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Renew America Success Stories
Contact: Michael Corbett Town Planners 2417 Bucklebury Road Davis, CA 95616 tel: (916) 756-5941 email: firstname.lastname@example.org No Internet Link Currently Available
Village Homes is a 68-acre development of single-family homes, apartments, a community center and an office building that features solar construction, natural cooling systems, communal agricultural areas, a natural drainage system and a pedestrian- and bike-friendly layout.
The concept for Village Homes originated with Mike and Judy Corbett in 1973 as a way to offer homeowners and apartment dwellers a greater sense of community and a more ecologically-sound lifestyle than offered by traditional housing developments. The project serves as a model for environmentally sustainable development and community planning.
One of the development's most attractive features is its emphasis on fostering a sense of community among the residents. The development features a swimming pool and a large field for soccer and baseball. In addition to drawing residents together, these amenities obviate the need to drive elsewhere for recreation.
Community green spaces and shared gardens bring neighbors together during the evenings and on weekends. During the spring and summer, residents are likely to put out a red "pot luck" flag, inviting neighbors to come out of their homes with various dishes and sit on the lawn, picnic-style for dinner and socializing.
There are more walking and bicycle paths than roads, which lend themselves to evening strolls, toddler bicycle training, roller skating and lemonade stands. The innate pedestrian safety enables parents to allow their children nearly free reign within Village Homes, encouraging the children to form congenial bands of playmates who benefit from receiving oversight from numerous community members.
Residents control future development themselves through the homeowners' association. With 25% of the land area in the development dedicated to open space, recreational facilities and agriculture, the development has produced some income-generating enterprises, including an almond orchard that borders the property. The homeowners' association's equity in these properties will eventually produce enough collateral to allow the neighborhood to build more offices, a delicatessen and an exercise studio.
- There are 220 single-family homes and 20 apartments. Sizes range from 3,000 square feet to a cluster of 600-foot units that share a community area. A co-op house accommodates a dozen people in a nine-bedroom house.
- The development is designed to make it easier to visit between houses by walking or biking. All streets end in cul-de-sacs and most streets have pedestrian connections.
- Street are narrow (20 to 25 feet instead of the common 30 feet or more) to absorb less heat in the summer.
- Building setbacks are 15 feet, to enable enough room for greenways.
- Bikeways form a grid across the subdivisions, making biking or walking the most direct and quickest way to travel. The bikeway system ties into the bikeways of the University of California at Davis.
- Twelve acres are set aside for community agriculture including orchards and vineyards.
- Smaller, 1/3-acre parcels are owned and used in common by each group of eight families for community gardens and play areas.
- One large field offers space for soccer and baseball games, and a smaller play field is available for community gatherings.
- Twenty-four percent of the produce consumed by Village Homes residents is grown within the development.
- All homes are well-insulated and incorporate passive solar construction.
- All homes have rooftop solar water heaters that meet 100% of a home's hot water needs in the summer and 50% in the winter.
- Most residents are living comfortably without air conditioners.
- Every conceivable type of solar house has been built in the development from passive solar cottages to sophisticated, active solar designs using water or air as heat storage medium.
- All water runoff is channeled by stream to natural sand pockets instead of being carried away by culverts. This system ensures that water penetrates into the ground on site to provide a high water level for vegetation.
- The development utilizes xeriscaping, which is the cultivation of drought-tolerant plants to minimize water use.
- A child care cooperative provides "no-cost" child care.
- Community members may pick the fruit and nut crops without charge.
- Fenced backyards have been replaced by common areas.
- The average walking time to the local grocery store is 10 minutes.
Program Management/Partnerships: Village Homes was developed by Michael N. Corbett and Town Planners. A homeowners' association, managed by a Board of Directors, manages the greenbelts and community facilities within the development. The Plumshire Board manages the income property. An agriculture committee decides how produce is to be managed. A design review committee approves all requests for new construction.
Budget: The latest figures are available by contacting the program.
Community Served: The 1,000 residents of the Village Homes development. Owner-built housing program, a housing cooperative, and the integration of very small units have ensured development of some affordable housing for low-income residents.
Measures of Success:
- The homes in the Village Homes development are 50% more energy efficient than surrounding homes.
- A 1990 study found that Village Homes residents use 36% less energy for vehicular driving, 47% less electricity and 31% less natural gas per household than a conventional neighborhood control group.
- Tree-lined streets keep the temperature about 10% cooler than surrounding neighborhoods.
- Open space accounts for 25% of the land in the development.
- Village Homes residents know 50% more of their neighbors than do residents in nearby developments.
- Initially, Village Homes sold for the same price as others in Davis. On average, they now sell for $11 persquare foot more.
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