Light Imprint Development

Welcome to our ninth “Wednesday Workshop” where we breakdown the key characteristics of a city with natural charm. This week we’ll explore a new strategy for development that is a throwback to how places were designed historically. It is a more natural approach to addressing stormwater management and creating great places that people love. This method is Light Imprint Development.

In the public realm, the greenery to impervious pavement ratio and how that relates to community design has an impact on our quality of life and everyday experiences. Conventional suburban design tends toward heavy use of asphalt, with wide roads lined by parking lots, in relatively low-density areas. This engineering approach requires large and expensive stormwater mitigation that is costly and doesn’t always perform well. Traditional planning counters this approach with techniques that lay far lighter on the land, an approach that could be called "Light Imprint," "lean," or "green infrastructure." Another term often substituted for Light Imprint Development is Low Impact Development. This lighter approach to engineering the land, combined with good community design, makes for appealing streets and public spaces while providing effective stormwater management.

Light Imprint Development (LID) is a comprehensive approach for the sensitive placement of development, calibrated across the rural to urban Transect. Light Imprint planning and engineering techniques balance environmental considerations with design objectives such as connectivity and a vibrant open space network. While traditional planning respects terrain, geographical conditions, topography and public space, LID provides a toolkit for stormwater management using natural drainage, traditional engineering infrastructure, and filtration practices at the scale of the community and the block. This toolkit offers a set of context sensitive design solutions that result in a range of environmental benefits, an aesthetic approach to green infrastructure, and significantly lowered construction and engineering costs.

In a white paper written by Tom Low, the author of the Light Imprint Handbook, he summarized findings of several communities he has designed that incorporate LID techniques. The most compelling factor for using the LID design principles is the improved affordability of the community by an overall decrease in construction costs. The LID strategy resulted in a 27 percent cost increase, with the introduction of tree protection fences. Yet, a 50 percent cost savings occurred with:

  1. the reduction of curbs and gutters
  2. the reduction in the number of stormwater pipes and inlets
  3. the reduction in pervious pavement in alleys and streets; and
  4. the introduction of rain gardens

Like all other elements that go into making a great community, City staff will be calibrating LID techniques along Groveland’s Transect in the upcoming Community Development Code. In other words, there will be LID techniques more appropriate for Edge residential zones and others more appropriate in a mixed use urban Core zone. 

Be sure to check out the image gallery for examples from the Light Imprint Handbook showcasing how these techniques will be applied in new Groveland communities. Please be on the lookout for more information on these new opportunities, and remember to check back in next Wednesday as we continue unveiling elements of the all-new Community Development Code.

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