‘Greening’ cities can make gentrification worse – and often doesn’t help the environment either

By Laura Kiesel, Salon, February 26, 2022

“Many municipalities are pushing for or have implemented ‘green’ features that have led to major rent hikes in the area — and, in turn, displacement of working class and low income families. In fact, the phenomenon is so commonplace it even has a name: eco-gentrification.

“The sad irony is the people most likely to be displaced by eco-gentrification are those most in need of its benefits.

“This scarcity of green space contributes to profound public health inequities, including greater rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

“And it isn’t only parks and greenways that can cause eco-gentrification.

“As rent prices increase with the growing density of a given community, lower income people are often displaced and so are less able to access the improved public transit and the other green features that often go along with density plans.

“Further compounding this problem is a growing trend of rental buildings being built with little-to-no off-street parking spaces partially as an effort to ‘go green.’

“Instead, [“Michael Spotts, a senior visiting research fellow at the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing”] suggests municipalities employ an on-street parking permitting system as a way to reduce or eliminate off-street parking spaces for new developments.

“ ‘Mainstream thinking that just gets out of the way for developers to build more and more — often called ‘increasing supply’ is not going to get us out of the affordability or carbon gentrification problem,’ says [“Jennifer Rice, an urban geographer with the University of Georgia, who has researched eco-gentrification trends in Seattle”], who notes that most developers are not interested in building low income housing in hot market neighborhoods. ‘We really need massive investments in public green housing.’ ”

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