More on how density benefits neighborhoods

After writing a while back that density may explain the differences between Salt Lake and Provo, I found this column in the Vancouver Sun about how density actually saves neighborhoods.

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Among other things, the author argues that adding housing supply allows people to stay in their neighborhoods as they age. That’s something that I wrote about earlier this year for my day job, and it’s a major issue. The piece also explains that adding supply can help “ease price pressures,” or in other words create affordable housing:

This helps preserve neighbourhoods’ physical character by absorbing change along commercial edges of residential neighbourhoods. This offers another density paradox: by accommodating change through increases in density and height we can protect and greatly slow internal change in areas off major streets and transit corridors.

What stands out here is the word “preserve.” So often discussions about density seem to assume that entire, beloved neighborhoods will be razed to make way for housing projects. That simply isn’t the case. Rather, when done correctly, density saves neighborhoods, amplifying their character and positive attributes.

The column continues,

Extensive empirical research I did 35 years ago on densifying Kerrisdale showed unequivocally that single-family houses adjacent to mid-rise apartment zones suffered no adverse effects in value from the rezoning, nor was there any decay in the physical quality of the neighbourhood.

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

The piece concludes that density is essential to attracting jobs and people.

It’s no surprise that this piece would come out of Vancouver, a city that has densified quite nicely. But Utahns would be wise to take heed as well; with high projected growth and a young population the state has an unparalleled opportunity to add  density intelligently.


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