban and urban, the setbacks need to become more shallow.
Reality check:
  • Most urban setbacks are already shallow.
  • Many suburban setbacks, except in the more expensive subdivisions or in areas that were originally exurbs, are relatively shallow, 30-50 feet is common. Many newer subdivisions also have shallow setbacks because homes are being set on smaller lots as home/land prices have soared.
  • Most existing homes in rural areas have setbacks of 100 feet or less, especially homes that were built prior to WW II. This was because people didn't want to mow all that land by hand with a reel mower or clear out that driveway of snow. Even today, setting a house back far from the road means added cost for building a driveway as well as bringing in electricity and for gas/water/sewer if those are available at the road, so most people who built/are building new homes stay within 100 feet or so of the road.

Planners should be in the business of providing options and variety, partly to ensure economic sustainability through diversification.
How, exactly, do "options and variety" of front yard setbacks "ensure economic sustainability through diversification"? I don't think that communities should have rigid one-size-fits-all setback rules for the entire community, but the depth of the frontyard setback is NOT going to be a significant determinant of the market value of a home unless it is extreme (for example --a very shallow setback while fronting on a busy road). IMO, this is just theoretical goobleygook using the favored jargon du jour. Any idea somebody wants to push gets called "sustainable".
 

ColoGI

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#47
but as the context becomes more sub-urban and urban, the setbacks need to become more shallow.

Planners should be in the business of providing options and variety, partly to ensure economic sustainability through diversification.
Your second sentence contradicts your first.

The cookie-cutter "need" is, of course, utterly dependent on context.
 

craines

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#48
To me the front yard serves many purposes. It is a transitional space from the hustle and bustle of the street to the insanely chaotic family inside. The front yard gives you the abiltiy to meet neighbors out for a stroll.My front yard is basically designed for passive use and enoying a cocktail. It is also pretty well screened off from the street though the use a trees,hedge and plantings. There is no lawn but there is groundcover and shrubs ( california natives)

The yard also through its layout of masses and its use of foliage color and texture accentuate and articulate the design and mass of the house. Also there is a seperate entry path for guests as the driveway is for vehicles and is gated off at the street.

c
 
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#49
How, exactly, do "options and variety" of front yard setbacks "ensure economic sustainability through diversification"? I don't think that communities should have rigid one-size-fits-all setback rules for the entire community, but the depth of the frontyard setback is NOT going to be a significant determinant of the market value of a home unless it is extreme (for example --a very shallow setback while fronting on a busy road). IMO, this is just theoretical goobleygook using the favored jargon du jour. Any idea somebody wants to push gets called "sustainable".
Setbacks should be context-sensitive.

For example, deep setbacks for skyscrapers create towers in a park and no walkability.

Options come in the form of a variety of contexts with their own respective typologies, including among them setbacks.
 
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#50
Setbacks should be context-sensitive.

For example, deep setbacks for skyscrapers create towers in a park and no walkability.

Options come in the form of a variety of contexts with their own respective typologies, including among them setbacks.
Are you really comparing american front yards to Le Corbousier style development? I suggest that you study Mies Van der Rhoe. If this area was left context sensitive it would be full of unused warehouses, rotted homes.
 

Linda_D

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#51
Setbacks should be context-sensitive.

For example, deep setbacks for skyscrapers create towers in a park and no walkability.

Options come in the form of a variety of contexts with their own respective typologies, including among them setbacks.
A deep set back on a high-rise building can provide a public gathering space, especially for public/commercial buildings. It can also provide for a pick up/drop off zone for deliveries/services/tenants, especially for residential buildings. For all buildings, it can provide green space. It depends upon how that setback is used.

While you advocate "walkability", you obviously oppose people walking an extra 300 feet to cross in front of a building built on a plaza or an extra 200 feet to get to the front door. This is not a long row of large highrises built back 200 feet from the sidewalk but one. It seems to me that for all your talk of "diversity", you really don't want diversity at all but want every building to conform to what you consider "appropriate".

Moreover, I fail to see what "walkability" has to do with "ensur[ing] economic sustainability". I would think that constructing a high-rise building so that most interior spaces could be easily reconfigured to meet changing demand over several decades of use would make that building much more "economically sustainable" than making sure it conformed to some theorist's version of an urban Never-Never Land. This would be especially true if said high-rise was located in a suburban setting.
 
