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Bearpath Gated Community.
December 3, 2002 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Bearpath is a gated community in Minnesota. It's not all that special, except for the fact that it's the only gated community in the state. With membership fees to the golf club topping $10,000, it's obvious they want to keep out people who aren't filthy rich, or knows someone who is. Places like Florida, California, or Texas have many more. What causes people to want to move out to the sticks and put up a giant fence around their property, with tightly controlled access to the neighborhood? Is fear of crime a legitimate reason for digging in behind a fence with armed security guards? Or is it just to get away from people? Why is the thought of somebody isolating themselves this much from a community so fascinating?
posted by manero (55 comments total)

 
I hadn't even heard of BearPath and I've lived in the Twin Cities for years. From what I know, North Oaks, in Shoreview is where the very wealthy live.

They have no street lights and the roads are long and curvey with few markers. The whole property only has 4 entrances. The idea is that if anyone did attempt to burgle any homes they couldn't find their way out and police would be at the only entrances in seconds.

It used to be a gated community, but they stopped that. They still have the gatehouse and if you are driving an economy car or rustbucket through there you can expect to be stopped. [by the way; a little insider info; they have a small cubic sticker on the bumber every North Oaks resident's car. it's changed anually/semi anually. its so the cops know whose supposed to be there and who isn't. ]

the other spots for minnesotas 3l337 are Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet and Lake Minnetonka
posted by Zebulun at 10:06 PM on December 3, 2002


These things are really just a suburban version of those Montana survivalist bunkers.

What really boils my piss about gated communities is the desire to have your neighbourhood so strictly organised and isolated. I'm no long haired anarchist myself, but if you've got plenty of cash (unlike me) it's not hard to find somewhere pleasant and quiet to live without having armed guards stop anyone coming near your house.

If you're looking for evidence of that ausperger's syndrome epidemic people keep talking about, look no further.
posted by backOfYourMind at 10:16 PM on December 3, 2002


Be relieved, at least its not a Thomas Kinkade (PAINTER OF LIGHT™) Community.

I fully expect one of the inner circles of hell to be similar.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:16 PM on December 3, 2002


I've been through North Oaks. IIRC, there are a few Humphreys from there, as well. I drove through it in an Acura and I wasn't bugged. There were cops a few cops, mostly watching speeders from well-hidden spots. I had to watch my speed all the way through because it's 25MPH all the way around. I have yet to "infiltrate" Bearpath :)
posted by manero at 10:18 PM on December 3, 2002


I totally respect a person's decision to move to a fortified suburb as long as they don't come back to the city for work or cultural activities. I lived in Minneapolis and Saint Paul -- not their suburbs -- for ten years, and I never felt like I was missing anything by not heading out to Eden Prairie for work (oooh, "industrial parks"), culture (they've got a mall!), or its citizens. Come to think of it, my main problem with Bearpath is that they haven't welded shut their doors....

Zebulon, I have no problem with people buying and maintaining old, expensive houses in the city. Every person who chooses to stay in the city, raise their family, stay off the highways, and contribute to the city's taxbase does the rest of us a big favor. It's too easy for well-to-do people to buy a huge house in New Richmond or Chanhassen instead of taking a chance on an old house in an area that could go to hell before they pay off their mortgage. I'd give a nut to be able to afford one of those houses in Kenwood....
posted by subgenius at 10:24 PM on December 3, 2002


I lived in North Oaks for 2 years when I was kid. It's a beautiful place, but some of those rich negligent parents kids F*'ed me up for life.
posted by norm111 at 10:29 PM on December 3, 2002


norm, do tell!
posted by manero at 10:34 PM on December 3, 2002


Didn't Fritz Mondale live in North Oaks?

I think of Bearpath more as a golf course housing project. I have no desire to ever live on a golf course.
posted by GaelFC at 10:39 PM on December 3, 2002


I live in a condo, and much to my surprise I can completely understand why one would live in an exclusive, gated community.

For starters, it ensures a level of decency that you aren't guaranteed anywhere else. Covenant bylaws will restrict fucknuts with car stereos, abandoned rustbuckets, unfelled dead trees, cars up on blocks, and other trailer-trash crap.

It also means you can leave your home on a whim, and expect it to still be standing and unburgled when you return six months later.

