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No matter what you think of the expanding Occupy Wall Street movement, the 99 percenters have staked out a share of the public space along with the public conversation.

But is it really public space? Zuccotti Park, like many urban parks in other cities and in Montgomery County, is privately-owned public space, generated in exchange for increased zoning density, which equals increased leasable space.

The land remains in private ownership, and though there are rules set by the public agency for its use, there are always questions about political protests, leafletting, and canvassing.

Amid our discussions of bricks vs. pavers and setbacks vs. build-to lines, it’s important to recognize that territory staked out in public spaces is not only physical. Space takes on meaning when we act in it, whether that action is Shakespeare in the park or march through Selma.




One Response to “Public? Space”

  1. Mary Bradford

    Let’s call this movement what it is – Occupy Parks.

    Last week I attended a national meeting of other urban park directors and joined in a vibrant discussion on the Occupiers. The parks directors from Oakland (big in the news lately), Los Angeles, Omaha, and many other cirties (Philly, NYC) all report a near- crisis situation for their parks and facilities. A vigorous legal and operational conversation ensued, with no end in sight for the situation and troubling questions of costs, access, and public v. private rights.

    No matter whether or not you agree with the goal of the occupiers (called the “Indignados” in Spain, where the same thing is happening) this is costing taxpayers money – and not affecting the bankers and traders at all. A sad and ironic outcome – so far.