There goes the neighborhood: I just read the October 18 "Home Sweet Clone" piece by James Hibberd. I don't live directly in Highlands Ranch, but am close enough to it that I might as well. I can only surmise by the tone of the story, and the tone of other outsiders of the community, that Highlands Ranch is viewed with a significant amount of disdain on the mild side and outright disgust on the harsher side.
I heard these comments by people outside the community repeatedly as my family and I were looking for a home in the Denver area four years ago. Truth is, I liked it then and I like it even more now. The story couldn't be more correct in that it is a perfect community for families. It's clean, safe and upscale. It has a lot going for it.
So all you degraders of Highlands Ranch, take note: Keep your run-down, RV-parked-in-the-driveway, crime-ridden, gas-station-next-door neighborhoods. They have character.
via the Internet
The lowdown on Highlands Ranch: Congratulations on James Hibberd's excellent article on Highlands Ranch. I love the way he just let the residents speak for themselves, which added up to a scathing picture of the place. I wonder, did he encounter any underground movements -- say, book clubs or small cells of individuals who occasionally tried to flee the area and attend a symphony or play downtown?
I used to live in the Pinery, but I often had to drive past Highlands Ranch. I'd consider moving back to the Denver area someday (I now live in Great Britain), but it would be hard to find a safe neighborhood that is not an aesthetic eyesore.
Mary Helen Spooner
via the Internet
A cure for the common code: I think James Hibberd's article about Highlands Ranch should have been on the editorial page. It was clearly written from a point of view: Suburbs, particularly Highlands Ranch, suck, and Denver, particularly Washington Park, nurtures individual self-expression.
I don't find it that clear. People in Highlands Ranch could come to Larimer Square and sometimes do. People in Washington Park shop at Park Meadows.
But why do they live there? For one thing, suburbs will continue to be necessary as long as the population continues to grow. I'm finally leaving Denver for a covenanted community. In Denver, ordinances are not enforced. In addition to speed limits and red lights, barking dogs are fine, and neighbors can be as noisy as they wish. If I complain (or "narc," as your article so charmingly puts it), I'm told, "There's nothing that can be done about it." In other words, we have ordinances but don't expect enforcement. In order to get enforcement, I apparently also need covenants and covenant enforcement.
I don't mind people becoming self-actualized as long as they don't do it in my face or in my house. That wish is not supported in Denver. And as far as aesthetics go, I'd rather live next to an appropriately painted house than a Washington Park pop top anyday.
Humor in uniformity: Homogeneity. Homogeneity has come to the Denver area's radio stations. It has come to the public's opinion regarding the war against Afghanistan, or so says the mainstream media. It has come to fast food and coffee shops. And it has devoured suburbia. America today has become all about complete and total uniformity (for our "own good").
If Highlands Ranch houses were required to be more attractive colors, then I would still be saddened by their similarity. But the vast majority of these cookie-cutter houses are either gray or beige, the two most hideous and boring "colors" in existence. And I challenge anyone who is visiting friends or family down there for the second time to try to find the house you are searching for without looking at the addresses. Each house resembles its neighbor resembles its neighbor resembles...
Finally, if Highlands Ranch is so concerned about property values, then there is something that would increase those values more than anything: the imposing of controls on its cancerous sprawl.
High on Highlands Ranch: It's easy for a white, elitist, limousine liberal like Susan Barnes-Gelt to talk about diversity in her neighborhood while living in her 3,500-square-foot condo overlooking Cheesman Park. According to county records, she paid $364,000 for it in 1998, and the county has it assessed at $515,700, which means it is worth $600,000 to $900,000. I wonder how many minorities live in that building?
I paid $180,000 for my house in Highlands Ranch because I couldn't afford anything in Denver, Arapahoe or Jeffco. But now that I'm here, I love Highlands Ranch. As for diversity, on our block alone we have a Cuban family (mine), a black family and a Korean family. My next-door neighbors are Mexicans, and on the other side are people from England. Across the street is a family from Pakistan. My oldest son's best friend speaks only Russian at home, and my other son's best friend speaks only Chinese at home.