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Belle Meade Should Not Become a Gated Community; Let’s Keep it Walkable.

My wife and I moved to Belle Meade about two months ago.  We fell in love with this neighborhood on the Upper East Side because of the walkability to the Mimo district and because the area has some beautiful historic homes (we purchased a 1940’s bungalow).

Belle Meade today is a semi-gated community. It lies east of Biscayne Blvd and is wedged between Biscayne Bay, NE 6th Court, NE 72nd Terrace and NE 77th Street. It is only accessible by car through a guard gate on NE 76th Street. Bicycles and pedestrians can enter and leave the community through any one of the streets that connect to NE 6th Court.

There has been a bit of a crime wave going through the area. A few weeks ago the police busted a house in Belle Meade that was dealing drugs. Yesterday there was an armed robbery/home invasion one block from my house. Residents are upset, and rightfully so. But now there is talk about closing off all the bicycle and pedestrian access points on NE 6th Court, thereby creating a totally gated community.

I am not a fan of gated communities.  I believe that erecting concrete walls sends the wrong message to the greater Miami community. For a community to be truly integrated barriers should not be erected to separate the haves from the have-nots. In addition, research suggests that gated does not equal safer. One thing is certain; they give a very false sense of security to the individuals living within these communities. Creating a proper neighborhood watch program is the answer and will show far greater results then erecting walls.

In The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), author Jane Jacobs suggested that crime could be reduced by having “eyes on the street.” We can increase eyes on the street by forming a neighborhood watch program. We can also keep the existing eyes on the street by encouraging people to walk or bike, rather than forcing Belle Meade residents to get in their cars every time they need to run an errand on Biscayne Blvd. Erecting walls will only reduce the eyes on the streets of Belle Meade.

We must keep our neighborhood walkable. There is considerable evidence and research which proves that homes in walkable neighborhoods command a premium over non-walkable neighborhoods.

My hope is that one day the guard gate on NE 76th Street can come down too. We should work with the surrounding neighborhoods to make them better, thereby reducing crime and making the entire Upper East Side a more vibrant community.

You can check out how walkable your neighborhood is on Walkscore.

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33 Comments

  1. CB says:

    I live on the other side of Biscayne on 76th St. We recently formed a community watch and put up signage as you enter 76th from either Biscayne, NE 4th Ct or NE 5th. The secret is knowing your neighbors and who should or shouldn’t be milling about someone’s house.

    Also, having an ADT system with cameras and a cellular connection has been nice.

  2. juan says:

    I for one, think that barricading 6ct completely is a good idea. The last several crime incidents involved criminals on bikes or foot. They can still come through our neighborhood through the main entrance if they want but atleast there is monitoring that could be done. I wish the surrounding area had enough critical mass of shops and bars that would make criminals less likely to blend in but the sad reality is that some of these people can hit a house in my neighborhood and stroll onto biscayne and not seem out of place.

    I think a neighborhood watch is a great idea and should compliment the barricade along with some security cameras. I will be as vigilant as i can and get to know as many neighbors as i can but with a small child to take care of, it is easy to get distracted making sure she does not get into trouble so any precautions the neighborhood can take to minimize unwanted loiterers makes sense to me.

    Finally: this last incident occured at 9:30 AM! Not sure how much a crime watch would have helped at that time since most of us work.

    Finally, Finally: You say you want eliminate the guard gate based on a nobel act of community but that very gate increased property values as soon as it went up.

  3. juan says:

    One other thing, When you site research, make sure it is not anecdotal. This research you site applies to charlotte NC and is dispute by people that live communities within the Charlotte area. Not sure this would apply in a much more metropolitan areas as Miami

  4. Mik says:

    We moved to Belle Meade about a year and a half ago partly due to the walkability of the area and partly due to the added sense of security by the guard gate when I’m traveling for work and my wife is home alone.

    However, we soon realized the constant threat by criminals walking, biking or riding motorcycles in from Biscayne. Within a few months of moving in we had an attempted burglary, later a car break-in and most recently a successful burglary of our garage. My own incidents, the horrible crime across the street yesterday, the armed mugging in Belle Meade in February and the attempted armed home-invasion in Morningside several months back and were all by criminals on foot or bike.

    So my choice is clear: I’d rather walk 3 extra blocks if that would mean a safer neighborhood! Another, perhaps less invasive, option than a full out barricade would be hire a private security firm to patrol 6th CT 24/7.

    The option of status quo and do nothing about the criminals entering via 6th Ct would in my opinion only lead to more and more houses erecting their own walls/fences/gates and do what they can to further fortify their houses - and in doing so we would lose more of the unique feeling we have in our beautiful Belle Meade.

