Laurel Tree Apartments
1307 Laurel Tree Lane, Carlsbad
"I wanted to get rid of the anonymous tenant," says architect Carlos Rodriguez of his affordable-housing design for low-income tenants in the Carlsbad area. It's part of a huge planned development, aimed at the $300,000-plus classes. To qualify, the developers had to obey Carlsbad's "inclusionary ordinance" and build some affordable housing, too. But here's the irony: Thanks to Rodriguez's imaginative, intimate plan, people with the most modest incomes may have the cream of the crop. The apartments aren't cold rows. They're terra-cotta adobe-looking units clustered around foliage-rich courtyards, with porches and balconies facing inwards and out onto the street. "It builds a sense of community," says Rodriguez. "You have to meet neighbors as you leave and come home. People have public, semi-private, and private spaces." Rodriguez calls it "natural surveillance," where neighbors look out for each other. How affordable? Rents for the 138 units (equally divided into 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom apartments) range from $447 (two-bedroom) to $721 (four-bedroom with a maximum eight occupants). The complex has play areas, community rooms, and daycare facilities.