Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Gated "communities"

Expand Messages
  • Matt Hohmeister
    Anyone familiar with suburbia has encountered gated residential areas--a tract-housing neighborhood or an apartment complex is surrounded by a fence, and has
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 23, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      Anyone familiar with suburbia has encountered gated residential
      areas--a tract-housing neighborhood or an apartment complex is
      surrounded by a fence, and has entrance gates. Residents have remote
      controls in their cars, and guests can use a touchpad phone at the
      gate to let their host know of their arrival--then the host can "buzz"
      the gate.

      And so much for security--you can walk (or ride a bike) into one of
      those areas in a second due to gaping holes. You only get the security
      clearance if you're in a car. :)

      Granted, some of those gated apartment complexes have very respectable
      buildings: well-built, attractive, 3-story buildings, each about 4
      apartments wide (thus, 12 apartments per buildling). Unfortunately,
      the swaths of parking between and around them kinda messes the whole
      thing up. :)

      I was once in Pozuelo, a relatively pedestrian-friendly suburb of
      Madrid. I went to a gated apartment complex there. Their gate? A
      walk-through gate with an electronic lock and a phone to ring your
      host. The gate goes into a center courtyard/pool area, and allows
      access to the apartments. This is how I can envision gated areas in
      Carfree.

      What we should *not* have in Carfree is gated areas so big they're
      awkward to walk/bike around--like we have here.

      I assume that if some private developer wants to be radically
      paranoid, they can build a district with card/phone access to get off
      the main boulevard--and fence in the two "halves" of the district. On
      the other hand, that would be like making a carfree version of
      suburbia, and I hope that noone would want to live in such a place.

      I would hope that, while gated apartment bulidings would still exist
      to make the courtyard private, we would not have to be so
      security-paranoid, since Carfree will have some of the cheapest
      security protection available: everyone outside in the streets. Are
      *you* gonna carry a stolen stereo out a broken window and walk down
      the street with it if you'll be seen?

      --matt
    • Matt Lyons
      ... buzz ... Interestingly enough I spent my formative years growing up in one of the proto gated communities in Atlanta. Brianwood, located off Lavista Rd.
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 24, 2001
      • 0 Attachment
        --- In carfree_cities@y..., "Matt Hohmeister" <mdh6214@g...> wrote:
        > Anyone familiar with suburbia has encountered gated residential
        > areas--a tract-housing neighborhood or an apartment complex is
        > surrounded by a fence, and has entrance gates. Residents have remote
        > controls in their cars, and guests can use a touchpad phone at the
        > gate to let their host know of their arrival--then the host can
        "buzz"
        > the gate.

        Interestingly enough I spent my formative years growing up in
        one of the proto gated communities in Atlanta. Brianwood, located
        off Lavista Rd. a few miles NE of the Emory/Druid Hills area, was
        built in the 70s as a sort of house/condo hybrid development. The
        individual condo units were basically houses that were connected to
        their neighbor by a common wall. They weren't exactly townhouses
        either(though a few could be considered as such), as their
        architecture and design had more in common with the traditionl
        residential dwellings of the time.

        Go here to see a picture:
        http://www.condoatlanta.com/Brianwood.html

        The development is fronted by brick and wooden fencing, but
        there is no physical gate structure, unlike some other similar
        developments from this time period. Serving as little more than a
        symbolic barrier, it nevertheless sent the message that this was a
        private community seperate from the surrounding 1950s/60s
        neighborhood. I was four years old at the time when my dad decided
        to buy one of the initial units in Phase I of the development in
        1973. I imagine he did this because the lack of a yard appealed to
        his anti-yard work sensibilities. In exchange for this he agreed to
        pay a monthly condominium association fee. This fee, in addition to
        paying for landscaping, was used to pay for trash collection, street
        repairs, and the community clubhouse/swimming pool.

        In many ways the development is a sort of traditional/suburban
        subdivision hybrid. It shares such New Urbanist design philosophies
        as garages in the rear of the house and a variety of housing types.
        The square footage and amenities of the units range from small
        townhouses to medium sized single family houses to large three story
        single family luxury units. On the negative side it is still very
        much a single use development with the closed traffic street pattern
        of any modern subdivision.

        I think its easy to bash this type of development, since at face
        value it has all the appearance of being anti-community. However,
        Steven Lagerfeld makes some very valid points in his review of
        "Fortress America" as to why this is most likely not the case.

        "It's at least arguable, for example, that residents of these places,
        with their involvement in both local public government and their own
        private homeowner associations, show a higher level of civic
        participation than their neighbors. And for all their seeming
        selfishness, they are willing to make significant sacrifices for
        their common life. Living in a community under the auspices of a
        private homeowner association entails two big additional costs.
        Residents must pay stiff association dues, running into the thousands
        of dollars annually, in addition to their local taxes. And they must
        sacrifice a fair amount of freedom, since the associations are
        exuberant regulators. They limit what colors residents can paint
        their houses, tell them where they can park their cars, forbid them
        to put up basketball hoops in their driveways, and so on. The list is
        endless. Outsiders may recoil at this gluttony for social order, but
        restrictions like these do represent costs that people are willing to
        pay to achieve what they see as a desirable community life."

        http://www.civnet.org/journal/issue5/revlager.htm

        In the case of Brianwood, I experienced firsthand the dark side of
        this enforced social order. Most of the people in the community were
        not terribly interested in children and did little to accomodate
        them. I would say 2/3 of the residents didn't have kids as they were
        either retirees or adults who were living a childfree lifestyle.
        They moved there precisely so they didn't have to deal with the
        hassles and annoyances of children.

        In one particular instance we were forced to take down a
        basketball hoop precisely because it annoyed the old lady a couple
        units over. This same old lady constantly complained about us doing
        the normal things that kids do - i.e. playing and making noise.
        Indeed it seemed to be a hobby of hers to keep a eye out for kids
        getting into mischief(and letting their parents know of course). As
        a result, growing up as a kid my play options in the community were
        somewhat limited. This doesn't mean we were bored however, as we had
        plenty of places to explore as the construction of the development
        continued until the early 80s. Sand piles used for cement made great
        places to play with Tonka trucks and Star Wars figures. When we got
        a little older the construction sites themselves made a great place
        to play war(much to the construction workers dismay).

        Anyway, if you're ever in Atlanta and have time you should check the
        development out, as its from a time when developers were a little
        more progressive in their thinking.

        -Matt
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.