Innovation in Land Planning 
{"autoplay":"true","autoplay_speed":"8000","speed":"1000","arrows":"true","dots":"false","loop":"true","nav_slide_column":5,"rtl":"false"}
{"autoplay":"true","autoplay_speed":"8000","speed":"1000","arrows":"true","dots":"false","loop":"true","nav_slide_column":5,"rtl":"false"}

DETAILS

LocationSan Diego County, California, United States
ClientDMB Development; Taylor Woodrow Homes
Size3,800 acres/15.38 square km

This planned community 30 minutes north of San Diego is a testament to the collaboration of a visionary client, talented land planner, and creative designers and marketers. Set gracefully on its rolling site and preserving over half its acreage as open space, Santaluz is both a model of environmental planning and a financial success, out-performing all its local competitors. The vision for the plan grew out of the land, itself. With its gently rolling, grass-covered hills and subtle textures and colors, the site recalled the open, rural landscapes depicted in early twentieth-century California plein air paintings. Although inland, the site provides views along the valleys to the ocean, mountains, and city lights. Keeping the site open, and letting the qualities of the land come through, formed the underlying premise of the plan. Natural landmarks—the ridges, knolls, valleys, and meadows identified in an early site analysis drawing, established the basic framework. Another important decision was to draw on the rural ranch tradition of the estate communities of Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch to the north and more closely approximate their values, rather than those of the more conventional subdivisions to the south. SWA took a highly innovative approach, using circular pads for the homesites that blended into the natural terrain and saved half the earthwork of conventional grading. The circular pads also allowed homes to be turned in any direction to capture views and to spread out in long, low wings, taking advantage of San Diego’s mild climate. With an overall density of one home per four acres, the plan provides a broad mix of housing types and densities, with homes clustered to preserve more than half the land as open space. Natural landmarks are preserved and undisturbed natural drainage courses minimize the need for storm drains. Unlike more typical residential developments, here for both aesthetic and practical reasons, the dry California landscape with its native grassland and clumps of oaks dominates, providing extensive water conservation. Transitional landscaping, with broad 50- to 200-foot setbacks between homes and clusters, blurs the line between private property and open space. An 11-acre village green and 19,000-square-foot recreation center serve as the physical and social center of the community. A café overlooking the village green provides a long view down the valley to the ocean. The golf course is nestled into the valleys, with a 35,000-square-foot clubhouse set back from the central green to reduce the building’s apparent scale. Forty-four miles of pathways and trails, which are open to the public as well as members of the community, cross the hills and valleys. SWA also produced the master landscape plan and design guidelines that detail the treatment of all public and community open space, including streetscape, parks, and the transitional landscape between private homes and clusters. Santaluz represents a different way of approaching the traditional master-planned community, onw which has created significantly higher values than could have been achieved under the old concept, even with fewer total units.

Related Projects

Woodson’s Reserve

This new master-planned community challenges conventional thinking by preserving wetland areas and open space while achieving an optimal mix of housing products and amenities. A robust local economy has elevated demand for both commercial space and single-family housing. The master plan for Woodson’s Reserve targets active families and those who enjoy outdoor ...

Hunter's Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point

Perched on the edge of San Francisco Bay, the Hunters Point Shipyard was an important naval manufacturing center for the WWI and WWII war efforts. The abandoned shipyard and Candlestick Point were combined into a new, mixed-use residential, retail and light industry development—the largest in San Francisco since WWII. Thomas Balsley Associates collaborated wit...

Lin'an High Tech Park

Lin’an Qingshan Lake Forest Technology Park offers a premier destination for high-tech and green-tech businesses. Designed in harmony with nature, this mixed-use community will foster productivity and connections to its physical and cultural setting, providing a vibrant mix of uses and a business culture appealing to a wide range of international enterprises. ...

Shady Canyon

Shady Canyon is a 1,070-acre residential community and land preservation project in the heart of bustling, master-planned Orange County. The project carefully integrates the natural environment into every aspect of the community which consists of 400 custom and builder homes, a golf course that preserves important biological resources, swim center, recreation ...

Esencia

Esencia, a planned community in Rancho Mission Viejo, California, emphasizes health and well-being. This premium real estate development, which is integrated into a 17,000-acre open space preserve characterized by oak canyons, creeks and orchards, envisions wellness holistically. It offers residents extraordinary views, comprehensive access to nature, and a ra...

Kunming Eco-Communities

The concept for the Kunming Eco-Town is based on an understanding of the historical natural processes of the location. The master plan goal restores balance in the landscape through restoration and sensitive development. In using a watershed planning approach to determine the most sensitive lands and subsequently where development is appropriate, the issues of...

Magee Ranch

The project site is a beautiful 540-acre hillside ranch in suburban Contra Costa County, California. It was slated for development by the City of Danville as a clustered planned community. The development concept was to preserve the essential beauty of the ranch and to allow some 300 homes to be built with the least possible impact. The City’s Planning C...

Cross Creek Ranch

The Cross Creek Ranch acreage was worn-down pasture land when Trendmaker Homes bought the ranch, located about 30 miles west of Houston. The curves of the land’s natural creek had been straightened, the grass was pounded by cattle and the property was barren, without trees. Sediment filled the creek, which no longer supported wildlife. SWA devised a plan to re...