Power of the white picket fences
MORE than just a pretty face, the White Picket Fences Program in Paramount, California, increased property values and helped reduce the crime rate.
In Ipswich, we saw an amazing transformation of the One Mile and Leichhardt suburbs when the government initiated the urban renewal program, which focused on removing chain-wire fences and replacing them with timber picket fences. This created a sense of pride in home ownership and saw the median house price rise from $68,000 to $168,000 in one year.
A fine example of fence upgrades is Harlin Rd where home after home is being transformed, starting with the picket fence. The streetscape is amazing and property values are sure to be rising.
Ipswich City Council in the early 1990s embarked on a scheme giving grants for work carried out to the front of heritage properties. This lifted streetscapes and developed a pride in community, encouraging owners to continue further upgrades to the property. It is time to revisit this program, as there is a huge resurgence in Ipswich heritage property.
An October 2008 article by Rebecca Luella Miller in Victorian Homes, The Power of White Picket Fences, is an interesting read on Paramount’s White Picket Fences Program. It would be beneficial to Ipswich to introduce a similar initiative:
“Any Victorian home owner able to see past boarded-over windows, crumbling chimneys and broken stairways understands the concept – beauty is often subjective … ,” she writes.
“Architecture and infrastructure can define a city’s spirit. When buildings are barren boxes and public spaces are ugly or in disrepair, a sense of dread can seep into a community’s consciousness and control how residents, business and shoppers regard their surroundings.
“In the 1980s, after a particularly dismal indictment of Paramount in a Rand Corporation study of suburbs across America, the city’s leadership took the initiative to reverse the negative trend … Paramount introduced a variety of measures to inspire residents and business owners to become involved in changing the city’s image …
“Paramount’s public safety director initiated the White Picket Fences Program in 1997. For homeowners who qualified, the city paid 75 per cent of the purchase and installation costs of white picket fences to replace old chain link in existing residential neighbourhoods.
“Property owners taking part in the program often completed other improvements as well. Whole streets joined in and the beautification efforts had tangible results. Property values throughout these neighbourhoods have climbed significantly… the median value of homes in Paramount more than doubled (in the decade after the introduction of the program)…
“Along with the rise in property value, Paramount enjoyed a 43 per cent drop in crime rates during the same period.”