Monday, August 15, 2005

The Most Chilling Story

Today's NY Times has a long-ish piece about the ex-urbs which is nothing short of bone-chilling. Here's the bits that popped out at me:

In its most recent survey of Tampa home buyers, KB asked people what they valued the most in their home and community. They wanted more space and a greater sense of security. Safety always ranks second, even in communities where there is virtually no crime. Asked what they wanted in a home, 88 percent said a home security system, 93 percent said they preferred neighborhoods with "more streetlights" and 96 percent insisted on deadbolt locks or security doors.


So KB Home offers them all. "It's up to us to figure out what people really want and to translate that into architecture," said Erik Kough, KB's vice president for architecture. And the company designs its communities with winding streets with sidewalks and cul-de-sacs to keep traffic slow, to give a sense of containment and to give an appearance distinctly unlike the urban grid that the young, middle-class families instinctively associate with crime. "I definitely feel safe here. I feel protected," said Lisa Crawford, who moved to New River about a year ago with her husband, Steve, and their two children.

These communities are ballooning all over the US. They are based on an appeal to fear. Look at how these communities are designed: locks, security systems, a "sense of containment," an appearance that repels the notion of crime-y urban grids, etc.

And of course, these areas are way Republican. What I'm finding so scary is I am at a loss to figure out what to say to these people. These folks have voted with their feet, saying, "we want out. You diverse society is too scary for us, and we want no part of it. We want to hole up with poeple like ourselves and be left alone."

How do you respond to that?