California selects models for sustainable land use

New Urban Network

Thirteen new urban and smart growth developments were named as Catalyst Projects on August 24 by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The designation carries up to $9.25 million in grant funding, but the projects will have to apply to receive money. The program is designed to encourage innovative land use and green building strategies for sustainable development.

Most of the projects appear to be compact, walkable, and include a mix of uses. Many are located close to transit stops. One focuses on the expansion of a transit hub.

“These thirteen Catalyst Projects will be great examples of how to build sustainable, economically vibrant communities,” said HCD Director Lynn Jacobs. “This pilot program will provide valuable insights to allow the state to implement best practices and strategies as we move forward with our sustainable development goals in California.”

A number of the designated projects are certified as LEED-ND (LEED for Neighborhood Development), including Emeryville Marketplace in Emeryville, Bayfront Transit Village in Hercules, and Quarry Falls in San Diego. At least one other project, Meriam Park in Chico, is being reviewed for LEED-ND certification. Chico-based designer John Anderson, one of the planners of Meriam Park, suggests that LEED-ND influenced the thinking of state officials who put together the Catalyst program.

“The state was looking for ways to measure results in the projects they awarded funds to so that future projects could see the benefits of more sustainable development,” he says. “In most of the areas the state was interested in, we pointed to the metrics used in LEED-ND as a way to measure performance and benefits.” Anderson, who is critical of some aspects of LEED-ND, points out that state officials view the certification program as "SATs for smart growth."

Five Gold projects are eligible for $1.35 million each. They are:

• Emeryville Marketplace

• Mission Bay in San Francisco

• Township Nine in Sacramento

• Village at Market Creek in San Diego

• Fullerton Transportation Center in Fullerton

Five Silver projects are eligible for up to $500,000 each:

• Paradise Creek Revitalization in National City

• Meriam Park

• Truckee Railyard in Truckee

• The Dunes on Monterey Bay in Marina

• Downtown Core Catalyst Project in Ontario

Three Bronze projects get no direct funds, but the designation could mean they get priority in future grant applications:

• North Oxnard Communities in Oxnard;

• Quarry Falls

• Bayfront Transit Village

Links to some of the projects:

Truckee Railyard

Mission Bay

Meriam Park

Township Nine, Sacramento

Village at Market Creek