Creating Livable Communities.
By 2035, our region should gain 630,000 residents and add approximately 370,000 jobs. Unfortunately, it appears that much of this growth will occur at the periphery of our region, which will increase suburban sprawl, deplete our natural resources, and negatively affect our quality of life.
We can reduce these trends by focusing development into the more than 100 livable communities that already exist in our region. Ranging from Center City Philadelphia and large metropolitan centers to smaller town centers and rural villages, these communities offer easy access to jobs and services, cultural and recreational amenities, and most important, opportunities for redevelopment and revitalization.
We all play a role in shaping the future of our region. These include:
- Support zoning initiatives to create mixed-use pedestrian-friendly communities.
- Increase and diversify affordable housing options and locate them closer to employment centers and communities served by public transit.
- Form partnerships to bring employers and residents to targeted growth areas.
- Reside in communities where we can meet our needs more efficiently and cost-effectively.
- Expand local greening initiatives including community gardens, parks and trail systems, and green streets and green roofs.
DVPRC and its partners are actively pursuing a number of projects that will enable us to create livable communities.
DVRPC's Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia program fosters the growth of the region's older communities by promoting what makes each community a wonderful place to live, work, and play.
DVRPC's Transportation & Community Development Initiative (TCDI) is intended to reverse the trends of disinvestment and decline in many of the region's core cities and developed communities. The program provides an opportunity for DVRPC to support local development and redevelopment efforts in individual municipalities of the Delaware Valley that implement municipal, county, state, and regional planning objectives.
DVRPC's Efficient Growth for Growing Suburbs (EGGS) program recognizes the challenges that the growing suburbs of the region face and provides grants to these suburbs to improve the growth management and community design and optimize the efficiency of their existing and planned transportation network by better linking land use and transportation planning.
Collingswood, New Jersey
Collingswood, New Jersey, is a great example of a livable community. Walkable from one end of town to the other and served by the PATCO High Speed Rail Line, it offers a marvelous mix of shops, restaurants, entertainment options, an award-winning Farmers Market, and more. Collingswood is in the Classic Towns program.
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Another example is West Chester, Pennsylvania, where nearly 90 percent of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. West Chester's old-town charm attracts individuals of all ages, including West Chester University students, young professionals, families and empty-nesters who enjoy its walk-ability and sense of community. Its downtown is a true destination, offering restaurants, shops, art galleries, and year-round special events. West Chester is also in the Classic Towns program.
Livable communities are places where people intuitively want to live, work, shop, and play. These centers offer easy access to jobs and services, cultural and recreational opportunities, open spaces, and strong sense of place and community. Further, center-based development saves $25,000 per new housing unit in development and infrastructure costs, as compared to sprawl. Households in centers also spend $1,300 less per year in energy and transportation costs, and have shorter commutes compared to households located outside established centers [ * ].
Additionally, developing livable communities will:
- Revitalize neighborhoods, support economic growth, and reduce suburban sprawl.
- Create business-friendly town centers that strengthen our local and regional economy.
- Improve safety and security through stronger community connections.
- Reduce automobile dependence while promoting transit, walking, and biking as everyday modes of transportation.
- Enhance livability in our core cities, first-generation suburbs, and town centers.
- Preserve unique community and architectural character.
- Conserve open space to promote access to recreational opportunities and local foods.
- Reduce living and service delivery costs, transportation and logistics needs, and resulting pollution.
- Increase and diversify the housing stock that is centrally located to employment opportunities and transportation systems.