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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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7 Beyond Park Place


The urban sprawl, that provides some with the “American Dream” of living a quiet and clean family life, imposes severe consequences on others, particularly consequences that are related to traffic. In the U.S., the State of California faces the most serious problems with 30% of all GHG emissions stemming from passenger vehicles. As a consequence, State Bill 375 requires all the involved stakeholders to contribute to reduce green house gases by changing land use patterns. Sustainable transportation, that produces low GHG emissions can be achieved by three measures: cities must be designed in such a way that, first, person trip distances are decreased, second, the share of non-motorized uses is increased and third, the share of chained trips is high (cf. PÄTZOLD 2009, p. 5). One of the planning instruments introduced by the New Urbanism to achieve this is the mixed use development. A MXD is a relatively large-scale develop- ment that consists of more than two uses at one site which are interconnected by a pedestrian network and support each other; all the uses are usually developed according to one coherent plan. In terms of SB 375 MXDs are intended to save vehicle miles traveled which can be attained either by changing the modal split or reducing distances between different land uses. However, MXDs frequently only have limited high-rental retail space available that can only be occupied by specialty stores which achieve a high turnover per area ratio and thus can afford such a location. This type of...

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