Sustainable Saratoga On the UDO: #1 Some of the Positives

Sustainable Saratoga praised a number of provisions contained in the UDO. Here are some they listed:

  1. Downtown Building Height and Design Guidelines. [JK: One of the potential threats to positive downtown development is creating the “cavern” effect. This is where large buildings on both sides of a street cut off light and create an unsettling, tunnel environment. There are actually formulas for avoiding this. There is a ratio of building heights relative to the width of the street and sidewalk that separates them. This is the difference between the lovely atmosphere on Broadway as compared to the oppressive canyon that is Railroad Place. Sustainable feels the UDO guidelines will make use of these formlas.]
Railroad Place

2. Some improvements in outdoor lighting standards

3. Some stronger protections for wetland buffers

4. New requirements for vehicle electric re-charging stations

5. New requirements for bicycle parking

6. Continued prohibition of Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) in the RR district (Greenbelt)

7. Sign posting requirements for project applicants. [JK: The UDO would require (with some caveats) that prominent signs be posted on sites where project applications are pending before the Planning Board, Design Review, or Zoning Board of Appeals. So if one of your neighbors, for instance, were applying to expand a porch beyond the required setback or erecting another structure on their property that required a variance, they would need to put a sign up on their property alerting the neighbors to their application.]

8. Good progress toward stronger, more consistent guidelines for tree preservation, planting, maintenance, and protection

2 thoughts on “Sustainable Saratoga On the UDO: #1 Some of the Positives”

  1. I agree with each of the points about the proposed UDO mentioned by Sustainable Saratoga except the first one. I don’t consider Railroad Place to be an oppressive canyon. First of all, Railroad Place looks so much better than it did before the mixed use buildings were erected. Compared to side streets in other urban cores, Railroad Place was tastefully done. The architecture is interesting while fulfilling the need for increased density in our downtown district. This is crucial if our ‘City in the Country’ concept is to succeed. Establishing strict roadway-sidewalk to building height ratios in our City would be a mistake. We would end up with buildings that would be too high on Broadway and Lake Avenue but unnecessarily reduced on our downtown district side streets.

    There are ways of mitigating the ‘canyon effect’ mentioned by Sustainable Saratoga. The land use boards can address such concerns well if they are populated by individuals who understand well the history of our Comprehensive Plan.

    Chris Mathiesen


    1. I believe that most of #1 is an abstract by the author. See JK in brackets.
      Perhaps the good doctor is offended because he was chair of the zzzzzz-zoning board when Bonacio Canyon was created. It has been mentioned many, many times by others that Railroad Place resembles a canyon. There is no denying it.


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