Gated Communities

Some first-impressions never change.

I don’t like gated communities, and I never have. The idea of having to check in with a guard or gate operator before you go to your house or the need to tell the guard about your guests just seems strange to me in a big-brother sense, perhaps. Or the communities that aren’t exactly gated, but still have a little hut at the front and a fence around the perimeter also baffle my mind. However, I attribute my dislike for gated communities to one particular instance.

I remember running one afternoon, when I was about 13 or 14, during my summer training for cross-country. I ran down my friend’s dead end block that used to lead to trails, but now led to a development. We would watch the townhouses going up as we rode our bikes through the remaining trails. At the end of the block was now a large chain link gate, but we could squeeze through the opening. We had done this before in order to add distance to our training runs. The loop in the new development provided a good mile extra or so. All we did was run on the streets, nothing else.

This time I was by myself but still wanted to run that familiar loop. As I approached the gate and inspected on how to squeeze through, some woman walking by told me that I was not allowed in there. I said that I just wanted to run, but she continued to tell me how I couldn’t come in. And then she wouldn’t leave until I ran in the other direction. My 13 year old blood boiled. How could she tell me where I was and was not allowed to run?

To clarify, this community is not “gated” in the sense of a guard at the gate. It’s one of those with a hut at the only outlet of the development and nothing else. It’s a plain townhouse development and always has been. And I was not the 13 year old kid who looked as if she were about to cause a lot of trouble.

Even to this day, that woman who yelled at me for wanting to run within those gates, has left a sour impression about these developments that claim to offer the good life, these collections of culs-de-sac with a center pool and townhouses or McMansions. I still do not like them, but for different reasons. Now I see them as impostors to good development. They are still developments that cater to the automobile, but trick people to believing otherwise and therefore are often overpriced. My biggest pet peeve is when the development is named after a farm that it replaced or if it has something woodsy in its title. It’s just misinformed remembrance, in my opinion.

Of course, this is a generalization and I’m basing this post on such developments that I know from around Long Island. Feel free to describe otherwise. But, I am going to continue to blame the woman who banned little 13 year old me from running in that development. Today I include a different townhouse fake-gated community on my running route, but I occasionally feel as if someone is going to stop me and ask me where I live in that development. What nerve.

2 thoughts on “Gated Communities

  1. Maria says:

    I hate gated communities too. I think they’re creepy. Especially the ones like Celebration where they are not just gated communities but supposedly have a “downtown” those are the absolute worst because no one who works in those “stores” can afford to live there and they’re these really exclusive places that normal people can;t go. Its just an extension of the disnyfication of America that further ruins the publicx preception of downtown b/c when they go to a real downtown it isnt always picture perfect. Every downtown needs a shady side. I hate these places so much that I wrote a paper about them in grad school just to see if maybe I was wrong and maybe there is some good to them. I hate them even more now.

  2. Bill says:

    I have encountered these faux-gated communities with only one outlet for the first time and am disgusted. I’m moving near Fort Lauderdale, FL, and northwest of there, they are the ONLY game in town– well, gated and faux gated. I told a realtor of our budget, and every place he took us to was gated. I mentioned that I didn’t like having to play spy games to get past a gate and then to navigate through a maze to get to my would-be house. He said, “oh, we can look at ungated properties.

    We did. And guess what! They were the same exact thing without the gate. Florida is flat, so it’s easy for them to make streets a grid. The blocks are long, and on each block, there is sometimes as little as one or a maximum of three entrances, each of which is the ONLY way to get in or out of a particular bubble-behind-bars. Forget walking to the store or anywhere else. It’s stupidly inconvenient to even walk out of the development!

    Anything in a walkable area where I don’t need a car is crazy expensive or high-crime. What the heck? I’m not happy about having to move to this area, but I’m glad it’s only for two years. I want to live in a neighborhood, a real community where people of different income levels, ages, and circumstances interact to carve out a shared space, not a giant enclave of bedrooms where everyone has a similar standard of living and lifestyle. How boring.

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