Santa Cruz, California

Prepared by:
Tassajara Creek Road
Santa Margarita, Ca 93454
(805) 438-4452

147 South River St, Suite 207
Santa Cruz, CA 95061
(408) 425-8523

Feb 1992


As one of the last remaining unbuilt parcels in Santa Cruz, the development of the Natural Bridges Site has significance far beyond it's size and boundaries. In this time of enviromental and economic changes it offers a real potential to demonstrate ways to develop communities that fit the economic changes it offers a real potential to demonstrate ways to develop communities that fit the economic and resource conditions of the 90's. It offers an opportunity for planning, design and construction that is at the same time envirommentally sensitive and economically practical.

The Natural Bridges site is 11.1 acres north of Delaware Ave. and east of Shaffer Ave. on the western edge of Santa Cruz. Although presently zoned Industrial and used for agriculture, it has been designated a special study area by the Santa Cruz Planning Department. Thus mixed use is possible with a specific plan. Adjacent land uses are a trailer park and State Park to the south, an industrial plant (Silicon Systems) to the east across Antonelli Pond (which is owned by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County.) To the west is undeveloped land presently in Agriculture and beyond that the marine lab of the University of California at Santa Cruz. To the north is a spur of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Due to the significant nature of the site and the complexity of it's setting, the following planning process was used to develop this plan.





  Introduction to a broad range of individual objectives for the site

  Exploration of the potential for cohousing on the site

  Summary of multiparty objectives

  implication of the development to views to and from the site

  Methods to achieve objectives

1.   Neighborhoods
  • Condominium
  • Neo-traditional
  • Cohousing
2.   Omni Complex17-18
3.   Open Space
  • Vest pocket parks
  • Mixed use open space
  • Wetland habitat

      Mixed use development of residental, commmercial, office and transportation exchange

On January 23, 1992 a scoping meeting was held at the Chamber of Commerce offices of Santa Cruz to determine individual objectives and concerns of people with an interest in west Santa Cruz and the Natural Bridges site. In attendance were

  • Polly Cooper, San Luis Sustainability Group
  • Jeff Current, Architect, Barry Swenson Builders
  • Bob Curry, Professor, Environmental Studies, University of California. Santa Cruz
  • Frank De Winter, Vice President, Ecosystems, Energy Commission City of Santa Cruz
  • Doug Elder, Director of Facilities, Silicon Systems
  • Alexander Gaugine, Santa Cruz, Co-housing Group
  • Ken Haggard, San Luis Sustainability Group
  • Shirl Hutton, Neighborhood representative and a member of the De Anza Mobile Estates
  • Peter Katzlberger, Planning Director, City of Santa Cruz
  • Rick Hyman, Asst. District Director Costal Commission
  • Scott Kennedy, Santa Cruz City Council
  • Elise Levinson, Representative from the Office of Planning, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Laura Perry, Executive Director, Santa Cruz Land Trust/and member of the city of Santa Cruz Planning Commission
  • Bill Phillips, President, Terrace Point Properties; the adjacent property to the west
  • Jeff Ringold, City of Santa Cruz Planning Commission
  • C.W.Swenson, President, C.W.Swenson, Inc.
  • Ian Thiermann, Board Member, Environmental Council
  • Peggy Thompson, Santa Cruz Co-housing Group


    On the afternoon of January 23, 1992, a cohousing workshop was held to explore the use of part of the Natural Bridges site for this housing type with members of the Santa Cruz Co-housing Group, Cliff and Ron Swenson, owners of the site, Jeff Current, architect with Barry Swenson Builders, Polly Cooper and Ken Haggard architects with the San Luis Obispo Sustainability Group.

    The uique connection of this housing type to it's future occupants and the relative newness of this approach make this workshop a good way to investigate it's potential application to the Natural Bridges Project. Exploration of building types, densities that might be involved, spatial arrangements, open space and circulation occured. The following form diagram summarizes the configurations that Cohousing might have on this site.

