Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Gated communities: Are they anti-social ogres that reflect clannish fears of the “other”? Or they are simply a privately created response to sophisticated new desires for home and community?
Popular perception typically imagines gated developments in Sun Belt exurbs –- an image that may bring with it baggage of geographic and regional intolerance. But gated developments aren’t just for suburbs of Atlanta and Phoenix any more. They are popping up in unlikely places, as the New York Times recently explored in an interesting article about such a community in Brooklyn, NY. Not only is the new development closed to outsiders, it is also residential-only -– no mixed use, thank you –- and low density. It’s enough to make a new urbanist holler in pain.
I’m uneasy abut the gated development phenomenon, although my worries concern things such as auto-traffic channeling more than they do the over-sold assertions that open neighborhoods engender the embrace of differing social classes and ethnicities. But the allure of suburban-living close to downtown is just as appealing to many families as bringing culture and walkable streets to the suburbs is to others.