This paper describes the development of place typologies and sustainability performance measures for neighborhoods in the State of California. Researchers and practitioners have developed many systems for classifying urban forms based on physical, ecological and socioeconomic characteristics, but there is a gap in research to comprehensively quantify how neighborhood type, street pattern, transit accessibility, and land use context impact economic, social and environmental outcomes at small geographic units. This study finds there are clear trade-offs between urban and suburban living. Compared to suburbs, the households in urban places benefit from 30% lower household transportation cost, and 42% reduction in annual household vehicle miles traveled. While the median rent is 15% cheaper in urban neighborhoods due to a diversity of building types, but the cost of home ownership is 40% higher. Overall, urban households consume 28% less electricity, 42% less water (per capita) and contribute 14% less in household carbon footprint (per capita) compared to suburban households. The rate of obesity and cardiovascular disease is 7.9 and 8.2% lower in urban places, but there is a 9.6% higher rate of asthma and 8.3% higher incidents of low birth weight. On average, urban areas have a poorer air quality due to 6.5% increase in a concentration of fine particulate matters (PM) 2.5, 54% more exposure to diesel PM, 27.5% more concentration of toxic releases from facilities, and 28% higher traffic density compared to suburban communities. From 1970 to 2015, the total percentage of residential units in urban neighborhoods decreased from 34 to 21% and the statewide housing units per capita dropped 7.5% between 1980 and 2015. Despite the ambitious climate policies and efforts of smart growth advocates, the majority of new growth in the California continues to be in low density suburban and rural areas, which are responsible for 80% of total household carbon emission in California. The research finding demonstrates the need for innovative strategies to reduce household carbon emissions from urban, suburban and rural areas, reforming tax policies to encourage more infill development, and aligning state and local expenditures with transparent sustainability outcomes to meet the state’s 2030 climate goals.