Quarry Village is a proposed 1,000-unit neighborhood that would fill a former
quarry near Cal State East Bay and 1 1/2 miles from the Hayward BART Station.
It's the brainchild of Sherman Lewis, a professor emeritus in political science
at Cal State East Bay who created a nonprofit organization to promote the idea
with local officials, investors and developers.
According to Lewis, 69, people would rent or buy eco-friendly, garage-free
homes in the densely built community with interconnected pathways. Residents
would receive transit passes with the cost of their home but could pay
separately for one of just 100 parking spaces.
A village square would feature a grocery store and other services. Shuttles
would ferry passengers to the campus and BART.
While Lewis said he already has 100 people signed up to buy a home if the
village is ever built, he is not funding the project himself, and it's unclear
whether real estate investors will take a risk on his unconventional
'Huge pent-up demand'
"There's a huge pent-up demand for this, and I think it would make a lot of
money," Lewis said. "But lenders have to be interested. If they're not, it will
The village pushes the envelope of the "smart growth" philosophy, which
de-emphasizes the automobile by creating new development near public transit. In
recent years, a handful of projects in Europe, the United States and elsewhere
have discouraged auto use by narrowing streets, cutting parking and pushing
transit alternatives. Projects also are reducing energy use and emissions from
building materials, heating and cooling systems.
Few places in the world have made a nearly car-free development a reality,
however. One is in Freiburg, Germany, a city of 215,000 that has a history of
left-leaning causes, including Germany's anti-nuclear and environmental
movements of the 1960s.
The Vauban development in Freiburg is a 6,000-resident community completed in
2006. It has two large garages on the development's periphery, and residents can
purchase a parking space for an additional $40,000. Seventy percent of the
residents don't own cars.
Car-free a tough sell
But advocates for car-reduced living in the United States face enormous
First, most U.S. suburbs don't have the widespread public transit
infrastructure necessary to make such communities desirable to Americans, who
are not yet giving up their cars in large numbers. Second, real estate investors
and developers generally are risk-averse and aren't ready to bet that enough
buyers are prepared to go without cars.
In Vauban, an electric streetcar runs through the community's only main
street and connects riders with downtown, a university and several business
parks. At Quarry Village, a main public transportation line would be more than a
"I'm skeptical that you can eliminate cars in a development that is not
directly on top of transit," said Jeff Loux, a land-use expert and UC Davis
professor who has visited Vauban. "You have to make the alternative almost as
convenient and, hopefully, cheaper than cars."
But Loux said a Quarry Village model just might work if its shuttles are so
frequent that residents don't feel inconvenienced. It's hard for anyone to
really know unless the idea is tried in the United States, he said.
While the Hayward experiment might be a longshot, it has made major
On May 28, the Hayward Planning Commission approved new zoning that allows
for a higher level of housing per acre at the 30-acre quarry than what is
permitted in the rest of the city, and that cuts way back on the amount of
Special zoning approved
New residential development in California commonly requires two parking
spaces per housing unit. Under the new Hayward zoning, there is no minimum
number of spaces, only maximums - 1.3 spaces per studio or one-bedroom unit, to
1.5 spaces for a two-unit or larger home.
And while Lewis does not have previous real estate experience, he is
receiving help with a financial plan from energy-efficient home builder Zeta
Communities, which has experienced builders and planners on staff. Another
advantage for Quarry Village is that the land is owned by Caltrans, which, after
scrapping plans for a freeway extension, wants to unload the property.
Other Bay Area cities already have crafted land-use policies to push
development and renovations in a more environmentally conscious direction.
2 big projects in S.F.
San Francisco is partnering with developers on two huge redevelopment
projects, one at Treasure Island and another that comprises both Candlestick
Point and the Hunters Point Shipyard. Together they could add 36,000 residents
to the city in the next 20 years.
Neither project includes single-family housing, and each is designed with
energy conservation in mind. Plans include allowing buyers to purchase parking
separately from their homes and requiring them to buy transit passes. The total
number of residential parking spaces in each plan is cut back from most new
development, but not nearly as much as at Quarry Village.
Michael Cohen, who manages the city's development projects, said he believes
the San Francisco projects are innovative as well as realistic.
"We believe that what we are trying to do is at the very edge of
environmental sustainability while still being financially feasible," Cohen
Others are convinced that investors will give something like Quarry Village a
shot sooner rather than later.
"The market will test whether it's viable," said Gerrit Knapp, at the
National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland. "There are
segments of the population that will find this attractive; no car is the
extreme, but less car is hardly novel."