By Loretta Williams. The East Coast-inspired architecture and color scheme of this project are unusual for California, as is the alley-loaded site plan. The builder/architect team worked closely with local zoning officials and the fire department to qualify the narrow spaces as safe fire lanes.

The three versions of the tri-level floor plan range from 1,300 to 1,575 square feet, and each features two bedrooms. Prices range from $267,000 to $307,000.

Photo: Jeffrey Aron Photography

Sitting pretty on 23 acres, this 76-unit community is only 40 minutes from Los Angeles. "We're attracting young professionals in the entertainment industry and high-tech employees from nearby L.A.," says Alisa Lucisano, director of marketing for Kaufman Meeks + Partners. Category: Townhouses, less than 2,000 square feet; Entrant/Architect/Land Planner: Kaufman Meeks + Partners, Newport Beach, Calif.; Builder/Developer: Greystone Homes, Stevenson Ranch, Calif.; Landscape Architect: Collaborative West, San Clemente, Calif.