An online marketing consultant, an avid reader of 400 + books a year. Professional reader, reviewer, and blogger. Enjoy ARCs and new releases.
On a personal note:
Having lived in Atlanta (Midtown, Buckhead, Vinings) from 1994-2006, before relocating to South Florida, I felt a part of the movement in a big way--A member of ULI (Urban Land Institute), NAIOP, the media business -Associate Publisher Atlanta's Black's Guide, Atlanta's B to B Magazine, Publisher of Primedia's Atlanta New Home Data Book, an Atlanta based commercial real estate company, and economic development for N Fulton Chamber of Commerce. The traffic was always a nightmare (especially I-285); a great need for connectivity--and I lived and worked inside the perimeter. Was excited when they started converting the railroad to cycling trails, which I rode every weekend as an avid cycler from Georgia to Alabama.
I chose to move to South Florida in 2006 (West Palm Beach), where I still reside-- a city gal in urban downtown West Palm Beach along the waterfront. I live in an area with a walking score of 94 of 100, (which is paradise) ....with easy access to CityPlace and Clematis (two major entertainment centers).
When you live downtown, there is not ample parking, so you park your car (pay) for monthly parking blocks away. This encourages you to walk or cycle. I tested this and found I was only driving my car a few times a month. Last week I sold my SUV. The first time being without a car since the age of sixteen. It is liberating.
I work from my home office and walk everywhere. There is no need to drive. I joined a car share program in the event I need a car (you can rent by the day or the hour). I cycle a few times a week, plus we also have trolleys, TriRail, SkyBike, plus we are excited about the All Aboard Florida (passenger train travel, connecting Orlando, West Palm Beach, and Miami), to be completed next year (within walking distance). I am looking forward to the new freedom without parking fees, car maintenance, fuel, and car insurance, plus useless time on the road and staying fit.
Being a baby boomer (along with a big part of the population), approaching retirement with less income, this group is looking for more affordable housing and walkable cities. The waiting lists are up to five years long in most Florida downtown cities, or they are so long, they are closed and not accepting new applications. Active seniors want to move south for warmer year round climate. There is a great need for urban low income housing and independent senior living, locations in walkable cities—in addition to the younger generations. They all have to work together, as Ryan mentions in his plans. Better design, more biking paths, trees and curb appeal. People want to feel safe when walking.
The obvious answer is that cities need to provide the sort of environment that these people want. Live, work, and play. Especially millennials, vastly favor communities with street life, the pedestrian culture that can only come from walkability.
Other reading: The economist Christopher Leinberger compares the experience of today’s young professionals with the previous generation. He notes that most 50-year-olds grew up watching The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, and Happy Days, shows that idealized the late-mid-20th-century suburban standard of low-slung houses on leafy lots, surrounded by more of the same.
The millennials in contrast, grew up watching Seinfeld, Friends, and, eventually, Sex and the City. They matured in a mass culture—of which TV was only one part—that has predisposed them to look favorably upon cities, indeed, to aspire to live in them. This group represent the biggest population bubble in fifty years. They choose to live in urban areas and only then do they look for a job. Meanwhile, the generation raised on Friends is not the only major cohort looking for new places to live.
There’s a larger one: the millennials’ parents, the front-end boomers. They are citizens that every city wants—significant personal savings, no schoolkids. Empty nesters want walkability: The surburban houses are too large, with empty rooms to be heated, cooled and cleaned, with unused yard maintenance. Suburban houses can be socially isolating, especially as aging eyes and slower reflexes make driving everywhere less comfortable.
Whether you want Urban Downtown living or the suburbs, we all want to create a healthier and more satisfying way of life, by connecting neighborhoods and communities.