What are the attributes of a quality place?
Examples: Reliable public transit, sidewalks, bike facilities, highway access, density of development, community cohesion, mixed use, adequate parking, open space, parkland, public water/sewer service, low taxes, access to jobs, access to shopping, low crime, good schools, cultural amenities (libraries, museums, etc.), aesthetically pleasing urban design and architecture, etc.
NOTE: Not everyone would agree with these things that I’ve listed. Furthermore, many of these things are very subjective. How much parking is adequate? How “good” are “good schools”? What is aesthetically pleasing architecture?
NOTE: Many of these things that we regard as making a quality place tend to work at cross-purposes with one another: Open space vs. density of development. Adequate parking vs. reliable public transit. Trade-offs are normally required, based on the geographic context. Urban areas will have less parking, but be more transit friendly. Rural areas will have more open space, but less cultural amenities. On the other hand, everyone in every geographic context wants less crime and better schools, but the urban planning profession has virtually no ability to deliver either of these outcomes.
These “quality place” attributes also take on relatively greater/lesser importance when viewed through the lenses of:
• Geographic context (urban, suburban, exurban, rural)
• Demographic context (age, income, race, class, household type)
For example, while good schools may be important, they are less important to singles and empty nesters, and more important to families with children. While access to public transit may be important, it is more important to those without cars. Access to jobs is less important to retirees than it is to working people. Similarly, being able to walk to a store may be more important to urban residents, and less important to suburban residents.
Posted Aug 05, 2011