There are, of course, Gated Communities From Hell. In the area I live in, it's the norm: endless ugly chickshit boxes with cheap adobe finishes, miniscule yards, and windows looking right into each other. Shudder.

But there are decent controlled developments out there. The local big-time golf course (Predator Ridge) has a wonderful little village. The houses are in muted earth tones, blending into the hillsides, well-constructed but understated. It's peacefully quiet and utterly stress-free. Except for the horrific mortage payments. Good god, did those people pay for their privacy!

Had I a half-million dollars to throw at a house, I'd be faced with two choices: an acreage out in the sticks, up on a hill with a helluva view (or down on the lake and with a helluva view), with a well-built R2000 home -- and the yardwork, security concerns, and worries about some jackass of a neighbour destroying my peace; or a home in a high-class gated community, with beautiful views and a peaceful environment -- and restrictions on what any particular asshole can do to ruin our enjoyment of that peace.

Difficult choice. Frankly, I think I'd take the gated community: if I had a half-million to piss away on a home, I probably also have another half-million to piss away on vacations. Far easier to have peace of mind, when running away from home, when you know it's going to be there when you get back...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:39 PM on December 3, 2002


Excuse me, yes, Mondale, not Humphrey. My bad.
posted by manero at 10:43 PM on December 3, 2002


Me to f3: Dad? Is that really you?
posted by Dick Paris at 11:29 PM on December 3, 2002


From Stan Chin's link:

[Thomas Kinkade's company,] Media Arts, is currently in serious financial straits, and has posted losses for four straight quarters.

I always knew God was an artist.

posted by hippugeek at 12:16 AM on December 4, 2002


Covenant bylaws will restrict fucknuts with car stereos, abandoned rustbuckets, unfelled dead trees, cars up on blocks, and other trailer-trash crap

If you've got half a mill to drop on your home and your neighbourhood has these problems, your real-estate agent is a lot smarter than you.

endless ugly chickshit boxes with cheap adobe finishes, miniscule yards, and windows looking right into each other


Sadly, a lot of regular suburbs have this as well, but at least they're cheap.
posted by backOfYourMind at 12:28 AM on December 4, 2002


Also, the term 'Covenant' really shits me.

You are not on a religious exodus, nor are you in an Indiana Jones film, you're following a list of rules about what colours are acceptable when painting your mailbox.

Wake up to yourselves, gated-community dwellers.
posted by backOfYourMind at 12:33 AM on December 4, 2002


For starters, it ensures a level of decency that you aren't guaranteed anywhere else. Covenant bylaws will restrict fucknuts with car stereos, abandoned rustbuckets, unfelled dead trees, cars up on blocks, and other trailer-trash crap.

I'll just quietly note that one person's ``level of decency'' is another person's ``horrible intrusive fuckn^H^H^H^H^Hneighbors sticking their noses into None Of Their Damn Business.''

But if they're gathering unto themselves, at least they'll only be bothering other busybodies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:34 AM on December 4, 2002


On keeping the riff raff/burglars out, the logic of these people puzzles me. Considering that the more money and possessions you have, the more you want, if I lived in a gated community I'd be worried about rich greedy neighbors stealing from me.
posted by Phatty Lumpkin at 12:56 AM on December 4, 2002


...I'd be worried about rich greedy neighbors stealing from me.

Not to mention the fact that gated communities scream to all passing riff raff/burglars, "Rich people who own expensive audio equipment and are overly confident about their home security live here!" I have a feeling these places wouldn't be that hard to get into for a determined and experienced professional.
posted by hippugeek at 1:31 AM on December 4, 2002


I'm violating several prime directives, but...

During the violent period following The Crash, and immediately preceding The Redistribution, The Black Tuesdays and The Magic Christians attacked and ransacked many gated communities. They had determined, quite early on, that the risks were minimal (ie, middle-aged rich men usually lacked upper-body strength, most communities used cheap, commercial-grade razor wire, etc.), and, as a bonus, the perimeter walls surrounding these enclaves were often pristine and contiguous, which greatly pleased their Scriveners (see: Krylon Kommandos; Rusty Prophets).
posted by Opus Dark at 1:35 AM on December 4, 2002


Free market?
What would be the incentive to run a good golf club if the membership was the same as every other course?
An apartment building is also gated...you can't go walking around each floor just to check it out. Some people don't appreciate a festival in their backyard.
posted by lightweight at 1:44 AM on December 4, 2002


I had a boyfriend in college from North Oaks; he'd read everything Ayn Rand had ever written and grew up with the Mondale's kids. It wasn't quite gated, but you sure didn't feel right driving around there in a beat-up car. Back then we thought those people were freaks.