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#52
A deep set back on a high-rise building can provide a public gathering space, especially for public/commercial buildings. It can also provide for a pick up/drop off zone for deliveries/services/tenants, especially for residential buildings. For all buildings, it can provide green space. It depends upon how that setback is used.

While you advocate "walkability", you obviously oppose people walking an extra 300 feet to cross in front of a building built on a plaza or an extra 200 feet to get to the front door. This is not a long row of large highrises built back 200 feet from the sidewalk but one. It seems to me that for all your talk of "diversity", you really don't want diversity at all but want every building to conform to what you consider "appropriate".

Moreover, I fail to see what "walkability" has to do with "ensur[ing] economic sustainability". I would think that constructing a high-rise building so that most interior spaces could be easily reconfigured to meet changing demand over several decades of use would make that building much more "economically sustainable" than making sure it conformed to some theorist's version of an urban Never-Never Land. This would be especially true if said high-rise was located in a suburban setting.
You fail to see quite a bit.

Plazas are not setbacks.
 
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#53
Are you really comparing american front yards to Le Corbousier style development? I suggest that you study Mies Van der Rhoe. If this area was left context sensitive it would be full of unused warehouses, rotted homes.
If I was comparing them, I wouldn't have used the term, "context-sensitive."

Le Corbusier was attempting to attach the setbacks appropriate for a country estate to skyscrapers in the middle of a big city.

I live in an old neighborhood that was built with beautiful and elegant transitions from the urban to the rural. The houses on the edges are huge estates that exist on large lots with common yards and no sidewalks, as well as sporadic use of curbs and a country club near an historic resort. Walking towards the commercial street, the setbacks become more shallow and picket fences and other defensible space starts to abut sidewalks.

On the commercial street, there are zero setbacks along with taller mixed-use buildings.

This way of building cities existed for centuries until the proponents of car-dependency started tearing everything apart. They were the "theorists", and the results speak for themselves.

I don't know whom Linda_D is trying to convince because the users of Cyburbia ought to be a relatively-sophisticated audience that knows the history, as well as the current problems.
 
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#55
Dude,

You have to factor in the car in today's design and in how people live their lives. 75 years ago the rich people in the large estates in your neighborhood might have been the only people with cars and who drove everywhere. Today we're much more egalitarian and most Americans have cars. The car just ain't going away. It has revolutionized the design of urban planning and how our urban environments are built. You are not going to be a successful planner if you want to ignore the role cars play in our lives and the choices it's given to Americans in what/where/how they want to live.


If I was comparing them, I wouldn't have used the term, "context-sensitive."

Le Corbusier was attempting to attach the setbacks appropriate for a country estate to skyscrapers in the middle of a big city.

I live in an old neighborhood that was built with beautiful and elegant transitions from the urban to the rural. The houses on the edges are huge estates that exist on large lots with common yards and no sidewalks, as well as sporadic use of curbs and a country club near an historic resort. Walking towards the commercial street, the setbacks become more shallow and picket fences and other defensible space starts to abut sidewalks.

On the commercial street, there are zero setbacks along with taller mixed-use buildings.

This way of building cities existed for centuries until the proponents of car-dependency started tearing everything apart. They were the "theorists", and the results speak for themselves.

I don't know whom Linda_D is trying to convince because the users of Cyburbia ought to be a relatively-sophisticated audience that knows the history, as well as the current problems.
 
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#56
Dude,

You have to factor in the car in today's design and in how people live their lives. 75 years ago the rich people in the large estates in your neighborhood might have been the only people with cars and who drove everywhere. Today we're much more egalitarian and most Americans have cars. The car just ain't going away. It has revolutionized the design of urban planning and how our urban environments are built. You are not going to be a successful planner if you want to ignore the role cars play in our lives and the choices it's given to Americans in what/where/how they want to live.
Ahhh.... So, we have another person telling us "what/where/how" "Americans" "want" to live. The irony is that his or her location reads Dubai, a place built, in part, by telling Americans what, where, and how they should structure their entire civilization around the oil that the Middle East sells.

