Dr. Flanders Hometown:
A Third Way to Build Neighborhoods
A unique* neighborhood arrangement engineered to meet basic human needs.
Scholarly and Technical Paper: Dr. Flanders Hometown Housing Arrangement
o Neighborhood Design Affects Safety from Death and Injury in Traffic
o Village or New Urbanism Design
o History of Sprawl Design
o Hometown Differentiated from New Urbanism and Sprawl Design
o The Neighborhood Unit Design of Clarence Perry
o Hometown Applied to Reach Goals for Churches and Companies
o Hometown Combined with New Urbanism
Ř Description of Hometown
§ Six basic physical design features necessary and sufficient
§ Nine ancillary physical design features
§ Five ancillary financial design features
§ Seven ancillary social design features
§ Three ancillary research design features
Ř Optimizing Basic Human Needs within Dr. Flanders Hometown
Hometown a unique third way to build neighborhoods that adds real value. First, sprawl or conventional design dominated neighborhood layout since WWII. Second, new urbanism emerged as a resurrection of historical small town design. Third, psychologist inventor Flanders reverse engineered the newly patented Hometown neighborhood design to more directly satisfy basic human needs and thus add value.
Real value added. Nationwide surveys show Hometown adds 22% to the value of the same housing over conventional or sprawl design, the way most all new housing is currently built.
Hometown a truly unique third way to build neighborhoods. Hometown design comprises a unique and specific neighborhood arrangement as validated by the highest authority in the land—the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which issued Patent No. 6688052 to Dr. Flanders for Hometown design on February 10, 2004.
Creating the model. Dr. Flanders created Hometown using a new model. Most neighborhoods take their design from (a) zoning ordinances, (b) what builders customarily construct, or (c) a standard broad category such as sprawl or village (small town or new urbanism) design. Dr. Flanders asked a different question: “What if we reverse engineered a neighborhood from basic human needs, just as they reverse engineer plane cockpits and automobiles using human ergonomics?”
Dr. Flanders answered this question by creating one specific and unique neighborhood housing arrangement to optimize satisfaction of basic human needs for safety, socialization, and serenity named “Hometown” for short. Such a neighborhood should demonstrate a powerful advantage over other designs that satisfy basic human needs in less direct ways.
Hometown as a standalone neighborhood design. This document and web site primarily concern Hometown as a standalone neighborhood design. In addition, Hometown can also be applied to reach organizational goals and combined with certain new urbanism designs.
Applying Hometown to reach organizational goals for churches and companies. Hometown enhances small group and neighborhood ties so essential for, say, church organizations building a congregation or retirement community. Companies can partner with builders in using Hometown design to, profit the businesses, get house payments via payroll deduction, and benefit employees in the bargain.
Combining Hometown and new urbanism designs. Hometown solves some basic problems in the smaller areas of some new urbanism designs. Certain small units of new urbanism designs benefit from incorporating Hometown design as basic building blocks.
Basic human needs. Hometown design optimally satisfies safety, socialization, and serenity.
Safety. In the age of “Homeland Security” what could be safer than a perimeter road and fence? Hometown incorporates “defensible space” features such as Jane Jacobs’ famous “eyes on the street,” so it does not even require a gate. By funneling vehicles from the perimeter road to serve residences from the back streets adjacent to each residence, Hometown is made safe, and the interior becomes totally vehicle free. No child will ever get hit by a vehicle. Hometown finally solves the age-old problem of mixing traffic and people in residential neighborhoods in a genuinely new way. No prior design has done this. Improved safety benefits children and elderly.
Military housing benefits from superior safety design. See the March/April 2005 edition of Defense Communities.
Socialization. Hometown creates an instant community by placing new residents in an unmistakable U-shaped grouping of residences that face each other around a common territory, the block park. All residences have the essential semi-private and semi-public transition zones, such as porches and sidewalks, known to enhance neighborliness but omitted in sprawl design. Hometown provides an informal gathering place absent or limited in most developments, such as the upscale clubhouse where events are formally scheduled. Hometown allows older folks to live independently for an additional decade with neighbors and even kids around, factors known to prolong life. The mammoth Age Wave is cresting, and these older folks have cash.
Serenity. Hometown is a park, even with just grass planted in the open areas.
Builders and developers. Builders and developers gain a competitive advantage by enlisting Dr. Flanders to create a custom Hometown design with their buildings on their site.
We begin by demonstrating Hometown’s unique status as a neighborhood design based on multidisciplinary knowledge from the social sciences. Then we show just how important it is to lay out the elements of a neighborhood in ways that optimize health and minimizes pathology. There now exists clear evidence that neighborhood layout indeed makes a very big difference. Then we review major categories of neighborhood design: Sprawl, village or new urbanism, and Perry’s Neighborhood Unit. Hometown is differentiated from these general categories as one specific arrangement, although it has flexibility to fit onto most any site over 10 acres. We next turn to present-day housing choices and basic human needs of safety, socialization, and serenity. Finally discussion turns to Hometown features and how they optimize satisfaction of human needs in detail.
Hometown Design as Unique
Hometown design comprises a unique and specific neighborhood arrangement as validated by the highest authority in the United States—the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Patent No. 6688052 to Dr. Flanders for Hometown design on February 10, 2004. (USPTO, 2004) Later in this paper we consider the status of Hometown as a specific design in relation to the entire fields of (a) sprawl and (b) village or new urbanism design.
Neighborhood Design Affects Sales Price
In Valuing the New Urbanism, Eppli & Tu (1999) analyzed 5,833 actual sales transactions between 1994 and 1997 in a large huge study of home sales. Supported by the Urban Land Institute, their study used statistical methods to remove or account for many characteristics of residential housing including building site traits, housing characteristics, unit quality, neighborhood, and other market factors. The authors found that buyers paid a premium of 11% for homes in new urbanist communities over those in surrounding communities of mostly sprawl design.
Dr. Flanders’ recent survey research polled REALTORS®’ preferences about neighborhood design and value added by Hometown over village (or small town or new urbanism) design. REALTORS® know home buyers better than anyone else, and each REALTOR® probably knows and represents the hearts and minds of 500 home buyers. Summarized in the Survey Results Summary Page, his findings indicate home buyers prefer Hometown design by a three-to-one margin over prevailing sprawl and new urbanism neighborhood designs. In fact Hometown was chosen number one best choice by 71% of the REALTORS® . Further, Hometown design is estimated by REALTORS® to add about 11% in value over new urbanism design. (Actually the value added was 10.4% by 61 REALTORS® in Jackson, MS; 10.2% by 34 REALTORS® in Vicksburg, MS; 10.6% by 29 REALTORS® in Houston, TX; and 12.2% by 28 REALTORS® in Madison, WI, yielding an overall average of 10.9% value added by all the REALTORS®). In short, Hometown adds 11% over village or new urbanism design; new urbanism adds 11% over sprawl; so Hometown adds 22% over sprawl and costs no more to build. Click here for a chart showing these results.
For the mathematical and science minded (everyone else should skip to the final sentence of this paragraph) who recognize that the behavioral science of psychology does rely on empirical evidence as its main claim to fame, these results far exceeded the usual thresholds of “statistical significance.” A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted on the preference ranking for the three neighborhood designs for each separate population of REALTORS®. This ANOVA tells us how likely or unlikely are the results obtained. If the results depart significantly from each design being ranked with equal or random preference, then we can justly conclude the results are sufficiently unlikely or infrequent to be due merely to chance. The usual threshold for “statistical significance” is a probability value or P-value of one in 20 or 5% or P-value of .05. This threshold means that the obtained results would occur once if the study were done 20 times purely by chance, and the P-value of 5% or .05 is sufficiently unlikely to occur by mere random chance alone so we can accept it as valid. Therefore, researchers always hope for a P-value less than .05, because the smaller the P-value the less likely the obtained results are to occur by chance, and thus the stronger the results. ANOVA of the Jackson, MS, REALTORS®’ preference rankings produced F = 31.19 and P-value = .000000000003222; ANOVA of the Houston, TX, REALTORS® ‘ preference rankings produced F = 10.42 and P-value = .000095490275071; ANOVA of the Madison, WI, REALTORS® ‘ preference rankings produced F = 10.19 and P-value = .000113166096741; and ANOVA of the Vicksburg REALTORS® ‘ preference rankings produced F = 22.58 and P-value = .000000008837742. For devoted lovers of statistics, these results are reported in more detail on the Hometown Statistical Analysis Page. In short, these P-values are extremely small, far and away smaller than .05, so the results showing strong preference for Hometown design are extremely statistically significant.
