‘I’ is for investment

Bill Crouch, Sacramento’s first urban-design manager, wants to help the city become one of the most livable in the United States, and he’s tapping into Sacramento’s active population of armchair planners to spread his gospel.

Melbourne-raised and Oxford educated, Crouch moved to Sacramento from Huntington Beach, where he was an architect and, surprisingly, the founding pastor of a church. Last Thursday, he spoke at the monthly Urban Design Alliance meeting, where 30 people gathered to discuss “the art of making places.”

Crouch, pacing before them, a binder full of notes in his hand, explained that neighborhoods should inspire pride. He used the acronym “IDENTITY” to define a good neighborhood’s most important characteristics: investment, defining features, energy element, nurturing environments, trafficable pathways, intensity of activities, typologies, and, finally, “you all.” It’s “you all” who make a neighborhood worth inhabiting.

“We tend to spend a lot of money on the things we care about,” said Crouch. “There’s got to be that buy in. You don’t want to identify with a slum.”

Participants complained that Sacramento still had an inferiority complex, that it didn’t celebrate its neighborhoods’ individuality, and that it was diverse but “not a very integrated place—not racially, ethnically or economically.”

Couch explained that in the future, the city will incorporate urban designers into the very earliest phases of projects to make sure developers “dream bigger dreams.” He doesn’t want to hear another council member complain that future projects “have no heart.”

For more information or to participate in UDA’s monthly discussions, visit www.uda-sacramento.org.