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Thread: So I have been thinking about inner city neighborhoods

  1. #1
    Nov 2004
    Calgary, AB, Canada.

    So I have been thinking about inner city neighborhoods

    Well, having recently moved to a "large" city, I have been spending considerable amounts of time pondering inner city neighborhoods, including the social impacts that are arising as wealthier individuals are buying up property and converting it to high end living quarters.

    Included in these thoughts are the social conflicts that are developing between the wealthy and poorer individuals of the area as gentrification takes place. I am just curious to see if anyone has any thoughts on inner city development and gentrification.

    I am also curious to see what you people think about the idea of mixed social class neighborhoods, if anyone has any examples where the concept has succeeded, including what is being done in your cities to discourage gentrification.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    Why discourage gentrification? Sure, poor people also need places to live, but does that mean we should not want reinvestment to occur in declining neighborhoods? Some people will certainly be displaced, but then there will also be investment that preserves and enhances the building stock, new businesses providing jobs to neigborhood residents, new stores to shop in, and likely an imporvement in government services. Bring on the gentrification!
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3

    Oct 2001
    Solano County, California
    Too lazy to look for the links, but the degree which gentrification "pushes out" poorer residents may be overstated in some cases. Plus, a wealthier population can improve access to services and retail for all residents. So, I agree with cardinal.

    Plus, a lot of the more virulent anti-gentrification arguments see cities as stagant, in a time warp. Throw in a bit of reverse racism (hey, San Franciso's Mission District has not always, or even very long, been majority Latino. It's unfair to say white kids don't "belong" somehow) and an emphasis on ethnic enclaves and group exclusivism.

    Not denying the social trauma that can occur as prices and rents are built up -or the fact that all change is not always good.

    I'm sleepy for some reason, so not very coherent.

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    To echo Cardinal, there is nothing really malicious about gentrification. More often then not it is a benificial phenomenon.

    From my experience there is really only two "objectively" unfortunate byproducts of the trend - elderly, fixed-income owners being squeezed out by rising property taxes (due to raised assessments from the improvement of the area), and the pushing out of renters' access to "affordable" rental units (either through condo conversion or redevelopment).

    The former is actually not that harmful, becasue the elderly do have the option to sell the property at, usually, great profit, and depending on the mix of the housing in the immediate area, may not be able to stay in the same neighborhood, city, etc.

    The later is probably the truly unfortunate byproduct. Since the residents were just renting, they can't recieve the benefit of cashing out the equity and appreciation, and may also not be able to stay in the same neighborhood, city, etc, either.

    To mitgate the impact on the elderly owner, localities should consider some tax caps for owners that have owned the property for a minimum period, and for the renters, if the locality feels a lack of affordable housing is an important issue, then they will need to critically review the allowable densities for areas that would be better suited for higher density development, among other methods.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
    Dec 2003
    Downtown Atlanta
    At least one city in the Atlanta area has started a program that lets the elderly defer the portion of their property taxes that are the result in rising property values. When they sell (or die), the deferred taxes come due but until that time, there is no pressure on them to pay the deferment amount (unlike what would happen with a tax lien). This seems like a fair compromise since the it doesn't stick the non-elderly with an increased tax burden to support the elderly who will eventually either cash out (or have their heirs cashout) the increased property value that was built up primarily through the work of the newcomers in the area.

    Transportation is likely to be a bigger issue since most inner city neighborhoods have better transit and walkability than the older suburban communities into which the displaced are moving. That's likely to make access to jobs more difficult.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    What about mixed income neighborhoods? Would that be a viable option? There is a new on in Kalamazoo and the City of Grand Rapids is looking at it.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  7. #7
    Jun 2004
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    What about mixed income neighborhoods? Would that be a viable option? There is a new on in Kalamazoo and the City of Grand Rapids is looking at it.
    I think mixed-income neighborhoods is a noble idea, however it seems that once redevelopment and interest in the area starts, affordable housing is no longer an option. Even in new development, while the developer may advocate mixed income and affordable housing, the market ends up driving itself and the even the smallest home in the development eventually soars in value (at least thats whats happening here). We have some "mixed-income neighborhoods" here, in fact quite a lot, but they have grown into that over 50-60 years and as redevelopment beings in these areas (due to poor construction, lack of land for new subdivisions) the prices begin to soar and the are is no longer affordable.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    May 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Gentrificatin can't be stopped unless you use rent control, which doesn't work on owner occupied housing. Even if you build "small" homes next to "big" homes, the small homes will still increase in price because of their proximity to the large homes.