  5. Felipe Azenha says:

    Juan,
    Please site your references regarding gated communities and the correlation to increased in property values. If possible, specifically Belle Meade, as you mentioned.

    A couple of weeks ago a drug den was busted in Belle Meade right down the street from me. Supposedly it was being operated like a drive-thru. Addicts were driving right through the guard gate to make their purchase. An alert neighbor noticed something fishy and called the police. The guards did not take action. Let me repeat, an alert neighbor made the call. Our best defense is a neighborhood watch group.

    We are slowly building a critical mass of shops and bars, this takes time. Building a wall around Belle Meade will kill any hopes of achieving this.

    CB is right. An ADT alarm and getting to know your neighbors is the best thing we can all do. I’d be glad to meet you personally to discuss. But, building a wall is not the answer.
    Sincerely,
    Your neighbor

  6. Prem says:

    Interesting debate indeed. There’s a question regarding property rights in this situation. There’s also a precedent in Dade County (and areas all over the country) for ceiling an area from outsiders.
    What’s the tax situation like in that area? Are there any implications to closing off a area other than simply a tendency to keep any non-local traffic out?
    Certainly a guard must cost you all money? I would probably also want to pay for added security. I live in an small condominium building so anything out of place is usually very noticeable by neighbors. It’s certainly a different dynamic living in a house.

  7. Bob says:

    I’m not 100% sure, but I believe that if a neighborhood puts up walls the streets become private, and then any future road improvements would not be done by the governing agency.
    Perhaps higher taxes for street improvements is something preferred by this neighborhood? Sounds like a wall would keep the crime in - related to the drug house. Perhaps a neighborhood watch as well as upping the level of police involvement in the community would help. Maybe even cameras at the entrances of the side streets, that can be seen from the guard gate.
    I have a friend who lives in Coral Gate a walled community for a long time, but it used to have entrances for people and bikes, they were recently closed off because the neighborhood group wanted it to prevent petty crime, and the elerly people that used to walk to the stores around the corner have to drive 3 blocks to get out of the neighborhood then another few blocks to the store. It does ruin walkability.

  8. Juan says:

    With respect to evidence regarding property value: I invite you to look at the Miami Dade property appraisal site and try to find a home outside of the Belle Meade gates of equal size that commands a higher value. Also: look at the level of renovation and remodelling work in Belle Meade and compare it to the homes just west of us. Why is is there a dipsarity? Its not because of ocean view. Most Belle Mead Residents dont have it. I would venture to say, that its because Belle Meade is naturally protected from high traffic and unwanted thru traffic on three sides.

    I have been a Belle Resident for 16 yrs and the whole time I have been here there has been a guard gate. I know what the previous owners payed for my house and they bought just before the guard. I believe there was a big bump in the values of homes at that time and that was in the early 90′s.

    Also: you’re link compares a walkable community to a sprawling suburb. That is not the same comparison to be made in comparing belle meade with gate .vs. belle meade without gate.

    I have seen a lot of changes for the better in the last 16 yrs with regards to the added business in the community but I gotta say that I dont feel any safer. I have been one of those residents that takes the occasional walk to Jimmy’s or Le Cafe….And I honestly can say that its not safer today. My guess is that there is more wealth in Belle Meade today than there was 16 yrs ago and that gets the attention of the less fortunate.

    Finally: I live on the same block which this latest crime was committed. I know every neighbor on this block including the ones that got robbed and I see them on a regular basis. i would like to say we have a tight block that contacts each other whenever there is something fishy going on and that I have to say that this did not prevent this crime. Why? Because it happened when most of us were at work. I dont know how crime watching alone would have solved this.

  9. Juan says:

    With respect to taxes: Yes, Belle Meade residents pay for the gate through taxes.
    With respect to making the roads private: The gate does not prevent non residents from driving through. it is there as a way to monitor licence plates of vehicles coming in but it doesnt prevent them from coming in.
    Wrt to the drug house: yes its true, a resident ( friend of mine) was the one that tipped off the cops and yes, this is a case for a crime watch which i am in favor of as well. Again, since its not illegal to enter belle meade, the guard can really why the guards probablt did not alert anybody. I think the drug house is more a symptom of home owners forced to rent homes to less desirable tenants to make ends meet.

  10. Prem says:

    That’s a very interesting accusation Juan. I used to live in Surfside, and it was quite a big deal that some people bought houses for the purposes of renting them out as vacation houses. This was against Surfside’s charter and resulted in a very laborious lawsuit amounting to millions against the owners of the home. It must be different in Belle Mead than it was in the Town of Surfside.
    They don’t like “less desirable tenants” in that town either.

