Recognition for Soledad Downtown Specific Plan
May 30th, 2014

In their deliberations for the 2014 Driehaus Awards, the Form-Based Code Institute jury  determined that rather than awarding a single top Driehaus Award this year they will recognize a number of exemplary codes with Honorable Mention.  The Downtown Soledad Specific Plan development code received this honor, "because of its clear and effective graphics, brevity, conciseness, all built on an exemplary community visioning process, as a model for small towns."  

Under the project leadership of Lisa Wise Consulting, Sargent Town Planning led the preparation of the vision plan, urban design and illustration. Tony Perez - at that time a senior planner with Raimi + Associates and now the Director of Form-Based Coding with Opticos Design - was the lead code writer, with Nelson Nygaard providing multi-modal transportation planning and design support.  The plan and code were based on the community consenus and conceptual urban design devleoped through a public workshop and charrette process, co-led by Lisa Wise Consulting and Sargent Town Planning in May 2011. The Specific Plan was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Soledad City Council in September 2012.


San Fernando TOD Overlay Zone
May 20th, 2014

At their meeting on May 19 the San Fernando City Council unanimously approved the selection of a consultant team led by Sargent Town Planning (STP) to assist the City in preparing a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Overlay Zone for much of their downtown,with a focus on promoting mixed-use neighborhood development and housing within walking distance of the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink commuter rail station. Funding for this work is provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) as part of their grant program for cities along major transportation corridors to help develop more sustatinable, transit-supportive land use and development patterns.  STP is currently completing new TOD Zoning for the City of Lancaster's downtown neighborhoods and Metrolink station area under a previous Metro grant.

The STP team includes frequent collaborators Raimi + Associates, who will provide support with policy updates, general plan amendments and public outreach, and Meridian Consultants who will prepare a Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR).  The team also includes multi-modal transportation experts Nelson/Nyggard Consulting Associates and Gibson Transportation Consulting to assist the team in rebalancing transportation modes to favor pedestrians, bicyclists and transit, and Metropolitan Research + Economics who will help craft market-based development strategies. The team is very much looking forward to collaborating with the City and community of San Fernando to prepare this new tool to help shape the future of their Downtown.


Nason Street Corridor Plan, Moreno Valley, California
May 20th, 2014

The City of Moreno Valley has selected a consultant team -  led by Raimi + Associates with Sargent Town Planning leading the urban design work - to prepare a vision plan for the Nason Street Corridor. This planned transit corridor connects southward from the I-60 Corridor - for which Raimi and Sargent recently prepared updated zoning recommendations – through a commercial district and a series of developing neighborhoods. Funding for the plan is provided by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) as part of their Compass Blueprint program for smart growth implementation.

The plan will define a vision and strategies for balancing pedestrian, bicycle and transit modes with automobile circulation, along with streetscape improvement and mixed-use development recommendations to help promote sustainable development and build long-term value throughout the corridor. A key focal area for the plan will be around the intersection of Nason Street and Allesandro Street, also identified as an important transit corridor, for which the Raimi team prepared a corridor plan under another SCAG grant in 2011. The consultant team includes Fehr & Peers for multi-modal transportation planning and Metropolitan Research + Economics for market-based development strategies.


Riverside Smart Code Specific Plan
April 27th, 2014

Sargent Town Planning is honored to be part of the top-ranked consultant team for the City of Riverside's upcoming Smart Code Specific Plan project. On March 13 David Sargent represented the firm as the the multi-disciplinary team - led by Opticos Design and principal Stefan Pellegrini - was interviewed by City's Evaluation Committee and presented its proposed project approach to over 40 community members. The City requested that the community members evaluate which of the two finalist teams they felt would be the best fit for Riverside, and by a large margin the community ranked the Opticos/Sargent team highest, calling the team approachable, honest, creative, organized, respectful, and thoughtful.

On April 17 the Development Committee of the Riverside City Council unanimously recommended that the City Council authorize the City Manager to enter into a contract with Opticos Design. Work on this ambitious plan is expected to begin in July and to be completed within approximately 20 months. Sargent Town Planning will work closely with Opticos to lead and manage the consultant team, which also includes Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company and a dozen other firms. More information about Riverside’s Smart Code Specific Plan, including the final scores and handwritten community evaluations, can be found on the city’s website.  

Image courtesy of the City of Riverside

Palm Desert General Plan Update and Highway 111 Corridor Plan
April 27th, 2014

At their meeting on April 24 the Palm Desert City Council unanimously approved the selection of a consultant team led by Raimi + Associates with Sargent Town Planning to assist the City in updating their General Plan, and in preparing Highway 111 Corridor Plan for the Palm Desert segment of the historic Grapefruit Highway. Raimi + Associates - a Berkeley-based planning firm with whom Sargent Town Planning share offices in Berkeley and Los Angeles - specializes in preparing general plans, with an strong focus on community health, sustainable neighborhoods, and social equity.

Sargent Town Planning will support the general plan update effort with urban design analysis, concepts, visualizations and recommendations.  STP will lead the preparation of a community-based vision plan and new development standards and guidelines for the Highway 111 Corridor, focusing on strategies for better integrating it with adjoining neighborhoods and with the exceptional El Paseo shopping district just one block to the south.

