Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Letter to my Neighborhood Association

A lot of people are wanting to "fight crime" and so I thought I should encourage a focus on prevention. Obviously we need to deal with current things, but need to push more toward long-term prevention.

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Hello Neighbors:
I think that we can easily get "responsive" to crime and end up with meetings like other neighborhood associations where 90% of the meeting is about crime. I think we need to stay proactive and focus on the prevention that will get us sound sleep and safe streets. Around many bases in the US are "ghettos."

This often happens because of the large scale building up cheap housing and economies where military money is the most secure and stable. Much of what we deal with - not all - has to do with the environment created. That environment was created by policies, or lack of policies, that are influenced by the priority of military expenditure, poor planning, racial and economic segregation, and other factors.

Equitable distribution creates healthier communities. Places like Vancouver where neighborhoods were consciously developed as mixed income has a much better quality of life than we do. Places with mixed income communities are often safer, and people healthier.

To me Weed and Seed never got around to enough seeding to be sustainable long-term. That was not the fault of the committee because the funding always leaned more to the weeding. Anyone knowing about gardening knows that if you clear a space and don't plant what you want, something you don't want will sprout up.

We need the redevelopment. We need housing redevelopment as much as we need the business redevelopment. We need to be comprehensive.

On the larger picture, the City needs to commit to equitable development for the entire City. We all know about rich people who commit crime and violence - income is not the determining factor. We all know about white people who commit crime and violence - race nor ethnicity are not the determining factor. We all know women who commit crime and violence - gender is not the determining factor. High crime areas grow out of communities that are economically segregated.

I think our goal should be continuing to bring assets and resources to our community. To build on the assets and resources we already have. And to reduce the low quality housing and infrastructure by replacing it with high quality mixed income housing.

People think CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environment Design) is cutting edge. I think it's nice, but is more of a bandaid than really commiting to revitalizing communities. I say we push for quality redevelopment of our neighborhoods. I say that we build off the work that already has momentum and transform our communities. Yes, we need some immediate help - and I'm in that boat. But a more sustainable and long-term change will come from quality redevelopment and investment. We do our neighbors no favor by allowing them to live in low-quality segregated housing.

When the City closes an apartment complex in our neighborhood we need to fight to keep it closed and build something new there. Some of these places have been closed and reopened over and over. At 417/421 when it is closed down, people still come out there and sell. People that obviously don't live in the boarded up building. 500 Indiana is prime gang turf apparently. It has been closed and reopened.

We probably need to push for these places to be torn down quicker and fight for faster redevelopment. Doug seems to be working really hard, but there is no one else doing the same thing for La Mesa nor SSP.

Anyway, those are my thoughts this morning.

Have a wonderful and peaceful day!


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