  11. Juan says:

    what i mean by less desirable tenants is this: the market is such that there are a lot of empty homes and its a buyers/renters market. I am not against owners renting their homes but I think when times are tough, there is a lot of competition for renters that have a clean record and good credit score. I am not sure the particulars of the drug house and how those renters got there but it seems like a there wasnt a good background check. i am only speculating but as a rental propert owner myself, i have seen that you can get more per month from prospective tenants if no questions are asked and that is tempting.

  12. Felipe Azenha says:

    Juan,
    I do believe property values in Belle Meade have been positively affected because the area is protected from high traffic and unwanted thru traffic on three sides. However, I think it is a stretch to say that the guard house also helped property values.

    With the exception of the last few years, property values during the last two decades have slowly appreciated, I would be skeptical to say that a “bump” in property values is due to the guard house, if any bump is detectable I would say it has more to do with the fact that thru traffic ceased and a community was formed.

    I think it is also unfair to compare single family home prices in Belle Meade with those just to the west of us. Belle Meade (for the most part) is single family residential. Our property values are positively affected due to the fact that there are many homes that are on the water. In contrast, the homes west of Belle Meade abut a commercial corridor and multifamily homes. Housing prices have a tendency to be lower due to these factors.

    We need to make Belle Meade and the area as walkable as possible. We should not be forced into our cars every time we have to run out for an errand. The elderly that choose to walk in our community would also be severely affected if they have to walk an extra 6 blocks to pick up a quart of milk.

    I think Bob has some great ideas, and I do believe that if a wall goes up we will be paying the lion’s share for public works, fire, and police.

    Lastly, I noticed the drug dealer driving by on multiple occasions when I first moved in. I thought it was odd that he drove by my house every minute or two, but told myself, “Hey, I live in a semi gated community, all is well”. I should have known better. The guard gate gave me a false sense of security. A wall would do much the same.

    I still fail to see how a wall would protect us. The incident that occurred this week could have just as easily happened with a car.

    Thanks for everyone’s comments. Keep them coming!

  13. Felipe Azenha says:

    Juan,

    I’ve been doing a bit more research and from what I have read, there is no discernable reduction of crime in gated communites. Conclusion: Gated communites give us all a false sense of security.
    Take a look at some research that was conducted by the Ft. Lausderdale Police Department:
    http://www.popcenter.org/problems/burglary_home/PDFs/Blakely&Snyder_1998.pdf

    It says:
    “Two of the more thorough and wide-ranging studies were conducted by police in Fort Lauderdale. The first found no significant change in rates for violent or property crime in a dosed-street neighborhood. Auto theft, burglary, and some other crimes dropped consider ably immediately after closure, but none were sustained for more than a short time. A second
    study compared the change in crime rates in several closed-street neighborhoods with that of the city as a whole and concluded that the gates and barricades had no significant effect. That study also included a survey of patrol officers and found that the majority disliked the street closures. Most thought that they do not reduce crime, but do slow response time and inhibit police patrols.”

  14. Mik says:

    I wanted to add some emperical research input to the debate regarding the effect on property values. The following is an abstract from a research paper (LaCour-Little & Malpezzi, 2001) from a WashU and UM/Madision collaborative effort:

    “We empirically examine the effect of private and gated streets on housing prices in a well-established neighborhood of St. Louis, one of the first urban areas in the United States to develop private streets. A relatively homogeneous housing stock inside and outside the gated community, in which portions of the same street are sometimes inside and sometimes outside of the gates, allows a near-perfect natural experiment. Using a semi-log hedonic specification and the robust estimation procedures suggested by Tukey (1977) and Welsch (1980), we find that houses in the gated community command an economically significant price premium, other factors held constant.”

    And concludes:

    “We have presented evidence that these benefits (real or imagined) are capitalized into house prices. In the St. Louis case, over the 20-year period 1979-1998, houses in gated areas command a 26% price premium, after controlling for other factors, as compared to houses on 20 completely unrestricted streets (and about a 9% premium relative to a neighborhood with just a homeowner’s association).” (ibid. p 19-20)

    While some of this price premium in Belle Meade is likley already accounted for by the implementation of the guard gate some time back, and referenced by Juan as having a positive impact on Belle Meade prices at the time, this research indicate that with a 26% premium in gated vs. non-gated communities enclosing would make a lot of finacial sense in Belle Meade and essentially pay for itself in increased property values.

    For the full report titled “Gated Communities and Property Values” by Michael LaCour-Little & Stephen Malpezzi (2001), please see:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/8414515/Gated-Communities-and-Property-Values

  15. juan says:

    Felipe/Mik: thanks for the healthy and respectful debate.

