Fostering Neighborhood Viscosity: Does Design Matter?

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Municipal governments often struggle with growth and infrastructure while trying to emphasize collaboration between citizens and administrators in developing and implementing public programming. Neotraditional or New Urban design advocates assert neighborhood design as a response to concerns that rapid community growth, sprawl, and the resulting social and political changes lead to deteriorating quality of life and democratic participation in communities. Advocates argue neighborhood design elements that increase pedestrian traffic and encourage social interaction may mitigate the effects of income disparity and citizen apathy. Results from this study – using geographic information systems technology along with demographic data, land use information, and neighborhood viscosity indicators – indicate traditional design elements do not necessarily associate with factors assumed to foster neighborhood viscosity such as more civic engagement.