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TheAnk

Fixing Broken Windows and The Tipping Point

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A couple good reads.. Kelling states that if there is a broken window on a building, citizens are more apt to break another window.. Whereas if the property was cared for, they would be less apt to do so.. This theory applies to all social circles..

Gladwell also states that crime is more apt to happen in a run down area because the area is run down, rather than the people in the area cause the crime.. He also states that there are only a few career criminals, and the rest of them are influenced by their environment.. There are good citzens on one end who will do no wrong, and criminals on the other who will always do wrong.. But the majority of society is in the middle, and can be swayed either way, depending on their environment.. If there is a lot of crime taking place in a given area, the middle will "tip", and also perform crime.. And if the area cleans up, these middle folks will also clean up.. Sort of a cause and effect conundrum..

Thoughts on this?

I agree strongly with both.. Which is why simple things like paving and painting streets and owners taking care of property is so key in revitalization.. The impressionable "middle" in PVD is there waiting to be tipped to good..

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"Why should I not litter if everyone else does and no one else gets penalized for it?"

"Why should I not run the red light when everyone else does and no one gets penalized for it?"

I agree 100%. If the city is dirty, people will contribute to the dirt. Why bother fixing your house if your neighbour is not going to fix theirs? Why throw something in the trashcan whenthe ground is already covered in trash (Federal Hill)?

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I believe the broken windows theory is largely credited with dropping NYC's sky-high crime rate to remarkably low levels.

Another great read is 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities' by Jane Jacobs, this is the groundbreaking 1961 book that changed urban planning and brought back cities.

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I agree with this theory pretty strongly. We studied it in detail while I was getting my B.A. in Sociology. People in run down areas don't care about anything and feel as if no one from the outside cares about them. The major causes of crime are apathy and poverty and these are both causes and effects of the so called broken window theory.

Poverty and apathy let the area get run down, now that it's run down only poverty and apathy can reside there.

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Agreed... same applies to graffiti... which is why property owners that quickly paint over graffiti tend not to have repeat incidents...

This thought drives me crazy everytime I go by the Point Street Bridge with its purple graffiti-covered bridge house. They labored for weeks trying to decide a color. I remember a committee selected it (with representatives from everywhere including RISD). And then the city (?) just lets everyone paint all over it...

:angry:

-michael

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Thank you, monsoon. Architecture and new buildings are only one piece of the picture in improving life in our cities. History has shown us how things go when we ignore the rest of the factors and think we're going to fix everything by building a lot of fancy high-rises. Just because something is unpleasant to talk about doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it, as long as we can be civil.

Exactly.. What needs to be done is install some hope, something healthy to be proud of.. In the ProJo, after the 18 year old kid got killed on Atwells, his friends wrote "life is tough in da 'hood".. I thought that was very sad.. It made me feel like they live life expecting things like this to happen.. Like there is no hope..

In the "broken windows" post, Hartfordtycoon wrote:

"People in run down areas don't care about anything and feel as if no one from the outside cares about them. The major causes of crime are apathy and poverty and these are both causes and effects of the so called broken window theory.

Poverty and apathy let the area get run down, now that it's run down only poverty and apathy can reside there."

This is the problem.. I can tell you from experience that all new tenants are shocked when they see me fixing their apartments randomly for them.. Every month I ask them if there is anything they need to make their home better.. I'd like to think that providing a good home will enhance their quality of life.. And improved quality of life will result in better, happier tenants, and a better overall living environment for everybody.. I can tell you that just feeling that they have a landlord who cares about them, they act very differently, and start thinking of the house as a home.. Now, if all landlords applied this theory, in my opinion it would drastically reduce crime and improve.. Show that you care..

Kids in the inner city live a life where people they know get killed.. Morale is low, and in order to boost it, people protect turf.. And the whole East Side - South Side thing is exactly this.. Something to be proud of, something to protect, something to call your own.. But not the right thing, in the wrong way..

Saying this doesn't exist, is ignorant.. Improving morale makes it better.. And thats why the city needs to focus its tax dollars on neighborhood beautification and increased police protection for petty crime.. The commerical ball is in motion.. Private dollars flowing in.. Its time to start putting money into the residential neighborhoods that need it..

Combined with the efforts from the private sector, Providence can be a great livable city, and not displace its residents.. I see it happening.. I just wish it could happen faster so that less people have to get hurt..

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And thats why the city needs to focus its tax dollars on neighborhood beautification and increased police protection for petty crime..

A lot of non-profits throughout the city are doing great work in the area of affordable housing development and community building in our neighborhoods. I always wonder why that kind of development seldom makes it into our discussions here. Is it just because non-profit developers are underrepresented on UP, or is it because their work is off the radar of what people think is exciting to talk about?

By the way, here's a nice tie-in to the "Fixing Broken Windows and The Tipping Point" thread: from the ProJo a few weeks ago. This spring, thirty more of the grants described will be available to folks in the West End, Elmwood and Southside. I will start a thread about other stuff like this as it comes to my attention.

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And thats why the city needs to focus its tax dollars on neighborhood beautification and increased police protection for petty crime.. The commerical ball is in motion.. Private dollars flowing in.. Its time to start putting money into the residential neighborhoods that need it..

