Monday, October 6, 2014

the book

So many things to post about these past few months . . . so few posts. . .

We have been working furiously to finish The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion the book, and have set aside any and all distractions. 156 essays on 156 weapons of exclusion and inclusion, with about as many photographs and illustrations, makes for a lot of writing and editing. The good news is that it is almost done, and we couldn't be more excited about it.

Until the book actually is done, we likely won't be posting much here. Do follow us on Twitter though (@access_wars), where we will be tweeting more regularly.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Ber sure to listen to this fascinating story from NPR about how people of color used the TURBAN as a tool for "confounding the color lines."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion on Twitter

The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion is now on Twitter: Stop by and say hello!

Monday, June 23, 2014

NYTimes on Beach Access

Be sure to check out today's NYTimes Room for Debate on Beach Access. Needless to say, we agree with our pal Andrew W. Kahrl that "beaches are our common inheritance and if we don't want to lose them, their protection must be our collective responsibility."

Saturday, May 17, 2014


RIP the New Haven / Hamden "Berlin Wall!" According to New Haven Independent, the 12' tall fence, which Hamden erected five decades ago in response to complaints about crimes committed by people living just over the city / suburb line, will be torn down, thanks in large part to a federal civil-rights investigation and the ensuing threat of a federal lawsuit.

Curious about the history of the wall? There's an interesting piece about it in The New Journal that underlines what a rotten thing this wall is: "Over 3,500 feet long, it assures that the one road into the projects is also the only way out. Residents hoping to buy groceries at a Hamden shopping center three miles away have to travel into New Haven to get around the fence, a 7.7-mile trip that takes two buses and up to two hours to complete. In the case of a flood or fire, emergency vehicles have to travel around the fence to help residents in the projects."

Needless to say, the decision to remove it was controversial: take a look at this New Haven Independent article from August 2012 about a "raucous" meeting of Hamdenites.

This is one of two fences we know of that suburbanites built at the city / suburb line to keep city-dwellers out of the suburbs (the other one was built around Baltimore's Hollander Ridge, which we have written about here previously). Does anyone know of any others?

NIMBY wrap-up

Playing catch-up here:

ADUs ("Granny Flats") in the New York Times

Also in the Times, The Crown Heights TENANT UNION

From Urban Omnibus, an excellent primer on COMMUNITY LAND TRUSTS

From Gothamist, a thoughtful piece on the Urstadt law

From the New Yorker, a thoughtful reflection on Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action

Surely, you have heard of Tennessee's BUS RAPID TRANSIT BAN by now

Here is the Washington Post on "What happens when the government tries to help poor people move to better neighborhoods?"

Why Is NYC Destroying A Thriving Immigrant Economy To Bail Out The Mets' Owners? That's a great question, Gothamist!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Socio-Technical Artifact of the Month!

We have a new socio-technical artifact of the month! Congratulations to this 10-level steel wheelchair ramp in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland!

The picture comes courtesy of the Guardian, who related this fascinating story of accessible design.

See the previous winner of the socio-technical artifact of the month here.


In our forthcoming book, we have essays about the secret, exclusionary life of FIRE ZONES and FIRE HYDRANTS; now it looks like we might have to add an essay about the secret, exclusionary life of FIRE itself. As the NYTimes reports, a developer is trying to build a $15 million, four-story, low(er)-income housing development "in a weed-covered, third-of-an-acre patch . . . squeezed between Metro-North Railroad tracks, an exit ramp off the Saw Mill Parkway and a stone bridge over the tracks." This would be interesting and arsenal of exclusion-worthy in and of itself, but the weapon in this case makes it an instant arsenal classic. Why can't this project be built? "The building inspector, William J. Maskiell, contends the site is hazardous because there is insufficient width around some sides of the building for fire ladders to gain access. He and the fire chief, Russell Maitland, also argue that an arched stone overpass leading to the site is too low to permit the largest fire trucks to pass." The developer made the obvious point that indeed few apartment buildings have access on all four sides. It's not too hard to see through this one. Hopefully the The Hudson Valley Board of Review will too when it hears the case in April.

For other posts about affordable housing projects facing opposition in other wealthy towns here, here, and here).

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

School Segregation Video on Nick News

This is definitely the first time we have posted anything from Nickelodeon, but judging from the sheer awesomeness of this "Nick News"video about Brown v. Board of Ed and Segregated Schools, it may not be the last. May every SpongeBob-watching child everywhere see this video.

Friday, February 14, 2014


This is a particularly sinister one. As reported in Forward Progressives, from Pensacola, Florida, a “camping ordinance” within the city that basically makes it illegal for anyone outside to cover themselves with a newspaper or blanket in cold or otherwise inclement weather. 


