Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Public Safety and Gates

The subject of gating Treasure Island is back in discussion.

Gated communities typically have a staffed guardhouse who note all cars and other traffic entering a neighborhood.  They don't have the power to stop someone or even question their purpose in entering but they do add a visible layer of security to a neighborhood.  North Bay Island is gated as is Normandy Isle around the golf course and other neighborhoods throughout Miami.  

The subject of gating Treasure Island has come up several times over the last decade and in 2006 there was a study showing how it might be done.  It's complicated for any community but particularly for one with the geography and demographics of Treasure Island.  

First of all, it would be only the single family homes in the gated area.  The actual gating would have to be approved by 60% of the houses with a homestead exemption. 

Gating costs are taxed separately.  Currently the cost on North Bay Island is around $1,400 per year and is not based on home value.  The gating is handled by the county and out of local control.  

Secondly, there has to be accomodation for public institutions such as the nursing home, the KLA school and any impact on Treasure Island Elementary must be considered.  The process is long and expensive.  

I don't like the idea.  There are cheaper and more effective public safety measures for a neighborhood such as ours.  Camera surveillance of cars entering and leaving has become incredibly sophisticated and much cheaper than in years past.  Anyone who ran a red light and got a ticket can attest to that.  

Community groups like Crime Watch and block associations are proven to be effective against property and personal crimes, while highly visible policing serves as a major deterrent.  

 There is also very little evidence that gating reduces crime/  Those urban neighborhoods, like ours, which have kept crime at low levels generally have a strong sense of community which is difficult to maintain in a barricaded enclave and "eyes on the street", a visible local presence.  

In considering this issue, I would recommend reading Fortress America:  Gated Communities in the United States    about the rise of gated communities since the 1980's or at least the abstract published at the National Housing Institute's Web Site.  

Kevin Vericker
Jan 30, 2013  

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