    I can understand the basis for using rent control, but how would you feel if the government decided they were going to put a cap on what you could sell your house for?

    This is just one example of a free market determining worth.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  9. #9
    Gentrification is such a touchy issue especially in New York City neighborhoods where people tend to have a paternal outlook on their given "hood". in many cases, the neighborhoods are a strong foundation of a given person's identiy or even that of a given racial or ethnic group. Like the Little Italy / Arthur Ave. area of The Bronx or Spanish Harlem otherwise known as "El Barrio" to Puerto Ricans. The troubles I see with gentiffication is that it does push people out despite what some others point to. of course it pushes out the fixed income folks, but through many New York City examples, gentrification has been used a tool to drive out people. note I didn't just say poor people, but people in general. You can look at how Columbia University has promoted gentrification to help make the area around it more in line with that of their student body. this means soul food kitchens and other establishments that don't fit in are swept away. other examples of this include Yale and the area around it in New Haven, CT.
    I look at gentrification as the Borg of Star Trek. divide and conquer.
    I think gentrification for the purposes of inclusion and truly making the area better for all is a novel approach. accomplishing this through differnt means like mixed income housing sounds quite fantastic.
    I do agree there is a ebb and flow of neighborhoods and so on but gentrification in many cases is shoved down the throat of many neighborhoods. its economic might and capitalism at it's finest. Speaking of places that are chaning, The Bronx in NYC, is on of them where you will see some strong gentrification under way (Arts Quarter in The South Bronx) that is centered around the idea of creating their own outpost within a community.

  10. #10
    Working-class neighborhoods ought to be good neighborhoods too. Unfortunately there is such a scarcity of good neighborhoods that any improvement in a working-class neighborhood tends to transform it into a hipster-professional neighborhood. The source of the problem that must be attacked is the scarcity of good neighborhoods, not gentrification. Gentrification is only a consequence, not a problem.

  11. #11
    I don't get it. how can you say gentrification is not a problem. I guess it all depends on what side of the railroad tracks your from. if you have money and part of a larger critical mass that exerts economic pressure to transform an area than I would think gentrification woudl be for you. in most cases, gentrification is not about inclusion or duality...ie. old Jewish bagel shops a few doors down from a Starbucks. there is a book written by a NYC planner (I need to get the name for you) that talks about how gentrification has been used a tool to remove or extracate people of color out of certain areas of Brooklyn. let us all not forget about how Urban Renewal was used and it's implications, otherwise dubbed "Negro Urban Removal".
    An improvement in good neighborhood is not so bad at all, or an improvement in any neighborhood for that matter. I'm all for improvements. but let's draw the destiniction between improvements and the onslaught on many fronts gentrification brings. in many cases, gentrification doesn't just happen. it is well planned and well fiananced..a part of a vision to get rich. this has happened in many cases in Boston too off the top of my head. I work for a large private firm where I have seen this all happen so let's be real here people. I guess you can say gentrification in many cases is a consequence of greedy land barons who want to improve the bottom line. I think we should call gentrification what it is and be real about it. This is a capitalist country and these things are going to happen. there is always going to be a need and market for high end housing near the urban core and so forth. What I despise is how some people try to play innocent with gentrification and say "ooops It just happened again" like the Brittney Spears song. in some cases it does, especially when your talking about new imigrants coming to an area such as Dominicans in East Harlem or the Irish in the North Bronx, but in many cases gentrification didn't just happen..it was planned...a planned scheme. we know all about that my brothers since we are all planners here. no need to stay in the closet with this because the community, many whom are powerless and seemingly weak and reading for the picking...KNOW! the secret is out.
    I believe Davidoff, the father of Advocacy planning, spoke about this because he felt Planners needed to be advocates. he spoke about this Alice in Wonderland mentality as well.

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