On Friday morning Envision Virginia Beach 2040 held a large public meeting at the Town Center Westin Hotel. Any member of the public could participate, provided you sent in your RSVP by the previous Friday.
The centerpiece was a Presentation by John Martin, President and CEO of the Southern Institute of Research. A demographer by profession, he covered occurring trends. That was followed by Questions & Answers, then breakouts at individual tables. Everyone then regrouped for a closing session.
Some bigger facts from Martin's Presentation:
1. The United States was 75% White in 1975, but will be only 25% White by 2090.
2. The Earth faces resource (particularly water and food) challenges, but is tackling them through our vastly improving technology.
3. 83% of Generation Y sleep with their cell phone on, and 75% of them use social media.
4. 800 million people worldwide engage in urban agriculture, producing 15%-20% of the food supply.
5. 80% of the world's population lives in urban areas.
Some trends that strike home at Virginia Beach:
1. Our population should reach 540,000 by 2040.
2. In the next twenty years, our White population will shrink by 9%, while our minority population will grow by 57%.
3. By 2040, Virginia Beach will be minority-majority.
4. Senior citizens will double as a percentage of our population, and 1 in 4 of them won't have a driver's license.
5. The growing number of households led by single people will require smaller and cheaper housing units.
Martin told the story of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club. When the British colonized India, they wanted to play golf, so they built the club (which still exists today). One problem: monkeys inhabited the course, and would come down and move golf balls, changing the lie. First they tried to trap the monkeys and move them, and then put nets along the fairways. Nothing worked. Therefore, a simple ground rule was implemented, "Play the ball where the monkey dropped it." The point: fighting the monkeys was futile, so the British would need to adapt. In the same vein, we need to adapt to our conditions today.
I didn't spot any members of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) in attendance. That's too bad, as they would have heard John Martin explain that building a regional light rail network is a no-brainer, including the Virginia Beach extension.
Envision Virginia Beach 2040 is a committee appointed by the Virginia Beach City Council, seeking to draft a 30 year road map for our City. Their report is scheduled to go to Council in the Spring of 2012.
The Presentation Martin made was taped, and it is planned to put it as streaming video on the City's website.