Friday, July 22, 2011

Beauty, eh?

A number of years ago I was asked to write-up a government study on CPTED strategies in US cities. The results were asymmetric. Lacking political gravitas, most cities did little to implement CPTED. Arguably, it seemed like one of the greatest failures of any prevention policy in recent history (three-strikes laws notwithstanding).

I say arguably because failure is a generalization and generalizations can be a cagey thing. For example, the study also revealed some municipalities had taken major steps forward, now described in Atlas's book 21st Century Security and
in a chapter titled "Implementing CPTED".

Interestingly, the government study did show one CPTED strategy proliferated - management and maintenance, what Newman called Image. That was probably because Image emulates planning trends like beautification, streetscaping, and the form-based zoning of new urbanism (a trend now at risk in places like Winter Park, Florida).

Though it cannot stop crime, it can trigger positive change. Beautification is not to be ignored. I recently took photos in San Diego and San Francisco showing how simple beautification can be. Then a Canadian CPTED colleague (and International CPTED Association board member), Steve Woolerich, sent me this fascinating clip of a street piano in his Alberta city. Check it out HERE.

4 Replies so far - Add your comment

Anonymous said...

My position on such matters is that communities are like horses, you can lead them to water but you cannot make them drink. Communities will be what communities decide they want to be. Police Services are merely a reflection of their communities. A good example in Ontario are laws relating to nudity and exotic entertainment. Even thought the laws are the same for all Ontarians there is a significant variance in the interpretation and enforcement of these statutes based on the tolerance of the community involved.


Greg Mills

GSaville said...

Thanks for the comments, Greg.

Most municipalities do piecemeal CPTED. But without by-laws or ordinances, it is a willy-nilly affair. CPTED officers do some CPTED and (horrifically) CPTED checklists. But the rest is willy-nilly.

Durham Region is typical. CPTED makes rare and undefined appearances in development plans. The Durham 2005 transport master plan recommended "CPTED be adopted" (In other words: willy-nilly).

Durham's 72 page architectural RFP for the new police station mentions CPTED in one single line, almost in afterthought. "The project will be designed according to CPTED". Without specifics, that's like saying good government should do good things.

Luckily, some communities are moving beyond motherhood statements. Probably because of a high crime rate, Saskatoon now leads the way in Canada.

Saskatoon (about half Durham's population) has a development process called Local Area Planning with CPTED and SafeGrowth. They have an extensive 55 page CPTED design book that defines 1st and 2nd Generation CPTED and design expectations. It is given to developers prior to design.

Saskatoon has appointed a full-time planner to do CPTED and SafeGrowth. They've subdivided their city into districts that they monitor with crime mapping (the planning department, not just the police). Those districts each have a plan that coincides with administrative CPTED policy.

They have a crime problem and they are serious about tackling it. CPTED plays a big role. Exciting things can be done.

In Saskatoon, interestedly, it was a single urban planner who led that charge.

Who might that person be in Durham region?

Mark said...

Wouldn't the Palo Alto benches you show allow for someone to lay across the full width? Most benches I like create barriers to prevent someone from "resting" on the whole bench.


GSaville said...

Thanks for the thought Mark.

No, the benches did not require dividers. Social context is everything in CPTED. Palo Alto is a wealthier community with few reasons to need dividers on benches.

Residents in that community seem to feel the benches were more usable, and friendly, than those with dividers. After all, if more residents use the benches more frequently, they are less likely to fall into disuse.

That's why I do not recommend CPTED checklists, only guidelines based on a risk assessment.