Time for some real talk. While many people might say they want a neighborhood where they can have a big house with a big yard, few neighbors, and great local businesses within walking distance, those goals are often at odds with each other. The reason is simple: businesses need customers. If the customers aren’t in walking distance, you won’t have a walkable neighborhood.
Traditional American neighborhoods used to provide a diverse mix of housing options for homeowners, renters, people of different ages and walks of life. Over the 20th century, we made many of those options illegal, and that, more than anything else, has killed the walkability of many of our would-be 15-minute neighborhoods. Want to reverse it? Allow every neighborhood to incrementally fill in with housing options that meet people’s real needs.