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Smart Growth Award nominee

Revamped guidelines serve as model for development in Southeastern San Diego

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The thoughtful design of multi-family residential, mixed-use buildings and outdoor spaces can contribute to a dynamic, environmentally sustainable and visually rich urban environment that promotes social interaction, fosters community pride and instills a sense of safety and security.

To that end, the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. (SEDC), in collaboration with community stakeholders, drafted a set of Multi-Family Development Guidelines in 2000 to guide residential growth in the community and to serve as a benchmark for evaluating proposals requesting financial or other assistance from SEDC. The guidelines were intended to govern SEDC's area of influence, but now serve as a model for development throughout the Southeastern community.

In 2009, M.W. Steele Group was hired by SEDC to revamp the guidelines. The purpose of the update was twofold. First, the guidelines were updated to reflect and align with Smart Growth principles promoted by the "City of Villages" vision of the San Diego General Plan. Each existing and proposed new guideline was evaluated against the 10 principles of Smart Growth, including creating a range of housing opportunities and choices, mixed-use and walkable neighborhoods. Second, four new design components of increasing importance to the Southeastern San Diego community were added as new chapters: sustainability, mixed-use, condominium conversions, and management and maintenance of for-sale developments.

The Multi-Family Development Guidelines are intended to achieve the following key goals:

1. Design buildings, landscape and open spaces that are environmentally sustainable and encourage resource conservation, energy efficiency and high-quality living environments.

2. Arrange buildings, open space, parking and circulation to create a site design that is orderly, visually pleasing and contributes both to the surrounding area and the development itself.

3. Design and build high-quality, mixed-use developments that enhance the pedestrian environment, protect the privacy and security of adjacent residential uses, are compatible with the character of existing residential neighborhoods and control the potential nuisances that may result from mixing residential and non-residential uses.

4. Construct high-quality residential buildings and environments that address the context of existing communities, incorporate sustainable design practices and are visually pleasing to the community and residents.

5. Design and incorporate landscape materials that enhance the appearance of the surrounding neighborhood, contribute to quality open space and living environments and help define an individual identity for multi-family residential developments.

6. Provide on-site community facilities and amenities to address service needs within the development, to help establish social ties and encourage a sense of community.

7. Provide thoughtfully designed and high-quality site elements that contribute to residents' comfort and convenience and support daily activities. Encourage the use of site elements that reinforce safety, increase opportunities for social interaction, reduce maintenance costs and consider environmental factors.

8. Establish clear rules and standards for the conversion of multi-family residential apartments to condominiums to ensure that the quality of the building, its furnishings and surrounding environments is preserved and enhanced.

9. Promote the use of site planning, landscape design, community involvement, and physical and psychological barriers to enhance safety and security within multi-family residential developments. Apply the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.

10. Provide adequate and effective management and maintenance of multi-family residential and mixed-use developments to ensure well-maintained buildings and grounds, create a safe and secure environment, maximize resident satisfaction and improve the stability of the community.

Since their inception, the Multi-Family Development Guidelines have been used extensively by SEDC staff to measure the quality and effectiveness of various projects in the area, most notably, Legacy Walk and the Trolley Village Project at Market Creek Plaza.

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