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.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Quote of the day: "If you hate traffic and hate strangers, then why are you living in a city? The suburbs were built for people like you."

By columnist Caille Millner of the San Francisco Chronicle, recounting a discussion she had with someone who was complaining about the proposal to build a hospital in an industrial district near a particular neighborhood.

From "Tips on how to survive S.F.'s gentrification war":
The proposed site for this hospital sits in an industrial zone and is currently empty. It's close enough to downtown that it would be served by a decent network of public transportation options. But to this woman, the proposal represented an inhuman incursion into everything she held dear. After a few moments of listening to her harangue, I interrupted.

"I don't understand," I said. "That would be a good site for a hospital."

"The traffic!" she cried.

"But there are bus lines close to that site -"

"You must be one of those new people," she said. "You just don't realize what this community is. We don't want all that traffic and all of those strangers -"

At this point I lost patience. "If you hate traffic and hate strangers, then why are you living in a city? The suburbs were built for people like you."

As you can imagine, the conversation did not end well.
The article's tips:

1.  Fighting all change, no matter what it is, will surely lead to ruin.
"You can't agitate against every new development, demand rent control, and then act shocked when the cost of housing skyrockets."

2.  Don't presume to speak for people whom you don't know. 
"Too often, when anti-gentrification folks try to speak for low-income people, they don't sound like they're worried about losing actual low-income individuals. They sound like they'll miss losing access to cheap ethnic food and the opportunity to wear a costume on someone else's traditional holiday."

3.  Hate the game [of displacement].
"Gentrification is a symptom, not the disease. So I would urge all of those protesting it to channel an equal amount of energy into fighting for things like a higher minimum wage and inclusionary housing. These aren't the kinds of causes that will get you a lot of likes on Facebook, but they're far more likely to help create the kinds of communities that anti-gentrification folks say that they want. Anything less is just a fight against $4 toast."

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