There are street names that can make you chuckle, street names that make you grin, and sometimes street names that make you scratch your head. In established cities and neighborhoods, there are common street themes of presidents, numbers, directions, states, and trees, but how are those names chosen for new developments?

How do streets get their names - street sign crossing two roads, North Harvard and South Campus
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To learn more about the process of street naming, Livable tapped industry professionals for more information, with the largest question being “Who gets the final say on a street name?” However, it became clear that the process of naming streets and approval ranges greatly by state, county, and jurisdiction.

American Planning Association research program and QA manager David Morley, AICP, says, “The entity who decides the final name is different from place to place. In some communities it may be the planning commission, and in other communities it may be the top building official, the director of public works, or the transportation department.”

Morley has seen that it is increasingly commonplace to have a street-naming commission or a committee of a few local government staff members who review proposed street names and sign off on them. The final approval of a name is often given a thumbs-up if it aligns with the jurisdiction’s street name policies or guidelines.

“The policy itself may be a standalone document that is sort of internal use only, or, in other cases, it may be a very clear rule of law that is a manual itself that has to be adopted by the local legislative body,” Morley explains. “It’s even more common to have some version of a street-naming policy that is integrated into the code of ordinances, which may be right alongside subdivision regulations.”

These policies—whether found in building regulations or zoning or anywhere in between—consider appropriateness, but more importantly active inclusion of future residents’ race, ethnicity, gender, and more. “There have been a number of rewritten policies in recent years to emphasize a more inclusive approach that is respectful of everyone,” Morley adds.

When it comes time to gather the list for these newly paved streets, residential developers are most often in charge of the suggestions with input from marketing teams. At Johnson Development, marketing director Haley Peck shares more about master plans Harvest Green in Richmond and Jubilee in Hockley, Texas: “Each community is a little different since each has varying city and/or county requirements. For Harvest Green and Jubilee, I receive a plat map and then pick names for the streets based on the theme of the community or important people to the project. We have several streets named after important historical figures in the area and employees’ children.”

The same goes for Johnson Development’s Woodforest in Montgomery and Kresston in Magnolia, Texas, communities, where marketing director Natalie Rosser says their engineers give marketing a list of streets that need to be named. “We pick a handful of names we like, and they run the names through their systems to make sure they aren’t already in use in the county,” says Rosser.

Inspired by a community’s name or essence, streets often revolve around a theme. A representative of Minto Communities says, “For consistency, marketing creates a list of names that consider the theme of the neighborhood, the product being offered, and interesting aspects of the surrounding area. A list is then provided to the land development team. Once selected and approved, the names are added to the marketing site plan for final review and approval from the team and area jurisdictions as needed.”

In Naples, Florida, Minto’s The Isles of Collier Preserve master plan, which is inspired by nature and the area’s unique history, lends way for tropical street names such as Caribe Avenue, Calypso Court, Antigua Way, Tobago Boulevard, and Lucaya Way. Street names of the popular Latitude Margaritaville 55+ communities developed by Minto nod to the late Jimmy Buffett’s passion for all things fun and relaxing, including Margaritaville Avenue, Lost Shaker Way, Island Breeze Avenue, Coral Reef Way, and others.

Over in Texas, Peck says, “In Harvest Green, almost all street names are agriculturally themed unless named after a person. In Jubilee, each street name is picked to complement the section name. All section names have an overarching theme of joy.”

From Cool Cucumber Way to Lemon Drop Lane, Peck notes that some of her favorite names at Harvest Green also include four named after the community’s resident goats: Saucy Sage Street, Jolly Ginger Drive, Pure Parsley Path, and Rosemary Ridge Lane. While in Jubilee, the model home park is on Happy Home Street, and one of the major roads is coined Joyful Life Drive.

Rosser says, “In Kresston, one of my favorites so far has been Legendary Boulevard.” Kresston will also have a street name recognizing the “trailblazers” or first residents of the community as well.

The next time you drive through the latest development, just know the street you chose to meander down might be named after an employee’s child, a beloved grandparent, or a resident goat. Either way, for residents, addressing an envelope becomes way more fun with a name like Saucy Sage Street.

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