Planning for aging boomers includes rethinking transit

George Cagle, 52, can’t see himself playing bingo in his golden years — unless it’s atop Mt. Whitney.

The Pacifica resident took up wilderness survival two years ago, and has since climbed Half Dome, tested his mettle in the Anza-Borrego desert and backpacked all over California with wilderness travel company Adventure Out.

“I think a lot of baby boomers like me are circling back to the things that were exciting to us when we were younger. Maybe we’ve raised a familyor put time into a career, and getting out into the wilderness is a way to feel connected to the earth again,” he said.

County officials say Cagle and his peers’ biggest impact is their sheer numbers. According to San Mateo County Health Department data, nearly 30 percent of San Mateo County’s population will be 60 or older by 2030.

The time to start planning for their housing, transportation and recreational needs is now, said San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier.

On Friday, Tissier hosted “Livable Communities for Successful Aging,” a forum where architects, elected officials, municipal planners and community development professionals discussed how to tackle those needs.

Statistically, San Mateo County baby boomers are expected to be seniors with high levels of education and resources, she said. And like Cagle, they are unlikely to part with the freedom the enjoy.

“They have a more active lifestyle. They’ll want easier access to shopping, theaters, ways they can be mobile,” she said.

Chris Mohr, executive director of the nonprofit Housing Leadership Council, said a recent county survey of older adults revealed that half of them said they’d be interested in a smaller unit closer to transit, shops and services.

“One of the findings of the survey was that the housing stock in the county may not be adequate to provide the choices baby boomers may want when they become our elders,” he said.

San Mateo architect Dan Ionescu, who spoke at the forum Friday, said developing intergenerational communities close to shopping and transit would be critical during the next 30 years.

“We’ve designed our towns and cities for cars. We have to change. We have to start designing for people,” he said.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

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