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Streets are symbols of a community and its history.
Allan Jacobs

Our Programs: Livability


Check the Stats: Livability

By no means complete, below are a few facts that illustrate how a livable strategy contributes to the community. See the Readings for other examples and best practices.

Challenges To Creating Livable Communities

  1. For every 100 jobs the Big Boxes say they "create," about 150 people are put out of work elsewhere.

  2. The annual employee turnover rate at a typical fast-food franchise is 300%.

  3. Since 1950, the amount of land dedicated to public spaces has declined by a fifth.

  4. Americans spend 8 billion hours a year stuck in traffic, and the nation spends $200 million A DAY maintaining roads. Because of the design of communities, 80% of auto trips have nothing to do with work.

  5. Nearly 80% of Big Box employees earn minimum wage, 40% work part-time, and fewer than 38% can afford health care.

Findings: The Facts Behind Our Transportation Choices

  1. Seattle reported that the installation of 119 traffic calming devices reduced accidents by 94% at those locations. According to the Wall Street Journal, traffic calming adds value to downtown real estate.

  2. Since Portland, Oregon, built its MAX light rail system, more than $1.2 in development has occurred along its line.

  3. The average American family generates 12-13 car tips per day and spends four times as much for gasoline than Europeans, even though gas overseas is much more expensive. Pedestrian-friendly cities like Portsmouth experience half as many vehicle trips.

  4. Only 50-60% of road construction and maintenance costs are covered by gas taxes.

  5. Spending on transit creates twice as many jobs as spending on highways, yet more than 90% of government funding is for roads and only about 1% is for mass transit.

  6. A city with small blocks like Charleston, South Carolina, can handle more than 5 million visitors each year with modest congestion. Nearby sprawling Hilton Head, ten times larger, experiences major traffic snarls with only 1.5 million visitors.

Findings: Business Practices and the Economy

  1. A University of Wisconsin study found that states with "good" business climates (i.e. less regulation) had worse economies than states with more regulation.

  2. When Taco Bell placed the parking lot behind one of its restaurants, business rose 20%.

  3. Pittsburgh and more than a dozen other cities tax vacant land 5 to 6 times higher than buildings or improvements, which has successfully stimulated infill.

  4. Ninety-five percent of visitors to Lake Placid said new Big Box stores would detract from the community and make them less likely to return.

  5. Within ten years of Wal-Mart moving to Iowa, nearly half of men’s and boys’ clothing stores closed, and a third of all hardware and grocery stores went out of business.

  6. Small businesses give a higher percentage of their revenues to charity.

Findings: How We Live

  1. A Silicone Valley survey found that 49% of people were interested in small or detached housing, and 65% would take rail transit.

  2. A University of Virginia study of 49 cities found if traffic accidents are taken into account, it is statistically safer to live in the city than the suburbs.

  3. Pedestrian-friendly communities have the strongest economies. Homes in these districts, like Georgetown, Boston’s Beacon Hill, or Savannah, appreciate at a much greater rate than houses in even the best suburbs.