"Smart Growth" and "New Urbanism" Compared with "Large Lot Zoning" (Tom Lane) [ Home Page – Click Here]

(May 17, 2017) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2017 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.

Breaking News: June 2: Thousand Oaks (Correction)


(June 2, 2015) CORRECTION  August 11, 2015  Apparently, Dan Roundtree ran the election. I don’t know his positions on smart growth. Will have to correct post !!!!

California urban planners have been waiting all evening to see if Thousand Oaks voters (mostly soccer moms and pops, and, retirees, who all favor homes with private yards, not Smart Growth Towers) will elect Ed Jones, who opposes the Smart Growth plan for Thousand Oaks Boulevard.  As of Midnight tonight, Jones has won by about 70 votes. But there are many more mail in ballots to count for the four candidates.

California planners must plan their cities under Governor Jerry Brown’s Smart Growth rules for climate change, reducing greenhouse gases by increasing density as “infill” development.  However, many urban planners recognize that this is impossible given the suburban nature of their cities.  In fact, it is easier to get smart growth towers approved in Arizona, than California.

In the past three years, I’ve talked with numerous California urban planners and they mention that they really cannot “re-design” their cities to make them more dense, with transit oriented developments.  I will not mention any planners names, but a common response was, “We can show The Governor that we have already put bike lanes all over.”

Of course, if there are more bike lanes, then more people will bike and that will reduce greenhouse gases. However, in low density suburbs designed for the personal automobile, most people will still drive to work.  And, Governor Brown has no business telling city councilors and city planners how to plan their cities.

Thousand Oaks doesn’t need to reduce any greenhouse gases. They have enough oak trees in their open space network to absorb them.  Ed Jones was part of the committee for the early 1970’s Thousand Oaks master plan. The plan said that developers must donate 25% of their property as open space.  Today, Thousand Oaks is about one third open space, one of the highest for a city of over 100,000 persons (pop = 120,000).  Scottsdale, is also one third open space, due to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

As for Thousand Oaks, I have not read the PDF for their downtown revitilization. Nevertheless, Ed Jones was very wise when he said that smart growth isn’t financially feasible on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, since someone would have to come up with billions of dollars to buy all the businesses (link):

2. What does a Thousand Oaks downtown look like to you? What issues should the City Council keep in mind with development changes to Thousand Oaks Boulevard?

I believe trying to make the area surrounding the Civic Arts Plaza a downtown area will not work, unless someone comes up with multi-millions of dollars to buy up and convert all the automotive parts stores, car repair shops, tire stores, gas stations, a large car dealership etc. Into boutiques, dress shops, quaint bistros, gift shops, flower shops etc. 

Thousand Oaks Blvd. is more like Gasoline Alley than State Street in Santa Barbara.  Our original concept (I was on the Thousand Oaks Master Plan Committee in 1968-69) was the Barbell concept for commercial.  The two large bells (Oaks and Janss Malls on west end and Westlake Malls on the east end) will be more like downtowns. 

Relevance to Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona faces dark money interests to build smart growth towers and Judy Eisenhower wants light rail in Scottsdale.  However, Scottsdale, like Thousand Oaks, is a very low density city. It would take billions of dollars to buy businesses on Scottsdale Road, all the way from Tempe up to Pinnacle Peak.  Where would this money come from?

In my ex-hometown of Seattle (i.e. “Smart Growth Seattle”), the City wanted to bury a freeway underground, so that they could have prime waterfront real estate to build Smart Growth Towers. However, the downtown tunnel remains on hold since the tunnel machine is literally stuck underground. Cost overruns could reach tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars, and the city could go bankrupt. Light rail is also subject to huge cost overruns, and rail lines decrease property values, sales tax revenues, and ultimately lead to urban decay.

More Later on Thousand Oaks

Along with Irvine, Valencia, and a few others, Thousand Oaks serves as your prototypical auto-oriented, low density, master planned Southern California Suburb, and I have spend a lot of time studying The City. I’ll post photographs here, later.

toaks3 toaks2 ztoaks1 toaks_lynn_road toaks_bike_box toaks_tree_protection_fence_1 toaks_ventura_tree_protection toaks_civic_arts_fountains_twilight toaks_civic_arts_performing_arts toaks_civic_arts_plaza toaks_transit_center_inside toaks_transit_centre_bikes toaks_transit_centre toaks_old_city_hall toaks_private_commercial_rules toaks_commercial_sign_ordinance toaks_any_time_10pm_6am toaks_entry_signs toaks_entry_sign_all_entrances_to_city toaks_CRIME_stoppers_4948255 toaks_view_amgen_brendans_101 toaks_newburypark_park_off_pavement toaks_sign_display_ventu_villa_mobile ztoaks1


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