    Some points i want to add:

    - We cant just look at conclusions made by research but look at the details of the experiments and what other factors were in play. Mik’s reference brings up a good point about how effective gated communities can be in increasing property value when they are closer to urban areas. It would be interesting to see the impact of gated communities in a place like Weston where the income disparity between gated and non gated is a lot lower.

    - A little bit of history on the gate: The gate went up in 1989. My house was bought in 1985 for 59k and sold in 1989 for 89K. A 50% increase in value in 4 yrs. Whose to say how much the guard gate had to do with this but certainly did not impact it in a negative way. Also: much of the real estate ads for Belle meade highlight the gate in the same way they highlight a remodelled bathroom so the real estate community seems to think its a selling point to highlight…One that Mik being a newer resident may have found attractive.

    - There is some anecdotal evidence from some of the long time residents that muggings did decrease after the gate. not sure by how much but if someone is inclined to do so, they can look up the police reports.

    - wrt to public works, etc: Adding fences along 6ct should not impact us given that it doesnt change the current method of driving vehicle into our neighborhood rather it would limit pedestrian access points.

    - Being a long time resident, i have come to accept the limitation of the guard gate and by no meanse have a false sense of security. I see it for what it is: one of many deterrents to consider. maybe newer residents have not realized this. Also: I dont think a wall would all of of sudden make everybody leave their doors open and no longer pay attention. it would just be another measure to make our neighborhood safer.

    - Your point that this last incident could have ocurred with a car is a valid concern but the the last two serious incidents involved men on bikes. I have not heard of any violent crime with the use of a car in the last few years.

    - Finally: Where are the elderly currently getting their milk within walking distance from Belle Meade that would be impacted if they had to walk an extra couple of blocks? What about the elederly that live all the way in BelleMeade island and have to walk a longer distance anyway?

  16. Mik says:

    Felipe/Juan -

    First, let me agree with you Juan - I really appreciate the tone of this debate. Cool heads, pragmatism, compromise and involvement by residents I think will be key to moving this issue forward in a constructive manner.

    There is no silver bullet - while I’m am in favor of limiting access via 6th Ct (through barricades or constant patrolling) I don’t believe this alone will solve the issues in Belle Meade. But, just as the guard gate currently (with its limitations), acts as a deterrent I believe increased security along 6th Ct would add an extra layer of security.

    In addition, we as residents (including myself!) must step up our efforts and get organized. But I firmly believe that addressing the open access via 6th ct must be part of the solution. Without it any crime watch programs risk becoming purely reactive and disseminators of information. I don’t see how a crime watch could have stopped the incident 9/14 or armed mugging earlier this year, or for that matter the relatively wide-spread petty theft that we are getting scattered reports and anecdotal evidence about. Especially as it seems these crimes occur during the day when most are at work or at night when most are asleep.

  17. cb says:

    Coincidentally, I just received this email:

    North Palm Grove Members-

    See below for Crime Statistics in our neighborhood for the last 3 month period.

    Note that there was only 1 reported incident within the current lone crime watch street (NE 76 Street). It works and our members should consider implementing on their street. This fall we will add NE 77 street/road to the crime watch.

    Thank you,

    Alisa Cepeda - NPGCO

    Stolen Tags:

    June 2010- 1

    NE 4th Ct and 77th Street on June 1, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

    July 2010- 1

    420 NE 74th Street on July 20, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

    August 2010- 1

    7814 NE 4th Court on August 31, 2010 @ 11:01 am

    Stolen Vehicles:

    June 2010- 1

    522 NE 78th Street on June 4, 2010 @ 9:23 am

    July 2010- 3

    555 NE 74th Street on July 4, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

    552 NE 72nd Street on July 22, 2010 @ 8:17 am

    7000 NE 4th Court on July 30, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

    August 2010- 1

    420 NE 70th Street on August 24, 2010 @ 10:46 am

    Burglaries:

    June 2010- 2

    434 NE 77th Street on June 12, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

    7520 NE 4th Court on June 21, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    July 2010- 6

    7100 Bisc. Blvd on July 10, 2010 @ 6:31 am

    438 NE 70th Street on July 12, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

    7899 NE 4th Ct. on July 16, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

    549 NE 72nd St. on July 21, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

    555 NE 71st St. on July 22, 2010 @ 11:00 am

    7700 Bisc. Blvd on July 29, 2010 @ 4:30 am

    August 2010- 6

    519 NE 71st St. on August 2, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

    420 NE 76th St on August 9, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

    445 NE 74th St. on August 13, 2010 @ 11:05 am

    7251 Bisc. Blvd on August 24, 2010 @ 12:10 am

    7770 Bisc. Blvd on August 24, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

    September (1-14) 2010- 3

    7244 Bisc. Blvd. on Sept. 3, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

    7623 Bisc. Blvd on Sept. 9, 2010 @ 11:32 am

    7295 Bisc. Blvd. on Sept. 13, 2010 @ 3:25 am

    Thefts:

