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Hillside Development Visualization Studies

Client: City of Loma Linda
Location: Loma Linda, California, USA
Starting Year: 1998

The City of Loma Linda is located in the “Inland Empire” of Southern California, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The City is 40% developed, the remainder comprising agricultural, open space and vacant areas.  Much of the remaining land is located in hillside areas that provide an important scenic backdrop to the City.  Planning Department staff are preparing an update to the City’s General Plan, and the Planning Commission has directed them to develop hillside development visual guidelines aimed at preserving this scenic resource.

GPC and the City’s staff utilized ESRI’s ArcView software and selected extensions to support guideline preparation. Existing topographic data was provided by a prospective golf course developer in a CAD format that was read directly using the ArcView CAD Reader extension.  The ArcView Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst extensions were used to create the TIN and elevation grids, and to conduct the topographic analysis and visual assessment tasks. The resulting products were used to refine the Commission’s basic visual objectives, which were then translated to standards and guidelines.

One of the more interesting aspects of the project was the use of the 3D visualization tools in interactive sessions with the Planning Commission in public meetings. The 3D Analyst software proved to be an indispensable tool for exploring the visual issues involved, explaining them to a layman audience, and in evaluating the various alternatives and proposals. According to Dan Smith, the City’s Planning Director, “The process responded well to a previous complaint by the Planning Commission that they did not understand the implications of their standards, nor feel assured that they are practical.  The GIS-based analysis and 3D visualization let us explore the issues in ways that were very informative and clear.”

GPC is now working with the golf course developer and designers to use the same data to visualize the golf course layout and “fit” with the landscape.  The GIS is being used as an integral component of the design process.