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BLUESCRUBS

Grand Rapids wants to reduce crime through building design standards

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This reminds me, there was a study I read once, that neighborhoods with more flowers have less crime.

Anyways,  it does seem the shadiest stores get robbed the most.

Edited by JoeSchmo

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53 minutes ago, BLUESCRUBS said:

https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2019/04/grand-rapids-wants-to-reduce-crime-through-building-design-standards.html

After reading this article I can think of a few party stores near me that could benefit form this type of design/thinking.

Some of the dollar stores are huge offenders.  Dollar General on Stocking and State to name a few.   I still don't understand how the State Street store was able to get away with maintaining the crappy, closed off facade when going through planning dept.   If the city had demanded changes from Dollar General then, I'm sure the billion dollar company would have complied to get into that location.

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This is a really bad idea...

Ok. But I’m curious why you think so.


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33 minutes ago, Pattmost20 said:

Sounds kind of like Broken Window Policies.

How?

Broken-window policing: Go after low-level crime (vandalism, etc.) under the (unproven) assumption that low-level criminals graduate to more severe crimes.

This proposal: Deter crime by making spaces less attractive for criminal activity.

The only similarity I see is that they both involve windows.

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1 hour ago, organsnyder said:

How?

Broken-window policing: Go after low-level crime (vandalism, etc.) under the (unproven) assumption that low-level criminals graduate to more severe crimes.

This proposal: Deter crime by making spaces less attractive for criminal activity.

The only similarity I see is that they both involve windows.

I guess I'm just not sold on the idea of telling businesses how to remodel their stores to make them less susceptible to crime. To me it seems like using resources to go after low level criminals in order to try and tackle the greater crime problems of certain neighborhoods when I think there are better investments (community police officers, better transportation options, and on a larger scale, addressing low wages). Once again, I'm not 100% against it, just not sold on it yet. In the end it could turn out to be an effective tool, just my gut reaction.

Also from Wikipedia: "The broken windows theory is a criminological theory that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes." I don't think it is too far off to equate "visible signs of crime" (i.e. broken windows, graffiti) with the idea that dingy, old buildings attract crime.

Edited by Pattmost20
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I might agree that its probably not too far off from the broken window policy.  However the city already does blight monitoring and you will already be fined if your property is blighted  (including broken windows).  Also graffiti will typically be promptly cleaned up by the city. I don't think this is bad.  This could be considered a next step up, which mostly sounds like its encouraging commercial properties in poor condition to maintain their front facade.

For the most part, this helps maintain property values for the neighbors.  It is argued that this could directly reduce crime and I personally wouldn't disagree.  I live on the Westside and was glad when they tore down the blighted gas station on Stocking and glad that Family Pantry cleaned up their store.  Ralph's on Leonard also cleaned up the front of their property.  I don't see any reason why this should not be encouraged.   As a city resident I am very ok if there are less low-level criminals...I suppose its even kind of a problem on the Westside.   

It was low-level criminals that torched 4 garages a couple days ago on the Westside and who knows how many vehicles. 

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1973 was 5-6 years after the riots. The rioters didn't discriminate against the properties they trashed. White owned or black owned didn't matter. Smash and grab, toss a pop bottle (glass in those days) filled with gas and a lit wick thru the windows hollering "burn baby burn" because they could. Small windows, higher up with Plexiglas reduced the exposure  to damage and possible loss of everything in the business including the building. We also had the energy crisis about that time . It was patriotic and saved money too. Make the windows smaller to conserve energy. Look at the older schools that had big windows that today still have small windows with a majority of the original windows "boarded up".

Edited by Raildude's dad
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21 hours ago, uncus said:


Ok. But I’m curious why you think so.


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Our current zoning ordinance is overly complex at best. These additions will only make it more complex to navigate and more difficult to achieve quality urban results.

Nextly, I'm increasingly concerned about our decisions and attempts to manage social issues through our planning department through policy. The weed ordinance is another example. Our planning department should be working in our community to envision our future not being a cop for a (perceived) problem that doesn't solve itself through increasing land values. 