We asked Thom Deller last night if property owners could be fined for not maintaining their property (cleaning trash, not shoveling snow), we wanted to know if there was something on the books. There indeed is, the police can issue fines to property owners who don't properly maintain their buildings and property, the police simply choose not to.

As a way to make the city leaders know that this is important, I think it would help if we all wrote letters; to the mayor, our respective city councilors, the city council president, and the chief of police.

At the very least, it would be a revenue generator for the city. At the most it would improve the welfare of our neighborhoods. There are people who would care for their properties, but don't since they see no one else, what would be the point. If people see that the scofflaws are being punished, it will give them the incentive to upkeep and improve their own properties. It would also mean that absentee landlords would finally receive some sort of punishment for allowing property to just sit and rot in Providence while they are on a beach in Florida collecting rent checks.

A lot of non-profits throughout the city are doing great work in the area of affordable housing development and community building in our neighborhoods. I always wonder why that kind of development seldom makes it into our discussions here. Is it just because non-profit developers are underrepresented on UP, or is it because their work is off the radar of what people think is exciting to talk about?

Some of the smaller projects don't get reported or discussed here because they are not sexy, but also because it can be very hard to find information about them. Even the big players in the small scale development game, WBNA and Armory, have precious little information about their projects available online, it takes attending meetings and knowing when said meetings are to be able to get that information.

I would love it if one of our West Siders (liam...) would take to the streets with a camera and photograph some of these smaller infill projects across the West Side (and the rest of the city). I could do it, but we have people who live in the neighbourhoods who may better be able to tell the story of what the developments are and how they are progressing.

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As a way to make the city leaders know that this is important, I think it would help if we all wrote letters; to the mayor, our respective city councilors, the city council president, and the chief of police.

We may have wandered into the territory of a new thread here.

Sorry, this is going to be a long one.

This letter was written by the Southside Neighborhood Beautification Team (the same folks who are giving out those mini-grants in the article I posted above). The letter was signed by more than 100 residents and delivered to the Mayor and the named councilors at the 9/1 city council meeting:

"To Councilors Allen, Aponte, Luna and Young, other Providence City Councilors, and our Honorable Mayor:

We, the Rat Attack Team and Neighborhood Beautification Team, are residents and organizations invested in the beauty and health of the neighborhoods of South Providence. As you know, our community and the entire city has serious concerns regarding property maintenance, trash disposal and rat populations. These issues have considerable impacts on the quality of life through out Providence, and especially in the South Providence neighborhoods we represent.

The trash disposal methods currently used throughout our city affect not only the physical health of our residents, but the financial health of the city as a whole. Over-use fees at the state landfill are a gross misspending of taxpayer’s dollars, which should be used to improve our communities in more productive ways. These fees must be reduced through adherence to recycling and yard waste disposal regulations and more restrictive “white goods” disposal allowances in the city. As our elected officials, we expect you to provide effective guidance and leadership to address serious community concerns such as these.

We understand that the city has committed to distributing rat-proof trash cans throughout the city. We feel that it is important to acknowledge that, without proper enforcement, cans alone will not change the behavior of or city’s residents or create effective enforcement of city codes and regulations. There is a consensus in our communities that effective code enforcement is the primary issue preventing our city from being a healthy and clean place for our families to grow and our businesses to thrive.

Please refer to the attached sections of the City Code of Ordinances legislating trash control, and to the photographs taken this July by the Youth Neighborhood Beautification Team, documenting the lack of effective enforcement of these regulations. As the photographs illustrate, current methods of enforcement are not producing the results our communities need.(there were about 20 disgusting photos attached)

The Rat Attack Team, Neighborhood Beautification Team and other concerned residents respectfully request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience in the month of September, at which we hope you will present our communities with a specific plan and schedule for the following:

• Ensuring that regulations regarding health and safety, trash control and property maintenance are both appropriate and enforceable

• Ensuring that these regulations are enforced to the best ability of the responsible city agencies

• Increasing adherence to recycling regulations

• Appropriately staffing of city agencies to ensure that code violations are addressed expediently

• Effectively and expediently distributing the promised rat-proof trash receptacles city-wide

• Monitoring waste removal contractors to ensure their contract is being successfully fulfilled to the greatest benefit of our neighborhoods

As concerned residents invested in the well-being of our communities, we are fully committed to supporting your efforts to remedy these problems. We are committed to taking the best care of our neighborhoods that we are able, encouraging our neighbors to do the same, and holding both ourselves and others accountable for the cleanliness, health and beauty of our neighborhoods.

Ineffective trash disposal and the resulting poor conditions in our neighborhoods affect our city’s and our neighborhoods’ abilities to realize our potential as healthy, beautiful and desirable communities for all residents. We look forward to meeting with you soon and working together to make our city all it can be.

Sincerely,

Elmwood Rat Attack Team

South Providence Neighborhood Beautification Team

and other concerned residents

(Please see attached names)

Cc: Representative Grace Diaz

Senator Juan Pichardo

Speaker William Murphy

Majority Leader Gordon Fox"

Since September 1, the folks who wrote the letter have been trying to schedule a meeting with the city councilors named and with the head of Public Works. The councilors have somehow not been able to fit it into their schedules. Call and email Aponte, Allen, Young and Luna and tell them to schedule the meeting already!

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We may have wandered into the territory of a new thread here.

You're right, I moved a few posts to the broken windows thread.

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