The Urban Theory Thread

A catch-all forum for urban discussion. If it doesn't fit elsewhere, post here.
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quincunx wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:20 am
More food for thought

Detroit Free Press - Gentrification misses real problem in Detroit, urban expert warns

https://amp.freep.com/amp/762627002
This is a better article than the economist piece, which was highly flawed. But I think there are basically two related but still separate issues for gentrification in STL. One is how do we move forward north of Delmar.... that is sort of what the Free Press article gets at with Detroit's deep poverty in large deaths of the city outside downtown where the lion's share of development is. The other is how do we move forward in much of the Central Corridor and South City where the once large population of blacks is rapidly declining in hot neighborhoods, i.e. the more traditional definition of gentrification.
STLrainbow wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:38 pm
^ gentrification is a complex issue and does have different meanings to different people. but what do you call it when (once) majority-black neighborhoods like Forest Park SE, Botanical Heights and Shaw lose black population at dramatic rates while the white population increases?
just to be clear, though, i think gentrification is defined by the displacement of those with lesser economic means by those with greater economic means. it doesn't have anything to do with race implicitly, but it usually aligns with the displacement of black folks in the US (and particularly St. Louis) for obvious historical reasons.
The American Conservative - The Rust Belt Can Do Better Than 'Managed Decline'

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/ ... d-decline/
"Design parking garages so they can easily become housing:

https://amp-fastcompany-com.cdn.ampproj ... me-housing
^ Time will tell, I'm sure. I can see the full-on trees-on-buildings style going out of vogue, but I do see the inherent value of green roofs and greenery of similar ilk being incorporated into designs, and wouldn't mind seeing it a requirement in all new builds somehow. I can definitely see some town/city being a trend-setter that way. As a sidenote, I highly recommend to everyone here the YouTube channel that video came from (The B1M). They do some fantastic work in regard to construction/urban theory.

Also have this tidbit to share. Been open in a tab for months and have been wanting to get rid of it, but haven't really found the best forum to put it. I guess here's just as well, since it's more of a 'general' topic. Wonder how much is applicable/practical in this country and/or city?
Streetsblog - Denver’s New Blueprint for Growth Puts Peds First, But Every Street Won't Be “Complete”
Denver expects 189,000 more people and 136,000 more jobs by 2040. And it has a freshly baked guide to shape that growth without getting overrun with traffic.

It’s called Blueprint Denver and it's a sequel to the city's 2002 land use and transportation plan of the same name. Blueprint is part of the "Denveright" suite of plans released Monday, but unlike the plans for transit and walking, the recommendations in Blueprint will be adopted by the Denver City Council.
https://denver.streetsblog.org/2018/08/ ... -complete/
Is St. Louis Gentrifying?

Gentrification Debates Without Gentrification?

http://cityobservatory.org/is-st-louis-gentrifying/
NYMag.com - The Unbearable Sameness of Cities

http://nymag.com/travel/article/the-unb ... ities.html
The Unbearable Sameness of Solutions.

There's the old adage I've heard early on in the ad industry....'Similar problems create similar solutions.'

Look at postcards of the U.S. cities in 1930s. Seriously, they all look the same. Brick warehouses, smoke-belching factories, drug stores with Coca-Cola signs, railyards, streetcars. You can easily create pastiches of 1890s America, 1920 America, 1950s America and so on. 'Stranger Things' is only popular because of its 1980s 'pastiche.'

This tattooed, bearded, bestpectacled writer noticed something that has been going since a time when, well, every man sported the same facial hair, wore the same 'bespoke' Wooly Mammoth gaments, had the same collection of hand-crafted, flint stones and lived in the same type of caves caused by the same types of geological forces. And, seriously, those caves all look the same be it Southern France,Southern Missouri....
shadrach wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:21 pm
And, seriously, those caves all look the same be it Southern France,Southern Missouri....
Couldn't have said it better myself. I've been to a lot of US cities. When I travel these days, I mostly don't care to go to cities as I live in one. They're all the same and they always have been. There are exceptions to an extent. There are a couple of plastic amusement parks of one sort or another. There is the Frenchish one. There's the hilly one. There's a little flavor difference from north to south and east to west. But mostly? We've all got skyscrapers, art museums, orchestras, parks. We all have suburbs and repurposed parts. All are good places to live. All have their problems. Even our urban tensions and abandonment can seem pretty dang same. But the fact that one city in the US is kind of like another? And that all coffee houses look kind of Seattle? (Sorry Brooklyn. You too are an imitator there. Not the trend setter. Coffee house culture is clearly Seattle grunge. And literally anybody who lived through the 90s half conscious could tell you that.) But anyway . . . Yeah. We're all mostly the same. And that's okay. Two ears. Two eyes. A nose. Usual set of features. No big surprises most of the time. And when there are? It's not always a good thing.
Curbed - How traveling abroad with kids showed me how to fix U.S. transit

https://www.curbed.com/word-on-the-stre ... ids-europe
Very interesting; Minneapolis is ending single-family zoning (not sure why single-family homes are considered racist, but whatever):

