April 24, 2005 - For Immediate Release
HEAVY TRASH INSTALLS VIEWING PLATFORMS AT LOS ANGELES GATED COMMUNITIES
"Something there is that does not love a wall…
That wants it down…"
-Robert Frost, Mending Wall
On April 24, 2005, Heavy Trash volunteers deposited bright orange viewing platforms in front of three Los Angeles gated communities; Brentwood Circle, Park La Brea and Laughlin Park. The purpose of these viewing platforms is to draw attention to the phenomenon of gated communities -- the fastest growing form of housing in the United States. "There are now more than 1 million homes behind such walls in the greater Los Angeles area alone," according to Setha Low, a professor at the City University of New York.
The viewing platforms have been installed at three locations:
- 3rd Street and Burnside Avenue, at Park La Brea
- West Sunset Boulevard and North Gunston Drive at Brentwood Circle
- Los Feliz Boulevard and Cummings Drive at Laughlin Park
WHAT'S HEAVY TRASH?
An anonymous arts organization of architects, designers and urban planners, Heavy Trash creates large, disposable art objects that draw community and media attention to urban issues. By explaining a particular urban problem and suggesting a solution, Heavy Trash seeks to provoke dialogue among the residents of Los Angeles.
HOW CAN HEAVY TRASH BE CONTACTED?
Learn more about Heavy Trash and post comments here at heavytrash.blogspot.com
or e-mail Heavy Trash at email@example.com
WHAT'S WRONG WITH GATED COMMUNITIES?
Most people want to live in communities that are safe for their families and most homeowners want to protect their property values. Although these are fundamentally reasonable goals, walling off one section of the city from another is not a reasonable way to achieve them. In fact, doing so can actually harm the very communities in need of protection. According to USC Lusk Center Director Ed Blakely and UC Berkeley professor Mary Gail Snyder,
"When public services and even local government are privatized, when the community of responsibility stops at the gates, the function and the very idea of democracy are threatened. Gates and barricades that separate people from one another also reduce people's potential to understand one another and commit to any common or collective purpose."
Instead of walling ourselves off in gated communities, alternatives, such as the following, should be explored:
- Unrestricted pedestrian access. Since it is difficult to commit a property crime in Los Angeles without a car, unrestricted pedestrian access could be provided to all gated communities. This would return the parks, streets and sidewalks that have been removed from the public realm back to the residents of Los Angeles.
- Investment in public infrastructure. Encourage investment in public infrastructure -- like parks, streets, sidewalks and schools -- by restoring local control over property tax revenues, essentially fixing the unintended consequences of Proposition 13.
- "More eyes on the street." Amend zoning code to encourage more mixed-use residential neighborhoods with 24-hour activity. Legalize second units ("Granny Flats") in single-family homes. Both of these actions would put more people outside during the normal course of a day, and nothing works quite as well to make neighborhoods safer, friendlier and livelier.
WHY VIEWING PLATFORMS?
Like the historic viewing platforms at the Berlin Wall that allowed Westerners to see into East Berlin, the Heavy Trash viewing platforms call attention to the walls of gated communities and provide visual access to parts of the city that have been cut off from the public domain.