Friday, December 30, 2011
For fun, mindless, internet browsing, some people go to sites like boingboing or happyplace, or stalk high school girlfriends on Facebook, but our site of choice is the Cyburbia Land Use and Zoning Forum. Ever wonder how to outzone Inflatable-air-dancer-thingies? Need tips for taking down fraternities in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals? Having trouble writing setback regulations for water slides? Well look no further! If, like us, you're unhealthily fascinated by the politics of the built environment, you might find the forum as endlessly amusing as we do. Highly recommended!
Thursday, December 29, 2011
None of us can quite remember how we stumbled upon this link about the documented Civil Rights abuses committed by SPEED BUMPS, and neither have we researched the issue any further (and nor do we know what it says about us that we are researching such things in the first place), but in any event, it appears that SPEED BUMPS have a shot at the Arsenal of Exclusion. To build a case against traffic calmng measures, some anti traffic-calming group points out that: "Citizens in Houston, Texas filed a complaint with HUD that gates installed as part of a calming project were used to segregate communities along racial and socio-economic lines. HUD found the City of Houston in violation of the civil rights of its citizens and ordered the gates removed. Gates were replaced with humps to effectively, though less obviously, achieve the same result - denial of access by minorities and tenants of lesser socio-economic status to the use of adjacent neighborhoods." If anyone knows more about this, please don't hesitate to let us know!
We have been reading The Fires, a great book by Joe Flood about the (mostly devastating) consequences of Mayor Lindsay's decision to enlist the RAND Corporation and their "new budget science" to help New York City's Fire Department do more with less in the 1970s. There's a lot we could say about the book, which we are finding fairly riveting, but for now, suffice it to say that we have another entry in the Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion: COLD WATER. Flood writes that Robert Moses didn't heat pools in white neighborhoods near black ones because he didn't think blacks would swim in cold water. Awesome!
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
One thing we always emphasize when talking about the Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion is the fact that the entries have little meaning apart from how they are used. With the exception of things like BOMBS, entries in the Arsenal can usually go either way: they can exclude and include. This isn't just true of weapons like PUBLIC HOUSING, which theoretically opens the city to the poor but which in most cities was used as a means to foster racial segregation; it's true of weapons like RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS COVENANTS, which in at least one case (Baltimore's Morgan Park) were used by African Americans to build an affluent, vibrant, non-redlined neighborhood in the suburbs.
But one thing we rarely emphasize--and haven't written about--is the fact that our attitudes about openness in our cities can be so conflicting. This thought was provoked by this amazing window display in a real estate office near our office on Flatbush Avenue that caught our attention yesterday:
Needless to say, it seems odd to believe in one's right to live where one chooses but not stand where one chooses.