Overprotection Begins with City Planning

Hi hrazdfkfee
Readers — This comment came in response to the blog post below, regarding a Minnesota community up in arms about an Alzheimer’s facility moving in. The people there are worried for their children’s sake. Ironically, it is when we try to make a neighborhood unneighborly that we all suffer. Voila:

Dear Free-Range Kids: The crucial concept here (from my perspective as a native and current Minnesota guy who has also lived in Albany, NY, DC, and Hartford, CT) is zoning and neighborhood planning.

Here in MN, it is presumed that any credible, autonomous, functional person has a drivers license, access to at least one vehicle, and wants to live in a neighborhood where walking to a corner store for milk and eggs is not an option. Protecting your family’s financial future is the same as believing that two- or three-family structures within a block or two are a threat, and that driving your kids to school is the only way.

So, people are convinced that the only way to protect the value of their home is to hope they’re embedded in a wide enclave of exclusively residential single-family, owner-occupied homes with a few ultra-safe businesses on the periphery surrounded by massive parking lots.

I saw similar issues at play in Albany, Washington, and Hartford, as well. But, these circumstances in MN rub me the wrong way in the same fashion that gated and/or contractually-beige housing developments do. If you can’t bear uncertainty about your neighbors, you’d better have a lot of money to buy a chunk of land and build a big fence, if not a moat.

Otherwise, get over yourself. Meet your neighbors. Walk a lot. Make eye contact. Say “hi” to strangers walking by (the next time, they won’t be strangers). Be open to babies and puppies. Poke fun at the silliness in Woodbury, MN and welcome a small-to-medium-sized group home into your own neighborhood. — Bose

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