Security policies and security infrastructure for parking lots or entire sites
From: Kristin Dunkle (
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 07:37:40 -0800 (PST)
I'm writing seeking the voice of experience from other cohousing
communities that may have experienced targeted property crime.

I live at East Lake Commons near Atlanta, Georgia. We were established
in 1998, I've been here since 2004. We are a 67 unit ( which I think
still makes us the largest in the US) cohousing community, located in
what some consider a pretty rough part of town. Our entire campus is
fenced and has an entry gate*.

We've recently experienced a rash of nighttime cash break-ins in the
parking lot -- nearly 30 in the past month, usually with at least 5
cars per night hit on nights when it happens. We've taken a range of
unsustainable crisis management steps including doing community member
patrols and hiring overnight guards, and we've also been making
coordinated reports to local police and having a volunteer liaison
meet with detectives and make sure the case reports are linked, etc.
And the plain fact of the matter is that we live in an
"unincorporated" zone, not attached to any municipality, and our low
local and property taxes mean that we get what we pay for in terms of
policing. The police have been as helpful as they can, but they are
severely overstretched and clear that murders, assaults, etc take
priority. We have some reason to suspect that the perpetrators are
drug addicts and/or youth gangs.

We're moving from crisis management to trying to think systematically
about short, medium, and long-term security management plans and
having fruitful ideological and practical debates about strategies
covering a vast range of options including better lighting, higher
fences, security cameras, do-it-yourself detective work, better
community outreach, etc etc etc. Our last crime wave 5 years ago
involved an armed hold up and an attempted carjacking at the site
entrance (both youth perpetrated), and it was solved through highly
visible community patrolling. That hasn't worked this time, so we're
experiencing increasing frustration.

We are wondering if anyone out there can share your experience,
policies, and/or details about your site infrastructure in terms of
managing parking lot or whole site security in an economically diverse
urban setting like this. What have you tried? How has it worked or not
worked? What has the impact been on relationships within your
community and between your community and your neighborhood?

I am personally most interested in solutions that don't involve higher
walls, bigger barricades or security cameras, but I will faithfully
report back to our Security Task Group on whatever anyone has to share
about their experiences.

With gratitude,

Kristin Dunkle
East Lake Commons Cohousing, Atlanta, Georgia

* The gate has been a source of serious contention over the years as
it was added by the developer during construction without community
consensus, but we've never been able to consent on removing it. It's
one of our on-going hot-button issues.

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