Thursday, August 19, 2010

Suburbs Diversify and Transform

Source: Photo adapted from the opening title sequence of
Showtime's episodic cable program "Weeds".

America’s Senior Citizens May Live in the Suburbs
Demographic analysis suggests that 70% of American Baby Boomers (age 46 to 64) currently live in suburbia.

The massive boomer population age tidal wave will soon flood into these vast tracts of suburban single family homes -- without anyone moving anywhere. As this population of "suburban seniors" (copyright notice!) age-in-place, the suburbs may diversify and transform to accommodate the aging lifestyles and needs of many soon to be senior citizens already in residence. Consider the empty-nester couple that are home all day across the street, or the single mom next door whose youngest daughter is a fifth-year senior at Pepperdine University next fall. Aging and changing lifestyles.

The transformation of suburbs might be best accomplished with mixed land uses that support living and working day-to-day locally, increased residential densities, design changes in the built environment that facilitate greater walkability, and additional mass transportation options for connections to other areas. Seems that property owners, planners, and politicians would be busy ...

Looking Ahead
(Excerpt) "Current and future geographic shifts of America’s [pre-senior & senior citizen] populations, with baby boomers on the verge of entering their retirement years, are among the most potentially influential demographic trends in metropolitan America today. Emerging senior populations will break with those of the past, not only in terms of their size, but in their educational profiles, their household diversity, and their greater gender equality, as well as their potential for exhibiting greater economic inequality. The sheer size of the baby boom tsunami will magnify these distinct social and demographic attributes, altering metropolitan, city, and suburban populations in both growing and declining parts of the country."
Executive Summary
The number of suburban seniors that may soon be living in existing large homogeneous tracts of single family homes is potentially huge. Some high density residential, service and commercial land uses are often non-existant within a walkable distance from many residential units in these suburbs. Changes in the existing built environment may be necessary for these areas to become live-work communities that support a diversified citizenry that lives and works day-to-day locally. Consider: Is there the political will for physical changes in the typical suburban built environment? Will the NIMBY Syndrome effectively prevent progress of any scale?

A Question for Blog Readers
As the coming tidal wave of suburban seniors age-in-place, what land use planning and urban design changes will become necessary to transform these vast homogeneous housing tracts into walkable places for a diversified local population to live-work? Is there the political will to allow these necessary physical changes in the suburban built environment?
See also: Blog Comments Add Value to the Topic

LIFT (Link I Found Today)
The following is simply the last segment to read at the end of this post and may or may not be in any way appropriate or relevant to anything ...

Next post scheduled 9.2.10, "Pedestrian Crossing"