2015 promises to be a very busy year for the Propel Vallejo project, a wide-ranging initiative that includes an update to Vallejo’s General Plan, an overhaul of Vallejo’s zoning codes and the creation of the Sonoma Boulevard Specific Plan.
An integral part of shaping these changes comes from evaluating community input, garnered from community workshops as well as online feedback (Open City Hall). From time to time we hear some Vallejo residents say that they don’t have a background in city planning and therefore don’t feel that their comments will be relevant.
However we hope that these same folks will take a few minutes to read some of the comments made in the various forums held online via Open City Hall. Their comments show that you don’t have to have planning expertise to know what kind of city you would like to live in —with your family and friends.
That being said, there is value in learning more about the vocabulary and principles that describe and support the Propel Vallejo efforts. We think that taking the time to do so will give residents more context for understanding how Vallejo can grow to realize its potential.
We asked Jonathan Atkinson, a General Plan Working Group delegate, to share his reading recommendations. Atkinson, a Vallejo resident, is a city planner for the city of Sebastopol, and is very passionate about creative reuses for greyfield areas, a term that is typically used to describe shopping centers that are abandoned or underutilized.
This is the first of our three-part feature,showcasing Atkinson’s picks. We are including the title of the book, author and his reason for recommending it.
Guide to California Planning 4th Edition (2012)
William Fulton, AICP and Paul Shigley
Reason: This book offers a comprehensive overview of the fundamentals of planning, as well as a number of sub-topics like Smart Growth, Economic Development, and Transit-Oriented Development. It is critical because it provides foundational planning knowledge, which is helpful in understanding Smart Growth.
Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream (2010)
Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck
Reason: This Congress for the New Urbanism book offers a critique of American suburbanization by illustrating that low-density residential and commercial developments have led to a plethora of issues that must be addressed comprehensively. It is important because it makes a thorough case for Smart Growth by identifying the problems associated with sprawl.
The Smart Growth Manual (2010)
Andres Duany, Mike Lydon, and Jeff Speck
Reason: This Congress for the New Urbanism book offers design and development solutions to the problems identified in Suburban Nation. It provides a number of practices that can be implemented to transform suburban developments into mixed-use and compact developments that embody Smart Growth principles.
The Sprawl Repair Manual (2010)
Reason: This book provides a comprehensive guide on how to transform various residential and commercial suburban developments into compact neighborhoods as a way to reduce the impact of sprawl. It provides clear examples of ways to redevelop suburban sites.
Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs (2011)
Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson
Reason: This book stresses that many suburban developments have fallen into disrepair and need to be redesigned for long-term sustainability. It uses several case studies to show how many communities are revitalizing the following development types to accommodate future growth and recreate a sense of place: single-family neighborhoods, garden apartments, commercial strips, shopping centers, regional malls, edge cities, and office parks.
Big Box Reuse (2010)
Reason: This book highlights the array of reuse possibilities that have arisen as a result of several large department store closures in recent years in suburban communities. It uses several case studies to conclude that the presence of an empty “big box” building does not mean that a retail site is not salvageable but that the reuse possibilities are abundant.
Stay tuned for the second and third part of this hand-picked smart growth bibliography. Consider becoming a subscriber (it’s free!) by hitting the Subscribe button above. You will get an alert each time we publish new content.