This reminds me of a story I read in the Christian Science Monitor today about South Africa's "Island of Whites" -- an all-Afrikaaner enclave where blacks aren't banned, exactly (because that's illegal), just made to feel very uncomfortable.
posted by judlew at 1:54 AM on December 4, 2002


funny - i was born in south africa (as a canadian) and had read atlas shrugged (Ann Rand super novel) by sixteen.
however, there is a difference between racial discrimination and property prices...yet in SA there is quite a divide in wealth. Soweto (Mandela Village) is a good example of the segregation.
posted by lightweight at 2:06 AM on December 4, 2002


I wouldn't have any problems living in a gated community.
However this might be a knee-jerk reaction to living in a London apartment building where the walls are too thin and the neighbours are too loud. And still pay mortage that could've bought me a village in the countryside.

House, golf course, tennis court, sound all good to me.
posted by sebas at 2:46 AM on December 4, 2002


Gated communites are quite popular here in South Africa. However we have a large crime rate to justify it and security is probably the biggest reason to move into one.
posted by PenDevil at 3:24 AM on December 4, 2002


The thing I'd be worried about the most living in a gated community would be the teenage kids living there. Spoiled rotten and bored out of their minds isnt' a good combination.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:05 AM on December 4, 2002


What causes people to want to move out to the sticks and put up a giant fence around their property, with tightly controlled access to the neighborhood?
other people.
posted by quonsar at 4:19 AM on December 4, 2002


1) Fear/Paranoia
2) Possibly. Depends on the justification of the belief that one is threatened.
3) See #2.
4) Fascinating? Not really.
posted by Fezboy! at 5:57 AM on December 4, 2002


i live in naples, florida. which probably has more housing inside gates than outside of it. there is a prevailing notion down here that most of the people who retire to these "communities" do so because they don't want to deal with neighbors like they did in their home states. they can now live next to someone and never have to talk to them. not only are the houses isolated from the surrounding areas, but also from each other.

but in this area affordable housing is a big problem and custom building is a sort of dream. most people looking to buy a starter home end up in a gated community of the lesser variety (they start in the $200s and go up to several million) so I can understand their dilemma even if i don't support it.

for my job i travel into several of these homes a month and i am always struck by how lonely and contrived they are. the design is always hideous and horribly interchangeable. I can't tell if i'm in a carriage home, or villa in indigo lakes, eagle creek, lighthouse bay or fiddler's creek because they all look the same. there are even people who walk into the model homes and say, "i'll take it just like this." McMansions indeed.
posted by prodigaljester at 6:21 AM on December 4, 2002


I don't understand why anyone would care about (let alone be "fascinated" by) the type of community in which some rich people choose to live. How does that affect you? Are you mad because you can't drive around and look at the mansions?
posted by pardonyou? at 6:55 AM on December 4, 2002


good point, pardonyou. we'll all stop talking about things that don't directly and personally effect us in some tangible and quantifiable way.

next 2 MeFi front page posts:

Man, am I hungry! How long till lunchtime!
and
It Certainly is Cold Out Today! What are your opinions on gloves vs. mittens?
posted by chrisege at 7:14 AM on December 4, 2002


There were a couple of reports in the British press about these gated community things over the past couple of days, because of the apparent interest in building them over here. One commentator suggested that in the US, their actual crime rates are no different from un-gated suburbs, but the effect was psychological: residents perceived less crime, and so feared crime less. Anyone got the stats to back that one up?
posted by riviera at 7:26 AM on December 4, 2002


chrisege, maybe I wasn't clear: the point I was trying to make wasn't "why are you posting it to MetaFilter," it was "why do you, as a person, care?" And I really am curious. Why do some people view it as a personal affront how rich people choose to spend their money? If it's so bad from a sociological perspective to live in a gated community, aren't the people who live there the ones who are being hurt? I guess I just don't spend enough time worrying about how other people choose to spend their own money.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:31 AM on December 4, 2002


Gated communities and people in gated communities...pah.

