From the Climate Progess website, guest blooger Kaid Benfield discusses the problem of automobile-dependent subdisions in the United States. “Housing values have declined much more, on a percentage basis, in sprawling subdivisions as compared to walkable, centrally located neighborhoods, many of which have even held steady or increased in value.”
Combined, Baby Boomers and Millenials “are reducing the share of total households with children, traditionally the portion of the market most interested in suburban homes with sizeable lots for kids to play in and grownups to maintain. Neither the Millennials with their preference for urban lifestyles nor the empty-nesting Boomers fit that market to nearly the same degree as, say, their parents did.”
According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2011 Community Preference Survey, 58 percent of respondents indicated a preference for “a neighborhood with a mix of houses and stores and other businesses within an easy walk.”
It appears that nationally, the demand for rental property is outstripping the supply. According to the president of the National Multi-Housing Council, “The country is on the cusp of fundamental changes in our housing dynamics. Preferences are driving more people away from the typical suburban house and toward the type of lifestyle that rental housing offers.”
How would that play out in York, which has a few relatively dense, walkable neighborhoods, but whose newer housing has been dominated for decades by large-lot subdivisions? Time will tell, but continued suburban sprawl seems neither economical nor sustainable in an era of rising gas prices.
One suggestion is an increase of apartments in otherwise owner-occupied houses. Another is smaller-footprint but nonetheless high-quality types of housing, such as “pocket neighborhoods” of cottages and slightly larger homes arranged around a common green.
Read the rest of the article.
Also read the Portland Press Herald story, Buyers drawn to walkable neighborhoods with a community vibe and the 2009 Maine State Planning Office document, Creating Traditional, Walkable Neighborhoods – A Handbook for Maine Communities (PDF).