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Wild Cherry Canyon

San Luis Obispo County, California
Firm Role
Multimodal transportation planning, parking and transportation demand management planning, traffic impact analyses
2015 – 2016
2,350 acres

Wild Cherry Canyon is a 2,350-acre leasehold on the scenic Central California coast, adjacent to the small town of Avila Beach. Its steep slopes and rolling hills afford panoramic views of San Luis Bay. To craft a plan for the site, HomeFed engaged a team led by DPZ CoDesign. Patrick Siegman directed the transportation planning effort, while a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard.

The team prepared several options for the site. One proposes a compact, mixed-use hilltop town to help alleviate the region’s growing housing shortage. This option, modeled on Italy’s rich tradition of hilltop villages, provides up to 1500 homes, a bed-and-breakfast inn, and a village center with co-working space, a general store, and a café. Smaller alternatives, ranging from a retreat and conference center to a dude ranch, were also evaluated. Each option sets aside at least 90% of the property as publicly-accessible open space.

Traffic impacts were a major concern. To evaluate these, Mr. Siegman directed the preparation of traffic impact analyses of each land-use alternative. His team then developed multiple alternatives for addressing these, ranging from implementing transportation demand management measures, to adding intersection capacity with low-impact changes. Street design options evaluated included replacing low-capacity traffic signals at key intersections with modern roundabouts, and adding public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure.

Traffic reduction strategies evaluated ranged from the conventional (parking fees, employee parking cash-out programs, and other rideshare incentives) to the innovative (establishing a car-free resort, with all visitor access provided by shuttles from nearby airports, transit hubs, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, downtown San Luis Obispo, and/or remote parking lots). The car-free option draws on island and historic village precedents, ranging from California’s Catalina Island to Italy’s Orta San Giulio and Monte Isola.

Together, the transit, bicycle, pedestrian, roadway, and transportation demand management options provide a wide range of approaches for establishing a more sustainable community: one that provides access, while minimizing motor vehicle trips, crashes, and pollution.

Images courtesy of DPZ CoDesign and HomeFed