Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Effects of Urban Greenways on the Geography of Office Sectors and Employment Density in Seoul, Korea

Myungjun Jang1

Chang-Deok Kang2

1 Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Daegu University, Kyungsan, Korea

2 Department of Urban Planning and Real Estate, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea

Creativity is a core value of the contemporary urban economy. Thus, the creative class in such diverse fields as science and engineering, architecture and design, education, the arts, and music and entertainment is the main driver of new ideas and technologies, and is the vehicle for urban economic prosperity. It is logical that city leaders should prioritize policies that solicit and retain the creative class in particular urban settings. We postulate that amenities are influential in attracting highly skilled and creative workers. Therefore, we hypothesize that the presence of an urban greenway influences the location decisions of businesses, because workers prefer to be in a clean and neat environment.
We test whether Seoul’s urban greenway attracts and retains office sectors. In order to define office sectors, we integrate the typical office sector categories with Florida’s creative class concept after a critical review of related literature. Next, we isolate the effects of the greenway on the spatial distribution of office sectors and on employment density by reviewing background theories and empirical research. Here, we utilize multilevel modeling to fit the data structure, discuss the main findings, and provide our conclusions and policy implications.
Our multilevel models confirm that Seoul’s urban greenway tends to attract and retain firms in office sectors within a kilometer, while the freeway provides a favorable infrastructure for the geography of service industries. In addition, employment density increased within wide bands surrounding the urban greenway, in contrast to the freeway, which only had a similar effect within narrow bands.
This study shows that the urban greenway is a favorable factor for the location choice for the advanced and general office sectors, while the previous freeway infrastructure offered mobility benefits for the services category. The presence of public amenities has influenced the knowledge-based sectors’ pooling near the CGC corridor. Businesses are more likely to locate in close proximity to the CGC corridor in order to attract better workers. In addition, the co-location of retail shops and restaurants near the corridor has attracted office sectors that tend to rely on aspects of the urbanization economy, such as social networking and the exchange of knowledge. By contrast, the freeway was important for businesses in the services sector because customers relied on access to the transportation network.
This study raises questions concerning constructed amenities in an age of climate change. These questions should be addressed by further research. Many city leaders invest public finance in designing and building amenities to convert auto-oriented urban settings into people- and environment-oriented sites. Further and more detailed evaluation of similar projects would provide better references for constructed amenities. We believe that the spatiotemporal frame of this study could provide a cornerstone for identifying local variables that generate the spatial differences affecting business location decisions and employment density.

Assessing residential satisfaction among low income households in multi-habited dwellings in selected low income communities in Accra

Dr. Irene Appeaning Addo

Urban low income housing units in Ghana are often described as inadequate, lacking the basic amenities and found in poor neighbourhoods. Some of these neighbourhoods are overcrowded and characterised with rundown facilities, poor quality buildings, poor environmental facilities and poor sanitation. Although these neighbourhood characteristics are not contested, residents’ perception and use of these neighbourhoods may be contrary to what the policy maker thinks. Moreover, research has shown that households’ staying in multi-habited houses in the low income communities in Ghana exhibit very little residential mobility. Apart from lack of funds, what other factors could account for this observation? Could it be some form of residential satisfaction that they derive from living in their communities? Could it be the existence of social networks that help them to get by in life? Research in Ghana has looked at the physical characteristics of housing and the existing social dynamics as a composite measure of residential satisfaction in these neighbourhoods. The contribution of neighbourhood characteristics on residential satisfaction was not actually studied. However, it plays a significant role in residential satisfaction and household mobility patterns.

In my paper I explore dwelling characteristics, social networks and neighbourhood characteristics as a composite measure of residential satisfaction of multi-habited low income households in some communities in Accra. This was achieved by presenting the nature of multihabitation, measuring the level of residential satisfaction among low income households and identifying the specific variables that influence residential satisfaction.

The results show that there is a direct correlation between the shared facilities such as electricity supply and bathroom available in the house and the level of residential satisfaction. Where the households had enough facilities to share with less associated conflict, they expressed greater residential satisfaction. Dissatisfaction is high among households living in overcrowded family houses in some indigenous communities in Accra.

Overall, the study indicates that residents living in compound houses were moderately satisfied with their dwelling characteristics, neighbourhood characteristics and existing social networks. Surprisingly, many more residents were moderately satisfied with their neighbourhood characteristics as compared to the physical characteristics and access to informal social networks. Proximity to recreational areas also played a key role in residents’ satisfaction and these should be included in plans for urban low income housing. Policy makers often think about only housing for the poor and leave out the ancillary community facilities.  

Urban housing development in Ghana should be matched with infrastructure development and pioneered by private developers instead of state institutions.  At best, public-private partnership should be promoted. State institution-led projects in Ghana have not been very efficient and muddled with corrupt practices. Local development banks could be encouraged to invest in sanitation and other infrastructure development in urban low income communities. Moreover, there should be rigorous policies to drive urban infrastructure expansion, enforcement of local government by-laws to ensure that each low income house has adequate amenities and utilities such as bathrooms, toilets, electricity and water supply.