    June 2010- 0

    July 2010- 2

    7700 Bisc. Blvd on July 7, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

    Bisc. Blvd. and NE 71 St. on July 12, 2010 @ 12:26 am

    August- 3

    7244 Bisc. Blvd. on August 6, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

    7126 Bisc. Blvd on August 21, 2010 @ 11:15 am

    7126 Bisc. Blvd on August 27, 2010 @ 11:37 am

    Thefts from Vehicles:

    June 2010- 3

    NE 4th Ct and 70th St on June 17, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    7100 Bisc. Blvd. on June 26, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

    7120 Bisc. Blvd. on June 28, 2010 @ 8:11 am

    July 2010- 5

    7120 Bisc. Blvd on July 5, 2010 @ 11:50 am

    7501 NE 5th Ave on July 8, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

    7801 NE 4th Ct on July 10, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

    Bisc. Blvd and NE 74th St on July 14, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    7100 Bisc. Blvd on July 16, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

    August 2010- 2

    7201 Bisc. Blvd on August 19, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

    7814 NE 4th Ct on August 20, 2010 @ 8:35 am

    Robberies:

    June 2010- 2

    NE 4th Ct and NE 75th St on June 2, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

    Bisc. Blvd. and NE 74th St on June 12, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

    July 2010- 2

    555 NE 77th St on July 6, 2010 @ 9:16 pm

    7300 Bisc. Blvd on July 26, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

    Shots Fired in Area:

    June 2010- 1

    576 NE 70th St on June 28, 2010 @ 12:22 am

    July 2010- 1

    Bisc. Blvd and NE 70th St. on July 1, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

    Assault/Battery:

    June 2010- 2

    Bisc. Blvd and NE 72nd St on June 28, 2010 @ 5:46 am

    7010 Bisc. Blvd on June 28, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    July 2010- 3

    500 NE 78th St on July 1, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    7287 Bisc. Blvd on July 6, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

    438 NE 71st St on July 19, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

    August 2010- 1

    NE 5th Ave and 70th St on August 17, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

    Assaults with weapons:

    June 2010- 1

    555 NE 73rd St on June 12, 2010 @ 9:41 pm- dispute between males in a red veh and homeowner- shots were heard. Homeowner stated he saw a gun.

  18. Felipe Azenha says:

    Mik,
    The research you site is from a homogenous neighborhood in St. Louis. The Upper East Side if far from being homogenous.

    I have found research that states that gated communities don’t command a price premium. This research was conducted in LA which more similar to Miami than St. Louis is. It states:

    “On the reverse, a majority of average middle class gated enclaves, located within more diverse neighborhoods, with complex local interactions, do not succeed in creating a significant price premium and/or did not maintain significant price growth during the last decade.”
    http://halshs.archives ouvertes.fr/docs/00/20/46/96/PDF/Legoix07cybergeo.pdf

    I have yet to find any research that overwhelmingly proves that gated communities are safer. Please bring it to my attention if you do find this research. Essentially what you guys are arguing is that property values increase because gated communities are safer. I have not found this to be true in any of the research I have conducted.

    Juan,
    Residents from Belle Meade Island will never walk to Biscayne Blvd. It has been proven that most people will only walk about a ¼ mile to take care of errands. This radius is lower for the elderly, mothers with strollers, and the handicap.

    There is a corner store, along with other stores, that are within ¼ mile of Belle Meade. As the area gentrifies and improves, more stores will open up. If you close the streets on 6th court everyone will be forced to drive to take care of errands. This is not good.

    If Belle Meade becomes a gated community I will be the first one to sell my house. I purchased my home in this area because I see a lot of potential for the Mimo district and because of walkability. Association dues will definitely follow if the community becomes gated. If there is any increased value as you guys state (which I doubt) it will be chipped away by association dues.

    Thank you for the lively debate.

  19. juan says:

    Felipe,

    some of your pasted links dont seem to work particlurarly the last one.

    Seems like for every opinion there is a research study waiting to back it up ;)

    I would argue that LA is not like Miami. it is much more sprawling and some of the examples given were “all inclusive” types of communities that include amenities which belle Meade does not have. The interesting thing about the St. Luis example was the ability to look at homes directly outside the gate. That’s a very similar condition that we have in Belle Meade. it would beinteresting to compare crime rate/prices within belle meade to directly outside of 6ct and to the neighborhood just south of bellemeade but on the east side.

