City of Santa Monica – Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica Borderline Neighborhood Living Street Design

In Santa Monica, the Borderline neighborhood was stuck with visually unappealing, narrow streets backing up to a commercial area. Citing crime, traffic, and quality of life concerns, the Borderline Neighborhood Group won funding to improve its streetscape.

Nelson\Nygaard applied the Dutch concept of “woonerf,” a term meaning “neighborhood for living,” to create shared space. Working closely with residents and city staff, the Nelson\Nygaard team developed an interactive living street, the first of its kind in the U.S., and saw it from vision to concept to final design and construction.

By raising the roadbed to eliminate vertical curbs and using decorative pavers to delineate walking, driving, and socializing spaces, the street becomes a community front yard. The design incorporates sustainable features including water runoff retention elements, permeable concrete, and solar lighting. The award-winning project, which preserves access for cars and emergency vehicles, encourages socializing, increasing a watchful presence in the neighborhood.