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In its modern form, a gated community is a form of residential community or housing estate containing strictly controlled entrances for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles, and often characterized by a closed perimeter of walls and fences. Gated communities usually consist of small residential streets and include various shared amenities. For smaller communities this may be only a park or other common area. For larger communities, it may be possible for residents to stay within the community for most daily activities. Gated communities are a type of common interest development, but are distinct from intentional communities.
Given that gated communities are spatially a type of enclave, Setha M. Low, among other anthropologists, has argued that they have a negative effect on the net social capital of the broader community outside the gated community. Some gated communities, usually called guard-gated communities, are staffed by private security guards and are often home to high-value properties, and/or are set up as retirement villages. Some gated communities are secure enough to resemble fortresses and are intended as such.
Amenities available in a gated community depend on a number of factors including geographical location, demographic composition, community structure, and community fees collected. When there are subassociations that belong to master associations, the master association may provide many of the amenities. In general, the larger the association the more amenities that can be provided. Amenities also depend on the type of housing. For example, single-family-home communities may not have a common-area swimming pool, since individual home-owners have the ability to construct their own private pools. A condominium, on the other hand, may offer a community pool, since the individual units do not have the option of a private pool installation.
Typical amenities offered can include one or more
To enter some gated communities, one must be a registered resident with photographic identification or must have a friend in the gated community who gives specific permission (via telephone or internet) to the security guards at the gate to this effect "my friend Joe Smith will visit me in the next hour or so, his drivers licence number is XXXXXX, let him in".
In Brazil, the most widespread form of gated community is called "condomínio fechado" (closed housing estate) and is the object of desire of the upper classes. Such a place is a small town with its own infrastructure (reserve power supply, sanitation, and security guards). The purpose of such a community is to protect its residents from exterior violence. The same philosophy is seen on closed buildings and most shopping centres (many of them can only be accessed from inside the parking lot or the garage).
In Argentina, they are called "barrios privados" (literal translation "private neighborhoods") or just "countries" and are often seen as a symbol of wealth. However, gated communities enjoy dubious social prestige (many members of the middle and middle upper class regard gated community dwellers as nouveaux riches or snobs). While most gated communities have only houses, some bigger ones, such as Nordelta, have their own hospital, school, shopping mall, and more.
In postsegregation South Africa, gated communities have mushroomed in response to high levels of violent crime. South African gated communities are broadly classified as "security villages" (large-scale privately developed areas) or "enclosed neighborhoods . Some of the newest neighborhoods being developed are almost entirely composed of security villages, with a few isolated malls and other essential services (such as hospitals). In part, property developers have adopted this response to counter squatting, which local residents fear due to associated crime, and which often results in a protracted eviction process.
In Saudi Arabia, gated communities have existed since the discovery of oil, mainly to accommodate families from Europe or North America. After threat levels raised since the late 1990s against people from these continents in general and U.S. citizens in particular, gates have become armed, sometimes heavily, and all vehicles have been inspected. Marksmen and S.A.N.G. armored vehicles appeared in certain times, markedly after recent terrorist attacks in areas near-by, targeting people from European or North American countries.
Proponents of gated communities (and to a lesser degree, of culs-de-sac) maintain that the reduction or exclusion of people who would only be passing through, or more generally, of all nonlocal people, makes any "stranger" much more recognisable in the closed local environment, and thus reduces crime danger. This view is considered unrealistic by others - since only a very small proportion of all nonlocal people passing through the area are potential criminals, increased traffic should increase rather than decrease safety by having more people around whose presence could deter criminal behaviour or who could provide assistance during an incident.
Another criticism is that gated communities offer a false sense of security. Some studies indicate that safety in gated communities may be more illusion than reality, showing that gated communities in suburban areas of the United States have no less crime than similar nongated neighborhoods.
A commentary in the New York Times specifically blames the gated communities for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin as the columnist states that "... gated communities churn a vicious cycle by attracting like-minded residents who seek shelter from outsiders and whose physical seclusion then worsens paranoid groupthink against outsiders."
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A limited number of gated communities have long been established for foreigners in various regions of the world:
Even though Tortugas Country Club was the first gated community developed in Argentina-dating from the 1930s/1940's-most of them date form the 1990s, when liberal reforms were consolidated.
Since Buenos Aires has been traditionally regarded as a socially integrated city, gated communities have been the object of research by sociologists. Gated communities are an important way through middle and upper-class people cope with the high levels of violent criminal activity in Greater Buenos Aires.