  20. Mik says:

    I agree that the research I skimmed out there does not offer a 100% conclusive answer if gated is safer than non-gated. I still believe that in the case of Belle Meade, with the specific situation and conditions we have, it would greatly reduce crime. In fact, at the latest HOA meeting a resident asked Officer Nichols (UES’ Area Officer) if a fence or enclosure along 6th Ct would lower crimes, and the answer was a simple “yes”.

    Juan’s suggestion to look at different nearby areas is interesting. Without analyzing any data consider property values in the 4 areas Belle Meade (semi-gated), Bayside (open), Morningside (semi-gated) and Bay Point (gated, private).

    It would also be very interesting to get a realtor’s input on the local conditions and buyer preferences in the Upper East Side. So if you’re reading this - please chim in!

    In the end though, a possible increase in property values is very, very secondary to my much more urgent interest in increased security.

    Felipe/Juan - What do you think about the idea of having a private security firm (NOT 50 States!!!) patrol 6th Ct? In my view it would greatly increase security without impeding on walkablity?

  21. Prem says:

    I have many questions and comments, so excuse length or if I post more than one time to some of the above comments.

    It’s very important to discern some of the details of the studies posted. Mik, in your study which cites higher property values in gated communities, also note the two specifications: (1) increase of physical separation from the outside area, (2) impact of community impose regulations which act as insurance. But also bear that they are comparing the inside of the community to the areas of it not separated by the barrier. If you imagine there being homes from your neighborhood on biscayne, and not separated by the gate and guard. In your part of biscayne this may be an indesirable location for many obvious reasons, heavy non-local traffic, and proximity to “less desirable” elements.
    But this doesn’t necessarily give an indication of the effects of simply being further from non-local traffic. I wonder if property values of houses deeper inside places like Miami Shores compared to those whose entrances face N. Miami Ave or 2nd Ave and other busy streets face outcomes?
    Or am I confusing the implications of that study.

    Also, Juan, while there my may be property value benefits to gating or cutting a community off, there may be other methods of increasing safety and property values which are cut off by the current direction of the Community.

    Does the security guard stay at the entrance 24/7? I notice that most of those crimes happened during hours with sunlight and probably higher levels of traffic. Of all burglaries only 4, of thefts only 2. Of Robberies 4 of 6, half of assaults, happen at night. I wonder if having the security guard do rounds on a bicycle, like police do some areas, might decrease those crimes. Having a camera to catch tags of vehicles coming in would create a record in the event of a crime, but a stationary guard would not assist in prevention of any of these crimes, especially the majority crime, which is theft from vehicles, where only two happened at low light/traffic hours.

    How well do the residents of Belle Meade know security guard? Who hired him? What are his responsibilities in regards to looking for and attempting to alleviate suspicious and illegal behavior? Or is the guard tower empty?

    I ask these questions because part of the effectiveness of a neighborhood watch involves effective communication between different people in a community.

  22. Mik says:

    Prem - I’m obviously a layman when it comes to urban planning and the macroeconomic and socio-demographic drivers of property values so I will revert to my own experience. We looked at a house right outside of BM at 6th Ct/76th and the realtor said “it could not compare to the values inside the gate”. We later had an offer on a house in Bayside that in the end fell through but an appraisal was produced which excluded a nearby Belle Meade comp as “it was in a gated community and therefore not comparable”. Bayside is also east of Biscayne and the adjacent area south of BM so very comparable. It is semi-closed off, only open to pedestrian and bike traffic except from 69th so no non-local thru-traffic but also no guard gate.

    Re your other questions: yes, the guard at the gate is 24/7 but only function is to record licence plate. that’s it. they also do some random patrolling by car. But I agree that increased patrol by bike or car, particularly along 6th Ct, would be a great deterrent.

    And just a quick note about the time of day the crimes were reported: In our latest burglary the incident happened around 3 am (I remember a noise that became part of a dream…) but since I REPORTED the crime at 1030 am that is what the police report stated as time of crime.

  23. Felipe Azenha says:

    With all due respect to Officer Nichols, I don’t see how adding a fence to each entrance of 6th court is a deterrent for crime. You guys have yet to site one reliable piece of research that proves gated communities are safer. All of the research out there shows that gated communities are no safer than non-gated. Why would Belle Meade be the exception?

    I took a bike ride out to 6th Court yesterday evening. The only thing closure of the bike/ped entrances on 6th ct will achieve is destruction of walkabiity of Belle Meade, and thus reducing eyes on the street, which will only make Belle Meade more unsafe.

