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  1. #1
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    Some questions about gentrification

    Hi,

    I'm in a Master's student in a planning program and am thinking of writing a paper on gentrification this semester. I know this subject's huge, so I'm trying to get some info together to review to try to think about a more defined topic OF gentrification. If you have thoughts to share, Id love to hear your views on:

    -Is gentrification a necessary step in urban revitalization?
    -Does gentrification have to be a negative trend (i.e. can you do it the 'right' way--bringing in new residents while keeping the old)?
    -What are the possibilities for resisting / preventing gentrification?
    -What are some case studies that show positive or negative effects of gentrification?
    -What might a good "focus" be for a paper on this subject?

    AND

    ***Do you have any books or articles you'd recommend on gentrification?

    Thanks! Looking forward to your thoughts--
    Jess

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Gentrification is a complex topic. Opinions about gentrification vary depending on an individual's outlook (political, economic, justice, etc). There is a substantial amount of research out there about gentrification, its impacts, the economics of gentrification, etc. It should be pretty easy to find (at least it was when I was in school studying economic development 6 years ago). Good luck
    Satellite City Enabler

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    For an interesting take on this topic check out

    "thats what keeps the rent down baby" at

    http://geoffberner.com/mp3/index.htm.

    As noted gentrification is a really big topic and can be approached in many different manners. In university I looked at the demogrpahic charateristics and predictors of neighbourhoods that have undergone gentrification and those that would. Predictors I examined included:

    1) Income
    2) Age
    3) Education
    4) Assessment of housing stock in terms of age and number of historic /recognized structures.

    There are clear trends with respect to income and education changes in areas undergoing gentrification pressures. If you graph them through time you'll see a modal split as the neighbourhood "turns".

    If you are interested in people also look for ideas related to urban pioneers, been heres vs come heres and I hate to say it the creative class.

    As for what to read, don't know of anything current, I did my research nearly 10 years ago.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Wow. I did my senior thesis in college on gentrification, using a neighborhood in New York City as a case study... but that was a LONG time ago (pre-computers; I typed it out on erasable paper ). I recall there were some activists and academics who wrote about ways to protect residents from displacement -- Chester Hartmann (?) may have been one.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Gentrification

    Have you checked Wikipedia? here's the link;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentrification

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Wildono's avatar
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    many possibilities

    Quote Originally posted by jessaminakinamy View post
    Hi,

    I'm in a Master's student in a planning program and am thinking of writing a paper on gentrification this semester. I know this subject's huge, so I'm trying to get some info together to review to try to think about a more defined topic OF gentrification. If you have thoughts to share, Id love to hear your views on:

    -Is gentrification a necessary step in urban revitalization?
    -Does gentrification have to be a negative trend (i.e. can you do it the 'right' way--bringing in new residents while keeping the old)?
    -What are the possibilities for resisting / preventing gentrification?
    -What are some case studies that show positive or negative effects of gentrification?
    -What might a good "focus" be for a paper on this subject?

    AND

    ***Do you have any books or articles you'd recommend on gentrification?

    Thanks! Looking forward to your thoughts--
    Jess
    Jess,

    I will probably come up for air in a few days with a more detailed response; but I'll respond to your last point (which may be answered in part by your first point):

    First, define "revitalization" carefully. Prevention of gentrification and associated increases in property tax revenues? Not sure that can work. However, check out the link to the Federal Reserve Chair's comments at the Greenlining Institute's 13th Annual Economic Development Summit. It discusses how the existing ED data collection framework underestimates the purchasing power of lower income households.

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/boardd...20/default.htm

    More later...good luck!
    "That guy handles the puck like a cow handles a gun!" - Mike Lange

  7. #7
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    There was a documentary called Flag Wars http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2003/flagwars/ that was done about a neighborhood in Cleveland a few years back. It showed how several different factors came into play in this inner city neighborhood. Some of the residents were of foreign heritage (German I think) and they had been there all their lives, while Lower Income African Americans had moved in because the property values had dropped. The housing stock however was still in very good shape, it was close to downtown. Several homosexuals moved into the neighborhood and started renovating the housing stock.

    Needless to say the three very different groups clashed and City officials (zoning and codes administrators and such) were called because of the issues.

