Gentrification and City Planning

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak in front of an international group of city planners on gentrification in DC and surrounding areas. Many thanks to Frank Justice for the invite – this is an amazing and exciting opportunity. Here is my slide deck:

The idea behind this presentations was to start framing the conversation around gentrification differently, and start this thinking at the inception of the planning process. How do we create a more just and equitable living environment? How do we design with intention? How do we ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the benefit of increased prosperity in a given area? I co-paneled with Peter Taitan of the Urban Institute, who provided stats about historical changes in the DC population – and had the fun job of explaining the concept of “white flight” after looking at the dramatic fall in DC’s white population from 1960-1980.

The coolest part were the countries represented: Bhutan, Cambodia, Egypt, Finland, India, Lesotho, Macedonia, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Trinadad and Tobago, Turkey, and Vietnam.

The questions were insightful and fascinating, as all of the attendees tried to understand how American governments allowed gentrification and displacement to happen. There was also a conversation (though all too short) on gentrification’s unintended consequences, since it has a very positive connotation in some fields. I learned that Egypt is staring down the barrel of a housing crisis that mirrors issues with long-time residents and property taxes, and that DC could probably learn a lot from India’s ideas on making the law match social will. I also learned that America’s regionalism is really puzzling to other nations – I never had to think through things like WHY every state and local government has different policies around housing and urban development and quite a few of the questions (like what are the national needs around housing) had me stumped. So all in all, an excellent conversation.

One thing I wish I had time to go into more was the Kirwan Institute’s discussion on opportunity mapping. The paper/presentation looks at neighborhoods as more than just residential or commercial use, and into the idea that neighborhoods are clusters of opportunity. I’ll try to do a full write up on this next week, as I’ve alluded to the report a few times over the past year, but never committed to a full write up.

Strongly Recommended Reading: The Kirwan Institute’s Paper on “Opportunity Mapping: Mapping the Geography of Opportunity for Public Interest Advocacy

Selected Conversations on Gentrification:

On The Rapid Gentrification of DC
The Gentrification Shuffle
The Gentrification Shuffle, Redux: Rebranding Anacostia
Gentrification has Nothing to Do with White Hipsters
More Notes on Gentrification
Another Perspective on Gentrification
I Colonize

And our full archive on gentrification is here.

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  • Nejasna ちゃん

    Montenegro? OMG, you know we exist! Seriously though, I’m curious to know how in the world did Montenegro fit into that talk.