Neighborhood Design Affects Safety from Crime
Healthy neighborhood design can also cut crime dramatically. For example, when the research-based design principles from (a) Oscar Newman’s (1973, 1996) Defensible Space and (b) "traffic calming" (Pharaoh & Russell, 1991; Tolley, 1990) were applied to the grand old but declining Five Oaks area in Dayton, Ohio (Newman, 1996) violent crime dropped by 50% in 11 months. Research by Newman (1973, 1996) and Coleman (1990) reviewed later in this paper makes an impressive case for the importance of neighborhood design in increasing or decreasing crime.
Neighborhood Design Affects Safety from Death and Injury in Traffic
“Far and away, car crashes are the largest killer of American teenagers, accounting for more than one-third of teen-age deaths,” report Duany et al. (2000, p. 119) in Suburban nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream. “Tragically people often flee the crime-ridden cities for the perceived safety of the suburbs—only to increase the risks they expose themselves to.” (Duany et al, 2000, p. 120) Our detailed review later will show that after traffic accidents are factored into the overall death and injury rates, suburbanites face a greater risk of injury or death than if they lived in the city. To put the matter in perspective, traffic accidents have killed about as many people every year for the last 40 years as were killed in the entire Vietnem War. Hometown at least keeps its residents safe from traffic inside the neighborhood. Sprawl design emphasizes primacy of vehicle operation with wide overbuilt streets and few sidewalks. New urbanism tries to emphasize pedestrians by taming traffic, but blocks are surrounded by streets, so to get anywhere the children still must cross a street.
Current Categories of Neighborhood Design
The present neighborhood housing arrangement can best be understood in relation to three current categories of neighborhood design: Village or new urbanism or small town design, sprawl, and Perry’s (1929, 1939) Neighborhood Unit Design. Each will be described prior to differentiation from Hometown.
New urbanism, sprawl, and Perry’s neighborhood unit each comprise entire fields of design. In contrast, the present neighborhood housing arrangement comprises a specific combination of features that combine to produce a unique design.
History of new urbanism design. Village design evolved throughout the ages in the form of vernacular housing built mostly by the residents themselves, presumably to satisfy their needs in the most practical ways. At the dawn of the 20th Century, visionary Ebenezer Howard (1898) founded the Garden City Movement to capture the wisdom and charm of village design. His ideas grew from the 19th Century Arts and Crafts Movement as an alternative to miserable slum living suffered by the factory workers in Britain. Howard aimed to create a Utopian a socialist society, and as architects he chose Sir Raymond Unwin (1909) and Barry Parker (Parker & Unwin, 1901)—and they stole the conceptual show. Unwin and Parker so brilliantly created charming towns and houses; lobbied Garden City features into public housing practices; and led the way toward officially recognized schools of urban planning in Britain, Europe, and the United States, that the original socialist focus for The Garden City Movement was all but forgotten and replaced by Unwin and Parker’s images of picturesque villages. Village or Garden City or traditional or Small Town USA style reigned supreme in Europe and the United States until just after World War II, when sprawl design took over.
Beginning in the mid-1980s as a reaction against sprawl design, architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (1992, 2000) and their colleagues founded the entire field of new urbanist design that touted the virtues of and resurrected Garden City design. Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater Zyberk are Dr. Flanders’ heroes for founding the whole field of new urbanist planning. Duany et al. (2000) summarize the current status in their elegant Suburban nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream. New urbanist planners have used Raymond Unwin’s (1909) major statement, Town Planning in Practice, as their primary design reference. They have founded schools, written extensively, and gained support with both scholars and homebuyers seeking to live in a traditional neighborhood. At the dawn of the 21st Century over 200 new urbanism housing projects were under construction, and many more estimated to be in the planning stages. For consideration in this document, village and new urbanism design will be considered one and the same, because both (a) make general reference to human values and needs and (b) supply lists of design features. Duany and Plater-Zyberk (1992) have defined 13 characteristics of the traditional neighborhood. Newsweek magazine (1995) published 15 ways to fix the suburbs. Planner Anton Clarence Nelessen (1994) pursued an empirical research approach and developed his principles using his Visual Preference Survey™ technique. In this technique respondents rate pictures he shows to identify preferred arrangements of the built environment. Nelessen (1994) listed ten basic design principles to create small communities actually desired by his research subjects, who invariably preferred village design. The Charter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (2002) was drafted by a who’s who in the new urbanism design community and spelled out 27 specific design features to guide American urban growth. Britain’s Prince Charles of Wales (1989) has vigorously condemned sprawl and propounded his own Ten Design Principles (Prince of Wales, 1989, pp. 75-153) for village or new urbanism design.
Summary list of new urbanism features. All the new urbanism features in the lists cited in the paragraph just preceding can be summarized as follows: (1) The overarching principle: Planned in advance; (2) Has a discernable center such as a square or green; (3) Residences lie within five minute walk of the center; (4) Buildings and residents vary, are not highly homogeneous; (5) Mixed use is allowed and encouraged; (6) Outbuildings are allowed and encouraged; (7) An elementary school is accessible; (8) Playgrounds lie near dwellings; (9) Streets form a connected network; (10) Streets are narrow and pretty; (11) Buildings lie close to the street, so setbacks are small; (12) Parking is to the rear of buildings accessible by alley; (13) Civic buildings lie at the most prominent sites; (14) Neighborhood is to some degree self-governing; (15) Neighborhood lies close to jobs; (16) Neighborhood has an edge; (17) Neighborhood emphasizes pedestrian traffic over vehicle traffic; (18) Neighborhood design emphasizes preserving nature; (19) Lawns are relatively small; (20) Few cul-de-sacs; (21) Design is at human or pedestrian scale, not large scale; (22) Buildings should have some decoration and be pretty; (23) The users of buildings are consulted prior to final design; and (24) Buildings are of American traditional design.
During World War II, William Levitt perfected highly efficient methods of manufacturing housing with specialized work crews and prefabricated components. After World War II, the combination of new home manufacturing efficiencies and rising availability of the automobile provided the means for millions of Americans to realize the American Dream of their own single family detached house using a vehicle-friendly neighborhood design known universally as suburban sprawl or “sprawl” for short. As the design for the spectacularly influential Levittown, sprawl has dominated new housing neighborhood arrangements ever since that time, often codified in countless zoning ordinances as the only design permitted. Ever since World War II, sprawl has enjoyed both (a) condemnation by most scholars (e.g., Kunstler, 1996) and (b) commercial domination of the marketplace.
The Sierra Club (2002) defined as follows: Sprawl is low-density development beyond the edge of service and employment, which separates where people live from where they shop, work, recreate, and educate--thus requiring cars to move between zones.
