There are at least three unusual streets in the northern part of Brno. Although they are named like every other street, and they can be seen on regular maps, ordinary citizens never get the chance to see them. There are do-not-enter signs, gates and “private property” signs. Welcome to gated communities in the Czech Republic. A phenomenon whose popularity is increasing.
The street is quiet, calm and safe. We all know one another. And if, God forbid, something happens and an intruder alarm sounds, we know where it is coming from, says a local man in the middle of one of the streets. His refusal to tell me his name was polite, but firm. His words confirm that the main reason why people move into these unusual neighborhoods is “the feeling of safety”.
Sociologist from Masaryk University in Brno Barbora Vackova frequently conducts researchers in this area. When we ask people who live in these new neighborhoods. They say they appreciate the feeling that they know that when their kids play outside, they are not going to get hit by car, she says.
According to a 1998 study by Edward J. Blakely, approximately 2.5 million Americans lived in gated communities. However, the way some of the gated communities are built differs from the ways Czechs do it. Most Czech gated communities are in fact private streets within an otherwise regular neighborhood. The house owners gave up a part of their garden/plot to have an access street built on what is, in fact, their property from the very beginning.
The installation of gates must be approved by authorities and okayed by the police. But since the purpose of the gate is to protect legitimate interest of property owners, the approval is usually “automatic”.
However, Edward J. Blakely’s arguments apply to Czech gated communities as well. Blakely argues that crime rate is usually associated with a neighborhood, not a particular street. The aforementioned local man had an argument of his own. People who live in new apartment buildings have front entrance locked (or with camera-operated buzzers) and they have special locks on the door leading to the apartment, some even with a security system. This street basically has the same features.