The last time I posted a complaint about razor-wire fences that sit against Atlanta sidewalks, I caused hurt feelings. I enraged property-rights warriors and offended fans of razor-wire security systems across the city — and they let me have it, right in the comments. I even got a nasty direct message from someone. Tears and rage flowed and I’m sorry to have been the cause.
This time, I’ll simply post a pic of a Midtown block that looks like a prison camp without comment. I’ve learned my lesson. ☮️🕊️
Joking! I’ve learned no lesson. These fences stink and we need change.
The previous photo was of the razor-wire fence in front of an automotive business on DeKalb Avenue, near its intersection with Moreland Avenue in Inman Park. The pushback happened on my Twitter account and Facebook page. Here’s the fence:
Lots of folks were defending the fence as being necessary to keep the business secure, and also just basically implying I was being a whiner by complaining about something that wasn’t causing pedestrians any actual harm.
There’s a reason that cities require setbacks for this kind of fencing so that it isn’t against the sidewalk — this is awful to walk past. There should at least be a grassy buffer between the fence and the sidewalk, and the razor tornado atop the fence should be at least eight feet off the ground, preferably more.
BTW, the law is in fact on my side here. It’s spelled out in Sec. 16–18A.013 of city code. This fence is definitely illegal, as are the many others just like it throughout the city. But code enforcement is basically not a priority at all in Atlanta.
Bottom line: anything that makes a sidewalk in the city seem inhospitable is bad, especially near destinations and transit stops. We shouldn’t just have streets that are capable of being walked on. They should be inviting for walking. As with many other urbanism issues, this one is about more than aesthetics. It’s about reducing car trips, encouraging transit use, and encouraging healthy habits. We can’t do those things with sidewalks that look like these.