    Condensation of information from Step#1 and #2

    Individual Player Stated Objectives

    A Planning Director
    1. As high a residential density as possible.
    2. Mechanisms to prevent de-evolving to R-1
    3. Future very hard to predict therefore need to build in flexibility
    4. Social issues - aging, neighborhood changes over time, this is the critical part

    B Planning commission Member
    1. Need significant densities
    2. Prefer largely resisdential development
    3. Like Co-housing but needs specific mechanisms worked out
    4. Rail connection is future possibility
    5. Affordable units city guide=15%
    6. Should reduce load on city by
      • reduction of auto transportation
      • use of rail when occurs
      • provide own child care services, etc.
    7. Critical to have mechanisms that really accomplish all these

    C Neighboring Industrialist
    1. Minimize heavy traffic, vibrations and air pollution
    2. Would like rail transit connection
    3. We need more office space, would like to rent on this site if accessible
    4. Local infrastructure is big problem
      • PG&E capacity isn't big problem
      • No storm sewer in area
      • Sanitary sewer in area is at capacity
    5. Impact on pond can be a problem-industrial has less impact since in residental development people living there tend to think of the pond as their back yard
    6. Concerned about views from neighboring property across site

    D Costal Commission                  Prioity should be given to:
    1. Vistor service or public access
    2. Environmental protection of pond and drainage to ocean
    3. Costal dependent facilities such as
      • faculty and student housing, that is marine lab related
      • Agriculture uses related to coast(aquiculture)
      • costal dependent facilities

    E Neighborhood Representative
    1. Industrial and residential is acceptable if:
    2. Development is sensitive to pond
    3. Public access provided to pond that provides maintenance and security
    4. Some sensitively done commercial is provided because new development on west side will over tax exisiting commercial
    5. View form highway 1 must be considered

    F University professor
    1. Need new planning language that replaces zoning with mixed use
    2. Electronically serviced cottage industries will become more important
    3. This will allow traffic reduction if carefully planned for
    4. Any development should help service vistors to marine lab which will increase in numbers with time.
    5. Changes like this require a plan with flexiblity

    G Co-Housing Professor
    1. We are committed to reductions of automobile by deed restriction, commonly owned card, community operated vans, etc.
    2. There will be more small businesses in homes plus small office buildings where local business people share facilities
    3. We aim at an affordability rate of 25% to produce a balanced community
    4. Mixed use we favor is truck farming, small offices and commercial
    5. We favor is truck farming, small offices and commercial
    6. We want to provide and maintain child care, common area for kids

    H Owner
    1. We can't neglect nitty gritty problems such as:
      • Grocery and shopping deliveries
      • Difficulty in financing even conventionally planned developments
      • Innovations must not make financing more difficult

    IUniversity Planning Person
    1. Need to promote access to marine lab and allow for it's expansion
    2. University interested in faculty and student housing nearby
    3. University interested in transportation exchange betweem area and university

    JAdjacent Developer
      We also want:
    1. Full mix affordability
    2. Better transportation mix, including rail
    3. Connections to, and support of marine lab
      We are concerned however about
    1. Density greater than three stories
    2. Marketing and financing difficulties

    KEnviromental Representative
    1. Reduction of automobile certainly possible(Leisure World for example) by use of community vans for scheduled shopping
    2. Transportation energy saving very important but much more difficult to accomplish

    LLocal Architect
    1. Infrasture limits are serious
    2. Financing is a big consideraton considering present bad market conditions


    1. Reduce auto trafic
    2. Provide mixed use
    3. Residental is OK
    4. Sensitive relationship to pond
    5. Rail use for some transportation is desirable
    6. Specific social mechanisms must be worked out
    7. Provide 15-25% affordable units
    8. Energy efficiency is important
    9. Relatively high density of residential is important
    10. Flexibility is key to future
    11. Infrastructure problems in area are big consideration
    12. Financing is critical
    13. Sensitive commercial must be a part of my development
    14. Views form Highway 1 must be considered
    15. Public access is highly desirable
    Reference: verbatim notes of scoping meeting of January 23,1992, by San Luis Obispo Sustainability Group

    Objective #15 is concerned about the effect of the development on views from Highway 1 plus shorter views around the site. With this in mind a visual survey was undertaken and is summarized here. Significant view locations are plotted on the map below marked by the symbol (......direction).

