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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 1:52 AM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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A new twist on NIMBYism that may be threatening cities

Ten years ago, the big threat to our much ballyhooed revitalization of cities was NIMBYism—the familiar kind. “Too dense! Too tall! Not enough parking!”

That hasn’t gone anywhere, but in recent years a new potential threat seems to have become taken hold.

For Chicago, at least, that threat is increasingly emboldened minority groups digging in to fight gentrification. City Aldermen, under community pressure, are taking actions and, often, even abusing their powers which were originally intended for other purposes to effectively stop the influx of higher income people into their wards.

Steps being taken include downzoning, spot zoning, changing zoning arbitrarily from residential to manufacturing (knowing full well that nobody is going to build an industrial building there). Zoning is going from administrative tool to a weapon against gentrification. Ultimately, these actions are unlikely to be successful in the long run, but by God it’s nasty and it sure feels wrong.

Here is just one tiny example of something going on in a Chicago lot in a very hot part of town. An Indian property owner was blindsided and effectively prevented from even building a decent sized home for himself and his family:

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg...test-lightfoot

Is this kind of stuff happening in your city?
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 2:15 AM
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An example about Houston's historically black neighborhood..

Chronicle: How Houston's Third Ward is fighting gentrification

Quote:
...When a multimillion dollar renovation was finally unveiled at the historic Emancipation Park, neighbors wondered: Will this hasten gentrification? As the University of Houston grew and expanded its student housing footprint into the neighborhood over decades, residents asked: What about us?...

...There have been several interventions meant to curb the tide and create affordability. Federally funded, city-administered down payment assistance programs, coupled with the city's Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority (LARA), took vacant tax delinquent property and sold it cheap to developers who agreed to produce homes at affordable price points. Low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) are responsible for the Houston Housing Authority's first new development in a decade that opened recently in Independence Heights...

In a state that's often hostile to city-led efforts to create or preserve affordability, those efforts are not insignificant. But more is needed, argue neighborhood advocates. Something that doesn't just provide subsidies for affordable homeownership but that changes the game entirely....


...So as the City of Houston set about creating its own Community Land Trust (CLT) with the aim of making homeownership affordable, Third Ward was among the neighborhoods watching with particular interest. A land trust promised to be different from the city's past affordability programs in several ways, not the least of which was longer term affordability....
A more extreme example...

Texas Monthly: The Battle of the Blue Cat Café
How an anti-gentrification boycott became a proxy war between the radical left and the alt-right.


Quote:
On a recent Friday afternoon, the Blue Cat Café, in East Austin, hummed pleasantly with activity. Patrons lounged on couches or sat pecking away at their MacBooks as half a dozen cats roamed freely over and around them. A server went from table to table with an iPad, taking orders for whimsically named vegan dishes like Alley Cat Tacos and BBQ Briscat. Apart from the cats and the feline-themed decor, the cafe seemed like just another shabby-chic hipster hangout. Anyone willing to pay a $5 “kitty cover” could come inside, order a coffee, and play with the adoptable cats.

The cozy atmosphere made it easy to forget that the cafe is ground zero for an intense public debate over gentrification, a flash point for long-standing tensions between the majority-Hispanic neighborhood and wealthier, whiter developers. It’s a conflict that has now expanded beyond the neighborhood, becoming yet another skirmish in the national battle between the alt-right and the radical left. All over a cat cafe...
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 2:18 AM
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Definitely not a new twist in SF or Seattle. For SF, that's been the most common kind of NIMBYism for at least 20 years.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 2:28 AM
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Seattle entitlements and permits take way too long and cost way too much including the huge subsidies developers need to pay out. But we don't have a major issue with nitpicking nimbys. If the project is basically conforming and you can live without all of your intended variances, it'll get through eventually.

Meanwhile we've collectively upzoned a ton in this decade. The urbanists are winning.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 2:35 AM
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Lol, somehow the communities that kept cities viable while everyone else fled to the suburbs are now the ones threatening cities???? Ok. Talk about being delusional.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 2:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Chisouthside View Post
Lol, somehow the communities that kept cities viable while everyone else fled to the suburbs are now the ones threatening cities???? Ok. Talk about being delusional.
I think you have it backwards. Wealthier people, who also tend to be white, are "threatening cities", and threatening to transform poor neighborhoods.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 3:01 AM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Ten years ago, the big threat to our much ballyhooed revitalization of cities was NIMBYism—the familiar kind. “Too dense! Too tall! Not enough parking Too much parking!”

Is this kind of stuff happening in your city?
Had to revise that for San Francisco. My city has had an authentic war on the private automobile (now extended to include ride-sharing) for decades. And many projects have been forced to eliminate most or all planned parking before they could be approved by the Planning Commission. The fact that public transit has been badly mismanaged for all that time and barely functions as a usable alternative hardly seems to matter.

