The Oxnard Community Planning Group advocates for visionary practices in planning, design, and development that will lead to a more livable and prosperous city.
The Oxnard Community Planning Group envisions a city that grows wisely, preserves farmland and open space, drives smart economic development, welcomes vertical density, cherishes our past, and boldly anticipates our future.
The Oxnard Community Planning Group believes in a city that works to meet the needs of all our residents: young, old, people with disabilities, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists; even people who don’t go anywhere. We strive to be open-minded, welcome thoughtful discussion, and are willing to invest our time and efforts towards bringing these beliefs into being.
As two projects in Los Angeles show, public art has more than just aesthetic appeal – it can generate income for developers and local government.
Public art in transit-oriented developments presents a valuable marketing opportunity, both for public agencies and private developers. Dollar for dollar, investments in public art may provide the highest financial returns of any funds committed to an aspect of a transit project.
The intangible benefits of public art—aesthetic beauty, cultural interpretation, education, inspiration, and general improvement of the urban environment—are well-known. But because these are considered “soft” benefits, they are sometimes dismissed as a low priority, especially during challenging economic times. However, experiences in Los Angeles show that public art can be a source of publicity and cash income, as well as beauty.
Wilshire Vermont Station, a mixed-use, urban infill development in a downtown neighborhood known as Koreatown, has 449 apartments above 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Twenty percent of the apartments are reserved for low-income renters. Located in the heart of a dense and diverse mixed-income neighborhood, the development occupies land owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Los Angeles County. A busy two-level subway station operates under the site.
Because the project is largely residential, it was not subject to the city of Los Angeles’s requirement that 1 percent of project cost for commercial development be committed to public art. Nonetheless, Urban Partners LLC, a Los Angeles–based developer of transit-oriented and urban infill real estate, chose to install a pair of 70 foot painted murals, designed by environmental artist April Greiman, who was introduced to the firm by the developer’s art consultant, Merry Norris. The murals were installed at the prominent intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, adjacent to the subway portal. The art program cost $75,000 to design and install, out of a total project cost of more than $125 million.
From this relatively modest investment in public art the project received more publicity, more public recognition, and more leasing interest than from any other element of the entire budget. The murals became a marketing bonanza.
When they were completed, the murals were featured in several half-page, full-color photographs in the Los Angeles Times. Coverage was provided on the front page of the paper’s local news and culture sections rather than in the real estate or business sections. This allowed the publicity to reach a more exclusive, cultured audience, elevating the project’s reputation as a work of art, not mere commerce. This front-page coverage constituted essentially free advertising, and it created a marketing aura that the developer could not have purchased at any price.
Subsequently, images of the murals have been printed in dozens of publications, including newspapers and national and local business magazines. The images are routinely used by the local transit agency as emblems of the entire transit system, and the site is frequently host to press events and photo shoots. For example, the mayor of Los Angeles often uses the murals as a backdrop during televised announcements.
The private marketing benefits, in real-dollar terms, of this modest public art investment are almost inestimably high. The continuing visibility, publicity, and brand identification that public art provided for the project were purchased for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the project’s total cost.
The District 7 headquarters of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), at a nearby site in downtown Los Angeles, moved forward under a very tight budget. Nonetheless, it included a state-mandated commitment of 1 percent of the project budget for public art. Urban Partners LLC, also the project developer, introduced Thom Mayne of Morphosis, the building’s architect, to nationally known artist Keith Sonnier, with instructions to integrate the art program into the building design itself. Doug Christmas of Ace Gallery in Los Angeles assisted with artist selection. With a $2 million budget, and using neon- and argon-filled tubes that abstractly resemble the tail lights of cars, the art installation provides a colorful and changeable display in the building’s otherwise limited color palette. Cooperation between architect and artist was seamless, resulting in a successful fusion of public art and architecture.
