National Columnist Quotes Solimar on California Fires

October 31, 2007

Nationally syndicated columnist Neal Peirce has quoted Solimar Research Group in his latest column, which deals with the devastating fires in Southern California earlier this month:
"In California, myopia about the future seems profound. Natural watersheds, warned California Forestry Director Ruben Grijalva last June, are being seriously encroached. With baby boomers and others buying large houses up and over the canyons, man-made structures and paved surfaces are expanding rapidly, increasing surface runoff during storms. That leads, in turn, to more soil erosion and less water for trees or vegetation. The inevitable result: more fires, whether intentional or accidental. Smarter land-use planning for the fire-prone areas tops Grijalva's list of solutions. But instead, notes Bill Fulton of Solimar Research in Ventura, Calif., 'We Californians are trying to fireproof ourselves' by building houses with buffers and fire-retardant construction materials.
He notes the obvious: 'Subdivisions in highly flammable forests don't make much sense.'

View Peirce column »

View Bill Fulton's blog on fires »

Jessica Daniels Joins Solimar

October 31, 2007

Jessica Daniels has joined Solimar Research Group as a Research Associate and Project Manager.

Ms. Daniels recently received her Masters of Regional Planning from Cornell University. She originally joined Solimar as the 2007 Solimar Fellow, working on a wide variety of projects involving demographics, housing, land conservation, and smart growth policy. A native of the Atlanta area, she holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Montana and previously worked for the Livable Communities Coalition in Atlanta.

Founded in 2000, Solimar is one of the nation's leading land-use research and policy consulting firms. Recent projects include:

  • Travel behavior analysis and infill development policy strategies for the South Bay Cities Council of Governments (Torrance/Redondo Beach, California)
  • Creation of GIS-based tools to identify infill development potential for the City of Los Angeles.
  • Transferable development rights policy analyses in Santa Barbara County, California; the City of South Lake Tahoe, California; and Gallatin County, Montana.
  • Economic development strategies for the cities of Fillmore, California, and Lawndale, California, under a contract from the Southern California Association of Governments.
  • Creation of a new method of modeling the impacts of infrastructure projects for the Keston Institute for Infrastructure at the University of Southern California.

Transfer of Development Rights at Gaviota Gateway Debated Again

Santa Barbara Independent
October 4, 2007

As Orange County developer Matt Osgood's plan for 73 luxury homes at the gateway to the Gaviota Coast crawls through the approval process, Santa Barbara County planning commissioners spent several hours last week exploring the feasibility of the Transfer of Development Rights concept and how it relates to Osgood's Santa Barbara Ranch, popularly known by its historic name, Naples. In the end, the commission shied away from either a definitive thumbs-up or thumbs-down, opting instead to have its staff explore the issue more thoroughly and return in a month with a clearer picture of how TDRs would work with the 485-acre property. Testifying before the planning commission on Wednesday, September 26, Marc Chytilo, an attorney for the conservation-urging Naples Coalition, summed up the significance of the TDR debate when he explained, "Where Naples goes is going to be a harbinger of where the rest of the Gaviota Coast goes."

More than 18 months ago, the Ventura-based Solimar Company began a TDR study at Naples. The initial reaction by the county supervisors last year to a preliminary draft was one of skepticism, but the study continued until last week, when Solimar's researcher Darren Greve presented the findings. "We left no stone unturned in this process," Greve told the commissioners and the several dozen members of the anti-development public in attendance. "Based on our work, we feel it is unrealistic to transfer all the development out of Santa Barbara Ranch," said Greve. "But certainly some transfer of development is possible - just how much remains to be seen."

View the full story »

View the Solimar Report: Santa Barbara Ranch »

TDR report authors answer questions

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
September 12, 2007

Gallatin County officials got the chance Tuesday to question the authors of a report that says a development rights transfer program could work in the county, with some changes. Such programs, known as transferable development rights or TDRs, are designed to concentrate growth toward urban areas while preserving rural open space.

The report, by Solimar Research Group of Ventura, Calif., concluded that there is sufficient supply and demand for land in Gallatin County for the program to work, although the authors advised against tying the program to permanent deed restriction, believing that could scare away rural landowners.

In Gallatin County, if the TDR works as proposed, it would be a policy tool to direct future development away from rural areas and toward Bozeman, Belgrade and Manhattan. Solimar president William Fulton said there is no question that Gallatin County is going to continue to grow.

"The question is: 'Where is it going to go and what configuration is it going to take?'" Fulton said. Fulton and Solimar research associate Darren Greve went over the report Tuesday during a joint meeting of the Gallatin County Commission and Planning Board. Twenty-one other people also attended, a mix of planning staff and local building industry representatives.

View the full story »

View the Solimar Report: Gallatin »