Project Design Consultants was hired by the County of Monterey to prepare a Specific Plan for the 2,500-ac, 4,000 dwelling unit, Rancho San Juan community. The plan’s purpose was to create an identifiable and economically viable community that promotes environmental responsibility and sustainability with a respect for local history and cultural and social diversity. By confining Phase I of development in the flatlands nearest the City of Salinas boundary and adjacent roadways, compact development with a modified urban grid (based on solar orientation) was realized. Infrastructure costs were minimized and the community became more walkable.
In an effort to retain the natural rolling character of the site, later phases would confine low-density residential development primarily to the hillsides. Conservation of water was a key issue; thus, stormwater detention on parkland was largely determined by identifying the location of permeable soils that improved aquifer recharge.
The 86-acre town center includes a 20-acre community park and 20-acre multi-functional middle school that includes a public library and town meeting hall supporting the sustainable theme of "one action--multiple benefits" common throughout Rancho San Juan. At a minimum, design standards addressed an architectural theme based on local vernacular and drought tolerant landscaping.