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Urban sustainability as a function of compromises households make deciding where and how to Live: Portland and seattle compared

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Helen Jarvis


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Planners and policy makers in the UK and the USA widely believe that negative attendants of growth, such as congestion, pollution and sprawl, can be stemmed by mixed-use 'urban village ' design solutions. It is assumed that concentrating jobs, housing, shops and schools within compact communities reduces individual recourse to energy-consuming movement. This paper critically examines this assumption. It draws on detailed observation of dual-earner household decisions concerning where and how to live, focusing on the two west-coast US cities of Portland and Seattle. The question is asked whether co-ordination of home and work is more manageable for working parents living in a compact city such as Portland. Contrary to popular belief, urban living is not synonymous with more localised modes of living. Residential preference does not hinge on job location or household structure alone. Equally, job location, child care and shopping practices do not hinge on residential location. For dual-earner households, tensions exist not only between individuals balancing the demands of competing careers but also between mutually exclusive tastes and identitities. Preferences associated with children 's education, attachment to place, local social networks and moral cultures effectively cross-cut those of housing choice, journey to work and personal environmental ethos. The resulting 'compromises' profoundly shape the profile and quality of the built environment and its associated ecological footprint. Understanding this requires further development of a household approach to urban social and environmental sustainability. © 2001 Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jarvis H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Local Environment

Year: 2001

Volume: 6

Issue: 3

Pages: 239-256

Print publication date: 01/01/2001

ISSN (print): 1354-9839

ISSN (electronic): 1469-6711


DOI: 10.1080/13549830120073257


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