Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 1, 2007

L.A. traffic with the Oakland crime rate, part 4

Filed under: Alameda, Crime, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:40 am

The alternate title for this post is: Annie are you okay?  (Think about it…) 

Continued from Parts 1, 2 and 3.

But, back to the myths vs. fact: the next one on the list is crime, ULI says:

People sometimes associate density with crime, even though numerous studies show that no relationship exists between the two. A study in Irving, Texas, using geographic information systems and crime statistics, found no link between crime and density. In fact, it found that single-family neighborhoods are “not all associated with lower crime rates.” Another study conducted by the University of Alaska found no relationship between housing density and crime in Anchorage.

One reason for the misperception that crime and density are related could be that crime reports tend to characterize multifamily properties as a single “house” and may record every visit to an apartment community as happening at a single house. But a multifamily property with 250 units is more accurately defined as 250 houses. To truly compare crime rates between multifamily properties and single-family houses, the officer would have to count each household in the multifamily community as the equivalent of a separate single-family household. When they do so, many find what the previous studies prove: that crime rates between different housing types are comparable.

Interestingly enough, I found this research done in England (cue the cries of “this doesn’t apply to Alameda because it’s in England!”) using Space Syntax to evaluate street connectivity and factors like crime, some results are logged in this report: “Can Streets be Made Safe,” but Ped Shed does a nice job at highlighting key points:

In general, the hot spots of crime are the locations with low pedestrian traffic and low visibility of homes and entrances.

Conversely, the safest locations are on well-connected streets with plenty of foot traffic and many highly visible dwellings.

Conclusions about dwelling types, while not directly related to connectivity, are nonetheless instructive:

At the level of the dwelling, there are pretty unambiguous results. The British Crime Survey (Budd, 1999) shows that if you control for social and economic variables — meaning, in effect, that you take the same family and put them in different types of dwelling — then the most secure type is the flat [apartment], then the mid-terrace house [townhouse], then the end-terrace house [townhouse end unit], then the semi-detached house and finally the detached house is the least secure. In other words, the fewer sides on which your dwelling is exposed to the public realm the safer you are likely to be. … [Space Syntax researchers] have found exactly the same thing, in exactly the same order, with the additional vital fact that not only are flats the safest kind of dwelling and detached houses the least safe, but also that in flats you are a good deal safer off the ground than on the ground.

Can Streets Be Made Safe?

And directly culled from the abstract on the Hiller paper:

The paper identifies the hidden dangers of research into crime and its spatial distribution and warns against over-simplistic assumptions, particularly at the larger scale of analysis. Research by Simon Shu and other crime-space studies carried out by the Space Syntax Laboratory have some striking results – they found no correlation between crime and density, only a poor correlation between affluence and crime, but a very strong correlation between layout type and all kinds of crime, with traditional street patterns the best and the most ‘modern’ hierarchical layouts the worst.  [emphasis added]

To be continued…


  1. Perahps a bit off topic, but to the spirit of the emotion of this dialogue: Last Saturday we went to our first Babe Ruth game in another city. The park was at 73rd and Bancroft. It was early Saturday morning. The fields were not as good a condition as Alameda, the people weren’t as white. We had a great game.

    I would not drive around 80th and Bancroft at midnight, but Saturday morning was an uplifting experience.

    Comment by Mark — May 1, 2007 @ 9:10 am

  2. re: ‘Annie are you okay?’

    “You’ve been struck by… you’ve been hit by…”

    The “Alien Ant Farm” version is actually pretty catchy too. 🙂

    Comment by Dave S. — May 1, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  3. Lauren, thanks so much for doing our homework for us, and providing us with facts and information to really begin thinking about the implications of smart development.

    On May 15th, the City Council will review the planning board’s vote to convene a committee to talk about holding a forum to discuss measure A. It is a testament to the fear mongering among some folks that keep measure A signs are already going up, even though the agenda is just to talk about talking about measure A. In past attempts to bring this to the council, anyone who speaks about studying measure A has been subjected to harsh words, phone calls, letters, and threats to be run out of town on a rail. No surprise that there is a lack of people willing to stand up and speak out on this issue.

    I hope this time it is different.

    Comment by notadave — May 1, 2007 @ 9:44 am

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