[Hpn] Residents oppose traffic barriers

Wes Browning wes@speakeasy.org
Thu, 9 Nov 2000 19:03:18 -0800 (PST)

Posted yesterday on nasna@egroups.com:

Here is a story that has been progressing for a while but only just
came to my attention today. In at least two communities near Seattle,
one in Kent and the other in Mukilteo, metal gates have been set
across a street for the stated purpose of restricting local traffic.

At first glance, it sounds like a good idea. These two streets have
seen a lot of speeding. The towns are just trying to prevent

There's only one problem with that. It turns out that the barriers are
not only stopping traffic. They are also dividing communities along
racial and economic lines.

In Kent, the community on the east side of the gate happens to be
overwhelmingly white, living in single family housing. A multi-ethnic,
very racially diverse community of apartment dwellers lies just to the
west of the gate. In Mukilteo the difference is economic: the gate was
asked for and paid for by the wealthier of two neighboring

In both Kent and Mukilteo the separated neighborhoods are not
completely cut off from each other, because the gates only stop cars,
and because it remains possible to drive around the gates, though by
detours taking 30 minutes or more.

Nevertheless the effects are discriminatory, because the inconvenience
of driving the long way around these barriers does not fall equally on
the divided communities.

Therefore in both cases residents are filing lawsuits. In September
the Mukilteo gate was ordered open by Snohomish County Superior Judge
Richard Thorpe pending a decision by him which is expected next
Monday, 11/13.

According to Heidi Stout's 3/22 story below, local governments in
Houston and Los Angeles have been persuaded by ACORN to remove similar
gates. As of 11/1, ACORN had filed a complaint to HUD about the gate
in Kent, claiming that it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and
the Fair Housing Act of 1988, and residents were threatening to sue. A
decision from HUD is expected in a few weeks.

Town officials don't seem to see the problem. The attitude seems to
be, we built the roads, we can unbuild them.

But once the roads are built, they affect the way communities grow,
determining for example where schools are built, how children are
assigned to them, or what stores people come to rely on.

Workers who live on the east side of the gate in Kent who commute to
work by I-5 will not encounter the gate on their commute. But their
neighbors to the west who also commute by I-5 may have to spend an
extra hour per day in their cars. Or find new employment.

Residents intend to sue Kent over gate -- Heidi J. Stout, South County
Journal, 11/1/2000

Kent gate creates big stir - Residents plan lawsuit saying barrier
segregates neighborhood  -- Heidi J. Stout, South County Journal, 10/16/2000

Complaint filed over Kent gate  Apartment residents say race reason
barrier was installed  -- Heidi J. Stout, South County Journal, 3/22/2000

New Mukilteo gate is thorough, if not fair -- Wednesday, August 30,

Wes Browning <wes@speakeasy.org>  

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