Duany and Plater-Zyberk (1992, 2000) noted the following characteristics of suburban sprawl: Sprawl is disciplined only by isolated “pods,” which are dedicated to single uses such as “shopping centers,” “office parks,” and “residential clusters.” All of these are inaccessible from each other except by car. Housing is strictly segregated in large clusters containing units of similar cost, hindering socioeconomic diversity. Sprawl is limited only by the range of the automobile, which easily forms catchments. Areas for retail often require travel exceeding 50 miles. There is a high proportion of cul-de-sacs and looping streets “dead worm” design. Through traffic is possible only by means of a few “collector” streets, which become easily congested. Vehicular traffic controls the scale and form of space with streets being wide and dedicated primarily to the automobile. Parking lots typically dominate the public space. Buildings are often highly articulated, rotated on their lots, and greatly set back from streets. Buildings are thus unable to create spatial definition or sense of place. Civic buildings do not normally receive distinguished sites. Open space is often provided in the form of “buffers,” “pedestrian ways,” “berms,” and other ill-defined residual spaces.
Researchers studying sprawl in Vermont (Vermont Forum on Sprawl, 2002) defined sprawl as low-density development outside compact urban and village centers along highways and in rural countryside. When asked about what features make up sprawl, citizens reported: commercial development strung out along a highway; increased amount of paved areas; more roads and parking; single family homes spread out on former farm fields; widely spaced development with a scattered appearance; and development that requires an automobile. The researchers in Vermont identified the following characteristics of sprawl: Excessive land consumption by development on unnecessarily large lots that waste productive farm and forest land; low average densities in comparison to existing centers; development that requires an auto for access; fragmented open space; wide gaps between development and a scattered appearance; separation of uses into distinct areas; premature extension of public services to serve the development before other areas are filled; lack of economic and social diversity in residential areas; lack of public spaces and community centers; repetitive, large "box" buildings with no distinctive character; and large paved areas--wide roads, more roads, and large parking areas. The Vermont researchers found the following indicators of presence of sprawl: Scattered residential lots in outlying areas; residential subdivisions on oversized lots near town centers; planned housing developments in outlying areas; commercial strip development; other commercial and industrial areas that have large lots and inefficient layout; and peripheral location of public buildings.
Hometown Differentiated from New Urbanism and Sprawl Design
New urbanism and sprawl are entire fields of design. Neither field of design discloses or suggests the present housing arrangement which (a) clearly lists and numbers a finite set of its specific necessary features; (b) arranges those specific numbered necessary features to produce a unique physical Neighborhood Housing Arrangement; (c) makes clear reference to selected findings from disciplines including clinical psychology, social psychology, environmental psychology, sociology, urban planning, behavioral architecture, aesthetics, criminology, and traffic engineering with the expressed intent of predicting behavioral outcomes; (d) uniquely synthesizes the physical design with multidisciplinary theory and research to produce a neighborhood arrangement to optimize satisfaction of human needs; (e) provides clearly stated links between the physical design and behaviors relating to human need satisfaction; and (f) supplies additional detailed specific lists of ancillary (desirable but not necessary) features of physical, financial, social, and research design features to further characterize and thus help distinguish Hometown as unique. In contrast to Hometown, the essence of both new urban and sprawl design is simply specified in lists of features from which builders pick and choose. In contrast to Hometown, new urbanism or sprawl design can result in (this list parallels the earlier list in this paragraph): (a) Employment of any combination of physical design features from a long list; (b) siting the housing in a wide variety of permissible arrangements, not a unique physical housing arrangement; (c) omitting any reference to related scholarly fields of knowledge; (d) omitting any effort to synthesize physical design with multidisciplinary theory and research; (e) omitting any linkages between physical design and behaviors relating to satisfaction of human needs; and (f) failing to include or even mention additional detailed specific lists of ancillary (desirable but not necessary) features of physical, financial, social, and research design. New urbanism and sprawl are fields of design, not a specific design such as Hometown. Other unique housing arrangements which accomplish the first listing (a)-(f) in this paragraph are certainly possible and most likely appear over time, but Hometown is the first one.
Hometown Applied to Reach Goals for Churches and Companies
Suppose a church wants to build a congregation. Pastor Randy Frazee (2001) documents in his penetrating The Connecting Church (forwards by George Gallup, Jr., Larry Crabb, and Dallas Willard), quite simply in modern America the church leaders are swimming upstream when they try to foster community. The modern environment has all but destroyed traditional mechanisms to foster ties in neighborhoods and small groups such as families. “We ignored what our ancestors had learned about designing a place where people could live together and grow in community (Frazee, 2001, p. 139).” In contrast, Hometown actually enhances the formation of bonds in neighborhoods and households. If church members were to populate a Hometown neighborhood, the church leaders would be swimming downstream with the design of Hometown enhancing their activities.
In like manner, company towns were once the norm for building loyal employees. Enlightened factory owners in the industrial revolution built beautiful model villages to lure workers from the countryside and keep them happy such as Port Sunlight and Bourneville (Creese, 1966, Chapter 5; Crawford, 1996). If a company seeks loyalty, then encouraging residence in a common, healthy neighborhood would surely foster it.
Hometown Combined with New Urbanism
It turns out that Hometown design lends itself to handy integration with new urbanism design. When Hometown designs are customized to comprise the basic smaller building blocks of larger new urbanism neighborhoods, towns, and regional plans, certain improvements result. The perimeter road and entirely traffic-free interior result in improved safety compared to basic or modified grid street patterns in new urbanist planning. The U-shaped grouping of residences results in improved if not instant community. And all residences enfronting a small park results in increased visual beauty devoid of pavement and vehicles in front. Because Hometown comprises a specific and unique design for a relatively smaller neighborhood living arrangement, the interface with larger new urbanism and Smart Growth designs goes hand in hand.
The Neighborhood Unit Design of Clarence Perry
Description of Clarence Perry’s Neighborhood Unit Design. Planner Clarence Perry wrote a classic paper (Perry, 1929) defining the “neighborhood unit” and later updated his thinking in a book (Perry, 1939) Housing for the Machine Age. His neighborhood unit “consists of six principles” (1939, p. 51): (1) Size to support an elementary school, generally a half mile in diameter at most, (2) boundaries on all sides by arterial streets, (3) open spaces for small parks and recreation of about 10% of the total neighborhood area, (4) institutions such as schools, community centers, and churches grouped around a central point, (5) local shops around the circumference at traffic junctions, and (6) internal street system with lots of cul-de-sacs and street widths sized to facilitate internal traffic and discourage through traffic. Perry intended his hugely influential neighborhood unit to satisfy most needs of residents and bring the advantages of traditional small town living into the city. In actual practice, progress on (a) government regulations needed to implement Perry’s concept and (b) building the acclaimed new town of Radburn, NJ, were both stopped dead in their tracks by the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression and never recovered. A few of Perry’s principles were implemented in British new towns. Since the time of Perry’s seminal writings, his six principles have suffered curious fates, some actually fueling the prevalence of sprawl: (1) School systems and bussing of students spread out so much and change so often that building a neighborhood around schools has become generally unfeasible; (2) Arterial streets have become the central conceptual basis for sprawl; (3) Lax zoning has made the inclusion of open spaces optional, so most sprawl design housing has none or 0%, let alone 10%, of total area in open space; (4) Easy automobile travel and market forces have led to siting of institutions such as schools, community centers, and churches at locations of convenience for vehicle traffic, not pedestrian traffic; (5) Local shops have long since largely given way to much larger shopping centers; and (6) Residential streets in sprawl design almost totally embrace winding cul-de-sac patterns but are zoned so wide as to all but destroy any semblance of Perry’s original concept, even if it has all its five prior principles intact.
Hometown differentiated from Perry’s neighborhood unit. Hometown has a perimeter road that is actually separated from arterial roads outside the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement. Hometown has open space, but it is uniquely situated. Otherwise Hometown has little in common with Perry’s neighborhood unit concept other than Perry’s general intent to better meet human needs. Nothing in the Perry’s neighborhood unit, either singly or in combination, discloses or suggests (a) – (f) in the first paragraph in the section headed “Hometown Differentiated from New Urbanism and Sprawl Design,” which will not be repeated at this point to save space.