As to your larger point, I wager the efforts you describe in most places could learn a thing or two from the the SF Anti-Displacement Coalition which has been around form decades and especially its various subunits in the Mission District.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 4:05 AM
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The Minneapolis city council largely ignores NIMBYs and seems to have convinced a lot of the city electorate that housing shortages will cause more gentrification in the long run than development will. City rents have increased by about 50% in inflation adjusted terms over the last two decades, and the Twin Cities have one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country, people are starting to worry about seeing coastal rents here and realize that rising rents and tight supply go hand in hand.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 4:58 AM
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The majority of Seattleites seem to get that as well.

There's also a prevailing idea that banning small units in most of the city (the missing middle) was economically exclusionary, to put it politely, and a serious problem in an expensive city. So this month the council passed (and it looks like the mayor signed last week) legislation that will allow two accessory units up to 1,000 sf/ea on most single-family sites along with a primary unit. In phases over the years we've also eliminated or reduced parking requirements in most multifamily and mixed-use areas (and for those accessory units), while also upzoning most of those m/mu areas. All of this is incremental, and it's all along with massive fees that keep housing prices high, but it'll have a powerful effect on keeping prices in check vs. the alternative.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Chisouthside View Post
Lol, somehow the communities that kept cities viable while everyone else fled to the suburbs are now the ones threatening cities???? Ok. Talk about being delusional.
I think so, yes. If you believe in real property rights then you’d understand that this is an attempt to “hold down” property for one ethnic group’s use at the expense of others. Cities are healthy when they re allowed to be fluid, changing places that service changing realities.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Chef View Post
The Minneapolis city council largely ignores NIMBYs and seems to have convinced a lot of the city electorate that housing shortages will cause more gentrification in the long run than development will. City rents have increased by about 50% in inflation adjusted terms over the last two decades, and the Twin Cities have one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country, people are starting to worry about seeing coastal rents here and realize that rising rents and tight supply go hand in hand.
It seems that they are much more well informed up in Minneapolis.

Could you send some of that down here?
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 1:07 PM
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My understanding is Chicago is pretty unique in terms of major U.S. cities in that it effectively allows aldermen "pocket vetoes" over any development in their district. This is a horrible system, because it creates all kinds of incentives for developers to provide kickbacks to particular aldermen if they want a particular project to go forward.

In general however, I don't think anti-gentrification battles can be seen in the same light as more typical NIMBYism.

First, low-income neighborhoods tend to be pro-development up to a certain point. No one really wants to see abandoned homes and vacant lots peppering the neighborhoods forever. And to the degree to which most cities build "missing middle" housing at all (modern-day two-flats/three-flats and the like) they tend to be heavily concentrated in lower-income neighborhoods, where there isn't a strong demand for SFH-only zones.

Second, the initial phases of gentrification tend to lower density rather than raising it. A neighborhood must be fairly far along the gentrification process before market-rate infill is warranted in most of the country. Thus in the early stages you're most likely to see low-income families displaced from housing units, and then replaced by a smaller household unit of gentrifiers (say a single person or a childless couple). Some people will buy abandoned houses and fix them up with "sweat equity" which adds units, but others will also buy small 2/3 unit buildings and convert them back into SFH, so it largely cancels out. As a result, the population of the neighborhood will continue to shrink through gentrification, until such time as the market can bear filling in the vacant lots, or even teardown and replacement with whatever the maximum is allowed by zoning.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 3:04 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
I think so, yes. If you believe in real property rights then you’d understand that this is an attempt to “hold down” property for one ethnic group’s use at the expense of others. Cities are healthy when they re allowed to be fluid, changing places that service changing realities.
Well that certainly isn't exclusive to minority groups in Chicago. Look at the project that lost John Arena his seat in the 45th ward. A bunch of mostly white homeowners banded together to try to block affordable housing in their ward.

People want to keep their homes and neighborhoods the way they are, for better or for worse. Everyone should understand that sentiment and be empathetic to it while working with communities that are being reshaped by progress. Those white homeowners were just as wrong as any Hispanic activists in Pilsen. You're exactly right that cities need to be "changing places that service changing realities", which includes the understanding the damage that segregation has done--which requires effort and tolerance on both sides of the issue.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 4:58 PM
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I don't think there would be much opposition to 'revitalization' if that word meant building affordable housing at the scale necessary to prevent massive displacement. And also providing amenities and services to improve the lives of existing residents, not just to make development more profitable and attract future, wealthier residents. It's not about keeping places the way they are, it's about who gets to live in cities, who shapes their future? There's certainly a narrow sense in which opposing new development will worsen the housing shortage, but there's a more profound struggle going on for the right to the city -- and we know developers and banks won't ever fix the housing shortage, anyway, so why surrender our neighborhoods to them?
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 5:15 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
I don't think there would be much opposition to 'revitalization' if that word meant building affordable housing at the scale necessary to prevent massive displacement. And also providing amenities and services to improve the lives of existing residents, not just to make development more profitable and attract future, wealthier residents. It's not about keeping places the way they are, it's about who gets to live in cities, who shapes their future? There's certainly a narrow sense in which opposing new development will worsen the housing shortage, but there's a more profound struggle going on for the right to the city -- and we know developers and banks won't ever fix the housing shortage, anyway, so why surrender our neighborhoods to them?
^ Because we don't live in a Socialist society, perhaps?