    Due to a high berm on the right side of Highway 1 only one viewpoint of the site exists in that direction (Viewpoint #1). Traveling west there is a glimpse of the site at one spot between thick trees shown on the map at Viewpoint #2

    The highest built up area in this proposal is the Omni-Center at the north edge of the site against the railroad track. Therefore a view looking in that direction down Shaffer Road was inbestigated (Viewpoint #3).

    The visual impact on Antonelli Pond is a concern and was checked with Viewpoint #4. Concern about the impact on views down from the hills to the north of the site were also investigated (Viewpoint #5).

    Shown is View #1 from Highway 1 with and without the proposed development. As can be seen the dominant element remains the heavily treed skyline. Parts of the development are noticeable but not very intensely. If we use appropriate colors (dark receding color) the development will be less noticeabe but not very intensely. If we use appropriate colors (dark receding color) the development will be less noticeable than equipment on the roof of the Raytek Building and the De Anza Mobile Home Park. Both of these elements stand out due to their highly contrasting white colors.

    The dominant element looking north along Shaffer Road is the heavily wooded hills in the center of one's field of vision, and secondarily the smooth hills to the left and built-up hills to the right. As shown on the "after view, even the tallest complex (OmniCenter) doesn't interrupt the skyline. The existing Granite Construction warehouse is distracting mostly because it is again a contrasting obtrusive color when compared to the color of the landscape. The OmniCenter would block the view to the warehouse, an advantage if colors for the Omnicenter are appropriately chosen as stated before.

    View #2 is both very narrow and only occurs at a right angle to Highway 1. Since one's angle of vision narrows with speed, the project is unlikely to ever be noticed from this location.

    View #4 is one of the nicest in the area, and illustrates the visual advantages of having a constructed wetland serving as buffer and storm drain infrastructure on the east side of the site. This constructed wetland would extend the width of the natural area and make this view even nicer.

    After much searching, it was discovered (Viewpoint #5) that there is no veiw down on the site form the roads in these hills that is not obstructed by trees and the flow of the terrrain.


    Objective #1, flexibility, we feel, is the design key to achieving most of the other objectives. For example:

  • Objective #1, reduction of automobile traffic, requires the flexibility on every one's part to develop more choices in regard to transportation. Part of this is planning so that trips can be reduced. This is effected by objective #2, illustrating the interconnected nature of many of these goals.
  • The overall design device used to help achieve flexibility in this case is modularity, not just modularity at the architectual structures level, but at a cascading series of scales at neighborhood as well as building size, and for open space as well as building space.

    The result is:

    1.    A conceptual plan that allows the flexibility to respond to the economic, social and environmental needs of the 90's by developing a symbiotic relationship between the plan components listed on the last page.

    2.    A conceptual plan which adjusts to the unique needs of this particular site in regards to solar access, infrastructure limitations, public access, and a variety of neighboring conditions.


    This plan consists of 3 neighborhoods. They are of equal area, 1.25 acres, each containing 30 dwelling units. Each has its own identity because they are separated by open space which can contain mixed uses such as gardening, small truck farming, playgrounds and vest pocket parks on the Shaffer Road side of the site, This provides contrast. The built up area, allows social mix between neighborhoods and gives relief from the moderately high density achieved by 3 story units of the built up areas.

    To explore the objectives summarized on page 3 we've investigated 3 types of neighborhoods, relatively standard condominiums, a neo-traditional village and a cohousing complex. These are illustrated in a comparative manner on the folllowing fold out sheet.

