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March 01, 2006

The Ultimate Planned Community

Thinking of looking for a friendly neighbhorhood to live, but you aren't married to your housemate, or you have kids with him or her? Better avoid Black Jack, in the St. Louis area. You won't be welcome there because you aren't a "real" family. Black Jack has an ordinance which says that "a home cannot be inhabited by three or more individuals not related by 'blood, marriage, or adoption'."

One unmarried couple with three children bought a home in Black Jack, but the city has forbidden them to live there because they are not married. A former resident was not allowed to live in Black Jack with her fiance because they weren't married. She didn't want to go to a justice of the peace to get married just so that they could live in Black Jack. Their wedding is set for September. In 1999, "the unwed parents of triplets challenged the city's denial of an occupancy permit. The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri defended the couple in municipal court, but the case was never resolved, said Tony Rothert, the agency's legal director." The father of the triplets heard about the first case I mentioned. He laughed and said "I guess nothing's changed in Black Jack." He married the mother, but they don't live in Black Jack.

The city supposedly has concerns about "overcrowding". Michael Hurlbert, Creve Coeur's city planner, said that "the reason why there's even a definition of family is to prevent frat houses or communal living organizations from taking up residences within single family neighborhoods."

"Communal living organizations"? What does he mean by that? What is Black Jack afraid of? Gay parents or couples? Foster parents? Polyamorous families with several children? Cohabiting parents of children who have been together longer than married couples? Single moms living together with their kids to cut down on costs? After all, everyone knows that single mother homes cause juvenile delinquency, high school drop out rates, and teen pregnancy. Just ask the right-wing about those evil single moms. I and Lauren (the ghost who drops in at Feministe on occasion since she left) know firsthand how those myths of single moms denigrate the sacrifices and work those moms do for themselves and their children.

I thought the planned community I lived in in Maryand had screwy ordinances. Houses and doors could only be painted colors approved by the community board. No outdoor pools. No window air conditioners. No trash cans visible from the street. Black Jack makes that place look like paradise.

Posted on March 1, 2006 at 10:52 AM | Permalink


Black Jack--aka Stepford. Sheesh.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Mar 6, 2006 2:37:53 PM

Nah, the planned community I lived in was Stepford. Seriously. Black Jack is Westworld.

Posted by: The Countess at Mar 6, 2006 2:48:08 PM

I think a legal challenge to Black Jack's ordinance would be successful, based on a previous Supreme Court ruling that such restrictions interfered with freedom of movement (the ruling I'm thinking of overturned housing-segregation laws, in the era of Plessy vs. Ferguson).

Posted by: Alon Levy at Mar 6, 2006 3:12:49 PM