I guess I just don't know how to answer this question without, at some point, pointing out the fact that we live in a Capitalist society in which wealth buys your more desirable places and real estate and, well--that's just the "ugly" part of reality.

I understand the moral objection to this, but ultimately how do frame your objections in such a way that doesn't sound Socialist? (or do you even want to?)
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 5:54 PM
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^ Ah, but you're wrong about that. The earliest cities and towns in America were settled because government gave the land away for free: from William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony, to the Homestead Act. That's why America exists; that's why it attracted millions of peasants from the Old World with the hope of opportunity: the government literally gave people a place to live for free.

Then it subsidized the growth of those cities and towns with massive socialism for the banks and utilities and railroad companies and offered big subsidies to build telegraphs and created a subsidized, socialized penny post to maintain communications. The government later subsidized homeownership with Fannie Mae and the home interest mortgage deduction and the GI Bill. There were the great public works projects of the New Deal era, which built lots of infrastructure and public housing. More subsidies came with urban renewal and regeneration projects in the eighties and nineties, streetcars, stadiums, etc.

There's just one problem with all of this socialism -- most of it benefited people who were already wealthy, and very little of it has ever benefited black and brown people due to the long, racist history of American cities. So can you really blame some people for wanting a bit more socialism to build enough affordable housing in American cities so that everybody, nowadays, can live in them?
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 5:55 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Ten years ago, the big threat to our much ballyhooed revitalization of cities was NIMBYism—the familiar kind. “Too dense! Too tall! Not enough parking!”

That hasn’t gone anywhere, but in recent years a new potential threat seems to have become taken hold.

For Chicago, at least, that threat is increasingly emboldened minority groups digging in to fight gentrification. City Aldermen, under community pressure, are taking actions and, often, even abusing their powers which were originally intended for other purposes to effectively stop the influx of higher income people into their wards.

Steps being taken include downzoning, spot zoning, changing zoning arbitrarily from residential to manufacturing (knowing full well that nobody is going to build an industrial building there). Zoning is going from administrative tool to a weapon against gentrification. Ultimately, these actions are unlikely to be successful in the long run, but by God it’s nasty and it sure feels wrong.

Here is just one tiny example of something going on in a Chicago lot in a very hot part of town. An Indian property owner was blindsided and effectively prevented from even building a decent sized home for himself and his family:

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg...test-lightfoot

Is this kind of stuff happening in your city?
Yeah its dumb

"Oh no the rich people left and doomed our community" and now "Oh no the rich people came back and made our community nice"

Seriously blow it out your ass people. I support gentrification 100%
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 5:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
^ Ah, but you're wrong about that. The earliest cities and towns in America were settled because government gave the land away for free: from William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony, to the Homestead Act. That's why America exists; that's why it attracted millions of peasants from the Old World with the hope of opportunity: the government literally gave people a place to live for free.

Then it subsidized the growth of those cities and towns with massive socialism for the banks and utilities and railroad companies and offered big subsidies to build telegraphs and created a subsidized, socialized penny post to maintain communications. The government later subsidized homeownership with Fannie Mae and mortgage deductions and the GI Bill. There were the great public works projects of the New Deal era, which built lots of infrastructure and public housing. More subsidies came with urban renewal and regeneration projects in the eighties and nineties, streetcars, stadiums, etc.
Thats not socialism lol. Its government intervention sure, but its not socialism
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 6:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Encolpius View Post
^ Ah, but you're wrong about that. The earliest cities and towns in America were settled because government gave the land away for free: from William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony, to the Homestead Act. That's why America exists; that's why it attracted millions of peasants from the Old World with the hope of opportunity: the government literally gave people a place to live for free.
Generally speaking the land was given (granted . . . by the English crown) to private entities, not public groups.

Quote:
There's just one problem with all of this socialism -- most of it benefited people who were already wealthy, and very little of it has ever benefited black and brown people due to the long, racist history of American cities. So can you really blame some people for wanting a bit more socialism to build enough affordable housing in American cities so that everybody can live in them?
One of the best examples of the sort of "socialism" you talk about was the great "land grant" universities in almost every state and it's arguable nothing benefitted working class people more . . . ever (leaving aside the racism in your singling out "black and brown people").
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2019, 6:01 PM
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Once again, gentrification is the changing of a neighborhood from a lower socio-economic-status to a higher socio-economic status. It is entirely unrelated to densification, except insofar as in most parts of the country (barring very high-cost areas along the coasts) vacant lots in rock-bottom neighborhoods don't get infill without some sort of subsidies.

If you look at virtually any city's zoning map, you will invariably see that the poorest residential neighborhoods tend to have much, much more permissive zoning than the middle class to wealthy ones.
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