    It is a very interesting documentary that shows not only gentrification, but neighborhood transitions from several different levels and the different cultural influences.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  8. #8
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    Thank you to you all for your insight and advice. I've looked into the links and
    resources offered--really enjoyed "That's what keeps the rent down baby" Thanks!

    I really need to read up on the subject and try to narrow my topic to something more specific. Regardless, there should be a lot of interesting info!

    And if you have any other advice--feel free to continue the thread!
    Jess

    To show my appreciation, I offer in comic relief:

    Sometimes I Feel Like I'm the Only One Trying to Gentrify This Neighborhood
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/51852
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 13 Oct 2006 at 11:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    There was a documentary called Flag Wars http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2003/flagwars/ that was done about a neighborhood in Cleveland a few years back. It showed how several different factors came into play in this inner city neighborhood. Some of the residents were of foreign heritage (German I think) and they had been there all their lives, while Lower Income African Americans had moved in because the property values had dropped. The housing stock however was still in very good shape, it was close to downtown. Several homosexuals moved into the neighborhood and started renovating the housing stock.

    Needless to say the three very different groups clashed and City officials (zoning and codes administrators and such) were called because of the issues.

    It is a very interesting documentary that shows not only gentrification, but neighborhood transitions from several different levels and the different cultural influences.
    I actually witnessed this whole thing first-hand. It happened here in Columbus, not Cleveland, but that's not the point. The point is it's a perfect example of the major debates surrounding gentrification, and it's received a good deal of play in the local media. Naturally, a lot of city officials and the downtown development agencies embraced it because of the desparate struggle to make downtown "hip" and successful again, but many of the African-American advocates angrily denounced the whole affair as new-age racism and urban renewal. It remains a contentious issue around here, and it's a very interesting scenario. While it drives the fledgling New Urbanist movement that exists in the city, it's certainly done not much to benefit the lower income groups it is displacing. It's also interesting because both sides of the debate are so culturally different from one another, as well as with the rest of the area. I'd say it's definitely worth researching if you're studying the full range of effects that come with gentrification.
    Last edited by Sohioan; 13 Oct 2006 at 11:14 AM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Sohioan View post
    I actually witnessed this whole thing first-hand. It happened here in Columbus, not Cleveland, but that's not the point.
    My bad.

    That must have been a very volatile period for the city. How did the rest of the community react to this neighborhood? Were other neighborhoods influenced as well?
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by jessaminakinamy View post
    -Is gentrification a necessary step in urban revitalization?
    Gentrification is the necessary consequence of urban revitalization. It occurs because the neighborhood being gentrified has experienced an improvement in quality and attractiveness. You cannot stop gentrification short of wrecking the neighborhood to make it unattractive again.
    -Does gentrification have to be a negative trend (i.e. can you do it the 'right' way--bringing in new residents while keeping the old)?
    I don't know what is so negative about people moving neighborhoods. People are not trees. As their life progresses they move locations to meet their new needs. If the current residents no longer enjoy the gentrifying neighborhood, then it is their choice to make should they want to stay or to go.

    For property owners it is a net benefit. Since their property's capital value has substantially increased due to the neighborhood revitalization, they are now much wealthier than they were before and can afford options that weren't available beforehand. For example, a retired homeowner in a gentrifying neighborhood can afford to relocate to a retirement community of his choosing where before gentrification he might have been tied to his property.
    -What are the possibilities for resisting / preventing gentrification?
    Wreck the neighborhood. That might cause the people you are trying to protect from gentrification to move away however.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Gentrification is the necessary consequence of urban revitalization. It occurs because the neighborhood being gentrified has experienced an improvement in quality and attractiveness. You cannot stop gentrification short of wrecking the neighborhood to make it unattractive again.

    I don't know what is so negative about people moving neighborhoods. People are not trees. As their life progresses they move locations to meet their new needs. If the current residents no longer enjoy the gentrifying neighborhood, then it is their choice to make should they want to stay or to go.

    For property owners it is a net benefit. Since their property's capital value has substantially increased due to the neighborhood revitalization, they are now much wealthier than they were before and can afford options that weren't available beforehand. For example, a retired homeowner in a gentrifying neighborhood can afford to relocate to a retirement community of his choosing where before gentrification he might have been tied to his property.

    Wreck the neighborhood. That might cause the people you are trying to protect from gentrification to move away however.
    What about mixed income neighborhoods?

