Tag: 2022-04-nn-roundup

‘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.’ ”

Read the full article here(~5 min.)

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Americans used to move a lot; now they don’t. It could be causing a social crisis

By Jerusalem Demsas, Vox, February 24, 2022

“ ‘Americans, it seems, are finding themselves increasingly locked into places that they wish to escape,’ two psychologists grimly proclaim in a new paper studying the cultural effects of residential stagnation. Study authors Nicholas Buttrick and Shigehiro Oishi cite research showing that when you compare today’s Americans to people in the 1970s, people who said they intended to move from a place are 45 percent less likely to have actually done so.

“The paper finds that as residential mobility has gone down, so have ‘levels of happiness, fairness, and trust among Americans.’

“The authors don’t identify any causal factors.

“But I, and many economists, argue this is because of walls of red tape that states have put up. Specifically, … zoning restrictions on how land can be used [which ‘severely limit the supply of housing, particularly in in-demand labor markets’], and occupational licensing requirements … [which] can discourage people from moving to states where regulations make it costly to keep doing their jobs. 

“[In addition, as] Yale Law professor David Schleicher details, ‘differing eligibility standards for public benefits, public employee pensions, homeownership tax subsidies, state and local tax laws, and even basic property law doctrines’ make it hard to move from declining regions.

“While stability can sound great in theory, what it means in practice is different depending on the circumstances. A stable white-picket-fence suburb could be great for some people, but if ‘stable’ means trapped in a high-poverty neighborhood, that’s a policy failure. Research has found that while declining interstate mobility may be due to changing preferences for white Americans, Black Americans are increasingly unable to move when they expect to.

“And there’s an asymmetry — while being forced to stay somewhere is almost entirely negative, being forced to move can actually benefit those who relocate. 

“America is aging and biasing our political and cultural institutions against risk-taking, new ideas, and new groups of people. Further tilting the scales against openness and dynamism could mean dwindling social and economic mobility and generations of Americans growing up in a country where freedom of movement belongs only to the rich.”

Read the full article here. (~10 min)

Return to Northern News here.

Not even San Francisco city departments can agree on neighborhood boundaries

By Nami Sumida, San Francisco Chronicle, February 24, 2022

“When The Chronicle compared [three] neighborhood maps created by [the Planning and Elections departments], we found the definitions of some neighborhoods, like Bayview-Hunters Point and Lakeshore, are more consistent than others, like Chinatown and the Western Addition. Yet city officials believe having one set of neighborhood definitions would benefit the city by allowing departments to more easily share data and, as a result, provide a more thorough understanding of each area and its residents.

“[While the other two maps examined by The Chronicle remain largely the same as when they were created sometime in the early 90s,] the Planning Department’s analysis neighborhood map [‘used to report neighborhood-level data on city-funded programs, services and demographics of residents’] … is one that could change in the coming months.

“The analysis neighborhood map was constructed in 2014 as a way of unifying the different boundaries devised by city agencies. Similar to what we discovered in our analysis, the city found that each department used different boundaries when reporting neighborhood-level metrics, which made it impossible to combine data across departments.

“Newly released data from the 2020 census prompted the city to consider redrawing these boundaries, according to Helen McLendon and Tania Jogesh, two data experts at DataSF who maintain the analysis neighborhood boundaries.

“If departments advocate for a neighborhood, like the Financial District — a densely populated area which is currently grouped with South Beach — to be its own neighborhood because of its distinct culture, the mapmakers would consider forgoing some statistical significance to do so, said McLendon.

“[W]hile these neighborhood metrics primarily influence policy decisions, they can also affect the lives of everyday people. During last year’s COVID-19 vaccination campaigns — when volunteers went door-to-door to encourage residents to get vaccinated — they used the neighborhood data to determine how much campaigning was needed for each area. Depending on which analysis neighborhood you fell into, someone may have never knocked on your door.”

Read the full article here, including maps illustrating differing neighborhood boundary definitions.(~6 min.)

Return to Northern News here.