February 8, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

The Virtues of a Low-Rise City (Part 2)

Last week we revived  our previous discussion, from six years ago, about the notable advantages of a low-rise city composed primarily of buildings no higher than 4 stories. Among the advantages of low-rise buildings previously noted were: 1) their superior ecological sustainability in its many forms 2) their resiliency when cut off from power, 3) their minimal impact on adjacent streets, and 4) their increased access to views, sunlight and natural ventilation. This week we continue to discuss additional advantages of low-rise buildings.

One of the most obvious advantages is that low-rise buildings are cheaper and faster to build than their taller counterparts, primarily because the material costs are much less. The lower cost of construction translates to shorter construction time as well as less disruption to the neighborhood during construction.

Another advantage of lower buildings is that their occupants are able to closely monitor the street and hence exert more “territoriality “on the neighborhood. This makes the streets safer because more eyes on the street discourage crime. It has been shown that occupants living above 6 stories typically have little idea what’s happening at the street level and therefore do not feel as protective of “their street”. Another advantage, in the event of fire, is that it is easier to escape or be rescued from a low-rise building than one that is taller. Obviously, lower buildings’ roof decks and yards have more privacy when they are not dominated by adjacent high rises.

Preservation of existing streetscapes and businesses give a sense of place to a city. When new codes allow heights substantially above the existing urban fabric, it becomes a death sentence for the existing buildings and businesses, since the potential profit of taller construction becomes too tempting for developers to resist. Often when they are rebuilt, the prior businesses and tenants cannot afford the higher rents of the new, more expensive replacement buildings. The result is that they are forced to vacate, further reducing the stability of the neighborhood. Needless to say, this process dooms many historical buildings that might have been excellent candidates for adaptive reuse. It also degrades the livability and ambiance of the existing neighborhoods.

In the final analysis, low-rise buildings consistently out-perform mid- and high-rise buildings in terms of their cost, safety and livability. Thus, they are better for both residents and the city as a whole. Their short term drawback is that they are often less profitable for developers. Ultimately, however, the most important reason to build and maintain our low-rise buildings is that they preserve the City’s character and desirability. Santa Monica residents like their small beachtown ambiance, and would like to keep it that way.

Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow: Mario Fonda-Bonardi AIA, Planning Commissioner; Ron Goldman, Architect FAIA; Daniel Jansenson, Architect, Building & Fire-Life Safety Commissioner;  Robert H. Taylor, Architect AIA; Thane Roberts, Architect; Sam Tolkin, Architect; Marc Verville accountant ret.; Michael Jolly, AIRCRE

Related Posts

Tishman Speyer Announces Basis Investment Group as Equity Partner for Santa Monica Collection

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

BIG’s $30 million commitment — 11 percent of total equity — to the 3.1-acre mixed-use development will help create 617...

SMa.r.t. Column: To a Better Housing Element

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

Your City is busy rewriting much of its zoning code to implement our new Housing Element as demanded by the...

Two Industry Titans Invest $30M in Lavish Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica Homes

February 3, 2023

February 3, 2023

David Bonderman and Christa Campbell recently acquired two lavish homes By Dolores Quintana Private equity tycoon David Bonderman and his...

Santa Monica Police Chief’s Message to the Community

January 30, 2023

January 30, 2023

January 27, 2023  Dear Santa Monica Community,  The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) would like to extend our heartfelt condolences...

Local Realtor Shann Silver Brings Generational Expertise to Westside Real Estate

January 30, 2023

January 30, 2023

Shann Silver is an Associate at Compass and a key member of the Pence Hathorn Silver Team with generational knowledge...

SMa.r.t Column: Widespread Issues Put Santa Monica in Danger

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

Following are 5 issues which, along with homelessness and crime, should take priority over all else in our city’s immediate...

1980s Rustic Canyon Home Hits the Market for $7.5 Million

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

Property checks in at over 5,000 square feet featuring five bedrooms By Dolores Quintana A home designed by fine artist...

New Two-Story Commercial Building Proposed for Main Street in Santa Monica

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

Project at Marine and Main would replace current parking lot A new two-story commercial building has been proposed for Main...

Column: State Usurping Key Powers From Cities

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

By Tom Elias All over California last fall, hundreds of the civic minded spent thousands of hours and millions of...

260-Acre Property Comprising 6% of Bel Air on the Market!

January 27, 2023

January 27, 2023

Last-ditch effort to sell Senderos Canyon spread By Dolores Quintana Bel-Air, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the United...

Column – A California Positive: Kids Swarm Extra Classes

January 24, 2023

January 24, 2023

By Tom Elias It’s become a cliché, the shibboleth that California has lousy public schools and most of the kids...

Tour Your Future Dream Home with Shann Silver

January 23, 2023

January 23, 2023

Introducing the one-of-a-kind Designer Perfect Architectural home by Ken Ungar– your chance to experience SoCal living at its finest! With...

Million Dollar Listing To Sell Local Luxury Estate: Santa Monica Real Estate Report – January 23rd, 2023

January 23, 2023

January 23, 2023

Property, Developments, And Listings On The Westside.* Million Dollar Listing To Sell Local Luxury Estate* New Data Shows Luxury Brick...

Disbarred Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Deceiving Investors with Real Estate Scheme Involving Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach and LA Properties

January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023

Prosecutors say defendant DEREK Jones sold interests in real estate that he did not own DEREK Jones, a disbarred California...

Century-Old California Craftsman Home Hits Market Steps from Santa Monica Beach

January 21, 2023

January 21, 2023

$4.4 million price tag on Vicente Ter home Nestled on a tranquil, tree-lined block of Santa Monica, mere steps from...