Monday, June 08, 2015

How the rise of gated spaces like swimming pools can quietly perpetuate racial tension - The Washington Post

How the rise of gated spaces like swimming pools can quietly perpetuate racial tension - The Washington Post

This horrible McKinney, Texas, incident, with a cop brutalizing and menacing black kids while white people saunter around and manhandle the teenagers themselves, is instructive.  It is no accident that it happened in an HOA, nor was it an accident that Trayvon Martin was shot to death by "neighborhood watch volunteer" George Zimmerman in an HOA. These associations first became popular in the US as a way to enforce contractual bans on selling homes to African-Americans. And after Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 banned separate but equal public accommodations, private swimming pools became available (for only the white residents) in your local HOA. The boom in HOAs began in the years immediately following the Brown decision, and one factor was that the real estate industry decided this was a way they could continue making money peddling racial segregation. There were other factors, but segregation was, and still is, one of the reasons so many white people want to live in private and especially gated communities.

"As Yoni Appelbaum points out over at The Atlantic, this context is particularly freighted: For decades, swimming pools in America have been sites of racial exclusion. Many of the fights to desegregate communities and public resources in the 1950s were waged over access to swimming pools. And the way they're used to this day still reflects a sweeping trend — more subtle in its exclusion but no less pervasive — that arose from that era. As public resources were desegregated in American cities, communities increasingly found ways to privatize them. In McKinney on Saturday, the black teens were not using a public pool. They were swimming, rather, in the communal pool of a private community in the predominantly white part of town where civic resources like parks and pools are funded directly by homeowners."


IC_deLight said...

The author of the article seems completely ignorant to the fact that local governments have been mandating HOAs for decades. Try finding a place built in the last 30 years that isn't saddled with an HOA.

Tom Skiba said...

Hard to believe that my trustworthy local paper got some facts wrong and constructed others to support the narrative (irony for those not sure). Well at least they do sports well.

One implication that I thought should be addressed is the insinuation that the wild expansion of associations was in some way due to Brown v. Board of Education or the civil rights process in the 1950's and 1960's I'm sure that was the case in some circumstance, certainly we still see old associations with restrictive covenants on the books even though they are null and void under federal and state law.

Nevertheless, it could not have been in any kind of material fraction of the communities that exist today. Why, because more than 95% of the associations in the US today have been built since 1970. In 1970 there were approximately 10,000 associations and 700 thousand housing units in associations nation-wide. Today there are more than 333,000 associations and more than 26.7 million units in the US.

By far the main driver for association development in the US has been $. Lower costs and higher taxes for local governments, increased density and profits for developers, and access to otherwise expensive amenities/resources for potential owners.

Hope you and the family are well

Theo said...

I find these allusions to racism as the basic cause of the rise in Common Interest Communities offensive. I have been a resident of four associations, one in Nevada and three in California. I have been a professional Community Manager and association board member in both states. My overall experience with such developments covers twenty years. I have never had any contact with an association with racial or related restrictions such as described here. These ideas are fifty or sixty years old and have long since disappeared, if they did exist in fact. Give it a rest!