Eyes on the Street

Pedestrian Friendly Code Directory: Eyes on the Street

Why is this important?

By encouraging development that leads people to naturally monitor the streetscape and one another, communities can enhance safety. Buildings with porches, balconies, and windows that face streets, parks, and plazas help put more "eyes on the street." Communities can also increase this type of visibility by purposely providing seating on the street, and by encouraging the presence of street vendors and outdoor dining in areas that need the most surveillance.

When people regularly keep a casual eye on public spaces, or even when building design makes it clear that people could be watching, crime goes down and pedestrians feel safe, not isolated. Another strategy for reducing crime is “crime prevention through environmental design” (CPTED), which can include landscaping that’s harder for potential criminals to hide behind, lighting design that reduces blind spots, and building entries that are more visible to passersby, with fewer concealed pockets.

Code Examples

Both Cleveland and Sarasota utilize the “natural surveillance” aspect of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) approach to increase the number of eyes on the street.  Cleveland limits the height of fences to 4 feet in Urban Garden Districts and requires the use of materials that enable visibility between private property and the street.  Sarasota takes a more comprehensive approach to natural surveillance as one component of its CPTED Design Review requirement for new development projects.  Sarasota’s ordinance encourages new development to maximize visibility in the built environment and minimize access to dark and unmonitored areas via the design and placement of building entries and exits, parking lots, windows, landscaping, and signage.

Zoning Code: Fences

Fences shall not exceed six (6) feet in height, shall be at least fifty percent (50%) open if they are taller than four (4) feet, and shall be constructed of wood, chain link, or ornamental metal.

Municipal Code: Provision for Natural Surveillance

The placement and design of physical features to maximize visibility. This will include building orientation, windows, entrances and exits, parking lots, walkways, guard gates, landscape trees and shrubs, fences or walls, signage, and any other physical obstructions; The placement of persons and activities to maximize surveillance possibilities; Lighting that provides for nighttime illumination of parking lots, walkways, entrances and exits.
Provision for natural access control. The use of sidewalks, pavement, lighting, and landscaping to clearly guide the public to and from entrances and exits; The use of fences, walls, or landscaping to prevent and to discourage public access to or from dark and unmonitored areas; Provision of territorial reinforcement; The use of pavement treatments, landscaping, art, signage, screening, and fences to define and outline ownership of property.
Maintenance. The use of low-maintenance landscaping and lighting treatment to facilitate the CPTED principles of natural surveillance, natural access control, and territorial reinforcement.