Tactical, High-Impact Improvements for a Small Town Main Street

Not all planning projects are costly or take years to complete and/or implement. Small, tactical moves can make a big impact in a small amount of time. The Main Street Concept Plan for the City of Colfax, California is an example where simple tactical design concepts were successfully used to improve a historic small town Main Street. What began as a quick solution to a short-term problem, evolved into the possibility of a safer, more vibrant downtown – with expanded outdoor dining, more thoughtful use of irregular and underutilized space, and improved community gathering spaces that will help businesses thrive.
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How to Use Building Types in Zoning

Building types can be useful in form-based codes where the goal is to enable a fine–grained mix of buildings of varied density and type in walkable neighborhoods. The approach of using building types is also effective in situations where permit streamlining is required and discretionary review is not allowed or significantly limited. For example, in California, Senate Bill 35 requires that only a community’s ‘Objective Design and Development Standards’ apply to multi-family or mixed-use projects. This means that more rather than less clarity in the standards and the community’s expectations is needed. Building types when prepared well offer that needed clarity.
ZoningObjective Design StandardsMissing Middle HousingUrban DesignPlacemakingWalkabilityForm-Based Codes

Opening Doors to New, Context-Sensitive Development

Recent California state legislation (eg., SB 35, SB 330 and the Housing Accountability Act) stipulates that in certain situations, projects that qualify for streamlined review and processing must be designed and reviewed only through objective design standards. Marin County retained Opticos Design in 2019 to develop Objective Design and Development Standards (ODDS) for multifamily and mixed-use residential development in coordination with 11 separate jurisdictions within the County, the largest objective design standards application to date.
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20 Years and Counting!

2020 has not been the year any of us expected. While we all do our part to confront this year’s challenges, it’s also important to take time to rest, to rejuvenate, and to celebrate. In that spirit, we hope you’ll join us to take a minute to celebrate Opticos’s 20th Anniversary, including the work of our past and current team, colleagues, and innovative clients, as well as look toward the future.
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