What's most important to economic development in your community? Better transit, thriving local businesses, more affordable housing?
Community plans are a key component in bringing those ideas to life. According to a new poll from the American Planning Association, Americans agree. Two-thirds of the 1,300 Americans surveyed said that their community needs both planning and market forces to improve its economic situation.
When asked if a community plan - defined as a "process that seeks to engage all members of a community to create more prosperous, convenient, equitable, healthy and attractive places for present and future generations" - would benefit the community, 79 percent of respondents agreed. And that's across a broad political spectrum with 88 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans, and 81 percent of independents in agreement.
Respondents were also asked to rank the top five factors that make up an "ideal community." The results:
- Locally owned businesses nearby
- Being able to stay in the same neighborhood while aging
- Availability of sidewalks
- Energy-efficient homes
- Availability of transit
When asked to compare life for residents in their communities to five years earlier, an overwhelming number of respondents (84 percent) said that life was worse (49 percent) or the same (35 percent). Only 11 percent felt that living in their community was better than it was five years ago.
It's worth noting that there's a significant gap in this statistic depending on where people live. In urban areas, 40 percent of residents said their community is getting worse, while the percentage gradually increased in suburbs (45 percent), rural areas (58 percent), and small towns (65 percent).
"Planners are at the forefront of building communities that foster economic growth and create jobs. We’re working to add value to communities around the country, and this poll confirms that our expertise is aligned with the priorities of most Americans," APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer wrote in a statement.
This graphic breaks down the numbers:
Read the full report here.