I like cinnamon sugar on my pancakes. You?
posted by alumshubby at 7:47 AM on December 4, 2002


Sounds just like the Burbclaves from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, "a culture medium for a medium culture".
posted by Bletch at 7:58 AM on December 4, 2002


pardonyou: because they're ugly, from the walls to the landscaping to the architecture to the cars. And the rest of us have to look at it.

Personally I don't especially care. Around here the Big Ritzy Gated Community is called Landfall (or, by some, Landfill). It's not that hard to get into and (thankfully) it's pretty much not visible from the road, just a fairly decent white stucco wall with lots of trees behind it. I can't imagine wanting to live there — it's one of those places where the roads have ridiculous curves for no good reason and it takes you forty-five minutes to get someplace a mile from the gate. The houses look silly, as expensive houses shoddily built and designed by committee tend to do. But really, I can't complain. Who'd have ever thought the bourgeois would put itself in camps, for easy cleanup when the revolution comes?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:59 AM on December 4, 2002


Koyaanisquatsi

I think I'll take the "trailer trash", thank you. For one thing, charitable giving is highest among the poor. i wonder why

Stan Chin - circle of hell indeed. but not in the afterlife...

"Ah, gated communities. Keeps out the bad elements" and a great place to hang out with your new found wealth from stock market swindles which gutted the retirement savings of those howling mobs outside the gates

No need to worry about the effect of voting to abolish social services if you don't ever have to look at the impact on people's lives. And in any event: A poor, hungry American, a starving Ethiopian - what's the difference? four thousand miles, brown vs. white skin? The upshot of the gated community trend: the republican program to dismantle all social programs will succeed, the 3 decade trend towards greater income inequality will accelerate, the concentration of American wealth in the hands of the top 1/2 of 1 percent will continue to increase and, of course, the bottom four fifths of wage earners will careen towards a third world standard of living whilst they work as security guards and groundskeepers at the gated communities. vicious packs of mutant cyborg police dogs patrol the streets, tearing undesireables to bits...drones peer through the walls with terahertz radiation, and scan the electromagnetic spectrum for evidence of crime and deviancy....the eerily perfect, genetically altered children of the "gates" are all autistic and rock back in forth in the ruddy sunlight burning through the sky's thick muddy soup of Global Warming, the cooling screen of GW suppressing chemtrails and the ubiquitious Asian Smog...the terrorists are everywhere and nowhere as Office Of InfoWareness TV reports a massive antiterrorist victory in Bangladesh while the new haemmorhagic Terror plague has require the nuclear destruction of LA...chimpanzee surrogate mother fights to regain custody of human child...'BrittanySpear clones tear original to pieces' telecast at 9pm...freak campaign accident at meat processing factory turns Gore to spam...aliens land, nobody cares..
posted by troutfishing at 8:25 AM on December 4, 2002


I've done some research on fear of crime and gated communities and it is true that crime rates are no lower in gated communities than in the surrounding areas, while people's fear of crime is significantly lower. I don't have the statistics right on hand, but if anyone is really interested in the subject, I highly recommend Fortress America by Edward Blakely and Mary Snyder. It's a fascinating look at what motivates people to move to these kinds of places. By the way... this is my first ever comment *gulp*
posted by fancypants at 8:36 AM on December 4, 2002


Pardonyou: Because fragmented metropolitan areas usually cause municipalities to compete with each other for tax base. If one municipality shapes its zoning laws to capture a significant amount of the tax base without having to contribute to the rest of the metropolitan area, it affects everyone.

For example, if Eden Prairie requires all of its houses to have three-car garages and prevents high-denisty housing, its schools will educate a homogenous group of students while poorer districts will have to educate kids from disparate economic, social, and lingual backgrounds. Because Eden Prairie won't have to spend as much money on schools and social services, it can use a lower tax rate and still prosper because its tax base will expand. Even though the metropolitan area is a single discrete area, everyone is affected by the boundaries of governmental units and how they exercise their zoning and taxing powers.
posted by subgenius at 8:39 AM on December 4, 2002


... we have a large crime rate to justify it and security is probably the biggest reason to move into one.

If it's so bad from a sociological perspective to live in a gated community, aren't the people who live there the ones who are being hurt?

