On January 31, 2019, CNU Utah invited four people to present at one of the Chapter’s UrbanTHINK events on the topic, “The Future of New Urbanism.” Each person took a very different approach to the topic. Over several weeks, we are posting about their remarks in hopes of inspiring further thought and discussion of where New Urbanism is headed. This fourth and final installment in the series reports on the presentation by Jeff Farnum, Manager of Architecture and Design at Daybreak. Prior to coming to Daybreak, Jeff worked as an architect at 4cdesign group in Park City and at FFKR Architects in Salt Lake.


Jeff began his remarks by explaining that as manager of architecture and design at Daybreak, he is mostly familiar with and works at the neighborhood & street level – particularly with how things have played out at Daybreak. As he prepared for this presentation, he reviewed once again the Charter of the New Urbanism & noted that we are still trying to achieve the ideals stated in it. Daybreak, as a master-planned community initially owned by a mining company, negotiated a development agreement with the City of South Jordan to implement its own zoning & design guidelines. Thus, at Daybreak the developer to a great extent plays the role of regulator to the builders it allows into the community as it strives to implement the Charter in the community.

Jeff noted that Daybreak is not quite halfway through its 20,000 entitled dwelling units, which range from town homes up to 5,000 sq. ft. single-family homes. Even this far into development and having proven itself to be quite successful in the market, Daybreak still encounters frequent resistance from builders, citing market constraints on what & how they can build.

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Jeff went on to observe that as you move a new community forward in trying to achieve the Charter, there are several really critical things to consider. One of these: filling the gap which exists in the range of housing needs. Daybreak has done a pretty good job in addressing the Missing Middle. Builders are always looking for the sweet spot in terms of what is going to sell, while the developer of Daybreak is constantly trying to reconcile this need with its own design and community goals. Through all of this, builders still sometimes insist that market forces prevent them from doing what Daybreak is looking for – particularly as it relates to achieving a walkable community. One of Daybreak’s self-imposed measures of its own success is in the reduction in the number of car-miles traveled. Once you are in your car, you are pretty much going to drive to where you need to go to get your needs met. If you can’t meet needs within walking distance, you get in the car; hence, the importance of reducing the frequency of needing to get in a car in the first place.

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One of Jeff’s frustrations has been that, even as Daybreak has tried to develop according to New Urban principles, the area surrounding the community has continued to grow at a much greater rate according to conventional suburban forms. Commercial implementation in Daybreak in particular has been a huge problem, as conventional big-box and strip centers full of large chains have grown up on Daybreak’s perimeter. He noted that these commercial developers understand their business model very well, and they are not interested in experimenting with a different business model. That begs the question: how do you implement Daybreak’s walkable goals into the greater surrounding community? For Daybreak to work as a walkable place, it needs to continue to grow with more mixed-use and live-work development. But would-be developers and builders in Daybreak look at the financially successful but very conventional development surrounding the community and are unwilling to take the risks of competing against it with these still-new forms. And it follows that without the full range of land uses and development forms needed for a truly walkable community, you wind up with just another form of suburban sprawl.

Jeff went on to note that Daybreak has been successful in increasing the market desirability of its residential forms, which in turn has been a factor in housing prices going up. But as its homes have become less affordable, Daybreak has become a victim of its own success. Town homes there now cost more than single-family homes did ten years ago – a problem. So what do you do? Part of Daybreak’s solution to this has been to focus on even more economical housing strategies via different forms of higher-density housing.

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NIMBYism also has become a constant struggle at Daybreak, even among its own residents who one would think have caught the vision of what Daybreak is all about. Jeff suggests that NIMBYism, particularly against multifamily housing, could be better mitigated, at Daybreak and elsewhere, if we were to develop in ways which were more responsible & more appealing – if the design were better. That notwithstanding, some people will object to virtually anything you try to build next to them.

Jeff ended with the observation that critics of New Urbanism often object to what they perceive as an NU focus on traditional building styles. But, Jeff asserted, New Urbanism really transcends architectural styling. Consequently, Daybreak has tried to avoid adopting uniform styling details across the development. It may be easier to talk traditional-style language with builders when you are trying to get them to do something; and building modernism is more expensive. But, Jeff asserted, various styles all have a place. CNU needs to work toward a goal of being “style-agnostic,” because there is both good and bad architecture which is both modern and traditional.

On January 31, 2019, CNU Utah invited four people to present at one of the Chapter’s UrbanTHINK events on the topic, “The Future of New Urbanism.” Each person took a very different approach to the topic. Over several weeks, we are posting about their remarks in hopes of inspiring further thought and discussion of where New Urbanism is headed. This third installment in the series reports on the presentation by Christie Oostema-Brown, owner of People + Place, a Salt Lake City consulting firm. Formerly Planning Director with Envision Utah, Christie also chaired the program committee for CNU21 in Salt Lake City. Christie focused her January 31 remarks on issues of loneliness and tribalism – on how we can make better communities through better housing opportunities for everyone.

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Mike Hathorne

I have been a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) for over 15 years.  In fact, one could argue I have been affiliated with CNU for my entire professional career.  CNU has certainly shaped my thinking for longer than my awareness of CNU as an organization.  I have allowed that influence to drive me professionally to the point of having been put in the position of having to choose between where to live and New Urbanism – choosing between professional relationships and New Urbanism – choosing between employment opportunities and New Urbanism.  New Urbanism won out every time.  Why?  Because it is the absolute correct mindset for making decisions which face us in the present and the foreseeable future.  When I say that, I am speaking specifically about Utah, the Wasatch Front and the challenges that are presently staring us in the face. 

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Erica Evans, Investigative Reporter

I moved to Utah about a year and a half ago from California. I have strong family ties to this state, so I had visited many times but never long enough for the air quality to really bother me. That first winter, the air quality was something that I kept noticing and kept hearing people talk about. I went on a hike, and by the time we got to the top, couldn’t see the valley floor. My sister’s boyfriend came to visit for the holidays, he’s her husband now but at the time we were really trying to impress him. We wanted him to like the place where our family is from. But as we were driving through Lehi, this haze set in where we could barely see 5 cars in front of us. And he was like wow, I feel like I’m in Beijing. I felt embarrassed! And I just wanted to know what could be done about it.

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A. Paul Glauser, AICP - CNU Utah Board Member

On a recent visit to Washington, DC, I stayed several days at a hotel which didn’t offer free internet in the guest rooms, but it was available in the lobby areas. Consequently, I spent a little of each day camped out with my IPad in the lobby. It became fairly common for other hotel guests coming and going to get off a simple ”Hi” to me, or in some cases to make comments about the hotel’s internet, or about what was on the TV on the wall behind me, or about the university t-shirt I was wearing. And I came to relish these very brief interactions with complete strangers, from backgrounds unknown, who I would never see again but with whom I shared the common bond of being a visitor to the City. A couple of times I actually left my hotel room in the evening and hung out in the lobby for a few minutes in hopes of having more such interactions. 

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George Shaw, AICP

The Cairns Plan is the current Master Plan (2017) for Downtown Sandy, referred to previously as the Civic Center and South Town Plans. The area is bordered by 9000 South on the north, the Trax line on the east, 10600 South on the south and I-15 on the west, comprising approximately 1000 acres. The vision of the plan is to create a mixed use City Center in Sandy. Sandy City was one of the first communities in the state to adopt a mixed use zoning classification. Over the years mixed use development has become an integral part of the City’s plan implementation.

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Tyler Smithson, PLA, ASLA

In the late afternoon heat of a mid-July afternoon, Greg Montgomery smiles as he cranks up the 14-passenger van that will take a group of New Urbanism enthusiasts to four unique neighborhoods that he has been working on in the past two decades. Greg has been contemplating the question of “What to do with the 10-acre block” over the good portion of his career at the Ogden City Community Development Department. Like many cities in Utah, Ogden was founded upon the principles of the Plat of Zion that organizes the city into an orthogonal grid that has ample right of ways and long blocks. 

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Diego Carroll, PE, MBA

Parking has a significant impact on the intensity, pattern, and profitability of development. Better parking policies and applications are essential to developing communities that are vibrant and truly walkable. As communities attempt to catalyze densities critical to vibrant urban centers, it is helpful to understand the implications parking policies have on future development and redevelopment. 

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Michael Hathorne, CNUa

In the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” aside from learning that breaking and entering is still a crime, even when it’s a home inhabited by a bear family with human-like characteristics, there is an even more important principle that we can learn. I like to refer to it as the “Baby Bear metric.” The porridge, chair and bed of the Bear family’s mother and father are too hot, too cold, too big, too small, too hard, and too soft. As Goldilocks moves through the house of the Three Bears she finds that everything belonging to the family’s baby bear happens to be “just right” for her. This idea is applicable to any of a number of things in life. The same thing, depending on such things as context, scale and size can be off to a user, but when slight adjustments are made it can then be found to be “just right.”

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