One of my favorite bloggers on the the subjects of economics and culture looks at aging and writes…
Older people, like the rest of us, of course have differing tastes and a variety of preferences for how they’d like to live, but it’s also the case that as people age, mental and physical capacities can begin to decline. At some point, many people should really just stop driving, or at the very least be in a place where they can get by with minimal mostly short distance driving, where home deliveries of things like groceries are options, where taxi rides are possible, etc. It’s hard to see how 2800 homes not near anything else is the ideal retirement community.
A Fresno-area developer has proposed one of these destructive developments. The developer of “Millerton New Town” has selected a totally isolated location 12 miles from the city of Fresno for the site of a 2,800-home development.
The developer has defended his plans by saying Millerton New Town will be “self-sufficient” and will be occupied by retirees who won’t commute to Fresno. Stop and Move author James Sinclair easily refutes these claims:
- Why would someone want to retire in a car dependent exurb? Hospitals? 30 minute drive. Doctor? 30 minute drive. Friends and family? 30 minute drive. As people get old, they lose their ability to drive, and they become more reliant on doctors. Putting old people in an isolated rural subdivision? Bad idea. And assuming these are wealthy retirees, don’t they want to dine at nice restaurants? Those are in Fresno. Don’t they want upscale shopping? Fresno.
- A self-sufficient community? So much laughter. 2,800 homes may be able to support a supermarket, a CVS, a few nail salons and Chinese take-out … but people want more. People want to shop at Target, Best Buy, Costco, etc, none of which will EVER locate in a community of that size (they require much larger customer bases). People want a Cinema and bowling alley. People want a large selection of restaurants.
Aging is a team sport and it is best accomplished in close association with other people. I agree with Atrios that this crazy out in the middle of nowhere “retirement community” is a bad idea and will serve the people who live there very poorly indeed.