    I have noticed several cities that have been using this for new developments requiring some properties to available to low/mod income persons by reducing the size of the yard or the structure. More so, they are requiring this to be scattered around the development not allowing any two to be adjacent to each other.

    Several historic districts have naturally done this mainly because the housing stock was constructed at various time periods and have gone though different renovations. For example the Heritage Hill Historic District in Grand Rapids has houses that sell for $750,000 within a few houses of a house that sells for $125,000.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    What about mixed income neighborhoods?

    I have noticed several cities that have been using this for new developments requiring some properties to available to low/mod income persons by reducing the size of the yard or the structure. More so, they are requiring this to be scattered around the development not allowing any two to be adjacent to each other.
    This is actually moot when it comes to gentrification, since there is more likely to be a diverse old/new housing stock fulfilling this condition.

    There's also nothing about a diverse housing stock that guarantees mixed wealth levels. It could be that insanely rich people prefer to live in a small home next to other insanely rich people living in a servant's house (as we see in some parts of London's West End).

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    This is actually moot when it comes to gentrification, since there is more likely to be a diverse old/new housing stock fulfilling this condition.

    There's also nothing about a diverse housing stock that guarantees mixed wealth levels. It could be that insanely rich people prefer to live in a small home next to other insanely rich people living in a servant's house (as we see in some parts of London's West End).
    Nothing can guarantee anything with planning and what people do. However, a guy in my class that just unfinished his Thesis on Mixed Income Neighborhoods found that it has successfully avoided gentrification in several communities, and provided for a interactive mixed cultural community. Those who were not open minded moved away.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  15. #15
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    Have you heard of the Curley effect?
    try googling the term for more info. There's definitely a lot of meat regarding gentrification in there.
    where are you doing your masters at?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    never heard of the Curley Effect, sounds a lot like the Young Effect for Detroit.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    yeah, the paralell between youg and Curley effects can be drawn.

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    Originally posted by michaelskis
    That must have been a very volatile period for the city. How did the rest of the community react to this neighborhood? Were other neighborhoods influenced as well?
    Well, what's interesting is that it was most volatile between the officials representing the city and those respresenting the groups getting squeezed out. It made for a compelling story in the local media for awhile, but people and businesses out toward the suburbs seemed to care less. For the most part those people took it as a welcoming sight to have growth and vitality near the downtown area once again and pointed to it as a success for the metro area to have a vital urban core. They pretty much ignored the social clash between the involved parties because they welcomed the economic improvement. As far as the local community is concerned, there's still bitterness among the low-income groups that occupy the area, but they seem be chalking this battle up as a loss and are living with the new community. However they remain very guarded about any new development or redevelopment within the surrounding communities.

    Of course, the whole story eventually died out in the media when redevelopment halted on the near east side. Development is still strong downtown, but it's mostly occuring in brownfield sites on the southwest side. This has been done mostly without clashing with lower-income groups, and gentrification less of an issue.
    Last edited by Sohioan; 20 Oct 2006 at 12:12 PM.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Gentrification, in most quarters, has just become code for white people moving into neighborhoods that are less than majority white.

    In Philly the rapid transition is occuring/has occured in neighborhoods like Manayunk, Fishtown, Passyunk Square, Bella Vista, Overbrook, East Falls, Pennsport, Grays Ferry Ave. and Fairmount. Neighborhoods that have been majority european (or euro ancestry) since 1640 or shortly thereafter. No one takes the time to call this gentrification even though the people moving in are quite different from the people living there and even though occupancy rates are relatively high.

    There is rapid redevelopment of neighborhoods like "South of South" that were 50% - 60% abandoned that some people are calling "gentrification." There are also neighborhoods like Spruce Hill and Cedar Park that have always been multi-ethnic and have always had a "student ghetto" feel that some people are calling gentrification or "McPennTrification" to be specific.

    Personally, i think it's a load of ****. I've been watching most of these neighborhoods intently for the last 7 years. It's as true now as it ever was - "it takes a neighborhood a generation to turn over" or in the parlance of our times, "up and coming means 20 years"

    While 12,000 mexicans moved to South Philly in the last 5 years there was no displacement of the majority white, and minority asian and african-american population. The population grew. There were more than enough empty apartments, houses, and lots to go around.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Here is an article from the WSJ about a neighborhood in San Fransisco fighting gentrification. I copied the article instead of attaching a link since it is one the subscribers side. Like the Onion article, Ms. Abst's is the only one trying to gentrify the neighborhood.