At the dawn of the 21st Century, most residents who wish to maximize quality of life by living in a healthy neighborhood surrounded by beauty face severely and frustratingly limited choices. On the one hand, most people in the U.S. report on surveys (Eagleton Institute, 1987) they would prefer to live in a small town versus any other arrangement, and they rate village photographs desirable and photographs of sprawl as undesirable (Nelessen, 1994). On the other hand, housing choices remain dominated by sprawl design. Homebuyers who can afford it increasingly choose new urbanism design and pay 11% in actual sales price (Eppli & Tu, 1999). With about with 200 new urbanism design projects under construction (Eppli & Tu, 1999), new urbanism design is available only in relatively few and upscale neighborhoods—unfortunately out of reach of the average homebuyer (Consumer Reports, 1996).
To understand Hometown one needs to note the important distinction between “optimizing” and “maximizing” of human needs. Optimizing means best overall need satisfaction. Maximizing means the very highest level of satisfaction. Optimizing usually requires getting a high but not the highest possible satisfaction for a set or combination of needs. For example, if safety need satisfaction were maximized, residence buildings in a neighborhood might be surrounded by moats and tall electrified barbed wire fences, but satisfaction of needs for socialization with neighbors as well as need for serenity would suffer. Therefore, the overall optimizing of needs in Hometown necessarily refers to the joint outcome upon satisfying a set or combination of human needs: Safety, privacy, serenity, and socialization (Flanders, 1976, Ch.5).
Brief Summary of the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement: Dr. Flanders Hometown
A Neighborhood Housing Arrangement to maximize the quality of life by optimizing the satisfaction of basic human needs for safety, privacy, serenity, and socialization within household members and between members of different households throughout the neighborhood by encircling at least part of the neighborhood with a perimeter road; blocks of residence buildings to have a substantially U-shaped configuration; blocks of residence buildings placed so as to back up to adjoin the perimeter road with the opening of their U-shape facing inward away from the perimeter road; every residence to enfront a semi-private space such as front porch, deck, balcony, yard, or garden; one block containing the neighborhood center with neighborhood park and a wholesome hangout or gathering building such as general store, coffee house, or soda shop; and residence and other buildings to have vehicle access from the rear by either the perimeter road or smaller back streets so residence buildings face a neighborhood interior with no roads or vehicles but rather consisting of parks, fields, sidewalks, and other pedestrian and neighborhood amenities.
Figure 1 is a view of the preferred embodiment archetype of the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement of Hometown showing its major features on a perfectly flat site of 37 acres.
Figure 2 is a Hometown plan with a 40 acre building site in the form of a sideways “L,”
an existing lake, and a busy two-lane road defining the diagonal western border slanting from Southeast to Northwest.
Figure 3 is a Hometown plan on a much smaller 15 acre site with a lake, and bounded on the South and West by straight lines and on the North and East by a creek that curves around with a highly irregular course.
Figure 4 (big file 454k) )is a Hometown design where the individual neighborhoods of Figure 1 are nested onto a large 481 acre building site.
Detailed Description of the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement: Dr. Flanders Hometown
Six basic physical design features necessary and sufficient. Hometown’s basic Six physical design features are all preferably present unless prohibited by terrain or law. For purposes of definition these physical features contain the essence of, are sufficient to define the preferred embodiment of, and produce Hometown. These basic physical design features will be discussed in detail in the remainder of this document.
Hometown’s basic physical design features consist of a Neighborhood Housing Arrangement with: (1) An entrance and a primary road around at least a portion of the outside border of the residential part of the neighborhood; (2) Blocks of residence buildings having a substantially U-shaped configuration surrounding and forming the outside boundary of a block park; (3) Blocks of residence buildings placed so as to back up to adjoin the perimeter road with the opening of their U-shape facing inward away from the perimeter road; (4) Every residence enfronting a semi-private space such as front porch, deck, balcony, yard, or garden; (5) One block containing the neighborhood center with neighborhood park and a wholesome hangout or gathering building such as general store, coffee house, or soda shop; and (6) Residence and other buildings having vehicle access from the rear by either the perimeter road or smaller back streets so residence buildings face a neighborhood interior with no roads or vehicles but rather consisting of parks, fields, sidewalks, and other pedestrian and neighborhood amenities.
Description of Ancillary Design Features
Nine ancillary physical design features. Ancillary physical design features of Hometown are preferably all present unless prohibited by terrain, law, or financial cost. For purposes of definition these ancillary physical design features contain added amenities falling outside the definition of the preferred embodiment of Hometown to be discussed in this document. Only the last two ancillary physical design features will be discussed in detail in this document. These ancillary physical design features consist of a Neighborhood Housing Arrangement with the following neighborhood community amenities: (1) Wholesome hangout for socialization including members of three generations of residents, such as General Store, coffee house, soda fountain shop, or other of similar utility; (2) Bandstand or gazebo (“bandstand” for short) at least two feet in diameter for every residence up to a maximum diameter of 30 feet; (3) Meeting hall with at least 24 square feet for every residence in the neighborhood,; (4) Paved plaza covering at least the same ground area as meeting hall; (5) Flagpole and flag of very high quality; (6) Other commercial businesses housed in buildings adjacent to the wholesome hangout; (7) optional outbuildings in addition to the garage can also include elder cottages and carriage houses, where an apartment sits atop the garage, each to be no larger in footprint than the usual garage for the given neighborhood; (8) A plurality of residence buildings designed for elderly residents to guarantee a viable presence of three generations of residents; and (9) Undeveloped land remaining in fields.
Seven ancillary social design features. Ancillary social design features of Hometown are preferably all present unless prohibited by any form of restriction. For purposes of definition these ancillary social design features produce added amenities in the form of options and choices for residents falling outside the essence of and definition the preferred embodiment of Hometown to be discussed in this document. Thus the ancillary social design features will not be discussed in detail in this document, although they may be needed by residents who have only known sprawl design where many if not most of these possibilities cannot occur or are subtly discouraged by the sprawl environment. These ancillary social design features consist of the developer providing a “social design” to help optimize neighborly community life for each homebuyer before or upon taking possession of their residence. The “social design” preferably includes a number of options and possibilities to enrich community life in categories including the developer: (1) Making every reasonable effort to provide a worthy model for establishing rituals and traditions of special occasions, such as videotaping the hammering in of the residence corner stake of a residence into the ground by the home buyer and later giving the video to the home buyer at closing, organizing welcoming potlucks for new home buyers, public ceremonies to herald major phases of construction, concerts in bandstand, and cooperative "barn raisings" to help neighbors with a project; (2) Fostering regularly occurring helpful occasions, such as setting up instant response fire, “First Responder,” and MET auxiliary units; (3) Establishing special roles and activities for children, such as manning the General Store cash register from 3:00-7:00 p.m. to learn the free enterprise system under the watchful eye of a retiree; (4) Setting up special roles and activities for elderly, such as holding on-site religious services led by lay leaders; (5) Making freely available a small library of modern materials for learning parenting, time management, stress management, coping, financial skills, communication, and other helpful skills. (6) Making freely available other useful options easily chosen in Hometown’s neighborhood housing design and not easily chosen in sprawl design, such as methods for pooling resources to hire a truly world class speaker for entertainment 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Friday night, how to set up a teen center on the fields set up by and for teenagers, and how to set up a story telling center in the meeting building; and (7) Providing a handy for form conveying the “social design,” which may be conveyed in the format of an old fashioned recipe box with cards and/or computer CD. Over time, residents place their own stamp upon and implement most of the social design.
Three ancillary research design features. Ancillary research design features of Hometown are preferably all present unless prohibited by law or research cost. For purposes of definition these ancillary research design features produce eventual added amenities for residents and profits for the developer falling outside the essence of and definition the preferred embodiment of Hometown to be discussed in this document. Thus the ancillary research design features will not be discussed in detail in this document. These ancillary research design features consist of a Neighborhood Housing Arrangement wherein it is preferred before and after taking possession of their residence home buyers be invited to: (1) Fill out questionnaires about quality of life and quality of place; (2) Fill out questionnaires about features of the neighborhood they most like and dislike and (3) Supply suggestions to improve and refine the neighborhood design features over time. It is hoped that the abundant description of how the present design optimizes satisfaction of basic human needs will lead researchers to formulate and test numerous hypotheses with the assistance of data supplied by methods including those portrayed in this paragraph.
