Poll finds Americans want walkable neighborhoods

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America released a nationwide poll Wednesday on what kinds of communities people want to live in.

The survey found that most Americans (55%) seek smart growth communities that have shorter commute times, sidewalks and places to walk by. Among those likely to buy a home in the next three years, 61% say that they would choose to live in this kind of community.

“This new poll reflects what we have known in Oregon for some time: home buyers are drawn to smart growth communities where they can walk, have short commutes, and there is a range of housing options,” said Bob Stacey, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Oregon. “This poll confirms that Oregon is on the right track for home buyers, thanks to our land use planning program.”

In setting priorities, 79% say they wanted to be within a 45-minute commute to work (86% for those likely to buy a home in the next few years), 72% want to live near sidewalks and places to walk, and 65% say they want to live in an inter-generational community.

Most respondents believe their own community falls short of the dream.

Surprisingly, respondents rank the lack of housing for people with moderate and low income as the No. 1 missing factor in existing communities.

Forty percent say that there is too much housing for people with high incomes and 46% believe communities have too little public transportation within walking distance. Slowing development of open space is a high priority for 46% of respondents.

An overwhelming 86% want improvements in existing communities, as opposed to development in new areas. When asked how to solve traffic problems, 50% say they want better public transportation, but only 18% of respondents want new roads.

“New roads alone do not solve our traffic problems,” noted Stacey, “The best solution to traffic congestion is a range of transportation choices serving communities where people can choose to live near where they work.”