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What is livability? How does the built environment influence resident perceptions of livability? Although livability is a broadly used term and a key goal in land use and transportation plans at the state level, it is unclear whether residents think their neighborhoods are livable and what contributes to their perception of livability. The purpose of the project was to understand how Oregonians, in neighborhoods of varying densities and within Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), perceive livability at the nexus of transportation and land use. We sought to understand how residents define and perceive livability in three different MPOs in the state: Albany, Central Lane, and Rogue Valley. Our survey instrument included questions about livability, satisfaction, housing choice, and preferred and current characteristics of the neighborhood and accessibility.

We found that perceptions were more influential in describing livability than objective or sociodemographic measures. We found that people tradeoff affordability and livability. When people said that housing affordability was more important in decisions about housing and neighborhood choice, they had more negative perceptions of livability in their neighborhood. But people who prioritize accessibility have a more positive perception of livability. Individuals that reported better access to transportation options across a broad range of measures reported higher ratings of livability. Pedestrian improvements and natural amenities were important to survey respondents. Finally, objective and subjective measures of density negatively impacted perceptions of livability.

The seminar will discuss the findings of this work and takeaways for planners at the local, regional, and state level.

Biographical Information

Rebecca Lewis, PhD., is an Assistant Professor in Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon and Research Director for the Sustainable Cities Initiative. She is a faculty affiliate of the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland. Her research broadly focuses on land use policy, growth management, state transportation spending, and housing in rural communities. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of the American Planning Association, State and Local Government Review, and the American Journal of Public Health. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy.


Quality of life, City planning -- Oregon, Local transit -- Oregon


Transportation | Transportation Engineering | Urban Studies

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Analysis of the Contribution of Transportation and Land Use to Citizen Perceptions of Livability