    In San Francisco,
    Red-Light Denizens
    Fight to Stay Seedy

    Plan to Add Trees Gets Face
    On a 'Wanted' Poster;
    Safety for Sex Workers
    By BOBBY WHITE
    October 24, 2006; Page A1

    SAN FRANCISCO -- When Carolyn Abst moved into this city's harsh Tenderloin district several years ago, she thought she would be welcomed. As owner of an architecture firm, she was bringing in jobs and ideas to revitalize the area. Instead, some of her neighbors called for her head.

    "Wanted" posters went up around the Tenderloin last year, featuring Ms. Abst's photo. Someone circulated pamphlets disparaging her. Residents yelled at her in the street. Ms. Abst's offense: trying to plant 400 trees in the area. "I had no idea that cleanliness, beauty and safety could get people so riled up," the 58-year-old says.


    In San Francisco's Tenderloin, residents aren't fighting the usual gentrification battle over displacing low-income families. Instead, they are fighting for the neighborhood's gritty ambience.

    Often described by tourist guides as San Francisco's worst neighborhood, the Tenderloin has for years been a gathering point for pimps, drug addicts and transvestites and transgender residents, some of whom work as prostitutes. Some residents say that's what gives the Tenderloin its personality and makes it a crucial piece of San Francisco's diverse cityscape. Cleanup efforts, these residents contend, threaten to destroy an atmosphere that welcomes people on the fringe of society, who otherwise could find no refuge. And it distracts from the issues the neighborhood really cares about, such as safety for sex workers and affordable housing.

    "This was a place where people who don't fit in, the ostracized and cast-off, could find a place of their own," says Tenderloin resident Matt Bernstein Sycamore, a former prostitute and now a member of a local gay activist group called Gay Shame. The group, which was behind the "wanted" posters that targeted Ms. Abst and her tree-planting campaign, has been joined by other neighborhood activists in efforts to combat what it calls a "sanitized vision for the future."

    Mr. Sycamore, a sometime club host who is also known by his drag-queen name, Mary Hedgefunds, says he has now moved out of his one-bedroom Tenderloin rental because the neighborhood is no longer a place where he wants to live.

    At least one city official is sympathetic to the local activists' cause. "Yes, people are addicted to drugs and, yes, there's homelessness," says Chris Daly, a Democrat who represents the Tenderloin district on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, the city's legislative branch. But "why shouldn't these people have a place of their own?" Mr. Daly, a proponent of affordable housing, has steered funding to nonprofit social services and tenant-protection programs for the area.


    Carolyn Abst 'Wanted' poster
    The Tenderloin is a 20-square-block area sandwiched between downtown and the tony neighborhoods of Pacific Heights and Russian Hill. It bears the old name of a district in Manhattan, where patrolling cops in the early 1900s who profited from extortion could afford the choicest cuts of meat. In the 1970s, Polk Street, the main thoroughfare of San Francisco's Tenderloin, became a cluster of sex shops, spurred by the area's cheap rents.

    In recent years, with the city reeling from some of the nation's highest housing costs, professionals like Ms. Abst have also eyed the area's affordable real estate. And they are remaking the district. Along the Tenderloin's western edge, chic new digs are replacing the dives and hangouts that catered to sex workers. The Polk Gulch Saloon, where transgender patrons and drag queens once congregated, is now the Lush Lounge, serving watermelon martinis to an upscale clientele. The Giraffe, a working-class gay bar since the 1970s, is now Hemlock, a venue for rock and punk bands that attracts the college crowd.

    The changes are anathema to Daisy Anarchy (her real name, she says), who heads the local Sex Workers Organized for Labor and Civil Rights, a labor union. The 42-year-old retired stripper says that with all the recent upgrades, transgender residents of all professions have been increasingly harassed.

    Ms. Anarchy says she frequently consults with Mr. Sycamore to figure out ways to stop beautification efforts. She attends neighborhood meetings held by the likes of Ms. Abst in order to disrupt the gatherings, loudly seeking to refocus the proceedings on her agenda of rights for sex workers. "I'm giving voice to the voiceless," Ms. Anarchy says.