Five ancillary financial design features. Ancillary financial design features of Hometown are preferably all present unless prohibited by law or financial cost. For purposes of definition these ancillary financial design features produce added amenities falling outside the essence of and definition the preferred embodiment of Hometown to be discussed in this document. Thus the ancillary financial design features will not be discussed in detail in this document. These ancillary financial design features consist of a Neighborhood Housing Arrangement wherein it is preferred that: (1) At time of purchase all homebuyers of residences in residential (not the neighborhood center) blocks pay a “neighborhood development fee” to go into an escrow account for improvements on common land or buildings; (2) Upon sellout of any given residence block, one third or a calculated proportion of each homebuyer’s neighborhood development fees become available for improvement of that residence block park faced by the resident. Then the homebuyers on the given block get to choose which amenities they wish to place on or in their own residence block park, subject to veto by the developer, who will encourage sweat equity “barnraising” projects such as a small playground, flower garden, or nature area. This arrangement does not apply to residences facing the neighborhood center or square, because improvements in the neighborhood center park are available to all neighborhood residents and decided by the developer after consultation with a plurality of residents; (3) Upon sellout of the neighborhood, the remainder of all neighborhood home buyers’ neighborhood development fees become available to improve the neighborhood park (common land and common buildings, which contains at least all parks, sidewalks, plazas, and buildings), with developer holding veto power for three years after neighborhood sellout; and (4) Neighborhood development fees are not refundable but rather must fund improvements of common land or common buildings as defined just above, or be held in escrow for that same purpose at a later time. (5) The developer requires all homebuyers to sign a set of covenants designed to maintain property values. For example, homebuyers will agree to certain limitations of occupancy concerning who can live in outbuildings or carriage houses, such as second-degree relatives as defined by State statute. Over time, residents place their own stamp upon and implement most of the design features.
The basic features should always be present and define the design of Hometown. The ancillary design features should nearly always be present but do not define design of Hometown.
Conceptual definitional relationship between the basic and ancillary design features of Hometown. The basic six physical design features of Hometown define Hometown. Unless prohibited by law, terrain, financial cost, or other restriction, the ancillary design features of Hometown will nearly always be present because they are important and highly characteristic, but ancillary design features are neither necessary nor sufficient for the design of Hometown.
Relationship in practice between the basic and ancillary design features of Hometown. Implementations of Hometown in the real world may present unforeseen restrictions prohibiting or limiting the implementation of both basic and ancillary design features. For purposes of Hometown, such limitations restrict the real world implementation but not the initial application attempt where all basic and ancillary design features are attempted in good faith. Thus when such an attempt is made, the result embodies Hometown. The nature of Hometown as “a Neighborhood Housing Arrangement” mandates illustration of the preferred embodiments on several building sites, because all building sites are different according to the definition of real estate. Therefore, the basic Six physical design features are illustrated in each of the four figures for the four building sites. For example each site requires a spatially different application of each feature, as when the U-shape of a block of residences is slanted due to a nearby highway or curved due to a nearby creek. Despite the spatial differences, the conceptual and functional application of the features remains unchanged. Mathematically speaking, the topology of the basic Six physical design features remains as invariant as possible. Even in such instances where the spatial features of the U-shape differ, the overall U-shape approximates a perfectly formed letter U as closely as possible within constraints of the building site.
While particular embodiments of Hometown have been described in detail, it is apparent that adaptations and modifications to fit real world constraints may be made in practice without departing from the true spirit and scope of the present neighborhood housing arrangement: Dr. Flanders Hometown.
(1) A perimeter road around at least a portion of the outside border of the residential part of the neighborhood. In Figures 1, 3 and 4, the perimeter road surrounds the residential part of the neighborhood far enough to allow vehicle access to buildings either directly from the perimeter road or from the smaller back streets. Although the perimeter road might have been extended to encircle the fields and thus the entire site, it was not so extended in Figures 1, 3 and 4. Complete encirclement of the entire site or any portion thereof is preferred insofar as practicable in Hometown. In Figures 1 and 4 complete encirclement of the land tract by the perimeter road would have added prohibitively to costs, reduced the size of the fields, and brought vehicle traffic closer to fields increasing pedestrian danger and reducing beauty. In Figure 3, complete encirclement of the land tract by the perimeter road would have destroyed the beauty of the small winding creek. In Figure 2, the building site and arrangement of buildings required the perimeter road to encircle the entire site to provide vehicle access to all buildings. If local regulations require two entrances, a side entrance can be constructed and usually closed with a gate at night, still optimizing securing the perimeter.
(2) Blocks of residence buildings to have a substantially U-shaped configuration surrounding and forming the outside boundary of a block park. In all three figures, blocks of residence buildings have a U-shaped configuration. In Figures 1 and 4, all blocks form a perfect U, because the site is defined to perfectly flat for purposes of creating a prototype. In Figure 2, the U-shape is altered to fit the (a) slanted boundaries caused by the nearby highway going from Southeast to Northwest and (b) shorter block lengths required in the southern area. In Figure 2, an artist colony labeled AC was added to utilize a small protrusion of land at the far southeast corner or bottom tip of the site, where artisans live above their studios in adjoining townhouses. Even this artist colony approximates a U-shape as much as possible, given the need to allow very clear visual access to the art plaza retail shop area from the nearby highway. In Figure 3, buildings grouped into U-shapes are irregular to fit the boundaries, illustrating the high degree of variation in the U-shape possible when needed to form a block.
(3) Blocks of residence placed so as to back up to adjoin the perimeter road with the opening of their U-shape facing inward away from the perimeter road. All four figures show blocks of residence backing up to and adjoining the perimeter road with their U-shape opening inward away from the perimeter road and toward the inside of the neighborhood tract.
(4) Every residence to enfront a semi-private space such as front porch, deck, balcony, yard, or garden. The semi-private space is normally defined as a place adjoining a residence where people can participate in community life from a position of emotional security. In functional terms the semi-private space is the most visible link between the individual residence and the outside community. In all figures, all residences and the general store have spacious front porches.
(5) One block containing the neighborhood center with neighborhood park and a wholesome hangout or gathering building such as general store, coffee house, or soda shop. In Figure 1 the southeast block contains the square or neighborhood center with a general store and bandstand. In Figure 2, the area bounded by the general store, meeting hall, and bandstand forms the neighborhood center. In Figure 3, the area bounded by the general store and meeting hall joined together in one building and elder cottages form the neighborhood center. In Hometown, the wholesome hangout is expressly designed to feel comfortable for use by all three generations: Children, adults, and elderly.
(6) Residence and other buildings to have vehicle access from the rear by either the perimeter road or smaller back streets so residence buildings face a neighborhood interior with no roads or vehicles but rather consisting of parks, fields, sidewalks, and other pedestrian and neighborhood amenities. In all four figures residence and other buildings have vehicle access from the rear by either the perimeter road or smaller back streets. Thus, residence buildings face a neighborhood interior with no roads or vehicles but rather consisting of parks, fields, sidewalks, and other pedestrian and neighborhood amenities. The connection to all residences by sidewalks is also essential for Hometown, as shown in all four figures.
Detailed Description of Features Two Ancillary Physical Design Features
A plurality of residence buildings in Hometown is designed for elderly residents to guarantee a viable presence of three generations of residents. In Figures 1 and 4, elder cottages are lined up and down the Main Street pedestrian promenade. In Figure 3, acreage, estate zoning, and upscale site location allowed only three elder cottages shown as the small houses in the middle indentation of the road on the western boundary.
