June 13, 2004

What Does A Smart Growth Suburb Look Like?

Smart Suburbs: A California Community Freed from Car Dependence

"California's booming Silicon Valley is infamous for time spent behind the wheel, but the town of Mountain View decided to make a change. Working with an architect who understood what the community needed, the city and a builder named TPG Development launched The Crossings, a cluster of 300 homes built around a new commuter train station and located within walking distance of shops, offices, and open space," the Natural Resources Defense Council explains.

"The Crossings incorporates two smart-growth elements that free people from their cars: access to public transportation and high-density design. The typical suburban formula of one house per acre stretches the outer limits of towns and adds to residents' commuting time. In contrast, The Crossings has 22 units per acre. Thanks to careful planning, residents say this density does not feel confining, because it is so easy for them to walk to shops, nearby offices, or the train station. They note that the parks, wide sidewalks, lush landscaping, parks, and pleasant streets create a feeling of spaciousness."

Note that every suburb in Silicon Valley isn't going to look like this; there's still plenty of more traditional single-family housing available -- as there should be. But suburbs from Mountain View to Framingham have more densely built areas and more spread-out areas. This offers an alternative for the morse densely zoned areas that doesn't require an auto for a decent quality of life. And it's a big plus for those in more traditional single-family housing who might be within walking distance of that neighborhood's amenities.

You can see images of The Crossings on the Calthorpe Associates Web site.

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