Otay Ranch is the largest single subdivision in California — no small claim to fame, since California is the land of subdivisions. By virtue of its size, Otay has taken center stage in a debate about community planning. Its developers point to its multiple parks and shared community center to bolster their claim that Otay Ranch is a unique village, not a pre-fab suburb. But critics say the differences between Otay Ranch and sprawling suburbs are cosmetic, and accuse the developers of simply appropriating the language of New Urbanism advocates, who seek to build environmentally and community minded housing. Peek behind the rhetoric of many new developments, they say, and you’ll see the same old bad planning: gated entrances, six-lane roads, three-car garages. “More and more, we’re seeing places where people just take the label of New Urbanism and slap it on a development as a way to get around political or environmental concerns,” said Steven Bodzin of the Congress for the New Urbanism.
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