https://slate.com/business/2018/12/minn ... hdaily.com
Maybe if you can build a multi-family home on the same lot that was previously reserved for single family you can make affordable housing competitive in terms of property cost with fancier people large houses. Sounds like they're ditching parking minimums and all manner of useful changes that would get the NIMBYs in a twist locally. I can easily see how a half million dollar three family could be a boon for several families that could afford a modest hundred fifty thousand dollar house, but none of whom could afford a manse. And they're not even allowed to buy a manse together because of typical limits on how many unrelated individuals you can have in a house. (Which is itself a pretty common tool to keep poorer folks out of an area. Much as maximum occupancy can, actually. Say, the number of listed bedrooms times two as a maximum, which can keep larger poor families out even when they are all related. My grandfather's family would never have been able to live in an area with restrictions like that when he was growing up. Eight kids and two adults on immigrant wages. There was just no way.) Add in enforcement of that kind of law tends to concentrate on rentals, not owner occupied and you can get a lot of institutional racism. Fast.

Three thousand square feet could easily be one large house, or three modest ones. And the income levels of the two would be pretty different. And the initial outlay. So . . . they're urbanizing, more or less. Allowing two to four families, maybe. We have a lot of those, but I don't think the they really do up there. (I surely haven't noticed them when I was visiting. And even we have fewer all the time, as they get combined or demolished.) They're making space for that magic middle between fancy high rise apartments and single family. Which is good for immigrants and working class families. I can see the logic. It makes sense that single family zoning would favor people who have a little more free cash to start with, particularly in places with larger lots and rising property values creating pressure to replace mid-century homes with larger new ones. Some of it might just boil down to Minneapolis being rather younger than St. Louis, meaning the secret segregation tricks worked differently.
framer wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:55 pm
(not sure why single-family homes are considered racist, but whatever):
What, are you serious? Do you know anything about the urban history of St Louis? I don't have any formal training in urban theory and history but even I am aware that single-family zoning was one of the greatest tools of institutional racism in the 20th century. When nonwhites are too poor to afford single family homes, that is the easiest way to keep them out of the neighborhood/municipality/whatever. The St. Louis area is probably one of the country's metro areas in which this was used the most extensively.

Edit: sorry did not realize that SP beat me to it, with a much more eloquent and polite explanation
^Framer's a good guy and none of us are born knowing this stuff. Kind of surprising to find the "American dream" can be a carefully engineered nightmare for some. Takes a minute to adjust. But this kind of thing can hurt everybody who's below the local median household income, no matter what color your parts are or what language you speak. And it's bad urban design. So correcting it is kind of a win win for everybody.

Everybody except fancy people who want artificially cheap large houses, that is.
Redlining is racist. Blockbusting is racist. And of course, race-based deed restrictions were the very definition of racism. But single-family-zoning, on it's own, is not racist. Arguably classist, perhaps, but not racist. After all, plenty of black families live in single-family homes, and plenty of whites live in multi-family buildings.

I think you guys are over-analyzing it.
symphonicpoet wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:41 pm
^Framer's a good guy and none of us are born knowing this stuff. Kind of surprising to find the "American dream" can be a carefully engineered nightmare for some. Takes a minute to adjust. But this kind of thing can hurt everybody who's below the local median household income, no matter what color your parts are or what language you speak. And it's bad urban design. So correcting it is kind of a win win for everybody.

Everybody except fancy people who want artificially cheap large houses, that is.
FWIW, I wouldn't have thought of them as racist either. Never even crossed my mind. I also didn't realize single family home zoning was a thing either though. When I first saw it, I just though it was a NIMBY thing to keep from having larger buildings built around their houses. But I get get the logic behind it after it is explained. I see it as more of a economic class thing but I can see how race could be brought into that as well (if that is the actual goal).
Oh, agreed. Single family zoning works on money, not skin color. And thus it hurts everybody poor. As I said, my own immigrant ancestors would have been just as effected as anyone else. And they were white. Just . . . poor immigrants with thick accents that made them darned unpopular with the locals. (I can relate the stories if you want them.) That said, I really believe classism and racism are related. Not completely different. And one feeds the other. And sometimes they're passed off as the other, depending on which is less popular at the time. Classism is out of fashion? Well make sure the folks you want to keep down are seen as members of an undesirable culture or religion or ethnic group. Racism is out now? Target class. In reality I think both are about the people who have the stash fighting tooth and claw to keep it and make it larger no matter who gets in the way or what they look like. The stash is theirs for their family and their friends and that is all. Everything else is just dressing to sell that.
framer wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:36 pm
But single-family-zoning, on it's own, is not racist.
Neither are voter ID laws, but the intent behind the application of such policies can be questionable. It is often clear what the impact will be. At the very least it can be said that the people implementing these policies are okay with the fact that they affect minorities disproportionately.
Black02AltimaSE wrote:
Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:03 am
framer wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:36 pm
But single-family-zoning, on it's own, is not racist.
Neither are voter ID laws, but the intent behind the application of such policies can be questionable. It is often clear what the impact will be. At the very least it can be said that the people implementing these policies are okay with the fact that they affect minorities disproportionately.
Exactly the point I tried to make above. Sure, it is not explicitly racist, but it is implicitly so due to the joint correlation of race with other variables that are directly targeted by this and other policies (such as income or education).