Surprising Advice for Peninsula Planners

San Francisco Chronicle urban design critic John King cautions against too much redevelopment and not enough preservation along El Camino Real in San Mateo County, where a major initiative is attempting to change much of the corridor's character.

Read Time: 1 minute

August 8, 2011, 1:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


El Camino Real is the historic main thoroughfare from San Francisco to San Jose and continues to act as the key commercial corridor of activity linking all the 19 peninsula cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. While planners and civic leaders decry the auto-oriented, single-use nature that characterizes much of the road, John King sees it much differently. The Grand Blvd Initiative represents a regional planning attempt to revitalize the highway to make it more multi-modal and provide much needed housing opportunities for the two counties.

King sees El Camino Real as "a jumble of styles and scales, but the jumble is part of the allure" and "it's important that today's charismatic clutter be recognized for what it is: the Bay Area's best overview of mainstream American architecture of the past century."

King acknowledges that the initiative's "guiding principles...include a vow to 'preserve and accentuate unique and desirable community character', but believes that "the (Grand Blvd) initiative's underlying tone shows little appreciation for the energetic, if sometimes chaotic, architectural diversity that now exists."

Sunday, August 7, 2011 in San Francisco Chronicle

Books

The Top Urban Planning Books of 2022

An annual list of the must-read books related to urban planning and its intersecting fields.

November 28, 2022 - James Brasuell

The  Rue Sainte-Catherine in Bordeaux is crowded with pedestrians in a lively European scene.

European Cities Act on Density

The sprawling mass of suburbia has been a disaster for the environment. But now smaller, denser cities herald a renaissance in city living.

November 20, 2022 - Wired Magazine

Victorian two-story buildings with retail shops in downtown Nashvile, Tennessee

Nashville Sets Downtown Parking Maximums

Nashville is the latest city to enact a substantive change to the parking requirements set by the city’s zoning code—doing away with parking minimums and setting parking maximums in the city’s Urban Zoning Overlay.

November 20, 2022 - The Tennessean

Dark parking garage, empty except for one car covered with a red tarp

Advice for a Post-Parking Mandate World

After abolishing parking requirements, what can cities do to make the most of new space and revenue and avoid backlash?

November 29 - Next City

View of park ranger with tan hat from behind, ranger looking out at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Western Voters: Yes to Conservation, No to Extremism

Voters in Western states generally favored candidates who support public land conservation in this November’s election and rejected extremist rhetoric.

November 29 - High Country News

The Boring Company

Detailing the Boring Company’s Poor Track Record

Elon Musk’s promised solution for congestion—the Boring Co.—has proven most successful at disappearing on the governments that trusted them.

November 29 - The Wall Street Journal

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.