The Ahwahnee Principles were developed in the Fall of 1991.

The Ahwahnee Principles 


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.

Community Principles:

1. 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.

2.  Community size should be designed so that housing, jobs, daily needs and other activities
are within easy walking distance of each other.

3.  As many activities as possible should be located within easy walking distance of transit

4. 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.

5. Businesses within the community should provide a range of job types for the community's

6. The location and character of the community should be consistent with a larger transit

7.  The community should have a center focus that combines commercial, civic, cultural and
recreational uses.

8.  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.

9.  Public spaces should be designed to encourage the attention and presence of people at all
hours of the day and night.

10. Each community or cluster of communities should have a well defined edge, such as
agricultural greenbelts or wildlife corridors, permanently protected from development.

11. 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.

12. Wherever possible, the natural terrain, drainage, and vegetation of the community should be
preserved with superior examples contained within parks or greenbelts.

13. The community design should help conserve resources and minimize waste.

14. Communities should provide for the efficient use of water through the use of natural
drainage, drought tolerant landscaping and recycling.

15. The street orientation, the placement of buildings and the use of shading should contribute
to the energy efficiency of the community.

Regional Principles:

l.  The regional land use planning structure should be integrated within a larger transportation
network built around transit rather than freeways.

2.  Regions should be bounded by and provide a continuous system of greenbelt/wildlife
corridors to be determined by natural conditions.

3.  Regional institutions and services (government, stadiums, museums, etc.) should be located
in the urban core.

4.  Materials and methods of construction should be specific to the region, exhibiting continuity
of history and culture and compatibility with the climate to encourage the development of
local character and community identity.

Implementation Strategy:

1.  The general plan should be updated to incorporate the above principles.

2.  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.

3. Prior to any development, a specific plan should be prepared based on the planning
principles.  With the adoption of specific plans, complying projects could proceed with
minimal delay.

4.  Plans should be developed through an open process and participants in the process should be
provided visual models of all planning proposals.

For more information, contact the LGC Center for Livable Communities: 916-448-1198
© Copyright 1991, Local Government Commission, Sacramento, CA


  • Peter Calthorpe
  • Michael Corbett
  • Andres Duany
  • Elizabeth Moule
  • Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
  • Stefanos Polyzoides