Although gated communities have been relatively rare in Australia, since the 1980s a few have been built. The most well-known are those at Hope Island, in particular Sanctuary Cove, on the Gold Coast of Queensland. Other similar projects are being built in the area. In Victoria, the first such development is Sanctuary Lakes, in the local government area of Wyndham, about 16 km south west of Melbourne. In New South Wales there is Macquarie Links gated community as well as Southgate Estate gated community. Many Australian gated communities are built within private golf courses.
In the ACT the only example is Uriarra Village based around community horse paddocks and dwellings jointly managed through strata title.
Brazil also has many gated communities, particularly in the metropolitan regions Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. For example, one of São Paulo's suburbs, Tamboré, has at least 6 such compounds known as Tamboré 1, 2, 3, and so on. Each consists of generously spaced detached houses with very little to separate front gardens.
One of the first big-scale gated community projects in São Paulo city region was Barueri's Alphaville, planned and constructed during the 1970s military dictatorship when the big cities of Brazil faced steep increases of car ownership by the middle and higher-classes, rural exodus, poverty, crime, urban sprawl and downtown decay.
Neighborhoods with "physical" or explicit gating with security checkpoints and patrols are extremely rare, being absent in some of Canada's richest neighborhoods such as Bridle Path, Toronto. This is generally attributed to the lower crime rate in Canadian cities, compared to their U.S. neighbors. Furthermore, municipal planning laws in many Canadian provinces ban locked gates on public roads as a public health issue since they deny emergency vehicles quick access.
More common in most Canadian neighborhoods, especially the largest cities, is an implicit or symbolic gating which effectively partitions the private infrastructure and amenities of these communities from their surrounding neighborhoods. A classic example of this is the affluent Montreal suburb of Mount Royal, which has a long fence running along its side of L'Acadie Boulevard that for all intents and purposes separates the community from the more working-class neighbourhood of Park Extension. Also, many newer suburban subdivisions employ decorative gates to give the impression of exclusivity and seclusion.
In China some of these compounds, like most other gated communities around the world, target the rich. Also many foreigners live in gated communities in Beijing. Often foreign companies choose the locations where their foreign employees will live, and in most cases they pay the rent and associated costs (e.g. management fees and garden work etc.).
Other gated communities in China such as those in the Daxing District of Beijing enclose the homes of rural migrants. These are intended to, and succeed, in reducing crime and increasing public order and safety. The system is controversial as it segregates migrants and the poor but is scheduled for implementation in Changping District also.
Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador have many gated communities. In the coastal city of Guayaquil they are mostly located in Samborondón and in Quito in the Valleys surrounding the city. They are home mostly for the wealthiest people, but there's a trend, specially in Guayaquil, of houses in gated communities with moderate prices as well.
In India, many gated communities are being developed like the Aamby Valley City and Lavasa City in Maharastra occupying 100 km squares of area.
In Indonesia, some gated communities are luxurious (with lots of up to 740 square metres (8000 sq ft)), and some are very affordable (with lots ranging from 65 to 120 square metres). Some examples are houses in Pondok Indah and Kemang.
In Malaysia these are known as Gated & Guarded Communities and have been seeing a steady increase in popularity. Currently, according to the Town and Country Planning Department, there are four types of gated communities in Malaysia, namely:
I. Elite community. This type of gated community is primarily occupied by the upper-class or high-income group of people. It focuses on exclusion and status in which security is one of the major concerns due to the resident’s status within the community.
II. Lifestyle community. The lifestyle community generally consists of retirement communities, leisure communities and suburban ‘new towns’. Activities inside these communities can include golf courses, horseback riding and residents-oriented leisure activities.
III. Security zone community. Security zone community is the most popular type of gated community in which it offers a housing development that is surrounded by fences or gates. This development is normally provided with guard services.
IV. Security zone community and lifestyle. This type of gated community housing development is usually developed within a city centre. It focuses on both the security aspect and the provision of lifestyle facilities for its residents.
The gated community is a concept that emerged in response to the rise of safety and security issues, and offers more advantages in terms of a calm environment and enhanced safety that is ideal for family development.
Mexico has both the largest population of gated community dwellers in the world and the largest number of gated community dwellers as a percentage of national population. It is estimated that there are 56.8 million Mexicans living in gated communities as of 2010. Gated communities in Mexico are a result of the huge income gap existing in the country. A 2008 study found that the average income in an urban area of Mexico was $26,654, a rate higher than advanced nations like South Korea or Taiwan while the average income in rural areas (sometimes just miles away) was only $8,403. This close a proximity of wealth and poverty has created a large security risk for Mexico's middle class. Gated communities can be found in virtually every medium and large sized city in Mexico with the largest found in major cities, such as Monterrey, Mexico City or Guadalajara.
