Livable Centers:Purpose of Tool:
Livable Centers are intended to connect homes, shops, and offices; enhance streetscapes and sidewalks; emphasize pedestrians rather than vehicles; improve access to transit options; and expand housing options. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to plan and implement strategies that link transportation improvements with land use development strategies, creating sustainable, livable communities. The primary goals of livable centers are to: encourage a diversity of mixed-income residential neighborhoods; provide employment, shopping and recreation choices at the activity center, town center, and corridor level; and provide access to a range of travel modes including transit, roadways, walking and biking.
Benefits of Using Tool:
The following are benefits of Livable Centers:
Steps Involved to Use Tool:
The primary elements of Livable Centers include:
Special Requirements to Use Tool:
This tool is often implemented using federal transportation funding supplemented by local funding matches. Communities can use transportation improvements to revitalize town centers and key corridors. To receive funding, local plans must include intensive public involvement and fundamental Livable Centers goals must be identified, such as connectivity, enhanced streetscapes and sidewalks, emphasizing pedestrian mobility, improving transit access, and expanding housing options that respond to a wide range of socio-economic needs.
Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
As part of initiating a Livable Centers Initiative plan, the first step includes conducting an inventory of existing conditions. The existing conditions inventory requires an extensive data collection effort, including demographic data, housing data, land use data and information about the existing transportation system. It is also beneficial to keep this information in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database as it is easily and efficiently accessible. The Livable Center Initiative also includes the involvement of community stakeholders throughout the process. The public involvement process often includes the formation of steering committees, which usually include property owners, local merchants, residents and business owners. Planning and engineering professionals are involved to provide technical oversight during the planning process.
Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
Atlanta Regional Commission
Livable Centers Initiative
40 Courtland St, NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
Houston-Galveston Area Council
P.O. Box 22777
Houston, TX 77227
Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
To measure the progress and success of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Center Initiative (LCI) program, the ARC distributed a three-tiered survey to 68 LCI areas whose study plans were finalized before 2006. The first section of the survey measured the number of new developments since the completion of each LCI study. It was determined that only eleven LCIs (16%) did not have new development as a result of their respective LCI study, and the remaining 57 (84%) did have new development. The policies and regulations section of the survey included seven (7) questions focusing on amendments to each LCI recipient’s comprehensive plan, special zoning districts, development regulation amendments, housing considerations, and design standards. Sixty-three (63) percent of all LCI areas, with another twenty-nine (29) in the process, have made amendments to their local comprehensive plan to support and adopt their LCI Study Plan. Some forty-six (46) percent of the respondents have made changes to their development regulations in support of implementing their LCI Plan. In addition, sixty-three (63) percent stated that they are being proactive in creating design standards that comply with their LCI plan. Having the appropriate policies in place makes LCI Studies successful. The last section of the survey measured livability to determine if the efforts to implement projects and to amend policies have been successful in creating positive attitudes towards the perceived livability within the communities. The overall responses were positive; therefore, it can be assumed that there is a feeling of progress over the general affects of the LCI within the specific study area communities.
List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
A range of population and employment densities can be accommodated in various types of livable centers, as shown in this graphic from H-GAC.
Source: H-GAC Livable Centers Program