Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences and Their Implications for New Urbanism


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Todd Litman of the Victoria Transportation Institute reports on the history of desirability of living locations, and how our automobile dependent society has fueled sprawl development. Mr. Litman also outlines the benefits of Smart Growth development and how growing trends, "changing attitudes about urban living," "increasing health and environmental concerns" and "shifting assumptions about suburban real estate values" are making headway in support of transportation and planning reforms that can transform our regions and communities into healthier, more functional, and beautiful places.

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Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences and Their Implications for New Urbanism

  1. 1. Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For New Urbanism Todd Litman Victoria Transport Policy Institute Presented at the CNU Transportation Summit Portland, Oregon 5 November 2009
  2. 2. Creating Paradise <ul><li>Paradise is not a distant destination, it is something we create in our own communities. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Sustainable Planning <ul><li>Sustainability emphasizes the integrated nature of human activities and therefore the need to coordinate planning among different sectors, jurisdictions and groups. </li></ul>11/12/09
  4. 4. Life Satisfaction
  5. 5. Memo From Future Self <ul><li>Hope for the best but prepare for the worst: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical disability – diverse and integrated transport with universal design (accommodates people with disabilities and other special needs). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poverty and inflation – affordable housing in accessible, multi-modal locations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Higher energy prices – improve efficient modes (walking, cycling and public transport). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Isolation and loneliness – community cohesion (opportunities for neighbors to interact in positive ways). </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Trends Supporting Smart Growth and Alternative Modes <ul><li>Motor vehicle saturation. </li></ul><ul><li>Aging population. </li></ul><ul><li>Rising fuel prices. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased urbanization. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased traffic and parking congestion. </li></ul><ul><li>Rising roadway construction costs and declining economic return from increased roadway capacity. </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental concerns. </li></ul><ul><li>Health Concerns </li></ul>
  7. 7. OECD Travel Trends
  8. 8. Aging Population 1990 2050
  9. 9. Suburbanization During the Twentieth Century the U.S. suburbanized. This has peaked. Urban areas are now growing and suburban areas are now urbanizing.
  10. 10. U.S. Housing Units By Type
  11. 11. Location Preferences (2002) Joint Survey: Survey Suggests Market-Based Vision of Smart Growth , National Association of Realtors and National Association of Home Builders, 2002
  12. 12. Neighborhood Preferences (2002) Many households want highway access and good walking and cycling facilities.
  13. 13. Although prospective home buyers preferred single-family homes, many would choose smaller lots and higher density neighborhoods to improve accessibility and transport options. Housing Preferences (PPIC 2002) Housing Type Want to live in a single-family, detached home. 86% Actually live in a single-family, detached home. 65% Housing Type Tradeoff Would you choose to live in a small house with a small backyard, if it means you have a short commute to work? 49% Would you choose to live in a large home with a large backyard, even if it means you would have a long commute to work? 47% Neighborhood Type Tradeoff Would you choose to live in a mixed-use neighborhoods where you can walk to stores, schools, and services? 47% Would you choose to live in a residential-only neighborhood, even if it means you have to drive a car to stores, schools and services? 50% Public Transit Access Tradeoff Would you choose to live in a high-density neighborhood where it was convenient to use public transit when you travel locally? 31% Would you choose to live in a low-density neighborhood where you would have to drive your car when you travel locally? 66%
  14. 14. User Benefits of Sprawl Social and Economic Attributes Unique Physical Attributes <ul><li>Newer housing stock </li></ul><ul><li>Increased security (less crime) </li></ul><ul><li>Better public services (policing and schools) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased economic stability </li></ul><ul><li>Prestige </li></ul><ul><li>Larger lots </li></ul><ul><li>More open space </li></ul><ul><li>Better automobile access </li></ul>
  15. 15. Factors Affecting Preferences Factor Past (1950-2000) Current (2000-2010) Future (2010+) Function Rising incomes, increased vehicle ownership, declining real fuel prices, and most families with young children favored larger lot, single-family homes. Incomes and vehicle ownership are stagnant, real fuel prices are starting to increase. Household sizes have declined and fewer have young children. Incomes and vehicle ownership are likely to stay stagnant, real fuel prices will increase. Aging population and fewer households with children. Economic and social conditions Middle-class flight concentrated poverty and social problems in cities. Suburbs were generally safer and had better public services. Many cities are attracting more middle-class families. Cities tend to have equal or better services, and are safer places to live than suburbs. Trends favoring cities are likely to continue. Cities are inherently more resource efficient and economically productive. Status Suburban living was considered prestigious and appropriate (healthier and more responsible). Urban living is increasingly considered prestigious, healthier and more responsible than suburban living. Trends favoring cities are likely to continue. Investment Cities homes were considered unreliable investments. In recent years, urban housing prices have proven more durable than sprawl housing. The factors describe above will probably continue to increase new urban investment value.
