...all planners need to shift building envelopes forward. ...give me a 15 foot front yard ...15 feet is more than enough to park a car in front of the house and off the road (unless you use on road parking) then make it 10 feet.
I agree this is what we are told we should want.
Yet shortening front setbacks eliminates large-canopy trees in the ROW or private yards; these public goods - large-canopied trees - ameliorate the urban heat island, slow stormwater runoff, shade streets which lengthens pavement longevity and reduces VOCs from parked vehicles in warm months, intercept and filter air pollutants, (too close to the structure will) impede the solar access plane on the roof of structures on the north side of streets (and both E-W sides), slow traffic, create identity, are views from a window, increase property values, restore attention, and on and on for many more benefits, but you get the idea.
The CNU, LEED-ND and LEED [STRIKEOUT]fads[/STRIKEOUT] systems do a poor job at understanding and designing for these basic facts.
Um, I assume you've been to NYC or some other large city with zero front yard setbacks that still have tree lined streets?
Setbacks don't necessarily start at the curbline, sometimes they start at back of the ROW which can include the sidewalk and green strips with street trees. Still, 10 feet setback, with a tree planted near the front property line would allow for a near 20 foot canopy.
Of course. And I was just in Montreal and Quebec City studying their spatial arrangements as well. Nevertheless, the problems with most of NYC's tree lined streets is the subject of another thread and shouldn't be held up as an exemplar.
I'm specifically concerned in my work with setbacks that start at the back of the ROW, and where 15 feet is still inadequate. A 20 foot canopy is inadequate next to the street, and a tree with a 20 foot canopy in front of a structure less than 3 stories will impede the solar access plane. The topic is complicated and this is simply to say the standard template is inadequate to address the ecological portion of the built environment.
In most cities, at least here in NYS, the trend is to plant smallish street trees that will NOT bring down power lines in storms, will NOT heave sidewalks, and will NOT get into the sewer lines. These are NEVER going to have enough canopy to shade the street, but they also aren't going to have nasty roots or interfere with power lines, and that's what the city and most homeowners want.
This is like having a story that says public transportation is overrated. It really depends on who uses it, and what for.
Personally, I wouldn't buy a home without at least an acre of land. I guess I could build my house on the rear lot line forcing me to have an acre of front yard...
People want different things with their largest purchase. Some want connectivity, some want seclusion. Some want interaction, some want to be left alone. Is it "healthy" for a street? Who knows. But if the house sells, then it is the persons prerogative how they use it. If you want to build a home, much of that decision is based on where you can get the land. And you won't buy land where you can't build a house how you want.
This is all so true. I grew up with a back yard that is about the size of my living room today - and I dont live in a big house. What was the point of it? As an adult I prefer to live in an apartment building, valuing the view over the open space. But to each is own. Why should anyone care how others live?
I live in a suburban subdivision and our backyard, which is the largest in the entire sub, rarely gets used. The kids in the neighborhood would rather play in the front yards or be by the sidewalk and streets where they can ride their bikes. I don't typically like big back yards, and we weren't necessarily looking for one, it just happened to go that way. I will try and find ways to reduce the size of my backyard. Pool anyone??
When I was a young man, all I wanted was a balcony big enough to put a barbque grill on.
When I was a married man, I wanted a decent front yard for appearance and a patio for entertaining.
When I was a married man with children, I wanted a big back yard for the children to safely play away from the street.
Since the children have gone, I want a back yard to putter around with garden vegatables, and enough space for an occassional grandchild to visit and play.
As a retired person, I enjoy the color of our flowering trees, and the shade and gentle murmur of our mature trees in our front and back yards, and sitting on the patio deck and listening to the gurgle of our stream bed as it cascades into our koi pond.
Having the advantage of the experience of living through these phases of life, and now looking back, I find that I would not change those desires for space and serenity.
Maybe that is why we have different size lots, different size houses, and different size set-backs as we go through life.