A couple of years ago, I was privileged to stay with a family in the
University Hills neighborhood of the University of California at
I was impressed by University Hills for a couple of reasons: first,
because it was the University's creative solution to the high cost of
housing in Orange County; and second, because it was such a pleasant
place to live and walk.
The problem faced by the University was that its budget was too
limited to pay faculty members enough to buy homes in the
neighborhood. The solution was to use University land, owned by the
State of California, to design and build housing for the faculty.
Faculty members purchase their own houses, but the state still owns
the land on which they're built. This results in lower home cost
without a lower standard of living.
The houses are compactly built on small plots of land, but they are
very commodious and pleasant, with enough land for a small garden in
front, and a larger one in back.
Of course, in most parts of California you've got to have a car -
no way to get around that. But the designer(s) of University
Hills made automobiles peripheral to the community. In the first
phase, there was a roughly circular road around the community, with a
number of culs-de-sac penetrating the circle for access to the houses.
As the second phase was built, the first loop road was extended to a
second, making a very rough figure eight, again with finger-roads to
provide access to houses. (The third phase seems to have departed from
Within each of the circles, there are footpaths, gardens, playgrounds,
and sports fields. Most importantly, it is possible to walk to the
main campus through quiet, pleasant, landscaped gardens, crossing at
most two streets. There is a pedestrian overpass crossing busy
serving classroom and dorm buildings.
Take a moment to look at some photos of the houses and walks of