Luxury or "status" gated communities are very popular with middle to high income residents in Mexico. Gated luxury communities in Mexico are considerably cheaper than in countries such as the United States while retaining houses of similar size and quality due to the commonness of the communities and the lower cost to build them and are priced lower to attract middle class residents.
Many gated communities in Mexico have fully independent and self-contained infrastructure, such as schools, water and power facilities, security and fire forces, and medical facilities. Some of the larger gated communities even retain their own school districts and police departments. The Interlomas area of Mexico City contains hundreds of gated communities and is the largest concentration of gated communities in the world, stretching over 54 square miles (140 km2). The surrounding areas of Santa Fe, Bosques-Lomas, Interlomas-Bosque Real, are also made up predominantly of gated communities and span over 30% of Greater Mexico City.
Many smaller gated communities in Mexico are not officially classified as separate gated communities as many municipal rules prohibit closed off roads. Most of these small neighborhoods cater to lower middle income residents and offer a close perimeter and check points similar to an "authentic" gated community. This situation is tolerated and sometimes even promoted by some city governments due to the lack of capacity to provide reliable and trusted security forces.
The Philippines has a sizable number of gated communities or "subdivisions" as they are locally called.
In Saudi Arabia, many expatriate workers are required to live in company-provided housing. After the 2003 attack on Al Hambra, Jadawel, Siyanco and Vinell by militant Saudi dissidents, the government established tight military security for those compounds with large western populations. Many western individuals also reside in the many other gated compounds or non-gated villas and apartments in the cities that they work. Saudi Aramco provides a compound in Dhahran which is one of the largest of its kind within the kingdom. Gated communities are also popular with many Saudis, which accounts for the limited availability of open villas in these communities and the premium rent paid for that housing. These compounds can be found in many of Saudi Arabia's cities, including but not limited to Abha, Dhahran, Riyadh, and Taif.
Many housing estates in Thailand take the form of gated communities, targeted to the upper and middle classes. They may be managed by the development company or by resident committees. Land and Houses, the country's largest real estate company, operates forty-three such developments alone. Nichada Thani in Pak Kret is a large gated community mostly serving expatriates.
Turkey has several gated communities, especially in Istanbul and Ankara. Called "site" in Turkish, they are mostly located around the edge of the city.
In the United Arab Emirates, gated communities have exploded in popularity, particularly in Dubai, where the 2002 decision to allow foreigners to own freehold properties has resulted in the construction of numerous such communities built along various themes. Examples include The Lakes, Springs, Meadows, and Arabian Ranches.
In the United Kingdom, gated communities can usually be found in London, especially in the Docklands (such as New Caledonian Wharf, Kings and Queen Wharf and Pan Peninsula), and East London (for example Bow Quarter in Bow, London), although there are an increasing number across the whole of the country. There are an estimated 1,000 gated communities across the country. These are usually on a small scale: a single block of maybe 500 flats, or a gated street of 60 or 100 houses.
Most gated communities in the U.S. are unincorporated—some, like Indiana's Briar Ridge, may even span more than one incorporated municipality—but uniquely, there are several incorporated gated cities in Southern California, namely Bradbury, Canyon Lake, Hidden Hills, Laguna Woods and Rolling Hills. To meet legal requirements, the city halls and municipal facilities are public, and private corporations own parks and other facilities within the gates. By 1997, an estimated 20,000 gated communities had been built across the country. Approximately 40% of new homes in California are behind walls. In 1997, estimates of the number of people in gated communities ranged from 4 million in 30,000 communities up to around 8 million, with a ½ million in California alone. One reason why it is difficult to determine how many gated communities there are in the United States is that most are privately developed.
The village of Rosemont, Illinois, just outside Chicago, maintains a security checkpoint at the entrance of its main residential section. Harbor Springs, Michigan is the largest gated community in the Midwestern United States.
In Downtown Miami, Florida, the neighborhood of Brickell Key is a gated island community of high-rise residential towers. Although anyone can walk onto the island or come via the public bus, only authorized automobiles may enter. Brickell Key has some of the most expensive apartments in Miami.
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas is the largest gated community in the United States with over 26,000 heavily wooded acres. H.S.V. is governed by the HSV Property Owners' Association (POA), a private, tax-exempt home owners association.
In 2012, the gated community The Retreat at Twin Lakes was made famous by the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman and has been in the national spotlight well into the year 2013 with the acquittal of Zimmerman.
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