Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shame on Cisneros! Don’t use the term “village” if you don't mean it

 Really now. Is this a village?
Brandford Village, a gated community in Pacoima, CA.
This week, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisnero and Executive Chairman of CityView, an institutional investment firm focused on “urban real estate” (their terminology, not mine), will lead a media tour of Brandford Village, a for-sale new home community in Pacoima, CA. Here is the problem. The 62 single-family homes that comprise Brandford Village are in fact the furthest thing from “urban” or “village” humanly possible. A village is a place that both businesses and residents call home. A real village is someplace where a child can walk to a corner store and buy a pack of gum or an ice cream cone. Where Main Street (aka the commercial district) is integral to “Elm Street” (the residential district). I mean, c’mon, this “village” doesn’t even have sidewalks! And it only gets worse. It’s a GATED community. Wow.
Frankly, I’m surprised that the Honorable Henry Cisneros, whose track record supporting urban communities is unrivaled, is letting his name and organization be used to promote a development that violates so many basic principles of urbanity. So I ask only this: Cisnero’s, please...use your influence and position to instead invest in communities that truly honor the term village, the traditional mixed-use downtown and neighborhood commercial districts, often surrounded by residential housing, that dot the American landscape. There is no shortage of these communities in need of your investment.

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