Passage #374: 19 October 2016


In the world of real estate and hospitality, an amenity is a feature or service which adds value to a property. An apartment complex might have a swimming pool, for instance, or a gym. Maybe there's a doorman or a concierge. Fancy vacation rentals might have pantry stocking services (someone buys your snacks for you, ahead of time). Adding amenities is a way for developers to try to stand apart from their competition, without having to necessarily invest in better quality materials nor cede valuable space to anything but shared benefits.

Since, to be seen as an amenity, something has to be beyond certain baseline expectations of functionality, our perceptions of amenities reflects our positioning in the world, our lifestyle, our class, race, and gender, our values. We can probably all agree that a roof on a house is not an "amenity;" it is one of the things which simply makes it a house (which is not to say that not having a roof means you don't have a "home"). For many people, however — and L.A. codes, as I understand them, at least in regards to new building — car parking is not an amenity but a requirement for housing. And, furthermore, one's perspective shapes whether something is viewed as a feature or, possibly, a flaw. A courtyard pool might be great if you like to swim or have kids, but could be a burden if neither are the case and you prefer peace and quiet instead. Many of the amenities of high-end hotels or residences, which might seem, by turns, either too stuffy and formal or overly indulgent and coddling, could be perfect for someone with more money than they know what to do with but little privacy or time. It can be highly subjective.

We can extend this line of thinking beyond property and housing and look at the city in general through this lens: What features represent core functions of spaces/site? Which come across as added and create value? Which are added and detract? Regular Passage riders can probably guess what we see as features and flaws (fences are flaws; holes in fences? amenity!). Indeed, if they come out regularly, they probably already see things in a similar light.

This week on the ride (as, really, every week), we avail ourselves of some of the city's amenities. Ah, the good life!

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