The 470-acre Olsen Ranch/Beechwood Specific Plan proposes two traditional mixed-use neighborhoods in the City of Paso Robles. Patrick Siegman directed the plan’s transportation component while a principal at Nelson\Nygaard, as part of a team led by Moule and Polyzoides.
Based on the town planning principles of pedestrian-scaled blocks, tree-lined streets, varied open spaces and an assortment of building types, the plan and its form-based code create neighborhoods that celebrate Paso Robles’s historic balance of town and country. The neighborhoods are located on the edge of the city, inside its greenbelt, and are part of a municipal effort to contain sprawl and conserve land dedicated to viticulture.
The irregularity of the proposed grid is the result of accommodating the plan to the site's hilly topography and numerous existing clusters of oak trees. Each neighborhood is carefully connected to the existing suburban fabric, maximizing connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians.
In the neighborhood center, mixed-use buildings frame a town square, providing a civic and commercial anchor to help serve the retail, office, and educational needs of residents and passersby. The plan also accommodates up to 1,370 new dwellings, plus accessory dwelling units, helping meet the city’s housing needs with a wide variety of types, including apartments above retail, townhouses, bungalow courts, and single-family homes.
To carry citywide traffic, a stately boulevard, designed to minimize speeds, is fronted by gardens, porches, stoops, shopfronts, and other active uses, rather than the soundwalls that often characterize suburban arterials. On smaller streets, short blocks, slender cartways, terminated vistas, and built-in traffic calming measures prevent speeding, avoiding the need for awkward retrofits in later years.
The plan was approved by the City Council in March 2007.
Images courtesy of Moule and Polyzoides