In Hometown any undeveloped land remains in fields. All four figures show undeveloped land remaining in fields, which are turned over by the builder or developer to a neighborhood association at the time when the neighborhood sells mostly or all out. On many sites, fields fulfill the requirement for storm water areas, which residents can often use most of the time and the developer gets an added tax break when the park areas are turned over to the neighborhood association. On other sites, neighborhood residents then have the option of putting certain highly restricted amenities on a minority of the fields. Such amenities may include day care center, teen center, sports facilities, agriculture facilities, cultural facilities, and other designated amenities for the exclusive use of residents and personal guests, not commercial uses.
Human Needs within Dr. Flanders Hometown
The following features of Hometown optimize satisfaction of the basic human need for safety: (1) Boundaries expressly designed for safety. Satisfying the basic human need of safety requires boundaries. The classic research of Oscar Newman’s (1973) Defensible Space as extended by Alice Coleman (1990) shows that boundaries which look as if they would be defended, protect those within from crime, disturbance, and damage of the neighborhood. Throughout history human settlements have established boundaries for protection. Hometown has three layers of boundaries from the outside neighborhood into the residence plus the usual four transition zones to the front of residences: From outside the neighborhood into the residence, Hometown has three layers of boundaries: Fence or other outside boundary, perimeter road, and U-shaped blocks. A fence or other boundary preferably surrounds the neighborhood tract of the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement of Hometown around its outside border. In all figures, a fence or creek with a deep gully surrounds the neighborhood tract. The perimeter road surrounding most of the neighborhood tract adds another layer of boundary. The U-shape of residence blocks backing up to the perimeter road adds still another, smaller scale boundary. All three types of boundaries --outside fence, perimeter road, and U-shaped residence blocks--act to psychologically as well as physically deter crime and unwanted intrusion. From the front of each residence, the usual four transition zones--public, semi-public, semi-private, and private--buffer the residences of Hometown. Modern sprawl design has no definite boundaries around the outside of any defined area, while excessive distances in front of residences and absence of sidewalks usually separate residents from their neighbors. In new urbanism theory, boundaries are only occasionally mentioned and usually not linked to any purpose or function other than respecting municipal borders, historical areas, or environmental preservation. In real new urbanism neighborhoods, some sort of boundary is often visible around the outside but nothing to compare with the three layers in .
(2) Single or at most double entrance. The single entrance to the neighborhood tract of the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement of Hometown adds to satisfaction of safety needs. Jane Jacobs’ (1961) classic phrase “eyes on the street” has come to symbolize the fundamental safety process of surveillance as a process that greatly assists safety, so much that virtually every store open all night long in the U.S. has just one clearly visible entrance open. Hometown has a single or at most double entrance to allow excellent surveillance without the need for gates. Thus all land in the neighborhood and residence blocks become highly defensible space (Newman, 1973, 1996). In all figures, the center or square of the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement is likewise situated to enjoy many lines of sight to deter crime and intrusion.
(3) Unmistakable group membership and territorial control. The residents of the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement of Hometown derive further safety from membership in an unmistakably visible physical U-shaped group of residences which face each other and a surround a common territory, their residence block park. The configuration and small human scale of each U-shaped block in Hometown clearly connotes group membership and territorial control by residents. The hierarchical design of blocks together forming a unified whole adds to the sense of membership in both smaller blocks and the larger neighborhood design. In sprawl design, no visible group membership exists. In new urbanism design, no necessary comparably unmistakably visible marker of group membership exists, let alone membership in the sort of hierarchical arrangement that is designed into Hometown. Only to the extent that the developer has provided an outside boundary do sprawl and most new urbanism neighborhoods contain any defensible space.
(4) Living among known neighbors upon whom one can count for assistance. Elderly residents are known to feel safer when they live among neighbors they know and can count on for assistance. Several features of Hometown promote socialization and also improve perceptions of and actual safety for residents (see section on satisfying needs for socialization below).
(5) Human scale and absence of motor vehicles. Hometown’s interior scaling to human pedestrians rather than to motor vehicles or large-scale acts to deter crime, acting in concert with Hometown’s interior expressly designed to be vehicle free. To illustrate how smaller scale and traffic calming (Pharoah & Russell, 1991; Tolley, 1990) of vehicles act in concert to reduce crime, consider the very practical example of the Five Oaks area in Dayton, Ohio (Newman, 1996). This fine old neighborhood was rapidly declining under an onslaught of crime and vice, and even special police strike forces failed to halt crime. Then the police department called in Oscar Newman to apply his defensible space concepts. Newman subdivided Five Oaks into smaller, named neighborhoods, and blocked off about one-third of streets (some only gated at night) to reduce traffic. In 11 months violent crime dropped by 50%.
(6) Defensible space. Hometown intentionally builds in all possible features of Oscar Newman’s (1973, 1996) defensible space. In contrast to Hometown, sprawl and new urbanism design leave most defensible space considerations to chance. In their favor, good upkeep in sprawl and new urbanism design neighborhoods helps to deter crime and intrusion, but criminals still gravitate to prey on even well-kept residences lacking defensible space. To their detriment, sprawl and new urbanism designs usually slight the whole issue of defensible space, especially the all-important, centuries old design feature of boundaries.
(7) Slow and few escape routes. In Hometown, even though one can drive a vehicle out in a minute or two from anywhere inside the neighborhood tract, high speed escape for criminals is impossible, because in Hometown the escape routes are slow at about 15 miles per hour and few. Sprawl design emphasis on traffic convenience provides rapid escape routes by motor vehicle. Most new urbanism designs also provide an abundance of escape routes. When new urbanism design streets form an intricate lattice or grid of narrow streets to “filter down” traffic volume and speed, two things happen that Newman (1973, 1996) and Coleman’s (1990) research shows clearly contribute to crime: First, traffic slows, which is good. Second, numerous escape routes appear, which hinders operation of defensible space and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles (see paragraph (10) below). Hometown improves upon new urbanist design by minimizing escape routes while not hindering an orderly flow of traffic.
(8) Children will never get hit by a vehicle. Hometown offers something unique for families with children: Children in the interior of a Neighborhood Housing Arrangement of Hometown will never get hit or hurt by a vehicle, because there are no roads or vehicles inside the Neighborhood Housing Arrangement, which is inhabited solely by pedestrians.
Big danger lurks outside the safety of Hometown’s borders, as the research of Alan Thien Durning (1996) The Car and the City: 24 Steps to Safe Streets and Healthy Communities clearly shows. Using Police Department figures for traffic accidents and injuries linked to crimes in Seattle, he calculated crime risk for city residents at 10 out of 1,000, and for suburban residents 1 out of 1,000. Traffic risk for city residents was 6 out of 1,000, while for those living in suburbs the same risk was 18.2 out of 1,000 or more than three times higher. When one adds the comparably calculated risk totals, city residents faced a combined risk of (10 + 6 =) 16 out of 1,000, while the combined risk for suburbanites was higher at (1 + 18.2 =) 19.2. Building on work that appeared earlier in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Durning wrote: "Traffic accidents kill more Northwesterners each year than gunshot wounds or drug abuse do; almost 2,000 people in the region died--and 168,000 were injured--in car wrecks in 1993 alone. The young are especially endangered. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among Americans aged 10 to 24, and 5- to 15-year-olds are the age group most likely to be run over by motor vehicles while bicycling." And going back to 1980, he said, those killed by cars represent "far more than have died or been injured as a result of violent crime."
Using the statistics from Durning (1996) in the paragraph above, we can draw two conclusions: First, protection from traffic danger is actually more important than protection from violent crime. Second, Hometown is unmatched in its protection from traffic danger, especially protecting the children.