See previous posts on the SIDEWALK SITTING BAN, SIDEWALK MANAGEMENT PLAN, and HOMELESS FEEDING BAN to learn about the other weapons on the war against the homeless.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Kimmelman on the Korean seniors v. McDonald's kerfuffle

We simply love this article from our favorite architecture critic, Michael Kimmelman, as it combines so many of our interests (NORCs, Flushing, odd land-use disputes). It's also asks such an important question that no one bothered to ask in the coverage of the Korean seniors v. Flushing McDonald's kerfuffle: why were Korean seniors hanging out at this Flushing McDonald's in the first place? Recommended reading.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014


From the Atlantic Cities, an article about DRIVE-THRUS and how they discriminate against non-drivers by denying service to pedestrians, bikers, and wheelchair users. Reading the piece helped us recall that we had actually experienced this about a decade ago at a McDonald's on Tillary Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

Monday, January 20, 2014


In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, here's one of our favorite MLK quotes, from a 1963 interview in which he was asked about BUSING:

"I lean towards the view that it is a very tragic thing for young people, children to grow up in association, communication with only people of their own race. Prejudices develop from the very beginning because of this. Narrow provincial views emerge because of this. I think the only way to break this kind of provincialism is to bring people together on a level of genuine intergroup and interpersonal living. I do not think we can afford to wait until all the problems of residential segregation are solved before we grapple with the problem of segregation in educational institutions. Therefore, I lean towards the idea that segregation must be removed from schools all over the country. For I do not think that the residential segregation must be used as an excuse for the perpetuation of segregation in educational institutions." 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


There's a pretty thoughtful article about "How NYC's Decade of Rezoning Changed the City of Industry" on Curbed. It offers a nice overview of the city's recent (and shifting) industrial policies, from the free market idealizations of the Giuliani and early Bloomberg administrations, to Bloomberg's "about face"--evidenced by his establishment of Industrial Business Zones and The Mayor's Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses--to de Blasio's stated commitment to preserving and strengthening the industrial sector. "It can be easy at a glance to see New York City's endless cycles of growth and rebirth as an organic process," writes the author, but "[business owner Michael] Smart says he now understands that nothing in the city is as random or spontaneous as it seems. Neighborhood-wide change is largely sketched out, years in advance, by the city's decision makers." Well put.

We have previously written about industrial displacement, and are presently developing a plan for the Greenpoint / Williamsburg Industrial Business Zone. Both ask a question that we're frankly surprised more people don't ask: does the development of manufacturing areas have to be a zero-sum game? Does the hipster’s gain have to be the manufacturer’s loss, or can redevelopment happen in a way that mutually benefits both parties? What planning tools are out there that could foster the coexistence (rather than succession) of different uses and different socio-economic groups in one place? If such tools don’t exist, can we invent them? Could we imagine a “SumCity” plan for, say, North Williamsburg that sought creative ways to add the new to the old through zoning, design, branding, and strategic planning?

Friday, January 17, 2014

NIMBY New Year Wrap-Up

Some exclusion & inclusion-related stories around the news . . .

In our rush to promote higher-density urbanism, are we inadvertently creating child-free zones that are inhospitable to families with kids? That's a great question, and it is taken up in this piece in Atlantic Cities. The answer? Pretty much.

Here's a thoughtful piece in Architectural Record by Michael Sorkin, who we know and admire. Needless to say, we agree with Sorkin's premise that "it's time for New York and other cities to connect urban planning to social equity," and we share his optimism that our fearless new Mayor Bill de Blasio could right some of the wrongs of the previous administration. But since we're gathered here on this website to talk about NIMBYism, we thought we might call out the following contradiction: Sorkin bemoans the inability of "neighborhoods to meaningfully participate in planning their own destinies," but some of the things he is rightly critical of--for example, the fact that, under Bloomberg's watch, "historic," white, neighborhoods like the one we live in were downzoned, while "up-zoned lots tended to be located in census tracts with a higher proportion of nonwhite residents than the median tract in the city"--are the product of neighborhoods planning their own destinies. The point is, as the history of NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATIONS, MUNICIPAL ANNEXATION, and any number of other entries in our forthcoming book attest, it's important to remember that local control is a double-edged sword.

A friend of ours who teaches in a public school in Newark posted this NJ Spotlight article on Facebook. It's about segregation in NJ schools and it's worth a read.

Speaking of New Jersey, This seems like old news now, considering has much has happened to Chris Christie since Christmas, but shout out to the NY Times editorial board for once again highlighting the important work of the amazing Fair Share Housing Center, who back in December filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in April "charging that the state plan for distributing Hurricane Sandy recovery aid discriminated against blacks and Hispanics who lost their homes in the storm."

This rant from a "Silicon Valley denizen" is silly but hilarious.

Listen to this now! This American Life and Arsenal contributor Nikole Hannah-Jones! A match made in heaven!

Have you been following the story about the residents of Baton Rouge who are campaigning to become their own separate city of St. George? We haven't either, which is why we can't really say whether it is, as one source put it, "A tale of two cities," in which "Wealthy white residents of Baton Rouge launch campaign to split from poorer black areas to form their own breakaway city." But we can say is that INCORPORATION is a tried and true weapon of racial exclusion with a rather ugly history. Soon you will be able to read about it in our forthcoming book!