December 2011 home page


The Good City
Anthony Corso | Stratford Court


Photo Anthony Corso


As we enter the holiday season it seems appropriate to reflect upon what we value as a people and how we might join others in the further cultivation of a “sense of community.”

In our “Community Conversations” we have been discussing critical revitalization issues such as the characteristics of future development, density and height of new expansion, view blockages and enhancement, design of streets and walkways, public spaces, landscape treatment, mixed residential-commercial development, traffic, and parking.

The commitment to revitalization in Del Mar is to be widely applauded, particularly the inclusion of extensive public participation. However, there is a significant aspect of revitalization that is unfortunately absent from Del Mar’s Revitalization planning and generally omitted in larger planning circles as well. It might be referred to as “Revitalization of the Spirit!!”

In Lawrence Haworth’s 1963 pivotal book, The Good City, he provides a systematic philosophy of the city by offering a set of values, principles, and ethics to contemplate by those engaged in urban development and revitalization.

In this context he maintains that a “good city” must be one that exhibits a profound “sense of community,”—a collection of individuals coming together to explore the common good and address common concerns. Citizens are linked as family members exhibiting compassion, gratitude, concern, while cherishing diversity and striving to respect and support one another.

Such values on occasion have served as the foundation for rebuilding a city and improving the quality of urban life. Fortunately, such values are significantly present in the lives of many Del Mar residents and highlighted in various City organizations and institutions—whether associated with religion, education, health or governance.
We find them among the volunteers connected with the Del Mar Foundation, which successfully promotes civic pride, devises and supports projects to improve the environment and provide cultural arts programs. We find them embedded within the Community Connections staff and volunteers and their unselfish devotion to seniors—providing them with numerous social, cultural, health and education programs. We find them among the individuals who successfully managed to preserve and enhance the San Dieguito Lagoon. Still others are unaffiliated with any organizations, but feel they are members of a community and contribute based upon those feelings. More broadly, we frequently discover community values among individuals serving on City Boards and Commissions. In fact there are many more Del Mar organizations and individuals too numerous to enumerate here.

In summary, Haworth’s values for revitalizing American cities can be found within the lives of many Del Mar residents. Perhaps the overwhelming challenge is to further recruit and expand upon the number of such enthusiastic and committed persons.


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