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Complete Neighborhoods

Compact Design Complete neighborhoods refer to places where people have safe and convenient access to retail and commercial goods and services, a variety of housing options, and community services.


Potential strategies to support complete neighborhoods include the following:

  • Mix complimentary land uses
  • Create active ground-floor uses
  • Support commercial and retail service diversity
  • Support community-serving uses, such as child care and health services
  • Mix housing types, including senior and affordable housing
  • Create public gathering places and open spaces
  • Balance jobs and housing


Offering daily needs (food, entertainment, and services) within a close proximity of home allows patrons to walk, bike, or take public transit safely and efficiently instead of traveling by automobile (Ewing and Cervero, 2010; Boarnet and Handy, 2014). In general, land use mix was more strongly associated with VMT reduction than compact design and density. For instance, Ewing and Cervero found that increasing land use mix was about twice as effective as land use density. Three meta-analyses concluded that the elasticity of vehicle travel with respect to land use mix is:

  • -0.01 to -0.17 (Boarnet and Handy, 2014), meaning that increasing land use mix by 10% reduces vehicle travel by 0.1% to 1.7%.
  • -0.02 to -0.11 (Spears, Boarnet, and Handy, 2010)
  • -0.09 (Ewing and Cervero, 2010)

The effect on transit ridership was slightly higher than for VMT (0.12 elasticity).