Conventional Beautification in Unconventional Locale
The problems associated with deindustrialization - crime, gangs, unemployment -have occured not just in central cities but also inner-ring suburbs where the post-war boom first expanded to in Southern California. Paramount, California, a stigmatized inner-ring suburb southeast of Los Angeles, is currently overcoming economic plight by transforming itself through simple, yet conventional design elements.
Since 1990 the city has helped add 325 rust and graffiti-resistant white picket fences and 10 pocket parks. 75% of fence funding has come from the city while the remaining 25% is paid by homeowners. On average, Paramount has invested nearly $70,000 a year on the fence project.
This beautifiation has created a massive ripple effect on civic and residential housing improvements since its implementation. While also ading 10,000 trees , 11 fountains, and 10 miles of landscaped traffic medians, Paramount's property values and population has increased, while gang activity and crime have plummeted.
Paramount's efforts to rebound from decay are interesting in how a community stigmatized simply through the utterance of its name can successfully reform through methods strongly associated with an idyllic suburban village. Though white picket fences may be a good idea for Paramount, they are not a design method that should be the standard everywhere. The transect can help differentiate the places in which white picket fences are appropriate and inappropriate. While they also may seem like a cookie-cutter aproach to repairing residential fabric, white picket fences, in some circumstances may be one small part of the solution.
A Los Angeles Times article on Paramount can be found here
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