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designing a friendly neighborhood

Designing a Friendly Neighborhood

Designing a Friendly Neighborhood

3-3-2018  I love to envision our new, friendly neighborhood with beautiful homes and new, even stronger community connections.  I asked town planner Lois Fisher for some things we can do in the design of our homes to foster that friendly atmosphere. Stay strong neighbors and keep your eyes on the future! pvh

Have you ever wondered why some neighborhoods seem to be full of people that are connected, whereas other neighborhoods feel like residents are on their own?

There is a branch of urban design called “The Social Aspects of Environmental Design” that has some answers. It turns out that

Neighborhoods with strong social ties, mutual assistance and non-profits can increase life expectancy by 5 years and reduce fatality rates by a factor of 10 during disasters”.

~ from Eric Klineberg

What are the things that you can do while selecting or designing a floor plan to increase neighborliness in Coffey Park?

One of the most important qualities of cohesive neighborhoods is that the structure of the street allows them to comfortably interact. Looking at the photos below, which street scene looks friendlier? Which one would contribute to letting the residents get to know each other?

street with garages prominent
Street with garages prominent
Street view with porches in front
Street with porches in front

Most people would say that the street in the second image, with the porches in front of the houses is the more socially connected street. That is because the active areas of the house, with people in them, are behind the porch. It is more likely that you will informally meet a neighbor if they live in a house with a porch that is close to the street, instead of a house with a hidden entrance to the side of the garage.

The Santa Rosa city zoning code allows buildings in residential districts to put the porch 15’ behind the sidewalk, 4’ closer than the garage. (Your particular zone may allow it to be even closer to the sidewalk.) Have you thought of adding a large porch to your rebuilt house? It could be your contribution to making your whole neighborhood safer and more neighborly.

If you have the good fortune of having a corner lot, you might consider a wrap around porch. That way your new house will be connected to both streets.

house with wrap around porch
Wraparound porch faces both streets

Another feature of resilient neighborhoods is that people have a chance to meet on foot because walking around the neighborhood is an enjoyable activity.  Which of the streets below look most inviting to go for a walk?Comparing streets with and without street trees in the planter strip

Comparing streets with and without street trees in the planter strip

If you previously paved over your planter strip, how about opening it up again and planting a street tree getting your neighbors to do the same?

These are ideas are some ways for you to help make Coffey Park even more safe and neighborly in its new incarnation- because of the way that you design your new house and lot.

Lois Fisher

Lois Fisher, CNU, LEED-AP and LEED-ND is the president of Fisher Town Design and an Urban Designer. Her firm specializes in creating walkable downtowns and neighborhoods as an alternative to suburban sprawl. Her approach combines an understanding of the unique assets of a site with the timeless principles of urban design. The result is healthy, socially and economically vital places that are sustainable. Her Theatre district project in downtown Petaluma is a very successful urban design redevelopment project. The successful relocation of the North Santa Rosa SMART station from Frances Drive to Guerneville Road is another example.

She is an adjunct faculty member and teaches Urban Design at Sonoma State University. Lois Fisher has served for many years on the Planning Commission for Windsor and helped to spearhead the development of the downtown there. She regularly writes ‘Close to Home’ pieces for the Press Democrat on urban design topics.

Tree News

News about Trees, Tree Removal and Chipping

News about Trees, Tree Removal and Chipping

About trees

Tree Chipping

The City of Santa Rosa will hold a free chipping event for residential property owners in the fire-impacted areas. City residents with fire-damaged green waste on their property are encouraged to bring that waste to be chipped at the following designated times and locations.

February 24 & March 10, 2018
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Nagasawa Park
1313 Fountaingrove Parkway

February 25 & March 11, 2018
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Coffey Park
1524 Amanda Place

Eligible green waste materials include burned and partially burned brush and felled trees up to 12” in diameter on residential property and adjacent sidewalk areas. The materials cannot be contaminated with fire debris, and residents are responsible for transporting their green waste to the chipping sites. The green waste will be chipped at no cost to residents, and the resulting wood chips will be used by the City of Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks Department for various projects throughout the City.

No permit is needed for tree removal within the wildfire burn areas of Santa Rosa city limits. However, residents should photograph the tree’s condition prior to its removal. The photographs will later need to be presented during rebuilding permit or entitlement application submittal.

For more information, visit www.sonomacountyrecovers.org/damaged-tree-removal/

Removing Burned Trees from Your Lot

The City of Santa Rosa now allows residents to remove any burned trees that pose a threat to safety and property, without getting a permit.  In order to capture the value of the old trees that are being removed and to mitigate for their possible replacement, the City is asking residents to include photos of trees to be removed with every permit package.  This is much simpler than the traditional tree-removal process that requires an arborist’s examination, a written report, a tree-removal permit, and payment of a fee.  The details of the photo-submission process are TBD.

Replacement of Burned Planter-strip Trees

In collaboration with FEMA and the In a meeting with representatives from the Santa Rosa City we heard that residents will be required to remove and replace burned trees in the planter-strip.  But we also heard (The “planter strip” is the land between the street and the sidewalk.)  This is because the residents own that land (and the trees on it!), and the residents have only given an easement on that land to the City.  Santa Rosa City is going to reconsider the types of trees that should go in the planter strip, in order to minimize future damage to underground utilities.  While the burned trees should be removed fairly soon, planting replacements should probably be held off until after houses are rebuilt.  Beautiful, tree-lined streets certainly enhance property value!

Listen to the Director of Transportation and Public Works Jason Nutt speak about sidewalks and tree removal from the recording of the February 15  Town Hall event (~ 56:00 minutes in the video)

Video Recording of Sonoma County/City of Santa Rosa Community Forum held on February 15, 2018