Enhance Southeast Florida’s quality of life to attract & retain a diverse mix of families, workers, visitors, retirees & businesses

Southeast Florida’s economic competitiveness relies heavily on its appeal to a wide range of residents, including workers, students, and retirees. Between 2010 and 2012, in-migration from other states and nations accounted for 80 percent of the region’s population growth – the largest share among the nation’s 13 large urban regions. A high quality of life including access to a range of housing choices, high-quality schools and health care, and distinctive arts and cultural resources. These are not simply a product of economic prosperity-they are a fundamental prerequisite for it.

Other aspects of the Seven50 vision highlight the importance of future community planning and design decisions to the region’s future quality of life. Priorities and strategies related to development patterns and community assets and culture point to a future characterized by a range of choices of where to live, learn, work, and play. This approach strongly supports the region’s economic vision as well, particularly the emphasis on creating clusters of innovation and talent and expanding as a global hub for trade and travel.

From an economic development perspective, it is important to provide support for effective community planning, design and investments that help attract and retain a range of residents and visitors. It also is important to protect and enhance Southeast Florida’s unique arts, cultural, and historic resources; to promote the region’s diversity as an economic asset; and to take proactive steps to create access to opportunity for all residents in the region.

Livability and Quality of Life

The way the built environment is organized has a profound effect on the social, economic, and civic life of the region. An auto-dominated environment of single-use development has a negative effect on the quality life – most disproportionately on the lives of people who don’t drive children, the elderly, and the economically and physically challenged. The large single-use complexes isolate even nearby residents who would prefer to walk forcing the average person to make numerous daily car trips for work, schools, and shopping.

Reducing the number of daily car trips is fundamental in recovering lost time in the day to tackle the requirements of work, raising a family, spending time with friends, strengthening a spiritual life, and making civic contributions to the community. A neighborhood with small stores, offices, and a fine-grain of uses will give residents more choices of transportation and getting around. Providing transportation options gives independence and self-reliance to those who cannot drive.

Size and Location of Schools Within Neighborhoods

Just as urban centers are considered the heart of the workplace, the school should be the center of a community. Schools should be sized to be easily accessible to those who use them, nurturing the ties to their community. Elementary schools should be scaled to be accessible by residents and young children on foot. At a larger scale, high schools are community assets when sized to accommodate the bicycling population around them.

Embedding schools within the neighborhood gives children the opportunity to freely access their environment. By letting children meet their needs independently instead of taking them places by car, children can develop a strong sense of self-esteem and self-respect. Similarly, teenagers gain independence within an environment where they are accountable not only to their parents but to the larger community. Properly designed streets have windows and doors facing the public realm to provide “eyes-on-the-street” and a safe environment.

Embed Concentrations of Commercial activity in Neighborhoods and districts

Larger increments of development can have negative consequence on travel patterns, forcing longer car trips for both drivers and passengers. Distributing workplaces and daily needs within neighborhoods can drastically cut these long daily commutes and car trips, allowing more time with family and less time apart. Similarly, large concentrations of housing that are distant from workplaces and shopping lead to empty neighborhoods during business hours. This creates an easy environment for vandals and thieves, and bored teenagers due to the lack of natural surveillance. Distributing small-scaled commercial uses in a neighborhood creates a safe and walkable environment for all users.

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