Here are some concerns that were expressed to me about gated communities:
In addition to the concerns about housing segregation that a lot of people voiced at the council meeting, I have two major concerns over the gated community concept:
1. Public safety. Gates are bad for public safety. They don’t keep crime out, but they do keep cops out. I asked the applicant what happens when a tenant is committing domestic assault, and the police are stuck behind a locked gate. They said they could give a key to the police. I asked if they intend every cop in town to clink and clang with a key-ring full of keys for every gated community. They didn’t really have an answer to that.
2. The Not-Really-a-Trespass Problem. Trespass notices can be served by private-property owners. Most everyone knows that. What a lot of people don’t know is that a tenant’s invitation overrides a landlord’s trespass notice. And that rule (that a tenant is allowed to override a landlord’s trespass notice) applies to solicitors. If a tenant wants to invite his acquaintance onto the property to tell his neighbors to praise Jesus, save the whales, or vote, that’s his right. I already know that the Springs will not honor that right. The applicant told us at the public hearing they would prohibit those guests. I have a huge problem with anyone claiming to exercise legal rights they don’t really have. And that definitely includes the landlord’s “right” to exclude tenants’ law-abiding guests. Even if no one is ever falsely charged with trespass, a lot of visitors’ and tenants’ rights will be chilled by the mere threat.
I suspect the Springs will try to contract around the second problem by having their lease form give the landlord some sort of veto power over the tenant’s right to choose his own guests. And that really takes us back to the heart of the problem. It’s not so much about those of us living outside the development. It’s more about the liberty of those living inside. After all, we’re talking about a landlord who wants to make a dog-poop-DNA registry a condition of living there. I’m reluctant to trust them to respect their tenants’ privacy.
Anyway, that’s my two cents for what it’s worth.