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Thread: Privacy walls

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Privacy walls

    A larger town near me is considering an ordinance to require uniform "privacy walls" along major arterial streets. They talk about making these major streets more attractive to pedestrians by separating the sidewalks from the street and landscaping along both sides. But the idea of walking between a wall and a busy street, with or without landscaping, doesn't attract me much- is this a standard design? What do you all think?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I suppose it depends on the size of an arterial street. If it is an interstate or other divided highway, it probably is not so bad. If it is just a four-lane reoad, forget it.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    I suppose it depends on the size of an arterial street. If it is an interstate or other divided highway, it probably is not so bad. If it is just a four-lane reoad, forget it.
    Nope, not the highway- I think they are all four-laners. Okay, I'll tell them to forget it and see what they say...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Perhaps they want to cut noise for the neighbors, but in that type of setting, those walls are likely to create other problems. They tend to cut off pedestrians, even when openings to streets are provided, making the sidewalk an unpleasant place to walk. By providing screening, they can contribute to an increase in crime. They are not attractive, and are frequent targets of graffiti. There is even a very good question as to whether they will really reduce noise.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Perhaps they want to cut noise for the neighbors, but in that type of setting, those walls are likely to create other problems. They tend to cut off pedestrians, even when openings to streets are provided, making the sidewalk an unpleasant place to walk. By providing screening, they can contribute to an increase in crime. They are not attractive, and are frequent targets of graffiti. There is even a very good question as to whether they will really reduce noise.

    Ah, I hadn't thought of the crime aspect; maybe they haven't, either. Thank you!

  6. #6

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    I second what Cardinal says: putting up walls is just like putting up a chalkboard for graffitti artists! And they will not attenuate noise unless they are very tall! Beyond these practical realities, the social message is: STAY OUT of our neighborhood! LEAVE US ALONE! Friendly, huh?

    I presume you are talking about St George, so I am not surprised that that is their message. Perhaps the most effective thing you could say is, "gee, then it will look just like California!"

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    There are also some studies that indicate the walls might make a change in the micro level weather/climate of the area. The heat from the walls reflected back one way or the other, the change in air patterns etc.
    The walls become community deviders and areas that once thrived can go down hill fast from being "cut off".

    Just a few thoughts from your friendly neighborhood planner.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  8. #8

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    A major personal pet peeve of mine. Of course, I live in the land where EVERY new subdivision is a walled-off enclave. Unfortunately, our way of mitigating traffic noise is to wrap new subdivisions with eight-foot-tall masonry walls.

    If you do go with this, be sure to require some things like variations in wall planes, landscaping against the sound walls themselves (to reduce the surface for grafitti artists and soften their appearance). Try to provide frequent breaks for pedestrians (although this is pretty difficult-few people want pedestrian only paths at the end of their streets).

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Another issue is that the area between the wall and the street have a tendancy to be unmaintained (weeds pop up next to the wall and sidewalk) It wouldn't be an issue if the city was planning on doing the maintenance.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks, everyone. Yes, Lee, I am talking about St. George- you seem to know it well, lol. I don't think they have much trouble with graffiti at this point, but what an uproar it will create when it begins to happen! So, a great point that they may not have been thinking about. A change in the weather? I never would have thought of that, but of course walls would change air movement and temperature. Yikes, it's an even worse idea than I first thought.

    BKM- good point about variations in the walls- they are talking about requiring uniformity, ugh.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    BKM I agree with your peeve status! The first few times I visited west / southwest cities I was amazed by this wall phenomenon. (of course, around here they would just cause massive snow drifts and block the streets!) Otherwise, I agree with the comments made so far.

    Maximov - Have you seen these things in action? If not imagine being a pedestrian on that street with the sound bouncing off the walls. I suspect their reasoning is not for ped-friendliness. What group is pushing for the walls? Developers? I could understand that - they sell a vacant lot or vacant house on the quiet(er) side of it, and they're gone beofer the negative impacts become apparent...

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    "Maximov - Have you seen these things in action? If not imagine being a pedestrian on that street with the sound bouncing off the walls. I suspect their reasoning is not for ped-friendliness. What group is pushing for the walls? Developers? I could understand that - they sell a vacant lot or vacant house on the quiet(er) side of it, and they're gone beofer the negative impacts become apparent...[/QUOTE]

    I haven't walked beside one (and I agree, I'm not looking forward to it), but I certainly have seen more of them from the road than I wanted to. I don't know for sure, but it seems likely the idea came from developers. I suppose some people could consider it a selling point, as you say... hmmm.

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