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The One Thing Boomers and Millennials Both Want

San Diego

... besides these arbitrary, generational nicknames to stop.

We chatted with AECOM principal and American Planning Association president Bill Anderson. An APA national survey found that, of the 44% of Millennials and Boomers who anticipate moving within the next five years, San Diego is their No. 1 choice. Both are looking for similar characteristics, such as quality and affordability. With today's global economy and the Internet, people have more options for where they choose to live, start a business, or create an industry cluster.

It's not just Chargers or the hipster vibe at Craft & Commerce that's got their attention. If you look at the 300 metros that respondents named, urban cities ranked highest—New York, Boston, Denver, and San Francisco rounding out the top five; Portland, Seattle, and Austin also were frequently named. According to Bill, people are looking for more choices in terms of mobility—think bikeable, walkable neighborhoods with access to transit. (Just don't try to ticket Alec Baldwin for going the wrong way.)

Another of the survey's pithier findings: 79% of the Millennials said attracting new businesses by investing in schools, transportation options, and walkable areas is better than recruitment of companies. (Take that, Plano.) For developers of commercial properties, the key is to capture these preferences in their projects and be leaders in creating that overall public environment, where the city or the neighborhood is the amenity. "It's not just the building anymore."

As a resident and former planning director of San Diego, Bill's not surprised by our strong showing. It's already known as a lifestyle city, he notes. As chairman of the San Diego Planning Commission, Bill helped formulate the "City of Villages" smart-growth strategy which creates mixed-use walkable, bikeable, and transit-served environments that reflect the neighborhoods in which they're located. He's a native San Diegan whose first car was a '67 Impala and now takes the San Diego Trolley to work. (He missed the one passing below his window, but there'll be another one shortly.)