Here is the problem with this kind of logic: As the well-to-do rely more and more on private walls and security forces, the actual police could become weaker and weaker. The safer rich people feel at home, the less likely they are to be concerned about the security of society at large. I'm not so concerned as long as it's just very rich people (the rich have disproportunate political power in the US, but not infinite), but when the (upper) middle class starts to live and work behind privately guarded walls, the rest of us might find ourselves out of luck.
posted by originalname37 at 9:01 AM on December 4, 2002


I grew up in a gated community, though a bit different from the ones mentioned here. It was in Chile, during Pinochet's regime Our "comunidad" wasn't trying to keep out the poor or thieves, but the cops and secret police. It didn't work all the time, I was standing there when they took Ricard Lagos, the current chilean president, away in an unmarked car. I still know the license plate by heart. It was an island of (limited) freedom in a fascistic state, and I knew from very young that there where a great many number of things I could speak about with my neighbors that would have been rather unhealthy to bring up at my school.
posted by signal at 9:29 AM on December 4, 2002


subgenious, originalname37: I see your points (although some of the logic fails me), but it just seems odd to argue: "They should have to open up their streets and let in more crime." Maybe it's just the libertarian part of me, but I shudder when I think of the government saying to a person: "Sorry, but you're not allowed to buy more security (or perceived security) for yourself -- it seems the people who live around you don't like it."
posted by pardonyou? at 10:03 AM on December 4, 2002


I wonder why these people haven't figured out that bored rich kids burgle too?

Personally I prefer more eclectic communities, where I can put up a clothesline or own a Rottweiler if I so choose. I have read a number of restrictive covenants (as a part of my former job) and I cannot imagine laying out that kind of moolah and then being told what kind of fence I can have or what kind of storage building I am allowed to have.
In my opinion most gated communities are really a marketing gimmick designed for snob appeal. Meanwhile at least around here the MOST expensive neighborhoods that are truly COOL are not gated-and the homeowners are interesting people and not sheep.

Heh.
posted by konolia at 10:06 AM on December 4, 2002


Ironic, isn't it, how so many Americans get all freaked out by socialism & communism (refer back to the Canadian Healthcare FPP; Cuba posts; etc) but are throwing their hat into the ring when it comes to equalizing living conditions. Can't let the wealthy segregate themselves -- that'd be unfair to everyone else!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 AM on December 4, 2002


troutfishing is totally dead-on when he says "No need to worry about the effect of voting to abolish social services if you don't ever have to look at the impact on people's lives" -- aren't gated communities just the latest symptom of the breakdown of the social contract? "Out of sight, out of mind, and that goes for my neighbors, too." Doesn't this sort of isolation result in more tunneling and less engagement? (Did anyone else read republic.com?)

Not to mention that, in 10-20 years, when these developments aren't exclusive and new enough anymore, new ones will crop up, and those old ones will rot along the highway and become just as crime-ridden as the areas those who moved in first were attempting to escape. (It's not like any of these houses are going to be built well enough to serve as museums, like some mansions of yore are today.) Which results in blight for all; it's certainly an equal outcome I guess but ...?

Also don't all the really strange and notorious crimes happen in these enclaves of privilege?
posted by maura at 11:00 AM on December 4, 2002


I don't know where he used to live, but Mondale's a Kenwood resident now. Apparently he can be seen walking around the Isles some mornings.
posted by mrbula at 11:17 AM on December 4, 2002


Hey, just out of curiousity, why is it considered worse to live in a gated community than in an apartment?

In both cases, there's an entry-restriction system and rules and regulations.

People who wouldn't bat an eye at the idea of living in an apartment get their knickers in a knot over the "exclusive" gated communities.

Must be jealousy. Can't think of any other rationale.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:34 PM on December 4, 2002


Can't let the wealthy segregate themselves -- that'd be unfair to everyone else!

I don't mind if a bunch of busybodies all decide to live in a walled-off hell together, rich or poor, and snipe at each other over the color of their drapes and the size of their DirecTV dishes. I'll deride that choice, because I think it's a crappy trade of freedom for the security of your house's price, but, sure, they can do it. I'll just point and laugh.

It does piss me off, though, when people do that and then take the next step of setting themselves up as a bogus municipality for no other purpose than to avoid spending their property taxes on *spits* the niggers and spics and goddam furriners downtown. Whether they want to admit it or not, they're part of a larger community that includes poor people who are the wrong color and their taxes should reflect it.

