Suburbs have changed quite a bit of the last 50 years…and if they haven’t, they need to, according to eight experts tapped by Alissa Walker of Mansion Global. Read what these eight experts have to say about “future-proofing” our suburban areas.

1. Walking – Stuart Davis with Smart Growth America
a. Buyers want builders and developers to meet their unanswered demand for walk-able neighborhoods.
b. Davis says that form-based zoning codes can help create pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use developments that young singles, empty nesters, families and influential companies are seeking
c. The challenge involved with creating more walkability is costly infrastructure.
d. Davis envisions the expansion of federal/state/local rehabilitation sources to incur tax incentives and private capital to build walk-able infrastructure.
e. Davis also envisions encouraging developers to retrofit commercial buildings, regional malls and single-family zoning into multi-family/mixed-use buildings.

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2. Emissions – Adam Terando
a. Terando envisions “…a total rethink of systems we’ve built.”
b. “Just the simple act of allowing the necessities of life (food, education, nature, recreation) to be within walking distance of suburban homes could be a radical step towards unwinding that system of emissions.”
c. Terando does NOT think remaking the transportation sector will take a massive amount of investment in infrastructure.

3. Aging – Jenny Schuetz with The Brookings Institute
a. Schuetz said that three of the most important needs for older adults are
i. Accessible supportive housing
ii. Proximity to medical care
iii. Social engagement
b. All three elements can be met with spatially compact communities – look to retirement communities in cities and inner-ring suburbs for examples.

4. Lawns – V. Kelly turner with the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California at Los Angeles
a. Make transparent land-use laws that are “hiding” in HOA covenants and codes that restrict landscaping rules and practices.
b. Such landscaping rules/practices are designated as private contracts despite these rules/practices being public laws.

5. Land Use – June Williamson with Spitzer School of Architecture at City College of New York
a. Retrofit land-use.
b. Zone for creative redevelopment of 20thC white elephants such as shopping malls
c. Make incentives available for “re-inhabitation” of vacant buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes.
d. De-pave parking lots, restore culverted streams to daylight, reconnect wildlife habitat, provide public park space.
e. “Demand will wane for detached housing subdivisions of the past. Demographics, not ideology, will win. Office parks are ‘out;’ multi-unit, shared and otherwise more compact housing types are ‘in.’”

6. Poverty – Elizabeth Kneebone with Terner Center for Housing Innovation
a. Kneebone said that we as a country must recognize that poverty is everywhere…without that recognition, we cannot face and solve the problem.
b. “We must work collaboratively with neighboring jurisdictions to marshal staff, tax bases and philanthropic/non-profit infrastructure.

7. Schools – Sean Gill with Consortium for Policy Research in Education
a. Gill believes we must look at systems that utilize portfolio strategies to meet increasingly complex student needs and student ages as learning and skill development are lifelong necessities.
b. Look to portfolio strategies currently in use at schools in Denver, Chicago and Washington DC.

8. Economic Opportunity – David Williams with Opportunity Insights
a. Williams supports enforcing laws that prohibit landlord discrimination.
b. He encourages more affordable housing by adopting inclusionary zoning laws, less restrictive zoning regulations and more public/private investment in the construction of affordable housing.
c. Williams encourages providing direct services to help low-income families find available housing units in high opportunity zones.

Also read: Market Needs More Than Low Mortgage Rates, US Luxury Buyers Flocking to London, Housing Affordability Hits African Americans Hardest

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