"Successful planners" don't presume to know what that mythical monolith of Americans want, and "successful planners" certainly don't listen to the incessant drumbeat of the oil, automobile, and highway lobbies. Instead, "successful planners" try to prevent themselves from forcing citizens to own and use cars.

Owning and using a car should be an optional transportation choice, one of many. If doing so isn't, then planners are, and have been, complicit in enslaving Americans to these moneyed interests.
 
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Howl

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#57
The problem with most high-rise setbacks isn’t that they exist, but that they are generally covered with grass and pavement, and a few stray trees. Grass and pavement provide very little in the way of visual appeal or character. They create a negative space that is bland and uninviting. In my experience people who live in apartment buildings generally don’t use their setback areas because they are so uninviting and have no amenities that would attract them, other than parking their car. Setback areas are generally wasted space.

So what do you replace the grass and pavement with? If you’re building a new development you could get the same number of people in buildings a quarter the height if they were spread out over the entire site more efficiently. In most cases this would create a “better” (read: more urban or more walkable) environment. If you’re working with an existing building these spaces can often provide opportunities for intensification. I have also seen a case where the traditional grass and parking lot setback has been replaced with a wood lot creating a building complex surrounded by nature.
 
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#58
There are a lot of unresolved design and planning issues, but the overwhelming evidence is that large setbacks for buildings does not work in terms of walkability and street scapes. There may be a few examples one may find where they are okay (but okay for passers by as well as building occupants?) but most dont work and should be avoided.

Its hard to think of a more settled issue.
 
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#59
If I was comparing them, I wouldn't have used the term, "context-sensitive."

Le Corbusier was attempting to attach the setbacks appropriate for a country estate to skyscrapers in the middle of a big city.

I live in an old neighborhood that was built with beautiful and elegant transitions from the urban to the rural. The houses on the edges are huge estates that exist on large lots with common yards and no sidewalks, as well as sporadic use of curbs and a country club near an historic resort. Walking towards the commercial street, the setbacks become more shallow and picket fences and other defensible space starts to abut sidewalks.

On the commercial street, there are zero setbacks along with taller mixed-use buildings.

This way of building cities existed for centuries until the proponents of car-dependency started tearing everything apart. They were the "theorists", and the results speak for themselves.

I don't know whom Linda_D is trying to convince because the users of Cyburbia ought to be a relatively-sophisticated audience that knows the history, as well as the current problems.
Sounds to me like you're extolling life in one of Jacob Riis' tennaments.
 
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#60
Americans have demonstrated over the past 100 years where they want to live: a single family dwelling in a low density area. That is why we have the urban land form we have today - the sprawling suburbs. Sure, there were incentives that encouraged the growth of suburbia but most of these incentives were provided by politicians....elected directly by American voters.

That isn't to say we can't have something besides the suburban model and a sensible planner would certainly want to help provide options and choices, but a sensible planner is also thoughtful of the context of the community he/she works in and what the local residents prefer to have next door to them. Planners are, for the most part, public servants. Even private planning firms work very closely with the public sphere. Don't be like the communist era planners in Poland who decided it was a sensible, pragmatic decision to build 10-story apartment towers in the middle of tiny villages.

Dubai, by the way, is quite high density and much more compact than American cities. Most people live in apartments and the new freehold compounds villa plots are tiny to the point of almost non-existent (3,000 sqft house on a 6,000 sqft lot). The wealth that built Dubai wasn't oil (the Emirate has no real oil wealth) but speculative investment from all over the world.


Ahhh.... So, we have another person telling us "what/where/how" "Americans" "want" to live. The irony is that his or her location reads Dubai, a place built, in part, by telling Americans what, where, and how they should structure their entire civilization around the oil that the Middle East sells.

"Successful planners" don't presume to know what that mythical monolith of Americans want, and "successful planners" certainly don't listen to the incessant drumbeat of the oil, automobile, and highway lobbies. Instead, "successful planners" try to prevent themselves from forcing citizens to own and use cars.

Owning and using a car should be an optional transportation choice, one of many. If doing so isn't, then planners are, and have been, complicit in enslaving Americans to these moneyed interests.
 
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