Built Green and Sustainable LivingFor HomeownersReal EstateReal Estate Opinion February 2, 2010

Should Cul-De-Sacs Be Banned From Future Development In Washington?

cul-de-sac living

Neighborhood cul-de-sac

There aren’t going to be any more cul-de-sacs in new developments in the State of Virginia. Yes, Virginia will have no more cul-de-sacs.  Cul-de-sacs have been banned from new neighborhood developments.    Cul-de-sacs are the quintessential icon of the 1980’s-2000’s American suburb.

Here on Seattle’s eastside, new neighborhoods were generally built all over with cul-de-sacs sprinkled throughout. If the neighborhood was a new pocket neighborhood on infill lots in an older part of Kirkland or Redmond, as an example, there might not be room for cul-de-sacs, but if you look everywhere else on the eastside, cul-de-sac neighborhoods were the standard.   Woodinville, Sammamish, Issaquah, Snoqualmie, Redmond, and Kirkland all have neighborhoods where cul-de-sacs prevail.  Streets with cul-de-sacs were the prized streets to live on, the premium lots, the more expensive lots. Realtors and builders would tout the benefits of living in a cul-de-sac:

  • No through traffic
  • A place to play
  • A place for neighbors to congregate, meet and greet each other at the mailbox.

So why did Viriginia ban cul-de-sacs in future development?

Cul-de-sacs unite the people who live in the cul-de-sac, but separate  them from other streets by foot and by car.  It’s harder for fire and emergency vehicles to respond quickly when a neighborhood doesn’t consist of through streets.  Road maintenance is more expensive with cul-de-sacs instead of through streets.

The New York Times magazine finishes each year with an issue highlighting the great ideas from the past year.  The most recent great ideas issue had an article about the cul-de-sac ban in Viriginia.   The concept fits with the new sensibility rising in many places as highlighted by the popularity of sites such as walkscore.   Walkability and connectivity are this decade’s buzz words for living. Planners are looking more for connectivity, walkability, and better traffic flow for neighborhoods.  People are now looking for easy commuting, more connectivity, and more places to walk.

The Sustainable Cities blog highlighted the NYT article and wondered whether the ban on cu-de-sacs is the wave of the future for neighborhoods.

What do you think?  Should cul-de-sacs be banned from future neighborhoods?  What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages?