HOW DOES CARMEL MEASURE ON THE “LIVABILITY SCALE”?
The longer we are in Carmel, the more I compare its “livability” with that of my Kansas City suburb a product of urban sprawl.
It is a beautiful neighborhood – treed lots, large homes, and a “gated community”. There are planned neighborhood functions, but often I can go a whole day and only see the movement of mail, Fed-Ex, and UPS trucks from my office window. What a sad commentary.
I am close to shopping, dining, movie theaters, and a bike path, so my suburb is more “livable” than many. But it is a car culture.
Although Carmel is our second home and we are not there for long periods of time, I have far more face to face interactions in this village and find daily life more pleasurable.
Curious as to what makes a town “livable”, I read an article published by The American Institute of Architects called “Livability 101”. Livability 101 – American Institute of Architects. I was fascinated.
This is not an article on “Standard of Living”. Livability is “directly correlated with happiness or with a sense that life is meaningful …..and that there is much to celebrate in the human and physical world around us.”
What makes Carmel-by-the Sea so special?
The Institute found that a
Sense of Place
Mixed use development
and Public Gathering places
all had an important role. Over the next month I will see how Carmel stacks up on these criteria.
A Sense of Place
We all have mental pictures of towns. When I say San Francisco and Los Angeles, I suspect we see entirely different mental pictures.
Try Denver, or New York City. Each has its own sense of place.
Carmel is keenly aware of its distinct character defined in part by its rich topography and in part by its architecture.
“Every city is an extension of the natural landscape upon which it is sited.” AIA
The Santa Lucia Mountains,
Carmel Valley, Carmel river, the Pacific Ocean,
the temperate climate
and unique flora
have attracted a variety of peoples..
There are white sand beaches
and the incredible coastline of Big Sur.
The hills forested with pine, cypress, redwood and live oak.
Carmel was once isolated and quiet. It was a retreat from city life with its hustle and bustle. It sits on a hillside that slopes to the Pacific Ocean. When the first tents,then cabins and homes were built,they clambered down the hill and tucked into the trees.
There are few other spots that combine these topographical features and temperate climate It has a distinct sense of place.
Historic preservation has proven to be one of the best tool to preserve a village’s sense of place.
Carmel is blessed with unique architecture and people who are willing to preserve it.