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Walkable Neighborhoods: An Economic Development Strategy


Walkability is a broad term with many definitions; yet there is a consensus on key characteristics of walkable communities including compact built environment, mixed-used and mixed-income development, pedestrian centric design, public spaces, and easily access to jobs, retail locations and social interaction opportunities. Walk San Diego is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting walkable environments in the San Diego region. The goal of Walk San Diego is to create livable communities where walking is a safe and viable means of transportation for residents of all ages and abilities. This report examines the economic impact of walkability for individuals, businesses and communities as a whole in the San Diego region. Additionally, walkability funding options for the San Diego region are outlined in the report, as well as specific recommendations for improving the walkability of local communities.

Key Points

Walkable communities provide residents with both economic and health benefits. By designing the community to allow for housing and local businesses to be within walking distance (i.e. ½ to 1 mile), residents have the option of walking to and from destinations rather than depending on a personal automobile. There is a direct correlation between walkable communities and housing values in those communities. The Walking the Walk study found that homes located within a walkable community commanded a price premium of $4,000 to $34,000.

The health benefits associated with walkability include lower rates of disease due to reduced obesity rates. The report cites a study that found “cumulative public health cost savings of $12.6 million over nine years related to the effects of a public transit project on physical activity (daily walking to and from the transit stations).”

How to Use

Community planners, local officials, community residents and local business owners can use this report to gain an understanding of the economic impacts walkability has on the property values and overall health of communities. The report makes a strong case for the positive return on investment (ROI) for communities that make improvements to their walkability and livability features.

View full report: Walkable Neighborhoods: An Economic Development Strategy (PDF – 680 KB)

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