An interesting perspective on an overlooked factor in gentrification: zoning. Interesting article from Market Urbanism finds that gentrification is caused more by affluent communities with political clout maintaining tight zoning to prevent development in their neighborhoods, forcing development in less affluent communities and….and an interesting conversation with our Mayor.
Quick announcements: There are a raft of coming events listed in the Events & Opportunities page including:
- Roundhouse Research & Activism meeting next Tuesday (where we will identify key districts and form alliances to strengthen progressive power in those districts)
- Activist Research Team next Th. (where we will research effective urban and community development that prevent gentrification while strengthening under-served communities…to be applied here in Santa Fe);
- A Chainbreaker social, educational and fundraising event at Boxcar, July 23; and
- An opportunity to get informed and then take action at an Open House Activism event focused on immigration rights, July 24.
- Click here to read more about Chainbreaker’s Equity Summer and while at the page, why not make a $100 contribution as it will be matched with another $150 to create $250 to expand Chainbreaker’s important community organizing efforts.
Our motto is: Engage, educate, activate, organize. If you are reading this post, you are engaged and getting educated, but you are the only one who can really activate. I say it in most we need many more of you involved in the day-to-day research, planning and organizing if we are going to get the community and nation many of us have carried signs for for decades. You won’t regret getting involved, you will make new friends and build a community that cares and acts into the fabric of your life. Click here for more information on these events and volunteer opportunities. By scrolling to the bottom of the link to the events and opportunities page, you will also find opportunities for getting active with Retake.
It’s the Rich People, Stupid
So this post may offend a few of our readers, as I suspect we have quite a few supporters with means.
We want to provide different vantage points on the roots of gentrification as the issue is so complex. And to my mind, gentrification is just our local manifestation of global colonization and oppression, so if we want to change the world, we have to understand the workings of capitalism locally and globally. Market Urbanism presents an interesting perspective. It isn’t developers or the artists and boutique shops are the primary cause gentrification, they are its first tangible symptoms in the communities being gentrified. It is zoning policy that is a critical driver of gentrification. Follow along, please.
Affluent communities are inhabited by people of influence, people who make large donations to contribution coffers, who host house parties for candidates, gathering their other affluent friends to make contributions. Money talks and these people are able to squash efforts to rezone an affluent community to permit more development or to allow denser housing. Market Urbanism cites one example: “Take Chicago’s Lincoln Park for example. Daniel Hertz points out that the number of housing units there actually decreased 4.1% since 2000 and the neighborhood hasn’t allowed a single unit of affordable housing to be developed in 35 years. The affluent residents of Lincoln Park like their neighborhood the way it is and have the political clout to keep it that way.” The article goes on to describe how, if you can’t build in affluent neighborhoods, you build (and gentrify) lower income communities. And if you can’t buy a home in an affluent community, you buy in a less affluent community and drive up prices. And so one approach to slowing gentrification is to build higher-density, low-income housing in more affluent communities. Click here for to review this fascinating, brief report.
In my conversation with the Mayor today, an hour-long interview that will air on KSFR 101.1 FM this Saturday from 11am-noon, we spoke a bit about how that might play out in Santa Fe. Let’s just say, that an extraordinarily benevolent developer purchased an acre or two of land in the downtown or in the Railyard area and approached the city about building a high-density mixed income development comprised of 2-3 bedroom apartments and with a mix of 50% low-income units and 50% moderate income units. Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) dynamics would instantly kick into gear. Couched in terms of ‘not being consistent with the character of the neighborhood,’ opponents would suggest that a boutique hotel would be more appropriate and would nurture the booming tourist trade. Someone else would favor condos that could be used for short-term vacation rentals. I am sure no one suggest a combination transitional housing for people emerging from homelessness with on-site services–to inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood.
But as part of Retake’s community education and organizing campaign in support of Equity Summer, Retake canvassers, house party hosts, letter to the editor writers, and others are going to attempt to reframe a range of attitudes about what character really means and how The City Different must shift its view on neighborhood and city character if we want to live up to the City Different label.
What if, instead of maximizing profit being the driving force behind Santa Fe development, we showed our deeper moral character and sought to accept less profit and reintegrate our affluent neighborhoods economically and racially, welcoming back to the downtown, Canyon Rd, the Railyard and other more affluent communities, those who have been displaced over the past 40 years?
What if, we welcomed those that have been displaced and in doing so, enriched the character of our community, culturally and economically?
That would be a City Different.
Paul & Roxanne