Commmunity Planning and Urban Design

Lincoln Esplanade Specific Plan, Lincoln, CA

Philosophy: At Town-Green, we have a commitment to sustainability -- we believe it's our professional responsibility to our clients, the industry, and the environment. We continually work to move the industry in a positive direction, and recognize that when we design communities that minimize damage to the environment, we serve both the client and our future well.

Approach: Key planning and urban design decisions can be made to incorporate such principles as approapriate solar orientation of building footprints, to ensure a project that has less overall impact on the environment as well as the designing neighborhoods to utilize sustainable development patterns. In addition to building, site and neighborhood design, Town-Green works with clients to establish project goals, research appropriate technologies, conduct feasibility studies, and develop sustainable design guidelines.

Specializing in sustainable neighborhood design, Town-Green incorporates sustainability on all scales, ensuring that sustainability is seamlessly integrated from the micro to macro level.

Climate Action Planning

LA SWIRP 3rd Citywide Conference, Los Angeles, CA

As a growing group of sustainable urbanists, we collaborate with the top national leaders - architects, planners, scientist, engineers, economists, and generalists - who share our values and skill levels in producing climate change-responsive plans for small towns, large cities, counties, and regions. Our comprehensive, adaptive, and locally-customized approach produces economic, environmental, and equitable programs for implementation. This approach has been documented in the soon to be released book "Sustainable and Resilient Communities" which was released in March 2011.

Green Planning and Form Based Codes

We design, code, and entitle beautiful, healthy, functional, and sustainable urbanism from the scale of the county to the community, neighborhood, and block. Town-Green's compact, walkable, mixed-use plans help restore both built and the natural environments that can then 'grow green'. Our form-based codes, land development regulations that emphasize the desired physical form of buildings and public space, incorporate sustainability into the code standards. We help communities shape higher quality built environments that integrate rather than separate compatible uses.

As a supplement to or replacement of zoning and development ordinances, our codes help create a predictable public realm by regulating its physical form, building intensities, and uses. Our 'green' plans and codes activate a community's vision by designing and coding desired outcomes appropriate to the unique people and place, from the natural landscape through the urban center. Download our Green Form-Based Codes flyer to learn more.

Public Involvement and the Charrette Process

Public Involvement Strategies

Over the years, the employees of Town-Green have developed the following set of strategies essential to a successful public planning process.

  1. Work collaboratively
    Create a long-lived plan based each individual's unique contributions.
  2. Design cross-functionally
    Multi-disciplinary teams work concurrently to build a feasible solution from the beginning.
  3. Use design to achieve a shared vision and create holistic solutions
    Design illustrates the complexity of the problem and can be used to resolve conflict by proposing previously unexplored solutions that represent win/win outcomes.
  4. Work in detail
    Lasting agreement is based on a fully informed dialogue.
  5. Constrain work schedules
    Time compression facilitates creative problem solving by accelerating decision-making and reducing unconstructive negotiation tactics.
  6. Communicate in short feedback loops
    Regular stakeholder reviews quickly build trust in the process and foster true understanding and support of the product.
  7. Work over consecutive days
    Several days are required to accommodate three feedback loops, scheduled at least a day apart.
  8. Work on-site
    Working on-site fosters participant's understanding of local values and traditions, and provides the necessary access to stakeholders and information.
  9. Produce a buildable plan
    The success of a community's work to plan together hinges on implementation tools such as codes and regulating plans.
  10. Evaluate the plan with objective measures
    Determine the appropriate measures to qualify and quantify the plans, from concept development through the final plan.

Town-Green has extensive experience in public involvement processes, most notably the Charrette. The Charrette has emerged as an alternative to conventional planning, approval, and development methods. Generally held on-site, Charrettes are social, political and business events. They provide a forum for ideas and feedback, and a venue for collaborating on developing a vision with a broad, community authorship. Charrettes are designed to achieve specific objectives: the design of a new neighborhood, the redevelopment of an underutilized, old main street, or the revitalization of a Subarea bounded by major transportation corridors.

The Charrette integrates the designers, the end users, the developers, the regulators, and citizen-activists into a relatively brief, cyclical process of output and input. Through this process, Town-Green has achieved remarkable goals on bitterly contested projects that would have otherwise remained unattainable.

Leading up to the Charrette Town-Green and City Staff will direct the effort to engage the community to ensure broad participation. As a critical component, the team generally holds confidential stakeholder interviews with property and business owners, community groups and public officials. Confidential interviews help build trust and allow stakeholders to express their thoughts freely.

Whether through a single Charrette or series of workshops, a rigorous and iterative brainstorming and review cycle process can help forge community participation while testing the plans to arrive at excellence through consensus. Town-Green team members have facilitated over 200 Charrettes, and have the skills needed to garner community consensus and cooperation through a supportive planning process.

Ethnically Diverse Community Participation

Town-Green has a history of working together in communities with a significant proportion of minority populations. Below are recent examples of Town-Green's projects in such communities.

Santa Paula, California: Located in Ventura County north of Los Angeles, Santa Paula is predominantly Hispanic (71%, with 26% White, 2% Native American). Town-Green has worked in Santa Paula on two projects for different clients and will continue to work in the community. Dubbed the Citrus Capital of the World, Santa Paula is home to many farm workers, the majority of which are Mexican.

Part of the reason for success of the 7-day Fagan Canyon Charrette with about 1,500 participants, and the similar success for the Plaza Amistad Charrette, also in Santa Paula, was the concerted outreach effort of the Town-Green-led team. The team aimed to engage a large number of local residents that would fairly represent the community's cultural, social and ethnic make-up. The Town-Green team made particular efforts to reach out to Santa Paula's Hispanic majority through the use of Spanish language handouts, simultaneous interpretation during presentations, and a bilingual project web site.

El Sobrante, California: Members of Town-Green led a 5-day Charrette in this suburban community in Contra Costa County, in conjunction with Strategic Economics and Nelson/Nygaard. El Sobrante is the home of one of the most important Sikh shrines in North America and also has significant Hispanic (15%) and African American (12%) minorities.

Historic Preservation

Historic preservation and adaptive reuse provides a broad area of consensus and is fundamental in understanding the history of the area and the context of any proposed future vision.

  1. Tradition is a process that contains vitally useful information today and into the future even as we consider modern or contemporary forms and functions;
  2. Traditional urbanism conveys enormous benefits and addresses many contemporary challenges;
  3. Historic architecture offers, at the very least, important historical lessons about making buildings work at the level of the street, at the pedestrian scale.
  4. By 'design-testing' various design ideas from the cutting edge to the historically accurate, against the context of the existing urban form, function, and the needs of developers, tenants, and citizens, the participants will gain a sense of respect for new ideas as well as traditional forms.