    We have chosen the condominium layout as a comparative model of the most common condition that conforms to present regulation regarding set backs and parking requirements. The two other types were chosen because they are on the ascendancy in the U.S. and because they both approach the problem of auto traffic reduction (objective #1)specific social mechanisms (objective #6) and affordable units mixed in (objective #9) The solar access situation can best be seen in the building sections shown on the next page.

    The fact that we've shown one type in each neighborhood in the overall plan should not be taken as a literal plan. Perhaps all 3 neighborhoods will eventually develop as one of these approaches. We've shown them in this way to illustrate that the density stated (objective #10) can be accomplished in a variety of ways allowing flexibility (objective #11) in regard to financing, ownership group desires, social factors and marketing. A more detailed look at each of these neighborhood types occurs in the following pages.


    Neo-traditional planning is an approach that is a reaction to suburban derived planning standards and the dominace of the automobile in the planning, design and construction of communities. It recognizes that many neighborhoods built before World War 2 seem to work better because traffic engineering hadn't yet overwhelmed social, spatial and compositional concerns. Neo-traditional planning allows for auto mobiles but only as one component, not as the primary one catered to at the expense of other components in the plan. For example, streets are kept narrower than present suburban standards and are considered landscaped mixed use spaces not just traffic collectors and arterials. Paralled parking is utilized not only to slow down traffic but to provide a protective barrier of parked cars between moving vehicles and pedestrians. In terms of form, continuity with variety is developed in a smaller grained urban pattern based on modularity to accomplish a more human, less industrial scale.

    The application of this approach to Natural bridges neighborhoods uses many of these principles. Duplexes are arranged along treed streets with parallel parking. Tight setback and 3 story heights allow side yards facing the main street for entry and winter sun penetration to private outdoor spaces in the center of the lots. Most parking and service is provided by garages off of an alley at the rear of these lots. Over the garages are smaller duplex units which allow small simpler housing more applicable to rentals, affordable units, granny units, or spill over from the main units for home business, relatives etc. This allows differentiation yet proximity between more complex and simpler living units to provide a balanced neighborhood.

    • Calthorpe, Peter,"Pedestrian Pockets: New Strategies for Suburban Growth"
    • Adler, Jerry, "the House of the Future" Newsweek/Special Edition,issue 73 w/sp'90
    • Langdon, Philip, "A Good Place To Live", The Atlantic, March 1988
    • Winding Trail Village, 80 units Boulder, Colorado
    • Seaside,150 units, Florida
    • Mashea Commons, 175 acres, Cape Cod, Mass
    • Riverfront, 100 acres So. Manchester, NH
    • West Laguna Creek, 3,300 units Sacramento, CA
    • Friday Mountain, 550 acres Austin, Texas


    As far as american application, Cohousing is the newest of these neighborhood types but is developing rapidly. The idea is to achieve certain economic and social advantages by developing more cooperation between individual members of the community than exists in other housing types. Individual houses are still autonomous but can be smaller by sharing certain facilities are a large kitchen for group dining when desired space for entertainment and parties, guest facilities, teen and child care facilities and sometimes shops, spas etc. The reduction of auto traffic is also possible with this approach. Traffic and parking on the site can be greatly reduced not only by providing such items as day care, play space etc. on the site but by the use of community owned cars or vans as exists in many senior complexs in the United States. A certain amount of shopping can be organized on a group basis for efficient use of transportation.

    Social changes are involved to make this approach workable and thus most cohousing in the U.S. to date has been built for a group of people organized before construction, which participates directly in the planning and design of the neighborhood.

    The plan shown, developed out of a preliminary design exercise with members of the Santa Cruz Cohousing Association and at this point it is only illustrative of one possibility. Specific characteristics of the plan are:

    1. easy accessibility to common house coming and going from the neighborhood
    2. segregation of the automobile and group owned vehicles to the west edge of the site
    3. providing for emergency access, ambulance, fire etc. through pedestrian oriented common space
    4. Higher units on east side to optimize views and sun.