Hey, just out of curiousity, why is it considered worse to live in a gated community than in an apartment? In both cases, there's an entry-restriction system and rules and regulations.

That's part of what I mean. If you want to be subject to the petty tyranny of your neighbors, why not live in an apartment or condo? You won't have any less freedom. Hell, why not go live in a dorm with a dorm mother to yell at you to keep your stereo down?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:27 PM on December 4, 2002


pardonyou?: My comments to the economic factors that makes suburbs more attractive to rich folks while excluding working people. If someone wanted to build a gated community in the city (or if urban and suburban municipalities were merged) I would be okay with all the scared, boring people clustering together.

five fresh fish: If boring people want to congregate, that's their problem. I wouldn't want to live in a gated community and I wouldn't want to live in a building run by an oppressive coop board. But I don't think it's fair when people use zoning laws and government fragmentation to live high on the hog at the rest of the area -- For the reasons I described above, Bearpath is like subsidized housing for rich people.

It has nothing to do with jealousy -- I can probably afford to live in a gated community or a coop -- but I would prefer to live in a diverse community with interesting people. To use my background as an example, back in Minnesota I lived on the East Side of Saint Paul, Dinkytown, Uptown, Loring Park, and the West Bank. I never paid more than $400 a month in rent (I had roommates, obviously) and I was happy. Now I live in a doorman building in Manhattan, and the boring, pampered rich kids are driving me up the wall. I took the easy way out by getting a more expensive place with physical amenities, and I suffer for it every day.
posted by subgenius at 3:41 PM on December 4, 2002


Maybe it's just the libertarian part of me, but I shudder when I think of the government saying to a person: "Sorry, but you're not allowed to buy more security (or perceived security) for yourself -- it seems the people who live around you don't like it." [pardonyou?]

Don't misunderstand. As long as my taxes aren't paying for roads and sidewalks I'm not allowed to use, I am in no way advocating a ban on gated communities. I was just explaining one of the reasons it troubles me that so many people seem to want to live in them.
posted by originalname37 at 3:47 PM on December 4, 2002


With membership fees to the golf club topping $10,000, it's obvious they want to keep out people who aren't filthy rich, or knows someone who is.

$10,000? Filthy rich? Jesus ... what goes on in Minnesota? Caddies are tipped more than that at golf clubs the rich patronize on the east coast.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:57 PM on December 4, 2002


"To use my background as an example, back in Minnesota I lived on the East Side of Saint Paul, Dinkytown, Uptown, Loring Park, and the West Bank. I never paid more than $400 a month in rent (I had roommates, obviously) and I was happy. Now I live in a doorman building in Manhattan, and the boring, pampered rich kids are driving me up the wall."

It sounds like you're a single young man, not an adult with a full-time job, a wife, and a couple of kids. Many adults don't want to have roommates, don't want to raise their kids in the ghetto, and don't really need all that high-falutin' excitement you seek.

I doubt very much that the people who are living in Bentwood or whatever it is are "your sort of people." They're undoubtedly mundanes, who've grown out of their wild years, and now want to settle in, settle down, and relax.

Different strokes, different folks.

As for " If one municipality shapes its zoning laws to capture a significant amount of the tax base without having to contribute to the rest of the metropolitan area, it affects everyone. ", I have to ask: where do you draw the line?

Take Chicagoland, for example. It's unbelievably big. Should the people in the podunk outskirts 40 miles north be kicking in taxes to pay for schooling on the far south side? If they should, then why not people in the next township out?

I suspect the truth is that people who live within a city's boundries are paying city taxes, which go towards maintaining city sidewalks and city schools and so on. Those who go set up a community outside the city pay taxes to maintain their own sidewalks, no assistance from the city, their own schools, no assistance from the city, and so on. And that is as it should be.

Yes, so those wanks out there in neverneverland come into the city to do their shopping. That's why city merchants also pay taxes: in part, to pay for the benefits their customers receive from the city.

The line's gotta be drawn somewhere, and the city limits seems to be the natural place to do it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 PM on December 4, 2002


The line's gotta be drawn somewhere, and the city limits seems to be the natural place to do it.

But there's nothing at all natural about city limits. They're often set up quite strategically, so that the people in the rich enclave can pay quite substantially lower rates than the surrounding community of which they're pretending not to be part.

