GeoDesign Knowledge Portal

Geographic Context

Planning can occur at various levels, scales and jurisdictions. Some reflect functional geographic boundaries and others reflect political jurisdictions. It is important to carefully define geographic areas for planning and evaluation purposes. For example, when referring to a particular city somebody could mean its Central Business District (CBD), urban neighborhoods, legal jurisdiction, or the city and its adjacent suburbs, which may be defined as a metropolitan planning area. Statistics, such as population, employment and travel data published by census or transportation agencies, may reflect any of these areas. A planning process should cover appropriate geographic units.

Geographic areas may be categorized in the following ways:
-- Urban: relatively high density (5+ housing units per gross acre), mixed land use, with multi-modal transport (typically including walking, cycling, public transit, automobile and taxi service).
-- Suburban: medium density (2-10 residents, 1-5 housing units per acre), segregated land uses, and an automobile-dependent transportation system.
-- Town: Smaller urban centers (generally less than 20,000 residents).
-- Village: Small urban center (generally less than 1,000 residents).
-- Exurban: low density (less than 1 house per acre), mostly farms and undeveloped lands, located near enough to a city for residents to commute and use services there.
-- Rural: low density (less than 1 house per acre), mostly farms and undeveloped lands, with a relatively independent identify and economy.
-- Greenspace (also called Openspace): biologically active lands such as gardens, parks, farms, woodlands, etc.

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