Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How I Learned Stop Worrying and Love Gentrification

There's an anti-gentrification campaign going on in Providence right now. The idea that gentrification is a problem that is destroying urban America and needs to be resisted at all times is really something that I have trouble wrapping my head around. I'm willing to concede that development isn't always done in a way that is beneficial to the community, but the idea that anything that might displace the economically disadvantaged needs to be vociferously opposed seems incredibly counterproductive. I think there are plenty of cities out there, Providence included, that wish their biggest problem was gentrification.

I think the last paragraph of this is post is very illuminating. The author of this post (who is also quoted in the article referenced by the post) has a more nuanced view of gentrification than a lot of anti-gentrification activists, yet he is still basically saying that even if development helps a community in some very tangible ways (good jobs and affordable housing), the underlying problem is still there because the development will somehow ruin the character of the neighborhood. To me, that seems like a completely unrealistic standard for development in all but the most wealthy and/or historic areas, never mind blighted inner-city neighborhoods. As an aside, not surprisingly, The Onion has the best take on the matter.


Michael David said...

I despise my alderman because everything she does is an attempt to prevent gentrification. It's really laughable, basically, she opposes anything that might make the neighborhood a nicer place to live because it could lead to gentrification.

The Onion has had another good take on the subject.

dhodge said...

I had forgotten about that other Onion article - yet another gem. I get the impression that Chicago aldermen are some of the most useless politicians in America - am I correct or do I only hear about the corrupt and/or incompetent ones?

Michael David said...

I think you're basically correct in your perception of Chicago aldermen, although for the most part I think it's a well-run city. I think the reason is that Daley does a pretty good job of appointing competent people to run the various city agencies (even if his methods of making those appointments are often questionable), and the aldermen don't really interfere in what the department heads do.