Sunday, March 25, 2012

Planning for the paranoid: Not the only one connecting Trayvon Martin case to sprawl

Someone else did a much better job making links between design and the Trayvon Martin case. It's hard to tell how much communities of this type are the product of paranoia or the cause of it since it's very much a self reinforcing cycle. The need for freedom from crime is of course, universal but in spite of the sales pitch, the standard gated community offers only the false promise of safety.

I was going to do a much better post about this with screenshots of the area from google maps but--I don't know how to grab images. (In spite of the post title--the development where this happened was far from all white-but it had undergone rapid changes which likely played a big role in what happened.)

Gates, sprawl, and 'walking while black'

Those who don’t drive are likely to be on the economic margins or intrepid teenagers—old enough to be on their own but without wheels—who can hurry across huge crossings and ignore conditions that are miserable for anyone on foot. Walkers in this environment are therefore the recipient of pity or suspicion—in this case, the extreme suspicion that resulted in the death of Martin, who was walking to the 7-11 to get Skittles and iced tea on the evening of February 26.

The development’s gate creates a fortress mentality, with some people viewed as legitimate and others as threatening outsiders or interlopers, notes Laurence Aurbach of Pedshed. The gate is most effective for cars. Pedestrians are able to slip in and out easily through the woody buffer that separates the project from the arterial roads. Pedestrians are most feared by some residents, according to a story in the Palm Beach Post. “It’s a gated community, but you can walk in and steal whatever you want,” said one resident.

This might be one of the best articles with backround on the development where this happened.

Trayvon Martin's killing shatters safety within Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford

I still hope to get back and do a much better post about this and or possibly upgrade this one.


Lj said...

Upon a recent visit to Spring Branch neighborhood in Houston Texas, I remarked to my guide that there was a noticeable lack of sidewalks. The comment returned was that the residents believed "That if you were on foot you were up to no good."

It was community in which a car was necessary to secure the basics of life.

Made me rethink southern hospitality.

John Morris said...

The weird thing here is that this particular development had walking paths and a certain amount of social space like a community center. It also seemed to be almost right across a big road from a big mall type thing. Many residents said they chose to live there because one could walk a little.

The problem is that the border between what is public-OK and what is private is not clear.

The concept of a gated community is that everyone goes through the gate--has a pass etc, which makes it sort of like a giant apartment building where you are buzzed in.

This sort of works with cars, but of course but unless, the community takes it to the next level and creates an actual fence/prison, people are free to just walk in and around the gate.
Instantly, however anyone doing that is a suspect.

The total area, is even more car oriented. Someone calling the cops in a place like this could easily say--they are walking--it's suspicious!