    • Moreno, M.E.,"Cohousing comes to the U.S.",Architecture, July 1989,pg.64-67
    • Hayden, Dolores, Redesigning the American dream: The future of housing Work and Family life,W.W. Norton & Co.,1984
    • McCamant, K.,Durrett, C, Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves, Habitat Press,1988
    • Benicia Waterfront Commons, 27 units, Benicia, CA
    • Muir Commons Cohousing Community 26 units, Davis, CA
    • Doyle street Loft Cohousing Community 12 units, Emeryville California
    • Winslow Cohousing Group, 30 units Lafayette, Colorado
    • River City Cohousing, 25 units Sacramento
    • N-Street Group, 8 units, Davis,

    As the name implies,the Omni Complex is a high density development designed to allow and maintain a mixed use of functions consisting of housing office, commercial and transportation exchange. Equally important is flexibility, especially in regard to changes over time (objective #11) This is done with a multistory modular system of spaces which allows a visually low profile to protect views from Highway 1 (objective #15)and provide solar access for some passive heating and natural lighting for offices and commercial spaces (objectives #8) The project is planned to allow construction in the 3 phases shown below to take advantage of the future events such as the likely development of public transportation by the use of rail spur to the north.


    Open space consists of 43% of the site or 4.8 acres. There are 3 types of open space which produce a graduation from north to south. Each of these types is different in character and use, as explained in the following chart:

    Location CharacterRelationFunctionForm
    East edge of site Urban Relates to Shaffer Road and circulation running east and west the length of the site To soften the edge of Shaffer Road & provide a variety of transportation modes in an EW direction Landscaped sideroad, bicycle route and pedestrian walk with vest pocket parks between neighborhoods
    Middle of site in N.S. bands between neighborhoods Semi-rural and agricultural Buffer space between the neighborhoods and the Omni-complex Mixed use open space for small truck farms gardens, orchards, playgrounds and recreation served by an EW path/trail down the center Provides permanent space between neighborhoods so that they maintain their character and identity. Helps site retain some of it's character and agricultural productivity at a smaller scale
    West edge of site Natural Relates to Antonelli Pond and the east edge of the neighborhood Provides selected public access to Antonelli Pond and a nature oriented NS circulation path for pedestrians and bicyles. However, this is done in such a way that this are also forms a buffer to Antonelli Pond to minimize human impact (objective #4) A constructed wetland with carefully designed circulation along the N edge and to the W to selected spots overlooking Antonelli Pond. The constructed wetlands are designed to ease the infrastructure problems on the site by acting as a treatment system for waste water and retaining runoff(see references)
    • Schutz, Franklin R.,"Constructed Wetlands Growing Throughout U.S."Small FlowsU.S. Environmental Protection Agency Oct.1990.
    • Schutz, Franklin R.,"Town Uses Constructed Wetland to Upgrade Treatment,"Small Flows, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, May 1990 Wolverton, b.c., "Aquatic Plants For Wastewater Treatment,"Natural Science,December 1988, pgs. 382-7.
    • Schutz, F.R.,"Individual On-Site Wetlands Become Routine in Lousianna," Small Flows,U.s. Environmental Protection Agency, July 1989
    • Gillette, B., "Artificial Wetlands: Revolution in Wastewater Treatment,"Biocycle, March 1988, pgs.48-51
    • Steiner, G.R.;Watson, J.T.;Choate, K.D.,General Design, Construction and Operation guidelines:Constructed Wetlands Wastewater Treatment,Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA/WR/WQ-91/2
    • El Dorado, N.M.(10,000 gal/day)
    • Orlando, Fla.(20,000,000 gal/day)
    • Monterey, Virginia (100,000 gal/day)
    • Rearlington, Miss, (10,000 gal/day)

    Mixed use developement of residential, commercial, office and transportation exchange.

    See Enclosed 1"=40-0" Map


    Note: This Conceptual Plan is not intended to propose as an actual final physical arrangement for the site. Rather, it is an investigation of various possibilities uses and configurations to be considered in preparation of a Master Plan