    Some Tenderloin traditional residents like the changes. Tamara Ching, a transgender former prostitute who has lived in the Tenderloin for 13 years, says she is sick of the brazen drug use in public areas, and welcomes the improvements. "Honey, yes, we got drug dealers, crazy people and prostitutes with razors in their purses," says the 57-year-old. "Change is good, as long as tolerance remains."

    When Ms. Abst, the architecture-firm owner, moved to Polk Street in 1999, she knew the neighborhood's reputation. But she persisted because of the affordable building she found. She and her husband turned the building's ground floor into an office for their firm, Case Plus Abst Architects; the upstairs loft became their living space.


    But by 2002, Ms. Abst was weary of the patrons of the neighboring homeless shelter, who she says often used drugs in an alley between the buildings and treated her doorway as a restroom. That year, she created the Lower Polk Neighbors community organization. Comprising 35 residents and business owners, the group successfully petitioned the city for more street cleaning and pushed to shut down a needle-exchange program operated by a nonprofit out of the alley.

    Last year, Lower Polk Neighbors began implementing a plan to plant 400 trees around the Tenderloin's western edge, a largely treeless area rife with drug sales. Ms. Abst enlisted a local organization for homeless youth to get the program started, paying each kid $6 a day. The first project: plant two palm trees in front of her own building. Ms. Abst, whose group has planted 26 trees so far, says her cleanup efforts will ultimately benefit the whole neighborhood. "It needed to be done," she says. "It was like the city had forgotten about this neighborhood. It was filthy."

    But the tree campaign struck a sour note at Gay Shame. The youths were hired "to do grunt work, and what they should be learning is computer skills or learning how to be an architect, not planting palm trees," fumes Mr. Sycamore. "It's exploitation."

    By March of last year, "wanted" posters and pamphlets were circulating featuring Ms. Abst's smiling face and accusing her of "forcing homeless youth into the planting of palm trees." The poster encouraged residents to call a phone number if they spotted her. The number was fictitious, but Ms. Abst says the posters frightened her and focused a lot of negative attention on her in the neighborhood.

    Mr. Sycamore says the poster was meant as a "prank," and he isn't sorry. He says his organization's most recent meeting to strategize, in May, didn't result in action. But the group is still looking for new ways to capitalize on the attention drummed up by the poster campaign.

    Ms. Abst says she isn't giving up. Her organization is building alliances with other community groups to help clean up the neighborhood. "I've caught hell for trying to do something about" the neighborhood's grime, she says. But "I'm fine with that."

    Write to Bobby White at bobby.white@wsj.com1
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    You could not make this sh¦t up!!!

    Apparently SF needs a place that pimps and drug dealers can make their own,

    Apparently trees and clean streets are sanitized.

    Apparently people called Ms Anarchy disrupt meetings aimed at rendering a neighborhood less of an oozing pustule, and the city councilman agrees.

    They WANT squalor? They WANT marginalization (and, oh, if it’s not too much trouble, with some public funding thrown in…)?

    How perverse; how doomed to failure.

    I'm sorry, but if this is what municipal politics has come to in the US, the Jaws is right; better to let a small coterie of successful people run the place than these cretins. Democracy can work; but not if the electorate is retarded or utterly nihilistic.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  22. #22
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    That SF article can easily be explained by "been heres" vs "come heres", urban pioneers and amenity theory.

    There is a lot being written in teh free weeklies on this subject right now in Toronto, as one of the sleazier neighbourhoods, Parkdale, is now in transition.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  23. #23

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    I'm not sure that's what municipal politics has come to in the United States, but I fear there is a strong element of this in San Francisco. Chris Daly is a self righteous wacko, and I'm a lefty.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM View post
    I'm not sure that's what municipal politics has come to in the United States, but I fear there is a strong element of this in San Francisco. Chris Daly is a self righteous wacko, and I'm a lefty.
    So it's just Frisco, eh?

    I guess one can be 'lefty' and reasonable, unlike Mr Daly.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  25. #25
          bluehour's avatar
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    Ahh, now you're making me miss home... San Francisco.

    Why not have parts of a city that aren't spotless with high rents? Why force an urban-space agenda on all parts of a city? Why do all cities have to be Guiliani-ed? Do all parts of a city have to be suitable for architecture offices and architect homes?

    Plus i've got to stand up for Christ Daly-- he's not a wacko. He's an elected official, no less wacko than the next. looks like he's going to win the election... looks like he represents the wishes of majority of the residents....

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