Redefining Property Values

Anyone who knows me that I past and present segregated housing patterns along with white flight is a large factor in explaining various socio-economic problems that we see today. From education to jobs to healthcare, and wealth, your address alone can and does have a huge impact on a person’s life. But now, self-segregation is reaching new levels.

In the affluent, Orange County, CA thousands of people were mailed surveys after they responded to highway billboards announcing that a new planned community, Ladera Ranch, would be coming soon. For starters, I work in the market research industry and all of the survey questions are fact-based and don’t require any moral inquiries. But the survey that went out for Ladera Ranch had questions like, “Abortions should not be legal unless there’s a threat to life,” read another. And, “I have been born again in Jesus Christ.” There were questions about corporate greed, divorce, the merits of foreign travel.

And over the next several years, the results materialized across thousands of acres: For the more conservative-minded “Traditionalists,” Covenant Hills, where homes have classic architecture and big family rooms, was built. For the green and soul-searching “Cultural Creatives,” developers built Terramor, where Craftsman-style houses are fitted with photovoltaic cells and bamboo flooring.

At Ladera Ranch, now a thriving community of more than 16,000 people, various villages are tailored not simply to practical needs, but to what marketers call different “values subcultures.”

“We were trying to characterize the lens through which people see the world,” said Brooke Warrick, who heads Ladera’s marketing firm, American Lives. I think Brooke said it best, they are trying to characterize the lens through which people see the world. To be sure, I do agree that “It’s not that the builders and marketers actually care whether buyers are right-wing Bible belters or left-wing tree-huggers as much as they care about selling houses… They must also manufacture community itself, which has become an amenity people crave, right along with tray ceilings.”

The reason why I am so intrigued by this story is that I often think about housing patterns in strictlw racial and economic terms, but this values thing is interesting. For example, “the religiously oriented “Traditionalists,” who, it was assumed, would prefer the more classic architecture there, and more family-oriented activities, such as the annual Easter egg hunt.” “On the other hand, the “Cultural Creatives” tended to be more liberal-minded, environmentally oriented and “less into conspicuous consumption.”

Obviously, this is a heightened form of social engineering and while initially, I thought this entire project was a conservative ploy to find a new term for white flight but then I started thinking about a quote from Randall Robinson. He said, (and I am paraphrasing), “One thing I learned in life is that I stopped wanting to be around people who don’t want to be around me.” Obviously those people were reference to White people but he might be on to something. Because if we keep it real, many Blacks who isolate themselves from other Blacks (generally speaking) feel that they have made it to the extent that they are surrounded by White people in the suburbs. Little do they know is that unlike many countries in South America, money does not “whiten” your skin. And just like decades of past, once a suburb has reached a critical mass of Blacks and other minorities, the White people move further from the city. (All my Michigan people please see Southfield.)

Beyond that, I wonder how I would respond to a billboard to a planned community that had cute Black babies with bright smiles and bushy hair. Furthermore, wouldn’t it be nice to live comfortably around people who shared your views and values? This is an extreme example but if you are a Christian, you wouldn’t raise your family in a community of Satists right? I just don’t see what’s so wrong with wanting to live around people who are diverse, open-minded, intellectual, believe in social justice, and are spiritually grounded.

In other words, if I could raise my family around the men of H.E.A.D.S. I would be perfectly fine with that. Those brothers possess the traits like I described before and they are funny! And if you want to talk about the importance of diversity of ideas, you can get on the internet and go on a Reading Rainbow of different ideas across the moreal and political spectrum. Also, the people of Ladera Ranch are all together so if you wanted to go to conservative town, it is probably within walking distance and I am sure the school district is a great mixing pot of kids whose ideas are greatly influenced by their parents, hence, the ability to debate is honed at an early age.

In closing, choosing a house is one of the most major decisions you will ever make. As such, is it so bad to self-segregate based on values or would we be doing more harm than good? I’m still thinking.

Stay up fam,



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