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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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2 Sprawling cities - or the convenience and inconvenience of everyday life


The following section deals in more detail with the general background of this research: having outlined the aspects in U.S. urban development that have led to the present situation, ecologic problems arising from urban sprawl as well as the legal and planning framework to deal with them will be described. 2.1 Sprawl and Anti-Sprawl 2.1.1 History of U.S. urban development Like their European counterparts, American cities before 1840 developed over time resulting in a dense fine-grained mixture of several uses as the automobile had not yet been invented and the main transportation mode was walking. With the industrialization and the development of horsecars and railroads, wealthy people moved to the peripheries of the cities away from immigrants, workers, and dust. Later, streetcars facilitated this also for less affluent parts of the population – the first wave of suburbanization occurred. Accordingly, from 1910 to 1940 the percentage of residents living in suburban regions of the 200 largest metropolitan areas increased from 24 to 37 percent. The invention of the automobile made transportation almost ubiquitous as people could settle down anywhere. From 1910 to 1930, the number of cars in the U.S. increased from 458,000 to 23.2 million, further aggravating the suburbanization (TEAFORD 2008, pp. 17f.). After WWII, when the automobile became affordable for the majority of the population, suburbanization became a mass phenomenon (KNOX & MCCARTHY 2005 pp. 116ff.). Consequently, as cities became less dense segre- gation and separation aggravated. A change in planning paradigms further reinforced these processes. Ho- ward’s “Garden...

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