  16. 16. Changing Housing Preferences <ul><li>Aging population. The portion of the population over 65 years of age is projected to increase from 13% to 20% by 2050. </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller households and fewer households with children. The portion of households with children under 18 years of age is declining, and more families with children will consider urban locations. </li></ul><ul><li>Rising fuel prices and financial constraints. As fuel prices rise demand for sprawled, automobile-dependent location tends to decline. </li></ul><ul><li>Changing development practices. Planning and development practices increasingly favor smart growth, with more redevelopment of urban areas and suburban areas developing into towns and cities with more urban features. </li></ul><ul><li>Growing congestion. As traffic and parking congestion increase, the value of more accessible, multi-modal locations and alternative modes tends to increase. </li></ul><ul><li>Changing attitudes about urban living . Popular perception of cities has shifted from dirty, dangerous and poor to exciting, healthy and attractive places to reside. </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing health and environmental concerns. Considerable research indicates that smart growth tends to increases residents’ health and safety, and reduce environmental impacts. </li></ul><ul><li>Shifting assumptions about suburban real estate values. Recent devaluations in suburban housing markets have ended the assumption that suburban homes are a good investment. </li></ul>
  17. 17. “ Emerging Trends in Real Estate” “ Energy prices and road congestion accelerate the move back into metropolitan-area interiors as more people crave greater convenience in their lives. They want to live closer to work and shopping without the hassle of car dependence… Apartment and townhouse living looks more attractive, especially to singles and empty nesters—high utility bills, gasoline expenses, car payments, and rising property taxes make suburban-edge McMansion lifestyles decidedly less economical.” (Urban Land Institute 2009)
  18. 18. Housing Demand By Type (Nelson 2006) The current supply of large-lot suburban is approximately adequate to satisfy demand for the next two decades. Prices for such housing is currently depresses and a significant amount will become available as baby boomers downsize. Most growth will be in smaller-lot and multi-family housing.
  19. 19. Smart Growth Versus Sprawl
  20. 20. Smart Growth (Density, Design, Diversity) <ul><li>More compact , infill development. </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed land use. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased connectivity . </li></ul><ul><li>Improved walkability . </li></ul><ul><li>Urban villages. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased transportation diversity . </li></ul><ul><li>Better parking management . </li></ul><ul><li>Improved public realm . </li></ul><ul><li>More traffic calming and speed control. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Cycle of Automobile Dependency <ul><li>For much of the last century transportation and land use planning practices supported a self-reinforcing cycle of increased automobile dependency and sprawl. </li></ul>
  22. 22. VMT Vs. GDP (National Trends)
  23. 23. VMT Vs. GDP (U.S. States)
  24. 24. GDP Vs. Public Transit Travel
  25. 25. Impacts on Housing Affordability <ul><li>Reduces Affordability </li></ul><ul><li>Urban growth boundaries (reduces developable land supply). </li></ul><ul><li>Increased design requirements (curbs, sidewalks, sound barriers, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>Increases Affordability </li></ul><ul><li>Higher density reduces land requirements per unit. </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced parking and setback requirements. </li></ul><ul><li>More diverse, affordable housing options (secondary suites, rooms over shops, loft apartments). </li></ul><ul><li>Reduces property taxes and utility fees for clustered and infill housing. </li></ul><ul><li>Improved accessibility reduces transport costs. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Affordability
  27. 27. “ A Heavy Load” Report
  28. 28. Housing Foreclosures Housing foreclosure rates are much higher in automobile-dependent locations. Houston Denver
  29. 29. Traffic Fatalities
  30. 30. Nonmotorized Travel Per capita traffic fatality rates tend to decline as nonmotorized travel increases.
