Original Ahwahnee Principles
Ahwahnee Principles for Resource-Efficient Communities (PDF)
Ahwahnee Principles for Resource-Efficient Communities
Existing patterns of urban and suburban development seriously impair
our quality of life. The symptoms are: more congestion and air pollution
resulting from our increased dependence on automobiles, the loss
of precious open space, the need for costly improvements to roads
and public services, the inequitable distribution of economic resources,
and the loss of a sense of community. By drawing upon the best from
the past and the present, we can plan communities that will more
successfully serve the needs of those who live and work within them.
Such planning should adhere to certain fundamental principles.
- All planning should be in the form of complete and integrated
communities containing housing, shops, work places, schools, parks
and civic facilities essential to the daily life of the residents.
- Community size should be designed so that housing, jobs, daily
needs and other activities are within easy walking distance of
- As many activities as possible should be located within easy
walking distance of transit stops.
- A community should contain a diversity of housing types to enable
citizens from a wide range of economic levels and age groups to
live within its boundaries.
- Businesses within the community should provide a range of job
types for the community's residents.
- The location and character of the community should be consistent
with a larger transit network.
- The community should have a center focus that combines commercial,
civic, cultural and recreational uses.
- The community should contain an ample supply of specialized
open space in the form of squares, greens and parks whose frequent
use is encouraged through placement and design.
- Public spaces should be designed to encourage the attention
and presence of people at all hours of the day and night.
- Each community or cluster of communities should have a well-defined
edge, such as agricultural greenbelts or wildlife corridors, permanently
protected from development.
- Streets, pedestrian paths and bike paths should contribute to
a system of fully-connected and interesting routes to all destinations.
Their design should encourage pedestrian and bicycle use by being
small and spatially defined by buildings, trees and lighting;
and by discouraging high speed traffic.
- Wherever possible, the natural terrain, drainage and vegetation
of the community should be preserved with superior examples contained
within parks or greenbelts.
- The community design should help conserve resources and minimize
- Communities should provide for the efficient use of water through
the use of natural drainage, drought tolerant landscaping and
- The street orientation, the placement of buildings and the use
of shading should contribute to the energy efficiency of the community.
- The regional land-use planning structure should be integrated
within a larger transportation network built around transit rather
- Regions should be bounded by and provide a continuous system
of greenbelt/wildlife corridors to be determined by natural conditions.
- Regional institutions and services (government, stadiums, museums,
etc.) should be located in the urban core.
- Materials and methods of construction should be specific to
the region, exhibiting a continuity of history and culture and
compatibility with the climate to encourage the development of
local character and community identity.
- The general plan should be updated to incorporate the above
- Rather than allowing developer-initiated, piecemeal development,
local governments should take charge of the planning process.
General plans should designate where new growth, infill or redevelopment
will be allowed to occur.
- Prior to any development, a specific plan should be prepared
based on these planning principles.
- Plans should be developed through an open process and participants
in the process should be provided visual models of all planning
Authors: Peter Calthorpe, Michael Corbett,
Andres Duany, Elizabeth Moule, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Stefanos
Editor: Peter Katz, Judy Corbett, and
(Adopted in 1991)
If you would like more background information on the Ahwahnee Principles
(including where the name came from), please read the article
reprinted from Western Cities Magazine.
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