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A Healthy Mix?

Health-Food Retail and Mixed-Use Development- Mobility-related Analysis of Grocery-Shopping Behavior in Irvine, California


Benjamin Heldt

Mixed-use developments are one of the means planners use to realize land-use changes required by SB375 to encounter climate change. The mix of land uses is intended to reduce distances between activities. However, for their economic viability, such projects require specialty retail as anchor tenants which draw a special customer base that may be willing to travel far. Consequently, specialty may contradict a mixed-use development’s intention to reduce traffic. This research looks into the spatial behavior of the customers of a health-food store that is located at the mixed-use development «Park Place» in Irvine, CA. Using a POS-intercept survey and GIS, the author found that regular health-food shoppers indeed travel significantly farther distances than occasional health-food shoppers.


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1 Introduction


Climate change is no doubt an important topic all over the world. Not only in emerging countries like China, but also in the developed world the triggers of climate change must be addressed. The main cause is the rising emissions of anthropogenic gases that enforce the natural greenhouse effect and are “very likely to lead to above-average global warming in the long term” (IPCC 2007, p. 5). Energy is the sector that generates the most emissions, with carbon dioxide being the gas predominantly emitted. Within energy, transport, in particular road transport is the major greenhouse gas (GHG) producing sector (IEA 2009, pp. 8, 115). One third of the world’s CO2 emissions from road transport is attributed to the U.S. (cf. TRB 2010, p. 16). This high share is mainly due to the energy-intensive, culturally inherent consumption and land use patterns that have resulted in ever-sprawling cities. Large-scale, low-price stores and shop- ping centers that can only be accessed by car are the prevalent retail formats. Thus the use of the automobile in everyday life has become inevitable – people depend on their cars – and road transport is still on the rise. In California for example, the transportation sector emitting the most greenhouse gases is passenger vehicles, contributing nearly 30% of all emissions (ARB 2008, p. 38). However, climate change is just one consequence, although no doubt the most serious one, of ever-increasing traffic – air pollution, health risks, and congestion are other major issues having an impact on everyday life. To reduce...

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