  31. 31. Smart Growth Safety Impacts
  32. 32. Public Service Costs <ul><li>Smart growth reduces unit costs: </li></ul><ul><li>Infrastructure construction and maintenance (utility lines, roads, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>Distribution and collection (postal services, garbage collection, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>Emergency services, (policing, fire, ambulance, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>Municipal services (schools, libraries, recreation services, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Transportation services (school transportation, public transit, etc.). </li></ul>
  33. 33. Community Livability & Cohesion <ul><li>Community Livability refers to the environmental and social quality of an area as perceived by residents, employees, customers and visitors. </li></ul><ul><li>Community Cohesion refers to the quantity and quality of positive interactions among people in a community. </li></ul><ul><li>Streets that are attractive, safe and suitable for walking and cycling increase community livability and cohesion. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Aging In Place <ul><li>In plain English, aging-in-place means remaining in one's home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. It means the pleasure of living in a familiar environment throughout one's maturing years, and the ability to enjoy the familiar daily rituals and the special events that enrich all our lives. </li></ul><ul><li>(National Association of Home Builders) </li></ul>
  35. 35. Land Use Impacts On Travel
  36. 36. Obesity Rates Versus Mode Split
  37. 37. Healthy Community Rating Feature How to Calculate Points Portion of local streets with sidewalks. Range from 0 points for no street within ½ kilometer have sidewalks up to 10 points for all streets have sidewalks. Portion of local streets and paths that accommodate wheelchairs. Range from 0 points for no street within ½ kilometer with sidewalks that accommodate wheelchairs, up to 10 points for all streets with sidewalks that accommodate wheelchairs. Ease of street crossing Portion of streets that can be crossed by pedestrians with minimal risk, discomfort or delay. Quality of street environments Portion of streets or public pathways that are attractive pedestrian environments, rated from 0 to 10. Neighborhood services One point for each of the following located within ½ kilometer convenient walking distance, up to 10 maximum: grocery store, restaurant, video rental shop, public park, recreation center, library. Public transit service quantity Number of peak period buses per hour within ½ kilometer, up to 10 maximum. Public transit service quality Portion of peak-period transit vehicles that are clean and comfortable from 0 (all vehicles are dirty or crowded) up to 10 (all vehicles are clean and have seats). Local traffic speeds Portion of vehicle traffic within 1-kilometer that have speeds under 40 kilometers per hour, from 10 (100%) to 0 (virtually none). Air Pollution 10 minus one for each exceedance of air quality standards.
  38. 38. Location-Efficient Development <ul><li>Locate affordable housing in accessible areas, with good walking conditions and transit service </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed use areas, so residents can walk to neighborhood services: schools, shops, parks, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce parking requirements. Unbundle parking. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide carsharing services. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize transportation cost reductions when evaluating household borrowing ability. </li></ul><ul><li>The market for this type of housing is increasing. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Changes Required <ul><li>Educate decision makers concerning smart growth benefits and strategies. </li></ul><ul><li>Change the way we think about and solve transport problems. </li></ul><ul><li>New funding and development practices. </li></ul><ul><li>New organizational relationships to create more integrated transport and land use planning. </li></ul>
  40. 40. Supported by Professional Organizations <ul><li>Institute of Transportation Engineers. </li></ul><ul><li>American Planning Association. </li></ul><ul><li>American Farmland Trust. </li></ul><ul><li>Federal, state, regional and local planning and transportation agencies. </li></ul><ul><li>International City/County Management Association </li></ul><ul><li>National Governor’s Association </li></ul><ul><li>Health organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>And much more... </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>“ Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be: Changing Demands and Their Implications for Transport Planning” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Recommendations for Improving LEEDs Transportation and Parking Credits” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Are VMT Reduction Targets Justified? </li></ul><ul><li>“ Smart Growth Policy Reforms” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Online TDM Encyclopedia” </li></ul><ul><li>and more... </li></ul><ul><li>www.vtpi.org </li></ul>