It's not like these places are bravely carved out of the wilderness with no help from anyone else; they're parasitizing on other people's efforts and income, benefitting substantially by being part of a larger communityof the urban metroplex but strenuously trying to avoid contributing to that community they're pretending not to be part of. That's cheating.

If you want a more natural boundary for who's part of a given urban community, do it on a county-by-county basis.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:40 PM on December 4, 2002


I cannot imagine laying out that kind of moolah and then being told what kind of fence I can have or what kind of storage building I am allowed to have.

Clearly one with the means to buy a home in one of these communities shops around to find one with a covenant with limitations that they can live with. Fence heights and storage buildings aren't dealbreakers for most people, anyway, especially if they have the means to buy a house that's as costly as those in the most restrictive communities.

If boring people want to congregate, that's their problem. I wouldn't want to live in a gated community and I wouldn't want to live in a building run by an oppressive coop board. But I don't think it's fair when people use zoning laws and government fragmentation to live high on the hog at the rest of the area -- For the reasons I described above, Bearpath is like subsidized housing for rich people.

I'm not sure why people in gated communities are necessarily boring, especially given that wealth usually comes with perks like good education and travel which enliven peoples' personalities. That aside, how is a gated community which has municipality status any different than a wealthy suburb? There are communities around every major city in America where the real estate prices and types of available services serve to keep out the lower-ends of the class scale just as effectively as gates or co-op boards or community covenants. Are the people who live in those areas enjoying subsidies on the backs of the poor, too?

If you want a more natural boundary for who's part of a given urban community, do it on a county-by-county basis.

That's just silly. County boundaries are no more "natural" than city boundaries, and in many of the large urban areas where this is an issue, there are multiple counties involved -- some (KC, DC, NYC) even involve multiple states. On the flip side, there are communities within single counties, even cities, which have nothing at all in common save their geographic proximity. It seems that we should be glad that our cities themselves aren't fragmenting, rather than lamenting that those outside of the cities aren't seeking annexation.
posted by Dreama at 6:40 AM on December 5, 2002


County boundaries are no more "natural" than city boundaries,

No, of course not, but it would be harder to weasel out of things by forming a new county than it would be by incorporating your subdivision. It's harder to pretend you're not in a county than to pretend you're not in a metroplex.

and in many of the large urban areas where this is an issue, there are multiple counties involved

Yeah, so? So you count all of Arlington County as being part of the DC metroplex, and all of Fairfax County, until you get to a county that really doesn't partly-belong to the metroplex

Are the people who live in those areas enjoying subsidies on the backs of the poor, too?

Yes. By incorporating, they normally get aid from the state to help with their civic functions, and this is funded by regressive taxes and maybe lotteries, which fall disproportionately on the backs of the less well off, as well as the incorporation being intended to reduce the property tax rates by pretending not to be in the same larger community as the poor people.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:46 AM on December 5, 2002


Sorry, arguing that lotteries are a freeload off the backs of the poor just ain't gonna wash: they're a completely voluntary form of self-abuse.

Yadda incorporating subdivision yadda: the city boundries existed before the gated subdivision. People who choose to live outside the city boundry do not derive all the benefits of city living: they typically pay for their library access, don't get fire station coverage, and are outside the city police jurisdiction. They don't get to vote on who runs the city, don't get city water and sewer service, don't get city garbage/recycling service. and don't get city bus service. They don't get to send their kids to the city schools, either.

Seems to me, then, that the reason they're not paying city taxes is because they get *NONE* of the big-ticket city services.

What you wanna do, ROU, is force everyone to pay city taxes even when they don't live in the city and don't receive city services. That's inane!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:50 PM on December 5, 2002


fff: I got no beef if people want to go off and live in the county using county services. May well be what I'd do, since I'd kinda like to have enough dirt to build a fire a trebuchet or other implement of destruction someday.

I have a beef with people who intentionally set up the borders of a new municipality to correspond with their new subdivision -- instead of annexing into the larger city, or just living in the county -- because they've figured out that by doing so they can drop their tax rates below outer-county or real-city tax rates, or in order to set up their own lily-white municipal school system.

A bit of a sore spot for me because I've lived in the south long enough to see municipalities that were fairly transparent attempts to do both.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:34 PM on December 5, 2002


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