Study says post 9/11 'security zones' in major cities blight landscape

Washington, Dec 15 (ANI): 10 years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the creation of 'security zones' in American's most popular and prominent downtown areas has led to blighted landscapes, limited public access and a need for a new approach to urban planning.

"Our most open, public cities are becoming police states. While a certain amount of security is necessary after terror attacks, no amount of anti-terror architecture would have stopped the 9/11 attacks, or the Madrid or London subway bombings. And by limiting access and closing off space, we limit the potential for more 'eyes on the street' to catch possible acts in the process," said University of Colorado Denver professor Jeremy Nemeth.

But given the reality of continued terror threats like the recent plots to bomb downtown Portland, Ore. and New York City, Nemeth said 'security zones' must now be considered a new type of land use similar to parks, open space and sidewalks.

"They must be planned and designed in ways that involve the public and are useful to downtown built environments. Right now they consist of haphazard placement of metal gates, Jersey barriers and cones, but if these are to become permanent additions to the urban landscapes, we must understand how to integrate them into the existing built fabric," he noted.

Nemeth's study, the first to compare public and private security districts in more than one city, looked at areas of downtown Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco and found that while each city values and protects potential targets equally, what is deemed off-limits varies widely.

He cited that 35.7 percent of New York's civic center district is within a 'security zone,' meaning it is accessible only to for those with proper clearance, while only 3.4 percent of San Francisco's civic center area has the same designation. Meanwhile, 23-acres of public space in Los Angeles sit in a 'security zone.'

Nemeth said the zones not only affect the appearance of landmark buildings but also reflect 'architecture of fear' as evidenced, for example, by the bunker-like appearance of embassies and other perceived targets.

The study was recently published in Environment and Planning A. (ANI)

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