    There are so many places for degenerates to enter Belle Meade that it is unfair to think that blocking the 6th court entrances is the solution. Unless we construct a wall that resembles the Berlin wall, with barbed wire at the top enclosing the entirety of Belle Meade, I just don’t see it working. Even if we decide to build the equivalent of the Belle Meade Berlin wall vagrants still have access via the bay and the canal. Erecting the Belle Meade Berlin wall would be extremely expensive. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a compound. Closing off the 6th court bike/ped egress will not solve our problem.

    Mik- I like your idea of increased patrols on 6th court and even possibly setting up security cameras there. But please do not destroy the walkability of Belle Meade. It is unfair to all of us; especially the elderly, handicap, and parents with strollers.
    I would gladly take a field trip with all you down 6th court to point out the existing conditions. I think you will agree with me that closing of the streets will not solve our problem.

  24. Liz says:

    Without a doubt, CLOSE the streets.
    If I can’t feel safe in my own house, in my own backyard for goodness sake….what is the point living here?
    A wall doesn’t fix the problem, but if EVERYONE came through the gate we would have a record of it and if they came over the fence, we would know they are up to no good.
    Crime watch could not prevent this crime, a neighbor reported two men on bikes at about 8.30 am, so people are being vigilant.
    My doors & windows were locked, the back door was open because my husband was outside on our back porch, none of us lock our house when going into our backyard. Is that the way we need to live?
    Tuesday morning was a terrify event that I don’t any other resident to experience.
    Lets not wait for the next time, where the bullet hits, and is not just fired for effect of terrifying us more. I think that will cause property values to plummet.

    Thanks to ALL the local residence who have shown my family support in the last days.

    Tuesdays victim

  25. Felipe Azenha says:

    Dear Liz,
    I truly feel awful about what happened to your family. I live 1 block away from you and it could have happened to my wife and me. Closing the streets is only going make the situation worse for Belle Meade, particularly for those that live on the dead end streets. This will kill street life in Belle Meade, making it much more unsafe.
    The facts speak for themselves; a gated community is not safer than non-gated. We need to keep Belle Meade walkable and connected to Biscayne Blvd. Increased enforcement is part of the solution.

  26. Felipe Azenha says:

    Michael,

    Let’s take a walk down 6th Court so I can point out all areas that criminals can cut through. A gate will not solve our problem, nor will it corral criminals to the entrances. You would literally have to surround all of Bell Meade with a 10 foot fence to stop degenerates from entering. Even if you did corral criminals to limited entrances, what is to stop them from disguising themselves from the video cameras upon entering and leaving? These are not dumb people.

    Gated communities are NOT safer. I cannot be more emphatic about this point. This is a FACT. Every study I have read says that gated does not mean safer. I’m not running a random Google search as you condescendingly remarked. Please show me a study that states undeniably that gated means safer. The onus is on you here.

    Gating is an expensive proposition that will not reduce crime. Sorry, but your Pascal wager logic equates to wishful thinking. We should not build a fence in hopes that it will reduce crime. Study after study has proven it doesn’t. Why would Belle Meade be the exception?

  27. Michael says:

    Felipe,

    I disagree that it is a fact that gated communities are not safer. Regardless, I stated as my reason for the gate is to more swiftly focus search efforts in finding a perpetrator. In fact, if a perpetrator is found before he is able to commit another crime, wouldn’t that have reduced crime?

    I understand that we also disagree on the potential effectiveness of a fence/gate. First, I would say that even if a camera and gate stops one single robbery, it is worth it. Notwithstanding, again, you are saying that gates are NOT safer, yet you offer no alternative. Believe me when I say that I would love to hear a better solution. I don’t want gates because I love fences and think they are awesome. If all the gate opposition can say is, “gates don’t work because they don’t work” then, I understand this discussion to be fruitless henceforth.

    On a side note, and to preempt, if one more person says “Neighborhood Watch” . . . (sigh). While I agree that an assertive Watch program goes a long way towards making us slaves to security with incessant late nights, ubiquitous “OMG, I QUIT, the BMHOA ARE MEANIES” email tirades, and vigilant walks through the neighborhood, the truth remains that they are but a single tool, and not the panacea many espouse it to be.

    In line with the Crime Watch as one tool, I put fort that we add another tool, the wrought iron gate with a camera. If there is any other tool that you recommend in addition to or instead of, I am more than happy to consider it.

