Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Crime Wave in the 'Burbs


At least it's good to know Dallas is no longer the violent crime capital of the country.

This article could be turned into a book. I find it overly simplistic that section 8 vouchers (not taking a stand yay or nay on them) are solely at fault. Look at the picture of the neighborhood in question in "nice" North Memphis:

Hmmmm... gated garden-style apartment. Never woulda guessed.

These are all over Dallas as well and you know what? They are often full of trouble as well, even in "nice" North Dallas. Aside from other factors and over conglomeration of one type of unit/building in one place, I have seen too many that are literally structurally failing: sagging balconies, floor joists caving into the units, etc.

Gates don't mean security. I'm reminded of a Goodie Mob lyric:
Were the gates put up to keep crime out or keep our asses in?
While this is very much a policy issue, there is also a design element. Proper design would have created an interconnected series of public streets (or private with at least a public-access easement - if maintenance is an issue) plugging into the contextual transportation framework, pulled buildings up to the street with architecture that feels more like a home and less like a filing cabinet and is built to last, and creates a variety of unit types and affordability.
This cul-de-sac style development prevalent in the 'burbs is and will be a crime haven. They are virtually impossible to police.

The article then goes on to say that crime is worse when areas have 20-40% below the poverty level than 40% or above. Of course it is. There is still an abundance of concentrated poverty, while the lesser percentage means it is in more places affecting greater areas and more populations.

The magic number often tossed around is 10%. That is ten percent of units in a development should be "affordable." I, personally, am a believer in this, at least conceptually, when public subsidy is involved in a project. But, the poverty level is now, what? 15 percent? How is it physically possible to build at a 10% ratio if that is the case?

Next question, with the falling dollar, rising costs of personal transportation and food, isn't that like a rising tide now drowning a greater percentage of the population???


Dallas, TX