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Where Would YOU Want To Live?

 In city planning circles, it's considered a truism that citizens want to live in low-density communities, with housing separated from areas with stores or offices. However when citizens are asked what they want, this often turns out not to be the case – particularly when they have an opportunity to see what kinds of development low-density sprawl implies – and what a high-density urban village can be like.

A “Visual Preference Survey” is one way to find out. Citizens view images of the strip malls, wide streets, and parking lots that accompany low-density, car-oriented development alongside the urban village-style neighborhoods that are made possible by higher density, pedestrian-oriented development. Then they are asked which they prefer. People who have used these surveys report that the appeal of low-density development is drastically reduced when people see what it actually will mean to their community – and see that there are alternatives.

– SARAH VAN GELDER

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