Then, we don't need the city to have more ways to hassel folks in our city. They have more than enough.

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47 minutes ago, wingbert said:

In some cases (cough Azzar cough) I don’t think they are hassling some people enough.

That's the point. They have all the tools to solve those problems - right now.

 

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2 hours ago, Ted said:

Our planning department should be working in our community to envision our future

How so?  Just curious.

What would that look like?

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2 hours ago, JoeSchmo said:

How so?  Just curious.

What would that look like?

Jen Keesmaat in Toronto.

3 hours ago, organsnyder said:

They don't have the power (and/or the willpower) to truly hassle anyone with deep pockets.

They have the power.

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On 4/25/2019 at 9:56 AM, Ted said:

Our current zoning ordinance is overly complex at best. These additions will only make it more complex to navigate and more difficult to achieve quality urban results.

Nextly, I'm increasingly concerned about our decisions and attempts to manage social issues through our planning department through policy. The weed ordinance is another example. Our planning department should be working in our community to envision our future not being a cop for a (perceived) problem that doesn't solve itself through increasing land values. 

Then, we don't need the city to have more ways to hassel folks in our city. They have more than enough.

I fully agree here.

I also wonder if there's a mixup of causation and correlation. Crime is higher in areas with poor storefront visibility and more run-down areas. Perhaps that does help contribute to crime some. But is that the big attracting element to crime, or is it like that because of the crime in the area? In the cases were stores have made their places look nice ans saw a decrease in crime, was that an actual crime reduction, or did it just result in the same crime selecting different targets -- and if that's the case, when everything gets up to a nice aesthetic code, will that crime just ignore such aesthetic and still persist?

If neighborhoods with flowers have less crime than neighborhoods without, is it really the flowers reducing crime, or is it because flowers are planted in neighborhoods without crime. If we plant flowers in all neighborhoods, will the crime really go away? I don't really think it will. But it will add more red tape and increase cost of development further, which is only going to be passed down to higher rents, making things even more difficult for the poor in the city, and possibly even motivate crime due to an inability to afford necessities.

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On 4/26/2019 at 7:40 PM, tSlater said:

I fully agree here.

I also wonder if there's a mixup of causation and correlation. Crime is higher in areas with poor storefront visibility and more run-down areas. Perhaps that does help contribute to crime some. But is that the big attracting element to crime, or is it like that because of the crime in the area? In the cases were stores have made their places look nice ans saw a decrease in crime, was that an actual crime reduction, or did it just result in the same crime selecting different targets -- and if that's the case, when everything gets up to a nice aesthetic code, will that crime just ignore such aesthetic and still persist?

It sounds to me like this is more than just blight monitoring or broken windows policing.  It's more of a proposal to incorporate a number of CPTED principles into the zoning codes.  Why the opposition to this?  If anyone can find a study showing that CPTED does not work, I would love to see it.  Most of the individual studies and various meta-analyses I have seen indicate that it does, in fact, reduce the incidence of criminal activity.   I do wonder about the bit about what you can put in windows.  I don't think they would say, "Gee, you can't put expensive cell phones in the window of a cell phone store, or expensive jewelry in the window of a jewelry store."  That would just be stupid.  I assume the ordinance would say you cannot block the windows.

For example, I wish they had had more CPTED stuff in play for the Dollar General redesign on State.  That was a lot of terribly considered design decisions by (I assume) the corporate people there.  That store should be two or three times busier than it is.  Unfortunately, it still looks like a closed off crime den dump from the outside.  On the inside, it's clean, but it's a cavern.  Comparing that to the redone Family Pantry in the linked article is a perfect contrast of how a few tweaks to an ordinance could make a good difference.  One now looks good.  The other still looks dumpy, probably because DG corporate completely misjudged the area based on census statistics.   If you were going to pick a store to try to rob without getting caught, you would pick the DG.  I don't necessarily see the harm in forcing street-facing windows for any commercial space undergoing a redesign and reconfiguration, if they're already spending a few hundred thousand or more on permitted work.   They could always include some sort of exception for circumstances where it isn't feasible.

Edited by x99
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