Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase Clow PhD

First Reader

Leslie Ross PhD


The term “residential development” or “planned community” brings to mind images of a stereotypical suburbia. The planned community of The Sea Ranch, along the Sonoma County coast in Northern California is a direct challenge to the suburban ideal. Construction of the nearly 1500 homes began in the late 1960s and continues to present day. All of the homes must meet specific design requirements including being ecologically sound and they must fit within the landscape. The strict architectural elements is what provides the distinct look of the community. The construction of a housing development along a ten-mile strip of untouched and inhospitable California coastline was challenged by conservation groups. One result was the formation of the California Coastal Commission, which gained regulatory powers for all coastal developments in California. This paper is an interdisciplinary examination of The Sea Ranch community. Through the humanities disciplines of art and design, landscape response, philosophy, history, and the legal challenges faced by this community, these findings show how the Sea Ranch overcame the obstacles to provide a thriving ecologically minded community.