NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Planning is more art than science II

In a previous post, I made the case for not relying heavily on past trends to predict the future of Nevada County, as we seek to define a community vision. A community vision we can all share and work to create. In addition to my previous post, for not relying on past trends, are the retiring baby boomers which are not well represented in these trends. The forward edge of the 77 million baby boomers will reach the traditional retirement age of 65 in 2011, just six years from now. By 2020, a full wave of boomers will be retiring. This cohort controls over 77 percent of Americas financial assets. They have more discretionary money to spend than any other cohort. The 65-79 age group is the largest user of consumers and government services, including financial, health care, security, and recreation. They are also the cohort with the largest political clout. The most powerful voting block in the nation is the 55 to 74 year olds. They tend to oppose government services that do not directly benefit to their age group. And, many of these boomers are coming to Nevada County.

We have been, and will continue to be, a retirement destination. This trend will increase as the boomers retire and leave behind the coastal city’s traffic congestion, crime and urban decay for more quiet and safe surroundings in the foothills. They will have the money to buy the higher price homes on large lots. This expanding cohort is not well represented in the past trends. It is important that our planners anticipate the needs of the boomers. Studies have shown they are more educated, more active, more self sufficient, and very healthy. They will be seeking activities and will be highly mobile. Studies show they want houses on large quiet lots, having put up with the crush of city life for years. It is a planners myth they will want to be cooped up in dense multifamily housing arrangements. This will produce more sprawl, traffic and transportation issues for local planners.

We need to consider the impact and the needs of the boomers as we create a vision our future in Nevada County.

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