(9) Privacy: How features of Hometown optimize the basic human need for privacy. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, satisfying the basic human need of privacy requires assuring “the state of being apart from company or observation.” Modern psychological research (Flanders, 1982) documents the necessity to balance satisfying needs for both privacy and human contact or socialization. Too much privacy breeds isolation, loneliness, and maladjustment, while too much socialization robs the individual of internalized identity and needed solitude. Optimal satisfaction of the need for socialization allows the neighborhood resident ready and convenient access to spaces that by their design passively facilitate both (a) privacy away from undesired company as well as (b) socializing with desired company. Inside Hometown one can attain privacy in one of two ways: Retreat into residence and walk to nearby park or fields: (a) Retreat into residence. Hometown provides and clearly demarcates the four time-honored hierarchy of zones in transition from private to public spaces: Private (interior of residence or fenced patio), semi-private (porches, decks, balconies, front yards, front gardens, where people can participate in community life from a position of emotional security), semi-public (sidewalks, internal passages, and courts, all provisionally open to the general public but psychologically owned by the residents), and public (streets, public buildings). The relatively compact human or pedestrian scale inherent in the design of Hometown allows for convenient and comfortable retreat into the private area. The retreat is comfortable, because the private area borders so closely the semi-public sidewalk. Thus in Hometown one can readily and conveniently attain privacy while viewing a neighborhood that clearly invites and facilitates but does not demand socialization.
One can comfortably and conveniently attain the balance needed for privacy. In general new urbanism design neighborhoods one can readily enter one’s residence; residences interface the public realm usually containing the four transition zones; and residences have short setbacks leading to sidewalks. All this is good for attaining privacy in the residence. The need to look with wide angle perspective beyond nice-looking individual residences and include the block and neighborhood layout is subtle but crucial, illustrating the benefits of taking the systems view of human behavior at differing levels of analysis advocated by James G. Miller (1978) in his Living Systems and Flanders’ (1982) general living systems analysis of loneliness. Hometown contains a physical design to optimize satisfaction of socialization needs in at least three (of seven) levels of analysis according to Miller (1978): The individual person, the small (family, kinship, friendship) group, and (neighborhood) organization. In new urbanism design, opportunities for privacy are nowhere near as convenient as in Hometown (see section on socialization below), so the balance is far more difficult to attain. In sprawl design one can easily enter one’s residence, but opportunities for neighborly socialization are sorely lacking, as documented by virtually the entire new urbanist literature (e.g. Kunstler, 1996), so the balance is quite difficult to attain. (b) Walk to nearby park or fields. Hometown is the only neighborhood design where one can always walk a few hundred feet to the fields and truly get away from people for some privacy. New urbanism design mandates open space but not fields. In new urbanism designs only occasionally can one take a short walk to get privacy in the minority of new urbanism neighborhoods with fields. In most new urbanism designs the open space usually takes the form of plazas, pocket parks, and other urban amenities that provide mainly socialization, not privacy. In most sprawl design not even open space is mandated, so attaining privacy is achieved only through going inside a residence or leaving the residential area by vehicle. In sprawl if one walks a few hundred feet, one lands on the neighbor’s property or in the street, because that is usually all there is in residential sprawl. Sprawl rarely contains any open space to which one can walk.
(10) Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED. Hometown intentionally builds in the main features of CPTED. CPTED has become the standard doctrine of most governments and police forces in the civilized world, including the U.S. Federal HUD and the National Crime Prevention Council in the U.S. CPTED boils defensible space down into simple principles residents can understand and apply. The National Crime Prevention Council (2002) promotes four principles of CPTED quoted here verbatim: “Territoriality: People protect territory that they feel is their own and have a certain respect for the territory of others. Fences, pavement treatments, art, signs, good maintenance, and landscaping are some physical ways to express ownership. Identifying intruders is much easier in a well-defined space. [Hometown’s design is expressly planned to accomplish exactly these goals with its three layers of boundaries and clearly demarcated transition zones.] Natural Surveillance: Criminals don't want to be seen. Placing physical features, activities, and people in ways that maximize the ability to see what's going on discourages crime. Barriers, such as bushes, sheds, or shadows, make it difficult to observe activity. Landscaping and lighting can be planned to promote natural surveillance from inside a home or building and from the outside by neighbors or people passing by. Maximizing the natural surveillance capability of such ‘gatekeepers’ as parking lot attendants and hotel desk clerks is also important. [Hometown’s design is expressly planned to accomplish exactly these goals with intentionally maximized eyes on the street.] Activity support: Encouraging legitimate activity in public spaces helps discourage crime. A basketball court in a public park or community center will provide recreation for youth, while making strangers more obvious and increasing active natural surveillance and the feeling of ownership. Any activity that gets people out and working together -- a clean-up day, a block party, a Neighborhood Watch group, a civic meeting -- helps prevent crime. [The section on socialization below shows how Hometown’s design is expressly planned to accomplish exactly these goals.] Access control: Properly located entrances, exits, fencing, landscaping, and lighting can direct both foot and automobile traffic in ways that discourage crime. Access control can be as simple as a neighbor on the front porch or a front office. Other strategies include closing streets to through traffic or introducing neighborhood-based parking stickers.” [Hometown is expressly planned to accomplish exactly these goals by expressly designing semi-private spaces in front of all residences, and slow and few escape routes.]
Satisfying the basic human need for socialization requires providing perceptual and actual ready access for making acquaintances and building bonds of neighborly friendship.
(1) Hometown’s safety features provide the essential security for residents to venture out and have a life in public. Hometown’s superior provisions for safety thus have the added effect of enhancing socialization. Hometown’s perimeter road promotes socialization within the neighborhood to a greater degree than in sprawl design without boundaries and also in new urbanism design that has no special boundary design for safety.
(2) Hometown’s U-shaped blocks promote socialization by instantly placing new residents in an unmistakable physical grouping of residences that face each other and a common territory, the block park. No other design offers instant group membership of this sort.
(3) Hometown supplies every residence with the four transition zones (private, semi-private, semi-public, public), which not only protect privacy but also ease one out into the public zones for socialization if one so desires. The extremely handy presence of all four transition zones in the absence of usually noisy and often deadly vehicular traffic allows the four time-honored transition zones to function far better than in the other two available designs. In sprawl the semi-private and semi-public zones are usually non-existent.
(4) Hometown’s provision of not only a neighborhood center but also a wholesome hangout enhances socialization. In his classic sociological treatise, The great good place, Dr. Ray Oldenburg (1989) makes a compelling case for wholesome gathering places in the public realm being near-universal throughout history, healthy for community residents satisfying basic socialization needs, and even essential for great civilizations. Sprawl design altogether omits neighborhood centers and wholesome hangouts. The very term “sprawl” means to spread out with insufficient organization, regularity, or pattern including centers for organized socialization. Statements of new urbanism principles give much attention to the neighborhood center but fail to specify the wholesome gathering place as essential. To their credit, most new urbanism neighborhoods in practice have one or more gathering places, but the nature of those gathering places derive from the developer and are thus optional rather than required by either new urbanism per se or its theory.
(5) Hometown draws people out their front door. Hometown’s placement of roads in back and all manner of highly attractive amenities in pedestrian areas and parks in front of residences has the subtle but powerful effect of drawing residents out their front doors. Once a resident gets out onto the porch or sidewalk, the inviting human scale pedestrian environment creates an atmosphere of serenity focusing on people rather than an impersonal environment focusing on vehicles or dodging them. Sprawl design offers little to draw residents out the front door, because sprawl lacks the transition zones and socially attractive amenities out front. Quite to the contrary, in sprawl design most attractive amenities are inside or behind the residence, a minimal provision present in all housing designs. New urban design usually offers the four transition zones, lacks the totally pedestrian environment, has a human scale, sometimes has a neighborhood park, lacks block parks, and is laced throughout with small streets which distracts attention away from people toward vehicles to avoid those vehicles.
