Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Ravages of Prosperity

It's interesting how any transit investment can be seen as good or bad based on how the increase in values affects the community. Some want better property values but others don't for fear of being displaced. So you're damned if you don't, damned if you do.
Redevelopment, as it turns out, is actually bad because it prompts higher property values (and taxes) and might gentrify the district, forcing some people to move. In other words, light rail should be prevented from doing what it does best: add value to urban neighborhoods. More stations might be OK, according to the suit, but only if nearby residents and businesses are insulated from the ravages of prosperity. At least that's the drift of the argument.
So do we just not improve anything? I'm sure that's not the answer. But these things are tough to balance.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The gentrification argument logically leads you to oppose anything that improves a neighborhood, even crime prevention.

Anon256 said...

The way to help poor people is to help them stop being poor.

Cavan said...

The opposition to "gentrification" is usually a fear of change trying to pretend to be something else.

Alon Levy said...

Usually it's a fear of government handouts to developers and of schemes where landlords harass long-time tenants to evict them and replace them with students

John said...

"ravages of prosperity"

LOL. I'm sure there are loads of people around the world that fear the ravages of prosperity. Yeah right.

Michael Pereckas said...

Or, if you want nice neighborhoods to be reasonably affordable rather than an exotic hugely expensive special thing, you need to *have more of them*. My friends in Germany with their ordinary incomes live in fantastic urban neighborhoods of the sort that don't even exist in the state I live in, and which I could not possibly afford if they did. In Germany, just an ordinary reasonably-nice spot. Like all the others. Ho hum. Sure, subway stop down that way, gardens the other way, shops in between, what, you think this is unusual?

arcady said...

Higher housing prices are only sustainable if there are sufficiently restrictive zoning laws or sufficiently complicated bureaucratic approval processes to effectively restrain development. This provides an excellent opportunity for corruption, as favored developers can get exemptions from the zoning rules and expedited permits. It also means that development projects have to get bigger to spread the inevitable bureaucratic overhead over a larger project. Perhaps the solution will be zoning reform, where rather than specifying what is allowed assuming it gets approved, the zoning will specify what can can be built with only a minimal approval process, and anything else would have to go through the current extended bureaucratic procedures.

Anonymous said...

The answer is to fund a lot fewer things with property taxes, eliminating the tendency to force out homeowners, and to make it a lot harder to legally be an absentee landlord -- encouraging co-ops and condos -- in order to eliminate the tendency to force out renters.