A large part of the Our City study on the best family-friendly neighborhoods is based on facilities and amenities within walking distance. And for that, urban areas get the edge. Health scores are based on access to healthy food and access to health care.
“Studies show that as you improve or increase the rate of walking, you see an increase in health and health care costs,” said Jim Stone, executive director of Walk San Diego. “A lot of what we look at and take at face value are not signs of aging, but signs of inactivity.”
Stone said it is important for neighborhoods to have close proximity to good food sources, places where families can buy fresh fruit and vegetables.
“When people act healthy in one way it spills over into other areas of their lives,” Stone said.
Ten neighborhoods received a 10 for healthy food access, including Coronado, North Park and Barrio Logan, which recently had an influx of options.
At the other end, Kearny Mesa, Midway and Eastlake ranked poorly for access to healthy food.
When Spencer was looking at University City for a home, he shied away from the eastern part, which was further away from the Sprouts Farmers Market.
“On the east side you (may) have to drive 10 minutes for a grocery store, which seems much worse than being able to walk,” he said. “I am not sure if that is a real thing or psychological.”
Stone said residents prefer to walk their kids to school, walk to a park and walk to get food.
“Walkability is about building community,” Stone said. “To walk with someone and have a conversation is interactive. There is a reason that interactivity is a prized thing. That is the essence of being human.”
Stone bought his La Mesa home last year after looking at the best neighborhoods for walking. He is able to walk the neighborhood and catch the trolley to his office. He said the City of La Mesa is working hard to be a walkable community.
That attribute also attracted Spencer. After his exhaustive search, he and Heather chose a home in the Mount Helix section of La Mesa and moved in just weeks before their second child was born.