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heavy rush hour traffic that they otherwise could avoid. Rooney also discovered that the gates would effectively block escape routes during street flooding \(not uncomturned out, he says, proponents wanted the gates not for traffic purposes, but primarily dwellers who live nearby. When neighbors learned of the Rooneys’ opposition, the family began to receive harassing phone calls with frankly racist language Rooney is reluctant to repeat. “It became increasingly vitriolic…and off-color. They asked me if I were black`you sure sound black,’ they said. A number of racial epithets. I got Caller ID, and when that became known, the calls stopped.” Public supporters of the street gates angrily reject accusations of racism, pointing out that non-white residents in their subdivisions also want the gates. John Paul Vogel, who no longer lives in the Timbergrove Manor subdivision but proudly takes credit for getting the street gate erected \(“I opponents of “playing the race card, a powerful political weapon nowadays.” In fact, Vogel said, those opposing the gates were simply white neighbors who were angry because they weren’t included within the gated boundaries. Vogel is also frank in describing the Timbergrove gate as primarily an anticrime device, with traffic only a consideration insofar as increased traffic generated, in the civic .association’s judgment, increased crime. Vogel was head of the subdivision’s crime watch brigade, and claims to have documented that ninety percent of the crimes in his subdivision occurred “within two blocks” of the now-gated intersection \(actually just a name-changing streets. But opponents of the gate say that their own review of police reports across the entire neighborhood \(Timbergrove Manor includes a couple of hundred homes within a neighborhood of several hundred inner-city standards, and moreover, that the rate is essentially uniform across the entire neighborhood. Vogel says that’s a “blatant lie” based only on police calls which include “domestic violence”more common, he says, on the poorer side of the gate. He insists that his statistics prove that “property-type” crimes were more numerous in Timbergrove before the gate was erected. As he sees it, the problem was a “relatively wealthy community [Timbergrove Manor] immediately next door to a poor community…what happens is you have a high potential for crime.” Vogel’s comments were seconded by current residents of the subdivison, who say that Timbergrove Manor streets are quieter and safer since the gate was installed. When asked about the delayed ambulance endangering her neighbors, Susan Nelson, the current civic association president, said she had no direct knowledge of the incident, and that the city told the press “it didn’t happen.” Vogel did acknowledge that the gate was placed precisely at that point where the neighborhood begins to get poorer and darker. He described the subdivisions a few blocks outside the gate as “eighty-percent Hispanic”; in fact the whole neighborhood has a slight anglo majority, but in general, the closer to the gate, the whiter the neighborhoodand according to the most recent census, the Timbergrove Manor subdivision is ninety-percent white. \(By no coincidence, the gate’s location is also in the boundary area of the Eighteenth Congressional district, now subject to the current Texas redistricting dispute over “racial gerEqually apparent is the visible class distinction between the subdivisions. Timbergrove Manor is solidly middle-class: small brick ranch homes with attached garages, housing retirees as well as many young professionals, with the wider streets, curbs and sidewalks that characterize Houston’s more recent subdivisions. The older subdivisions beside it are, with some elegant exceptions, mainly small wood-frame bungalows of various design, built on curbless streets lined with old-style storm ditches in the helter-skelter fashion of the nearby Heights. Some of the most telling testimony against the gates is provided by Brandon Ramos, a twelve-year-old boy who lives on Dian Street within sight of the gate; before it was erected, he and his friends felt free to ride bikes or skateboards on both sides of the neighborhood. Brandon spoke to city council last spring, describing several incidents since the gate’s installation, in which he and his friends were cursed and threatened by residents within the Wynnwood gate, or were ordered by various adults to return to “your side of the gate.” \(Among Brandon’s friends is Timothy Walters’ twelve-year-old son, Sean, who confirms Brandon’s storiesand who has the gate to Until 1992, proposals for a Dian/Wynnwood gate were summarily rejected by the fire department. Following Lanier’s election, Timbergrove Manor suddenly had a new proposal welcomed by the city’s planning departments, and those neighbors who objected were told first it was too earlyand then too lateto stop the gate. The city initially tried to evade objections from HUD by shifting the project funding from federal Community Development block grants to the city’s general construction funds, but Hispanic residents filed complaints of discrimination, and in the spring of this year HUD investigators arrived from Fort Worth. Mayor Lanier reacted angrily to what he called HUD’s intrusion into local matters, but following similar complaints in other neighborhoods, Houston’s legal department began its own review of the gates program. According to administrator Susan McMillian, the city has been informally advised that there is no “systemic” problem with the gates program, but that individual projects require further review. \(HUD officials refused to comment concerning ongoing investigaClark Pines resident Dixie Friend Gay has spearheaded the most recent fight against the Timbergrove gate, and says she is opposed to it because it creates racial and economic segregation that is “morally wrong.” \(The mayor has attempted to single out Gay, saying that as an Anglo who lives in an expensive house she has no business complaining about discriminagates proposal in nearby Garden Oaks, has also become an informal spokesman for the Hispanic residents of Heights Annex, since he grew up there, on mostly Hispanic Prince Street where his mother and sister still liveand where much of the neighborhood traffic has been diverted. He and other opponents have formed a city-wide group called “Citizens Access to Public tion to the NTP. Martinez says CAPS is not encouraged by the city’s attempt to revise the NTP ordinance, since it will still define “collector streets” as neighborhood boundariesthus excluding the residents most likely to be excluded by the gatesand because it exempts those neighborhoods where gates have already been approved. He also believes the city is dragging its feet on the program, and on the HUD and civil rights review. “If they can delay action until after the [November] election,” he said, “Lather will be in his final term [due to term limits] and can do whatever he wants.” As if to confirm Martinez’ fears, Gay recently received a formal notice from HUD’s Fort Worth office informing her that its investigation of the neighborhood complaints would not be completed within the projected one hundred days. The new projected date is December 1, 1995. The fight over the single Timbergrove gate has poisoned friendships, separated neighbors, parishioners, and PTA members, and created open hostility where there had been at least the appearance of quiet co-existence. Multiply that atmosphere by about twentythe approximate number of traffic devices originally planned for installation around the Shenandoah neighborhoodand you get a sense of the political THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7