Hijacking New Urbanism

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When I posted my entry, Will the real New Urbanism please stand up?, I also e-mailed the Congress for the New Urbanism to ask them what they knew about this website called newurbanism.org. That's the site that comes up as the first result on a Google search of the term "New Urbanism," but which contains a lot of radical rhetoric that goes well beyond anything I've heard advocated by a new urbanist planner or architect.

In response to my e-mail, I received a reply from Steve Filmanowicz, Communications Director for the Congress for the New Urbanism (emphasis added by me):

Thanks for contacting us and alerting us to the new content at the site, newurbanism.org. Newurbanism.org is an independent, one-person operation with no ties to the Congress for the New Urbanism and little to no apparent following among New Urbanists. The site is run by a person named Andy Kunz who registered the domain name years ago. Because of the confusion the site creates, and the misimpression it leaves with some visitors that it is a source of authoritative information about New Urbanism, CNU has asked him to surrender the domain name. Since CNU refused Kunz' demand of $30,000 in exchange for the rights to the domain, the site remains in his control, unfortunately.

Your blog entry featured an accurate and insightful description of New Urbanism, whereas NewUrbanism.org offers a distorted portrayal. While there are many environmental benefits associated with the compact, walkable neighborhood-based development promoted by New Urbanists (see information on the LEED-ND project at cnu.org), the calls for things such as bans on airport expansions and road extensions and mandates for widespread installations of solar roof panels are independent positions of Mr. Kunz that further reveal that his site is a highly unreliable source of information about its namesake.

As I mentioned previously, the authoritative source of information about the New Urbanist approach to architecture and urban planning is the Congress for the New Urbanism, and that organization's website is www.cnu.org. Mr. Filmanowicz said in his e-mail that a new and improved CNU website is to be released by November.

It appears to me that Andy Kunz is a cybersquatter, holding the domain name hostage. In fact, I wonder if he really is an overzealous environmentalist, or if he is deliberately posting these draconian ideas as a way to embarass CNU into paying him for the domain name.

Given the likelihood of confusion -- indeed, actual confusion, as Kunz's views have been attributed to the New Urbanist movement as a whole -- I wonder if there is a basis for the CNU to take legal action against Kunz, at the very least to require him to post a disclaimer on every page.

If not, Mr. Kunz has discovered an ingenious way to make an organization's life miserable: Grab a domain name that would logically belong to that organization, make it look professional and add enough detail to make it appear to the casual websurfer that this is an authoritative site about said group. (But carefully avoid stating that you are speaking on behalf of the group.) Then notify the group of your ransom demand. If they refuse to pay, add some off-the-wall content that would harm their reputation (but plausible enough so that the site still seems authoritative) and raise the price. Continue to raise the stakes until the victim pays up. The same strategy could be used against a public figure, such as a candidate for office.

I've got to hope that there are legal remedies to protect groups against that kind of attack.

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5 Comments

Bill McNeal said:

Go back to the site today and look at the new paragraph that was added near the top. BTW, this guy is CNU member, and I think he means well, but he has strong feelings about the environment and how NU can play a role in making changes. He's owned the domain for a long time, and he isn't just squatting, I don't think, though you are right about it being misleading.

I passed your post along through certain channels, and changes were made. It's funny, I've been interested in NU stuff for quite awhile, and I don't think I have ever seen this site. I've always just gone to the CNU.org site. Weird.

Twatch said:

New Urbanism is radicalized when adopted into UN Agenda 21 to support its sustainable development goals, not by some zealous green advocate. See the USA Government website on sustainable development www.sdp.gov and its links to the UN website to understand how New Urbanism plays into the socialist agenda for America. A full discussion about the merits of
why we should all be walking in our own vibrant little space and why our government is so deeply involved in advocating it would be much more to the point.

Don said:

I rather hope there are NO legal remedies available. We have far too many legal remedies already for anything and everything resulting in our legal system being being overused and abused. As the prior commenter pointed out, this guy may be legit and, thus, the legal remedies would only be a way for the powerful deep pockets to push aside the innocent little guy.

I'd much rather see the market place of ideas drown out an alleged cybersquatter especially for something as subjectively vague as New Urbanism. A legit NU site should have traffic and links which would eventually allow itself to rise to the top of any search engine result page.

sbtulsa said:

I find the channel idea offensive. past the tragically misguided priorities (why should the midtown people who can afford gated coummunities be worried about the great unwashed being unsafe), the idea is wildly impractical. How would you insure a dweeling or business on the islands? Maybe low crime would get a rate break but what about flood insurance? What about any casualty coverage?

How would we get to the island? a toll bridge? would there be equal access from the east and the west? What would be the evacuation plan in the event of a tornado warning?

there is nothing you can put on these "islands" that could not be put on the river shore (bank?). therefore the money is being invested in the intangible of appearance and uniqueness. Does anyone move to a city so they can attend events at an island facility? if they do, they would already be living on nantuckett, oahu, or off the coasts of georgia or north carolina.

to invest in the impractical over streets/police/fiiremen and women is dumb. sorry warren family. you don't get my tax dollars. pay for it yourself.

pinky said:

"why should the midtown people who can afford gated communities be worried"....

being able to own in a gated community really has little to do with wealth, cost, or affordability. there is a wide range of property value in such gated communes - from apartment sized condo-minimums of 'boxed in air for sale' to single family giant homes on postage stamp lots. ugh.

gated communes have everything to do with added financial risk, erosion of equity, and increased liability. not to mention the asinineness of voluntarily giving up one's right to constitutional protections.

for more info - read here - http://www.ahrc.com

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 4, 2006 12:28 PM.

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