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Pedestrian-friendly design gives Otay Ranch residents alternative to driving

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Otay Ranch's pedestrian-friendly design can provide some relief from today's high gas prices. Dozens of miles of walking and bicycle trails and well-lit walkways encourage residents to leave the car in the garage and, instead, walk or bike to local restaurants, parks, schools and/or community services.

"Otay Ranch's village design, which emphasizes walking and close-to-home amenities, helps reduce gas usage and the resulting pollution," said Kent Aden, executive vice president of The Otay Ranch Co. "The community's extensive pedestrian system provides easy access to numerous city and private parks and nearby schools, as well as shopping, eateries and the medical facilities located in Heritage Towne Center.

"Meeting your neighbors on the street also has resulted in a more connected community, where lasting friendships are destined to grow," he added.

HERITAGE TOWNE CENTER: Residents of Otay Ranch don't have to use their cars to access the community's amenities. An extensive pedestrian network connects homes to a wide variety of parks, nearby schools and shopping.

Aden, who is the chair of this year's Pacific Coast Builders Conference, also explained that Otay Ranch's design includes building homes for people in all life stages.

"Otay Ranch was designed to have a wide appeal across the generations," he said. "In addition to providing larger single-family homes for established families, we want to also meet the housing needs of young people starting out, as well as retirees."

Currently, Otay Ranch offers a variety of condominiums, townhomes, live-work residences and single-family homes, some of which come with private entrance guest suites, priced from the high-$200,000s to the $600,000s. Guest builders include Kane Development, Oakwood Development, Pacific Coast Communities, Rimrock Communities and The Sunrise Co.

The design of homes and neighborhoods also contribute to the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere of Otay Ranch. Many homes have front porches and picture windows that overlook the street. Garages have been de-emphasized (and sometimes tucked in the rear of the home) to put the home's architectural design -- not garages -- at center stage. Almost all streets in Otay Ranch have parkways planted with street trees to shelter the sidewalks and provide a buffer for pedestrians.

In addition to the community's amenities, more than 50 percent of the land has been set aside as permanent open space in the Otay Ranch Nature Preserve. As development proceeds, 1.18 acres is set aside for each acre developed. To date, more than 3,200 acres have been earmarked for the preserve, with The Otay Ranch Co. dedicating the bulk of the land. Ultimately, the nature preserve is planned to encompass 11,375 acres, creating an open space system destined to protect natural resources and wildlife.

Information on the community is available on the Web at otayranch.com or at the Otay Ranch New Homes Center, located at 1580 La Media Road in Chula Vista and open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Metz is principal of Metz Public Relations.

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