  28. Felipe Azenha says:

    Michael,

    Again, you may diagree with me, but everything I have researched says that gated is not safer. I’d be 100% supportive of erecting gates if there were conclusive evidence that overwhelmengly supported the fact that gated is safer. There just isn’t any evidence to support this and this is a fact. If you can find any research that supports gated being safer, please bring it to our attention. We should not install a gate for the sake of installing a gate; this would indeed be fruitless.

    As much as you may hate to admit it, the more eyes we have on the street, the safer our community becomes. We need to encourage as many people as possible to walk and bike in Belle Meade. If we force more people to drive we will have less Belle Meade residents noticing vagarants that may be lingering. Neighborhood Watch Groups are a huge part of the solution.

    Increased enforcement is also a big part of the solution. I would prefer to have enforcement done by the police, but it could also be done by a private security firm. Preferably enforcement would be done by bicycle or foot. Enforcement is less effective from the inside of a car.

    As a community, we need to make sure that we do not make a knee jerk decision that may actually make our area less safe than it already is. Discouraging walking and biking on our streets could negatively impact our safety.

    Last but not least, every home in Belle Meade should have an alarm.

    Again, I invite you and the others that have contributed their valuable opinions on this blog to join me on a 6th Court field trip. We may disagree on the strategy for now, but we can all agree that we want to make Belle Meade as safe as possible for everyone.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    I’m available anytime this weeked.
    felipeazenha@hotmail.com

  29. Michael says:

    Felipe,

    If it prevents one crime, it has made us safer.

    You seem to forget that not one of us is saying that a gate is a 100% guaranteed, written in stone, ‘conclusive’, perfect solution. It is a (one) way to make the neighborhood look better, like an entrance to a park, which you can easily walk through, but you know you might look out of place.

    I haven’t done so yet, but if we want to study crime and its effect on property value analogous to Belle Meade, we could all turn to Baypoint, our close neighbors, who are completely blocked off. They might have some good ideas and statistics, no?

    Moreover, I think I have found a common ground from within your answer, that increased presence of security may help. The overall idea is to make criminals feel like our neighborhood is not worth the hassle. I agree we should meet up and walk the corridor; it can only enhance the dialogue.

    It should be noted that in the meeting following the latest incident, the officer said that there was a mounted officer outside the victim’s home at the time of the robbery. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around a solution to the problem of human error.

  30. Craig Ambrosio says:

    A hedge would make it difficult for a biker to enter and depart quickly from the neighborhood, especially after committing a crime. The footage I turned over to the police showed the suspect cruising around our street and then back into belle meade from 6th court twice within 20 minutes. It was such easy access and easy escape and that is why thieves enter into belle meade. After he committed the crime you can see the suspect riding as fast as he could in the rain with a black garbage bag on his lap, with nothing to slow him down. With the hedge, he would have had a very difficult time carrying this bag and his bike through it. By the way, when I say hedge I mean bougainvillea, with thorns, which is a real deterrent.”

    If interested, I’ve posted a few frame grabs of the suspect leaving belle meade on NE 75th Street after the home invasion. If this isn’t enough to convince we need some barrier then maybe you should have watch this individual check out my wife and 2 year old son 20 minutes before the crime occurred. It will happen again unfortunately.
    Instructions: Please click on the link below to see the file

    (If clicking on it doesn’t launch a browser window, then you must select the URL, copy and paste it into a web browser address bar, and tap the Enter or Return key on your keyboard. The file should then begin to load.)

    http://www.craigambrosio.com/web_framegrabs/index.html

  31. Bellemeade Guy says:

    Well sorry about being late to join the discussion, i have been a homeowner in Belle Meade for 13 years and i know my neighborhood because i got involved from day one.
    First of all building a fence will have absolutely no affect on our property taxes ,because we are not restricting access to our neighborhood through any of the authorized access areas (Gatehouse), we do not want a private community just a safe community.
    And as far as the property values Juan hit it right on the head, we are an area surrounded on three sides by natural barriers, which create an oasis, ask many of our neighbors who bought here.I think historical high values in our neighborhood prove our oasis is a prime reason people want to buy and invest here. Belle Meade is a community of 314 homes , i don’t think the waterfront homes (approx 10%) will change the community’s property values as a whole as properties are compared to each other (comparable s) in a sale.
    The bottom line is many of the crimes are committed because criminals take the path of least resistance and our barricades have made us an easy target for a long time. a fence will make it much safer for our families and for me there is nothing more precious for me.

  32. Prem says:

    seems the yeas would have it.
    I wonder how everyone would feel if the “have nots” decided to put a fence and gate around their neighborhood, so one couldn’t get ti i95 easily without passing through a guard gate that took pictures.
    that’s not comparable of course, you all live in an oasis ;)

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