Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Right to the City and Istanbul

Considering the discussion on "the right to the city" in the previous entries, it's fortuitous that Taylor and Francis, publishers of the journal City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, are providing open access to the journal article, "Reclaiming the right to the city: Reflections on the urban uprisings in Turkey."

It's not absolutely scintillating, but does raise important issues concerning public space, organizing, authoritarian rule, and participation.


The spark that drew Istanbul into a fire of protest and uprising was initially set off by a modest ‘occupy style’ peaceful resistance, staged against the destruction of an historically public park, an urban commons, in order to make way for yet another shopping mall in Istanbul. Following explicit police violence against the protestors, who were openly discredited by the government for being a few looters, the urban centers of Turkey saw a full-fledged uprising, gathering considerable international steam as well. Analyzing the path of this social mobilization flowing from Gezi Park to larger geographical scales of the urban, the national, and beyond, this article situates the urban uprisings in Turkey in the conceptual background of the right to the city, coined by Henri Lefebvre at the time of Parisian uprisings in 1968. The article further argues in the end that, if this revolutionary energy is to be channeled into a lasting social transformation, the Kurdish movement and the labor movement—historically, the two main motors of Turkey's democratization—should catch up with the protestors on the ground.

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At 11:15 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

well, we've come a long way from the "liberation" riots of 1968 in DC.

French social theorists make me want to puke. The only thing worse is when Americans write about them.

In terms of this and your last post, until we get to the point where we assume the endpoint of your life is to own real estate (as opposed to NYC or Germany) we are not going to change most of the mini capitalist assumptions in our urban policy.

In fact, I've been working on a theory of gentrification is basically urbanism + capitalism -- in other words when people who have the ability to finance move into an urban ara. Not so different from the market revolution in the US in the 1815-1830...

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

buy low, sell high. What was atypical about the US was the lack of desire for the well off to remain in the core. This is the basis of the U Chicago urban theories. While it took decades to reach critical mass, and while the core is still not the majority preferred position, there are large enough numbers of higher income people interested, willing, and wanting to live in the core (those issues like public safety that you mention...).

That's what's now visible.

So yes, in those previously undesired places there is now economic competition for housing. Of course, people with low SES can't compete on those terms.

Hence, "gentrification" and displacement.

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

"This is the basis of the U Chicago urban theories. "

I was doing some reading on the history of assessments and zoning, and while I haven't put it together, it seems as if there was an alternative model to the Chicago model based on zoning, which would have been more urban friendly.

In any case, you've also got to factor that the "cities" -- even the streetcar city -- wasn't so great. A lot of it built too quickly (detroit, cleveland) and very crowded (in the sense 5 people in one room). Twenty years of disinvestment (depression +war) also didn't help.

And in fact, that is where I think you get the c100 wrong -- the natural rush is more investment, too much investment, and putting brakes on growth isn't as bad as you think. Shorter version -- markets always overshoot.

At 12:59 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Markets always overshoot. Yes. I remember two major downturns since I've been here. One lasted 10+ years.

Whether or not DC has made a quantum change (like London, cf. ) remains to be seen.

Maybe not globally, but probably regionally.

On that basis, things need to change, at least somewhat. I don't see C100 arguing that a suburban-based zoning code is bad for the city.

By focusing new development into commercial corridors and on transit stations and their catchment areas, we have the opportunity to add development, population, amenities, etc., with minimal negative impact to extant places.

For the most part, that's what the zoning rewrite aims to do.

Crowding back then was a function of people being poor/working class. We aren't like that now. Now our houses are too big for our need.

... even watching "Flag Wars" last week about the Old Towne neighborhood in Columbus. The biggest problem was that the houses were so f*ing big. Low income households did not have the means to keep them up generally, let alone to historical standards. Most typical households would not either...

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

sorry forgot the cite. This isn't it, it's from last year, but there was an article in the FT this week about the same issue. I guess the govt. is instituting some controls of some sort in some of the zones with the most foreign purchases.

Oh, here it is:

At 7:58 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

also this:

Transactions costs are so high on RE I don't know why people speculate in it. Good secured asset.

Increasing the transaction costs (prepay a year of taxes) isn't going to do much when it related to the financing.

Probably the best thing is reduce transaciton costs on renting units.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

urg. my comment didn't go through.

Thx for this article. Very interesting. Proves the point about how "foreign" investors, with other metrics and motivations can discombobulate local markets, and how locals, bidding with only local considerations, get outbid.

At 10:02 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

also this:

"Two major Wall Street firms are in detailed discussions to create and sell the world's first bond backed by home-rental payments, people familiar with the matter say."

More of an issue in distressed communities.


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