Findings about mixed-use communities and crime rates

Mixed-use developments are the rage these days among architects and planners, both in urban and suburban settings. However, there is some contradictory research about whether these developments have higher or lower crime rates. One recent study suggests that crime is reduced once there are enough people on the streets even as there might be a short-term increase in crime before the neighborhood has enough people on the streets. An earlier study had suggested that mixed-use neighborhoods lead to higher levels of crime and therefore, planners should design neighborhoods with features to reduce crime.

This reminds me of Jane Jacob’s ideas of “eyes on the street.” Jacobs suggested this was easier to maintain in mixed-use urban neighborhoods where storekeepers, shoppers, residents and others maintained a steady watch on what happened in the neighborhood.

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