Image courtesy of the City of Palm Desert

Bellevue Corridor Community Plan, Merced, California
April 12th, 2014

Over the past 18 months, Sargent Town Planning - in association with Lisa Wise Consulting - has prepared the Bellevue Corridor Community Plan for the City of Merced.  The primary objectives of the Plan - funded by a grant from the Strategic Growth Council - is to define a clear vision and implementing policies to guilde the phased development of this 2,000-acre rural area separating - and eventually connecting - the existing town and the recently established University of California Merced Campus.  Key goals include maximizing the use of public transit and active transportation modes and reducing dependence on automobile use to support the City's attainment of economic vitality, fiscal sustainability, public health and environmental quality goals.  

The planning team worked closely and collaboratively with City staff, a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) of property owners, the University and other key stakeholders, and a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of City and County staff and other public agency representatives.  Through that process the team has presented a series of alternative circulation networks, development patterns, land use mixes and intensities, and urban design character, converging toward a prefered alternative.  The alternative that emerged is organized by a flexible, interconnected network of complete streets, parks, and other public open spaces.  The network backbone responds to existing ownership patterns and natural drainages, with future fine-grained network and block structure flexible to respond to shifting economic opportunities over the several decades of anticipated growth in this area. The scale and character of development at several key centers are defined by the plan - a Gateway Center at Bellevue and Avenue G, an R&D Employment Center along Bellevue between Avenue G and Lake Road, and a mixed-use T.O.D. Center adjacent to the University at Bellevue and Lake.  Bellevue Road is envisioned as a major boulevard, the primary regional gateway to the University.  To the south of Bellevue, Mandeville Road is designed as the major transit corridor - most likely bus rapid transit (BRT) connecting the University to Downtown Merced and the neighborhood centers along the way.  The Plan is currently under public review.


Transit Oriented Development Zones, Lancaster, California
April 12th, 2014

Following Sargent Town Planning’s successful completion of a vision plan for Lancaster’s Southeast Transit Village Planning Area (lower right quadrant on the zoning map above) the City of Lancaster selected the firm to prepare new zoning for that area and other neighborhoods to the south and east of the Downtown District. This work is being done under a grant that the City received from Metro – the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority – as part of the Sustainable Communities funding Metro received from the Strategic Growth Council. The STP team includes Nelson/Nyggard and Metropolitan Research + Economics – for transportation and economic consulting, respectively.

Through a series of public workshops during 2013, and in collaboration with City staff and the City's Architectural and Design Review Committee, the team has prepared a draft form-based development code for this area, currently under public review.  In additoin to the conventional land use, height and setback standards, the zones include standards for building scale and massing, frontage design, parking location and screening, and for architectural and landscape design character. Zones range from the relatively intense mixed-use environment of the Station Area Zone and the light industrial Employment Commercial District, to predominantly residential zones that provide for a mix of neighborhood-scale housing types. A "complete streets kit of parts" is also included, along with model street sections, to assist City staff in preparing detailed street improvement plans as reinvestment in these neighborhoods occurs, to calm vehicular travel speeds and improve accommodation for pedestrians and bicylists.


Mission Hills Design Guidelines
April 12th, 2014

Sargent Town Planning worked with the City and community of Mission Hills, Kansas through 2011 to prepare design guidelines to help conserve and protect the unique, pastoral design character and distinguished architecture of this iconic early 20th century garden suburb. Developed the J.C. Nichols - the master developer of the Kansas City Country Club District, of which Mission Hills was the final and most extravagant phase - and designed by some of the nation's leading town planners of that era, Mission Hills is characterized by a very sophisticated and nuanced integration of the natural terrain of the site, a masterful landscape of winding streets, and distinguished homes in a variety of historic revival styles.  The master plan and development regulations by which the initial neighborhoods were developed from 1915 to 1945 had provided very clear direction as to the siting, size and massing of each new home.  But ever since the adoption of the City's first Zoning Ordinance in the early 1950's - based directly on ordinances of that time and aimed at rapid suburban expansion and mass housing production - the community has struggled to ensure that new homes "fit into" the subtle and sophisticated original design.  

The Guidelines were prepared through a process historical research, close observation and analysis of the distinctive landscape and architectural patterns throughout the community, and extensive consultatation and public workshops with local designers, developers, property owners and Mission Hills residents. In April 2012 the City adopted the Guidelines and since that time Sargent Town Planning has been providing design review services to support the City's staff and Architectural Review Board (ARB) as they integrated the Guidelines into their review processes. The Guidelines as adopted provided very clear conceptual design direction for homes of various sizes and massing types, but through the course of this on-going collaboration it became clear that the ARB would welcome a higher level of specificity and numerical precision than initially anticipated for calibrating the scale and massing of each home to the width and configuration of its lot. Over the past few months, STP has worked closely with City staff to refine and restructure some of the core guidelines, providing numerical calculations based on the width - and any of several special conditions - of each lot, on which the size, scale and massing of new homes is to be based. The refined Guidelines are currently under review by the Planning Commission and ARB.