In an open city...people of different colors and incomes must negotiate their mutual fate together. In some respects, they learn to value one another more highly, and social networks are expanded. In socially isolated environments [such as gated suburbs], social distance leads to stereotyping and misunderstanding, which in turn leads to fear and even greater distance. A resident in one of our [suburban] focus groups exemplified this dynamic when she told us that she never left her downtown San Francisco office building, even for lunch, for fear of people on the streets. Her building is located on a central street of department stores and offices, populated at lunch hour mainly by businesspeople and shoppers. But because it is a public space where anyone may go, it is too uncontrolled for her comfort, too unpredictable. Unlike her gated suburb, its openness increases the vulnerability she already feels to an unacceptable level.
* * * * * * * * * * *
As one citizen told Constance Perin in her study of community and place in American life: "See, you have to understand the fundamental feeling in the suburbs is fear, let's face it. The basic emotional feeling is fear. Fear of blacks, fear of physical harm, fear of their kids being subjected to drugs, which are identified as a black probem, fear of all the urban ills. They feel [that] by moving to the suburbs they've run away from it, in fact, they haven't, in reality they haven't, but in their own mind's eye they've moved away from the problem."