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Act 6021: Fluid Neighborhoods

Fluid Neighborhoods

As cross-sectional and innovative transportation routes and means have exploded in recent years, a separate class of live- work commuters has arisen and formed Fluid Neighborhoods.  These Fluid Neighborhoods are comprised of cars, vans, or even boats that serve multiple functions as residences, business-centers, and/or transportation vehicles, and have steadily increased since the late in 2010s. 

 Several factors have contributed to this rapid growth, in particular rising rents which have been exacerbated by the FlexStreets system, whose success has resulted in making distant neighborhoods more appealing.  In addition to this, the alternative lifestyle offered by Fluid Neighborhoods has also been read as a reaction to the seemingly boundless expansion of the Hyperloop, which is seen as a threat to local character.  

 Map from ArcGIS.

Map from ArcGIS.

The Business Side of Things

Although these vans and boats often circulate independently, residents also form collectives, which they have christened Carborhoods  (when on land) or Harborhoods (when at sea). While some of these cars and vans may serve solely as mobile residences, many of them also operate as businesses, and provide social and transit-related services to the community. 

Despite the mobile nature of these Fluid Neighborhoods, and the daily fluctuations in the mix of services offered at a given carborhood or harborhood, there are often patterns in the types of services offered at a particular location, and these communities tend to persist in the same location for a short period of time.

 Original image from Empire Stores.

Original image from Empire Stores.

 Original image from  Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Original image from Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Due to this, it has become commonplace for residents of all types to depend on these communities for their services, and for them to become integrated into the existing public systems and infrastructure. For example, the recent innovations in transportation bots have allowed these hybrid vans and boats to be integrated into existing transportation infrastructure. For other common services such as cafes, nap-pods, or artist pop-ups, "Adaptive Maps" have arisen as a useful digital tool in tracking the location of a specific service-supplying vehicle.  

These services often congregate at convenient customer drop-off/pick-up spots at specific times of day.  However, as this fluid live-work approach has gained momentum, frictions have arisen between residents of traditional permanent neighborhoods and those of the Fluid Neighborhoods. The appeal of being able to easily follow business in our rapidly changing economy is undeniable, but the consequence is that these new neighborhoods may seemingly supplant an existing neighborhood overnight.

 Map from ArcGIS.

Map from ArcGIS.

Act 6021

The lack of clear policy around living out of transportation vehicles and the difficulty of removing an entire Fluid Neighborhood, which may just as easily reappear one street over, has limited police intervention.  However, Act 6021 seeks to close this gap by prohibiting the formation of Carborhoods and Harborhoods and specifically banning inhabitation of cars within 5 miles of any established municipality.

This proposed legislation has led to protests from Carborheads and Harborheads (in habitants of Fluid Neighborhoods), who feel that their options for doing business in the city is being unfairly limited and that their right to gather freely is being infringed upon.  Inhabitants of traditional neighborhoods are mixed in their opinion of Act 6021, given that many of them rely on the services provided by Fluid Neighborhoods, but feel that Carborhoods and Harborhoods are negatively impacting the quality of existing neighborhoods.

Should Act 6021 pass, it would result in the elimination of Fluid Neighborhoods, and by extension the services they offer.  It has been posited that the service gap left in the wake would then be filled by private companies with employees who commute along the HyperLoop.  In reaction to this proposed law, many Carborhoods and their supporters have threatened to combine their assets and buy plots of land or garages around the city that would serve as Fluid Neighborhood “launch points." The more placid Harborhoods residents have generally remained quiet on their planned response, and hold to the belief that Act 6021 would be harder to enforce at sea.  Regardless of the outcome, Act 6021 will serve as a landmark decision, certain to effect small business owners, transportation regulators, and policy developers alike.