(6) Hometown greatly eases socialization by expressly including housing for the two categories of persons easiest to approach, children and elderly citizens. Residences for elderly citizens comprise necessary feature number four of Hometown, and the overall layout of the present Neighborhood Housing Arrangement will clearly attract families with children. Further, children and elderly citizens attract each other under safe and pleasant conditions, clearly present in Hometown.
(7) Hometown solves the age-old problem of mixing traffic and people in residential neighborhoods. No other design has ever done this. Sprawl design fails to take the problem seriously and arranges the neighborhood to give vehicles supremacy over the convenience and safety of pedestrians and their basic human needs, an arrangement appropriate for manufacturing districts but not residential neighborhoods. New urbanism design simply dilutes vehicle flow, but with high densities of vehicles in popular new urbanist communities, even the smaller streets clog up with congestion, blocking socialization. New urbanism design also fails to solve the problem of providing safety from vehicles. Even though vehicles travel at slower speeds in new urbanism design, shorter setbacks place pedestrians much closer to vehicles, so safety suffers. Hometown has finally solved the problem of mixing vehicles and people in residential neighborhoods in a genuinely new way.
Satisfying the basic human need for serenity requires building a neighborhood combining safety and beauty as judged by a majority of residents. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, proponents of the Arts and Crafts and Garden City Movements including William Morris, Ebenezer Howard (1898), and Raymond Unwin (1909) explicitly designed natural beauty into their plans, believing that natural beauty promoted health including and even emphasizing benefits upon one’s physical medical health. Many lines of reason and evidence point to village design possessing more beauty--and thus greater preference--than sprawl design. Nelessen’s (1994) extensive and often repeated research shows raters like and prefer all village and new urbanism features over sprawl features using objective ratings of photographs. Americans spend billions each year to just mingle in European village style settings, not post World War II European suburban sprawl. Assuming that American holiday cards show beauty, Americans buy holiday cards showing village housing, not sprawl.
Serenity needs are once again beginning to get medical attention. Hospital inpatients have slightly but reliably shorter stays and quicker recoveries when their hospital room faces and shows some green vegetated space. Research studies have documented favorable health and experiential effects for office workers who look out upon some green space. Modern researchers are rediscovering the wisdom of the 19th Century thinkers and builders who often felt obligated to give every factory worker access to a nearby place of solace
In his modern “Walkable Neighborhoods: A key to Longer Life?” planner John Gann (2003b) reviewed a study about survival rates of elderly people in Tokyo. People with “close-to-home space for taking a stroll” or “parks and tree-lined streets close to home” simply lived longer, whereas neither crime level nor a home garden had any effect. Elsewhere Gann (2002, p.4) cited a Canadian study which suggested residents of older neighborhoods tend to walk more than residents of newer neighborhoods, and the older neighborhoods tend to be more walkable. “Walkable Communities” now emerges as a desirable feature of the built environment to purchase and to study.
Gann then went on to propose three designs that enhance walkability: New urbanism, Hometown, and his own Close-Knit Community” planning or CKC. CKC is different than the other two.
CKC simply downsizes development, trimming fat from lot sizes, setbacks, street widths, and parking lots. It emulates historic urban neighborhoods in an overall pattern without trying to duplicate their architectural appearance. As simply a tighter weave in the urban fabric, CKC is distinguished from New Urbanism by being more concerned with scale than with style. (Gann, 2003b, p. 16; for more information cf. Gann, 2003c)
His own CKC actually spans and is thus compatible with all other types of neighborhoods. CKC thus has the advantage of reducing problems in the process of approving new neighborhood plans by reversing (that is, reducing or setting maximum size, not minimum size) physical dimensions and handily leaves most existing zoning regulations intact.
Overcoming Zoning Problems that Have Shackled New Urbanism
Think about it: If new urbanism has such enlightened ideas (it certainly does), and it's been around for about two decades (it certainly has), why doesn't most new housing use new urbanist design? Gann (2003c, 2004) has an answer and a solution to this most penetrating question.
In conference presentations Gann (2003c) and in his magnum opus major statement Gann (2004) argues persuasively that new urbanism design (a) imposes strict architectural restrictions mandating traditional architectural details so it (b) generally runs afoul of existing zoning regulations so much that new urbanist developments are pricey and scarce. Gann's solutions involve ingenious "reverse zoning" to allow innovative and properly clustered housing with relatively modest alterations in current zoning to produce the "Close Knit communities" or CKCs discussed just above.
Gann's reverse zoning emphasizes scale rather than style. Reverse zoning keeps existing zoning wherever desired. In areas slated for change, it keeps virtually all the wording and specifics of existing zoning regulations intact and simply replaces minimums with maximums. For example, new maximums can be set for lot area, lot width, yard dimensions, building setbacks, street pavement and right-of-way widths, number of off-street parking spaces, and amount of on-site open space. One can even increase compactness in neighborhoods by setting new minimums for building height, number dwelling units per acre, floor area ratio, and lot coverage. In practice he has customized reverse zoning to differ between, say, adjoining streets and neighborhoods. If all this sounds a lot like the old urbanism before sprawl, Gann says that is precisely the point--the old urbanism worked and still does.
Reverse zoning and the CKCs it produces thus pave the way for new, more clustered housing while handily leaving most existing zoning regulations intact. His solutions can likely ease introduction of Hometown neighborhoods (and new urbanism designs for that matter) without more trouble than any other type of housing.
Can Gann's CKC and reverse zoning concepts be applied to a Hometown design? Yes. Would they help? Usually. CKC easily combines with Hometown, and both approaches make the planner’s job easier, especially when combined.
In short, Gann's notions of reverse zoning applied to produce "Close Knit Communities" (CKCs) overcome many zoning problems by keeping existing zoning regulations in place and reversing them--a fairly simple task--wherever local authorities wish. The usual minimums are turned into maximums which keep things compact. Thus big zoning problems become a lot smaller, because no existing apple carts are upset.
Last and by no means least, Gann’s (2003b) work also reflects the emergence of Hometown as a viable option to sprawl and new urbanism, with which it can sometimes be combined. In his article "Walkable Neighborhoods: A key to longer life?" in the Planning and Zoning News, he listed three main categories of walkable neighborhoods: New urbanism, CKC or the old urbanism, and Hometown design.
(1) Hometown design comprises a unique and specific neighborhood arrangement as validated by the highest authority in the land—the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued Patent No. 6688052 to Dr. Flanders for Hometown design on February 10, 2004.
(2) The psychology of neighborhood design makes a big difference in satisfaction of basic human needs and thus sales price of housing that ultimately reflects need satisfaction.
(3) Neighborhoods can indeed be designed to more directly and thus more effectively satisfy basic human needs.
(4) Dr. Flanders Hometown design adds value because it satisfies basic human needs more directly than competitive arrangements, producing a healthier place to live.
(5) One can reasonably predict neighborhoods with Hometown design will improve physical and mental health of residents, quality of planners’ plans, and profits for real estate professionals.
(6) Hometown design stands as a viable option in addition to sprawl and/or combined with new urbanism as a way to plan living spaces. The planning literature is already beginning to reflect this reality, such as in Gann, (2003b) and Defense Communities (2005).
(7) Hometown design finally solves the age-old problem of mixing traffic and people in residential neighborhoods. No one has done that before.
(1) Hometown helps business organizations foster employee loyalty and community.
(2) Hometown helps churches by fostering community bonds among members.
(1) Hometown improves safety and socialization in certain new urbanism designs.
(2) Hometown provides basic building blocks within some larger new urbanism designs.
Dr. Flanders expects to form partnerships professional builders and developers to design and construct neighborhoods of Hometown design. Dr. Flanders expects to form partnerships with planners, REALTORS®, land owners, lenders, and attorneys to locate prospective builders to facilitate neighborhood development using their own profession.
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H o m e t o w n Neighborhood Design
Jim Flanders, Ph.D., Psychologist, Planning and Research
4102 16th Street, Gulfport, MS 39501
phone and fax (228) 863-6788
mobile (601) 630-6292