Sustainable City

Mag­ic’s Live­able City project was launched in the mid-1970’s to devel­op and imple­ment an eco­log­i­cal approach to com­mu­ni­ty plan­ning, including:

  • an analy­sis of local and dis­tant con­se­quences of dif­fer­ent pat­terns of land use and human activity,
  • a vision for reshap­ing cities and towns to improve the qual­i­ty of human life, now and in the future, and
  • a strat­e­gy for real­iz­ing that vision by com­bin­ing advo­ca­cy with direct action.

Par­tic­i­pants in Live­able City have per­formed exten­sive research, taught class­es and work­shops, writ­ten and dis­trib­uted soft­ware to enable sim­u­la­tion of plan­ning deci­sions, lob­bied leg­is­la­tors and admin­is­tra­tors at local, state, and fed­er­al lev­els, and pre­sent­ed papers at state, nation­al, and inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ences. Per­haps most impor­tant­ly, we have engaged in a num­ber of inno­v­a­tive demon­stra­tion projects, each of which serves as an exam­ple of cit­i­zen-dri­ven, eco­log­i­cal­ly-based com­mu­ni­ty plan­ning. Though our activ­i­ties have been cen­tered in Palo Alto and oth­er San Fran­cis­co Penin­su­la com­mu­ni­ties, our influ­ence has extend­ed far afield. Over the past three decades our soft­ware and pub­lished mate­ri­als have been dis­trib­uted world­wide, and hun­dreds of for­eign and out-of-state vis­i­tors have viewed our project sites.

Some of our suc­cess­es include chang­ing por­tions of the Palo Alto Com­pre­hen­sive Plan, secur­ing a pave­ment shad­ing stan­dard for street tree man­age­ment in Palo Alto, exclud­ing through traf­fic from the Ever­green Park neigh­bor­hood, estab­lish­ing native trees and under­storey plants along ripar­i­an cor­ri­dors and on pub­lic and pri­vate open­space lands, found­ing and oper­at­ing a low-income hous­ing coop­er­a­tive, and dis­trib­ut­ing twen­ty-five thou­sand fruit trees to chil­dren for planting.

We are cur­rent­ly labor­ing to improve safe­ty of res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood streets, to plant and care for urban trees, to win adop­tion of stormwa­ter resource man­age­ment poli­cies which rely upon restor­ing ele­ments of the nat­ur­al hydro­log­ic cycle, and to abate unnec­es­sary noise from leaf blow­ers, train horns, emer­gency vehi­cle sirens, back-up beep­ers, and oth­er sources. We wel­come col­lab­o­ra­tors in learn­ing and in teach­ing how all of us may con­tribute to a bet­ter future.

Find out more about our Plan­ning Phi­los­o­phy.