March SmartCode Update

SmartCode is an effort by dedicated professionals to develop a responsive form-based unified development code. The SmartCode section of "Connections" intends to inform our member governments of new concepts in regulatory code. This month we examine emerging influences that inform the need for and the makeup of evolving codes.

Anyone with municipal responsibilities was paying attention to the statistics released February 24th by the U.S. Census Bureau. At an individual level, municipal officials examined gains and losses of population.

Interestingly, there are numbers within the numbers, patterns within the information collected over time through the census. There are several factors that will begin to have a dramatic effect on the demand for housing; one of those factors is the aging population.

Housing and development demands will morph in response to changing demands. Households with children will drop from 45 percent in 1970 to 27 percent in 2030. Households without children will rise sharply; aging baby boomers will be the majority. Three million people turn 65 each year. The aging population contributes to the lower demand for home ownership. The propensity for home ownership slows as people age. At the national level, home ownership rates have declined from a high of 69.2 percent in the second quarter of 2004, to 67.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009. The home ownership rate of those aged 45 to 55 went from 77 percent to 74.6 percent in the same time span. The home ownership rate of those aged 55 and older went from 82.4 percent to 79.8 percent in that same period.

As the economy emerges from the recession the nation's approach to home ownership will evolve. In coming months we will continue to examine the aspects that impact community development and discuss regulatory changes in response to the evolving market.

If you have SmartCode questions, please contact Steve Ostaseski, Richard Amore or Philip Amthor at the RPCGB. Steve may be reached by phone at 205.264.8422. Richard may be reached by phone at 205.264.8447. Philip may be reached by phone at 205.264.8421.