Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jobs-Housing Balance, Jerry Weitz, American Planning Assn., PAS Report #516, 2003

This report, published by the American Planning Association, explores the role of jobs-housing balance in communities.  Of particular importance to the ongoing Reston planning effort, it states (p. 4):

"Jobs-housing balance is a planning tool that local governments can use to achieve a roughly equal number of jobs and housing units (or households) in a jurisdiction. The notion of balancing jobs and housing goes well beyond trying to attain numerical equality. Ideally, the jobs available in a community should match the labor force skills, and housing should be available at prices, sizes, and locations suited to workers who wish to live in the area. Hence, there is a qualitative as well as quantitative component to achieving jobs-housing balance. Jobs-housing balance is a planning technique rather than a regulatory tool. Nonetheless, this report demonstrates the various ways that the concept of jobs-housing balance can be applied
in local land-use regulations and large-scale development reviews."
Why does this matter from the perspective of this report (p. 1)?

Land-use patterns (with major imbalances)—which have increased travel distances because of the separation of homes, jobs, and other destinations—can be blamed for approximately one-third of the increase in driving. Better-planned mixed-use communities with balanced jobs and housing can help reduce travel distances and thus limit the growth in trip lengths (Urban Land Institute 1999). These better-planned communities can also provide additional benefits, including a reduction in the amount of land developed overall to meet the needs of growing populations as well as greater efficiency in the provision and use of public infrastructure and services.
We would note that an equal number of jobs and housing units implies more than twice as many residents as jobs in a community based on the assumptions the Reston Task Force is using about household size (2 persons/HHs in TOD areas, ~2.3 persons/HH elsewhere).  This is almost the reverse of where the county's DPZ and  Reston Task Force are currently heading

Click here to read the report in its entirety. 

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