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Thread: Retail and Crime

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Retail and Crime

    Plain Vanilla Shell (www.plainvanillashell.com) is one of the best sources of information available, compiling retail stories from around the country and sending them out in a weekly e-mail. Today's included one that applies to us planning and economic development folk. An excerpt:

    Lise J. Gescheidt, a long-time lawyer, said a proposed Souza Road shopping center would certainly draw a clientele. There'd be shoplifters. People with drug habits. Car thieves. Purse snatchers.

    And if they couldn't find what they wanted at the shopping center, the Tiverton resident told the Planning Board last night, criminals would check out nearby neighborhoods. All of it would mean a dramatic strain on the town's police force, its town solicitor and other services.

    "They attract the wrong kinds of people," Gescheidt, -- who was a public defender in Kent County, which includes the Warwick and Rhode Island malls -- told the Planning Board. "I know this. These people are my clients."


    Well, I guess he nailed it on the head. Why make commercial districts walkable when you are likely to step on used drug needles, be solicited by prostitutes, or get mugged. New Urbanists - give up the corner store! What are we going to learn next, that apartments attract Those People?

    Hmmm... maybe if this guy would stop defending these pothead criminals who are stealing and murdering at his local grocery, they would not be such a problem.

    Link to article: http://plainvanillashell.com/article.asp?ID=4042
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Get a life, maam.

    Any public or semi-public space can attract a small percentage of undesirables. Everything in life is so privatized now that the notion of all different people converging on one place to buy stuff is scandalous to some people. I guess this person thinks its better for the criminals who are her clinets to go on mugging people in their own poor neighborhoods.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yowzers

    Maybe this is some new European line of thinking.....don't build things too attractive or fancy, otherwise it may attract the bad people Give me a break.....The run of the mill criminal may be less likely to visit a high class/high price mall for fear of being the primary interest of some mall security guard It would be easy to find some statistics on crime in low income neighborhood malls vs. high income neighborhood malls......I'll bet its higher in the low income area malls......Anyone know for sure?
    Skilled Adoxographer

  4. #4

    Finding that last square inch of safe space on the planet

    Of course rural areas have no crime whatsoever.

    People can rationalize almost anything they are against.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Friend of Flavel's avatar
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    Not to beat a dead horse, but c'mon lady! No place is entirely safe. Dumbest thing I ever heard!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian cmd uw's avatar
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    /\ hahah...absolute garbage. Crime, loitering et al. can happen anywhere from parking lots to parks. In fact, I'm sure each and every one of us have 'avoided' a park at one time due to safety reasons.

    The best crime prevention comes from an aware neighbourhood. Those who care where they live and work will report any suspicious activity and work with the local law enforcement to try and keep crime down.

    There is one flaw with Ms. Gescheidt reasoning, if the commercial strip is expected to attract crime and certain types of people, where do they current exist? Will they magically appear once the retail center is constructed. Sorry, but those 'people' are wondering the streets right now.
    "First we shape our buildings, and then our buildings start shaping us." - Sir Winston Churchill

  7. #7
    Member Nor Cal Planner Girl's avatar
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    Yeah.. ha, ha, ha... those retail nomes that suddenly appear out of no where!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Plain Vanilla Shell (www.plainvanillashell.com) is one of the best sources of information available, compiling retail stories from around the country and sending them out in a weekly e-mail. Today's included one that applies to us planning and economic development folk. An excerpt:

    [I]Lise J. Gescheidt, a long-time lawyer, said a proposed Souza Road shopping center would certainly draw a clientele. There'd be shoplifters. People with drug habits. Car thieves. Purse snatchers.

    And if they couldn't find what they wanted at the shopping center, the Tiverton resident told the Planning Board last night, criminals would check out nearby neighborhoods. All of it would mean a dramatic strain on the town's police force, its town solicitor and other services.
    Believe it or not, I worked on this lady's house when I worked with my uncle the contractor back in college. She is certifiable.

    However, it is important to understand the context of this situation. Tiverton is a former backwater town, that has recently become an upscale suburb of Providence, and Boston to a lesser extent. The southern half of town is rural, while the north end of town is urban, with mostly mill housing and two- and three-families. The town shares a border with Fall River, Massachusetts, a very dense declining industrial city of ~100,000 residents. The city has a very high crime rate, as does the nearby city of New Bedford. I think what Ms. Gescheidt was really saying was: "if you build this, the city-dwellers from Fall River and New Bedford (read: non-white) will be shopping there, oh my!"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    One consideration...

    While we all seem to agree that opposing construction of retail (or any other facility) on the basis that it will shift the crime there is nimby-ism at its worst, I do think that NU faces one challenge in promoting denser, walkable, public-transport friendly neighborhoods. One reason people fled cities for the burbs (and latterly, gated communities) is obviously low-level crime and other nuisances. A well-run municipality (including low crime) is certainly a big element in people even wanting to be in town or in an urbanized setting.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Ironically, this conversation is taking place as crime is shifting from the city to rural places. Crime is way down in almost all American urban areas, most of all in the biggest, New York.

    I have an employee who lives a long way out in the country. He owns a gun, and his stay-at-home wife worries about crime, which in fact is increasing steeply--particularly the horrendous variety. Disgruntled kids shooting up schools aren't an urban phenomenon, and child molesters prefer the country: fewer eyes on the street.

    The problem is, the mythology hasn't caught up with changing reality.

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