Caltrans officials, however, originally were skeptical of this use of funds. To their surprise, the neon installation became a sensation. The illuminated entry element now vividly identifies the building in the government center of Los Angeles. The building is now used frequently as a backdrop for feature films, television shows, and commercials, and has been displayed prominently in print publications around the world. Caltrans receives a substantial, ongoing income stream by licensing the entry plaza as a backdrop for still photography and TV/film.
Raising an institutional structure to the level of global artistry—and creating an unexpected revenue stream for local government—demonstrates clearly the economic benefits of public art. In this case, the benefits are public as well as private, providing income to Caltrans.
Investments in public art are not just for cultural or aesthetic purposes; they also can have a positive bottom-line economic impact, with material financial benefits to their owners. Good art is good business.
Adapted and reprinted with permission from Urban Land, the online publication of the Urban Land Institute; copyright 2012 by the Urban Land Institute.
“Mr. Developer, tear down those walls,” might as well be one of the slogans for São Paulo’s ambitious new urban master plan. It prohibits gated-off buildings in some parts of the city and encourages new developments that provide street-level interaction with retail.
The effort to curb street life-killing development—especially the walled-off residential complexes common across the city—could have a lasting impact on what São Paulo’s streets look like and how its residents interact with each other.
A new study released today by planning and design firm Sasaki Associates found that food is a major driver of the American urban experience: Eighty-two percent of urbanites appreciate their city’s culinary offerings, and a new restaurant is the top reason nearly half of those surveyed would venture out to explore different parts of their city. The majority of city residents also consider food and restaurants to be the most outstanding aspect of cities they love to visit.
(Re)Building Downtown – by Smart Growth America (Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization is a resource for local elected officials who want to re-invigorate and strengthen neighborhood centers of economy, culture, and history through a smart growth approach to development.
What’s the Big Idea?
The current path cities are pursuing is not financially stable.
The future for most cities will not resemble the recent past.
The main determinant of future prosperity for cities will be local leaders’ ability to transform their communities.
Form Based Codes
“Why form-based codes? Because our current laws tend to separate where we live from where we work, learn, and shop, and insist on big, fast roads to connect them all. Roads that are unfriendly to pedestrians, cyclists, and transit. As a result, North Americans spend more hours in their cars than anyone on earth, and a growing number of communities are working to do something about it.” [ PlaceMakers.com ]
The SmartCode differs from some other form-based codes in that its community-scale and block-scale articles are written explicitly for zoning. Zoning reform is essential to allow walkable mixed-use neighborhoods, thereby combatting sprawl, preserving open lands, and reducing energy use and carbon emissions.
Looking to curb sprawl with a form-based alternative to conventional zoning? No need to reinvent the wheel. The SmartCode is a model ordinance that’s customized to reflect local context, character and goals. And best of all, it’s open source and free.
Competitive Cities for jobs and growth
“While the report takes pains to note that there is no silver bullet for urban competitiveness, it identifies some key factors and strategies that bear on it. The most competitive cities focus on higher-skill tradable industries, attracting foreign investment, creating new businesses, and growing their existing, already competitive firms (which usually has the biggest impact on job creation). They also have strong growth coalitions of elected leaders, civic officials, and the private sector. Most importantly, they have a clear strategy to exploit their competitive advantages. In Bucaramanga, Colombia, for instance, the city has used its oil revenues to invest in universities known for their research on the oil industry—in turn generating technical skills and boosting human capital. It’s this kind of creative and independent thinking that allows cities to do a lot with a limited amount of resources.”
Context Based Design and the Fate of the Arterial A brief and urban look at the way a street engineer can make our streets walkable. The street engineer that pulls out the code book and tells you, with various official sounding citations, that making streets only for cars is the only thing that can be done – is regressive and does not understand where cities are going. We need street engineers that understand walkability, urbanism and placemaking. The code based street engineer is a dinosaur.
Oxnard Sidewalk Survey – Final Report – September 2015 Report focuses on hardscape only. No recognition or acknowledgement that sidewalks are for people who walk or for place making. Thus no understanding that investment and economic development follow places where people like to gather and walk.