Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Transforming Suburbia into Eco-Utopia

Sociecity has a fantastic three part blog post by San Jose native Patrick Lydon about how we can take a city that was built around the car, and turn it into something sustainable as the population grows. The posts are based around an interview with Hans Larsen, San Jose's Director of Transportation. I can't think of a better way to start off 2013 than by looking towards where we are headed in the future.

Just a few quick tidbits. The plan is to build 70 (!) walk-able, mixed-use urban villages by 2040. These would have jobs, housing, retail, and recreation all within a compact community. I'm picturing more affordable (and much smaller) versions of Santana Row with access to mass transit and more community infrastructure (places of worship, etc.). Where would these be located you may ask?  We have an abundant supply of giant strip malls which would be ideal candidates to grow vertically into mini-downtown communities.

Land use will definitely have to change in many areas. For example, most of the housing is in South San Jose and the job centers are mostly in North San Jose. More housing needs to be added in the North and additional jobs need to be created in the South. Plans for this are already underway--the strategy for North San Jose involves bringing 32,000 new homes as well as converting 1-3 story office configurations to 10-20 story buildings.

Another interesting fact is that 80% of San Jose residents primary mode of transportation is driving alone in their cars. The plan is to change this to under 40% by 2040. The urbanization in the paragraphs above will help, as will a very aggressive bicycle program involving adding more dedicated bike lanes (great job Downtown San Jose) and bike share programs.

Anyway, this article is a very interesting read and definitely worth your time. Make sure to go through all three parts and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Click here to read Transforming Suburbia into Eco-Utopia!

The Paseo de San Pedro in Downtown San Jose, California (photo: Patrick Lydon | soceicity)

Arial View of suburban development in San Jose, California (photo: Patrick Lydon | sociecity)

A couple walks through San Jose's South First Street Arts District (photo: Patrick Lydon | sociecity)

San Jose Master Plan - Transportation Use (courtesy of the City of San Jose)

Bicycle Boulevard Concept for the Alameda, San Jose, USA (design: Patrick Lydon, illustration: Chiaki Koyama | sociecity)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a European city - Paris & Brussels are two cities that I have spent time in and they are like this. I think it's a fine idea in theory but we love our cars here! North San Jose will be a good test-case for this concept, although it does beg the question...what are the plans for the existing downtown? Do we need that anymore? This is especially true in Silicon Valley where tech jobs dominate and they traditionally are located in campus style buildings away from downtown areas.