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Old 02-27-2014, 11:42 AM   #1
NotUrsula
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How 'bout that Gentrification?

Spike Lee put his foot in his (arguably potty-) mouth Tuesday night when he went on a rant against gentrification in Brooklyn and the Bronx. (I have to agree somewhat about the Columbus-Syndrome remark, though -- civilization doesn't "discover" a place if it has already been inhabited for time out of memory.)

This follows demonstrations in the Bay Area around the so-called "Google Buses" that take wealthy residents who are employed in Silicon Vally back and forth to work (and which were using the city bus lanes and but stops without contributing to the cost of their upkeep.) Locsl working-class San Franciscans are angry that these folks are driving up rents in their neighborhoods when they don't work anywhere nearby.

Lee's remarks were especially ironic because he has been a landlord for quite a while now in Brooklyn, and has flipped a number of properties for profit. He is looking at it primarily from a racial POV, (which isn't surprising, given who he is and how he makes his living), but is there more to this issue than that? Is is really more about class? About culture? (Lee pointed out that his father, a professional Bassist, has been practicing at home for 46 years, but last year, for the first time, new neighbors complained to the police about the noise associated with the music.)

Where I live we had a major influx of folks from a nation in Eastern Europe a couple of decades ago. They have been very entreprenurial, and they have caused a fair bit of gentrification here, though not on a NYC-like scale (they are not so rich that they are driving home prices beyond the reach of the middle class, and most of them actually remain working class.) However, somewhat like what is happening in Brooklyn's Williamsburg (which has been primarily populated by Orthodox Jews since not long after the Civil War), they have a particular culture and religion, and there have been clashes over that (especially their love of building backyard smokehouses used to make sausage.)

So ... is gentrification as bad as it is good? Is it good? Is it bad? Where does it go wrong? What makes for a good gentrification situation, if such a thing exists?

Come on ... Discuss!
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:50 AM   #2
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Gentrification is on steroids here in Atlanta, has been since the 90s..

My thoughts?... I'll get banned.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:15 PM   #3
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LOL, you won't get banned if you are careful about your words. That's why Lee is having to explain himself so much; he chose to use a lot of profanity when he originally stated his opinion.

As to me, while I think that preserving liveable urban neighborhoods is good and crucially important, and I STRONGLY prefer to live in them, I have to agree with one of the sentiments that he seemed to be expressing. In my experience, the people who think of themselves as urban pioneers often seem to want to use a kind of neutron bomb on the neighborhoods that they move into: they love the buildings themselves, and MAYBE the mature trees, but they tend to wish that every other living thing that was originally there would either go away or change to become more like the new inhabitants -- even if that change has to be forced on them. For instance, they may want bars to become full-service restaurants, because bars stay open late and restaurants don't. Or they may want liquor stores to become bakeries, because bakeries smell nice and are convenient in the mornings, while liquor stores might attract an "undesirable element". They want the funky neighbor lady who makes sculptures out of old factory tools to move her studio someplace else so that they won't have to see the raw materials or smell the works in progress, and they want the car restoration hobbyist to build a garage because working on a car in front of one's house is so déclassée. Above all, they want the neighbor who smokes meat to stop doing it because it causes an odor. (Never mind that the odor is actually quite yummy for many people -- if he isn't going to share it or sell it, then he shouldn't be annoying his neighbors with the smell of that sausage.)

The key, I think, is in holding back the temptation to think that if you have more money than your neighbor, that it follows that you also have better manners or taste than he does. After all, you moved into HIS neighborhood, so it really isn't fair to then turn around and try to alter its character to suit your tastes.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:22 PM   #4
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Gentrification has had a horrible effect on my family. It angers me so much so while I'm intrigued by the topic, I am having trouble putting my thoughts down. If I just type what I'm thinking right now, I will definitely be banned. But watch the King of the Hill episode "Lady and Gentrification". They actually nail some of the issues in a such a short funny episode. I found it to be great stress relief.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:44 PM   #5
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All I think of when I hear "gentrification" is the opening scene of Chasing Amy.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NotUrsula View Post
LOL, you won't get banned if you are careful about your words. That's why Lee is having to explain himself so much; he chose to use a lot of profanity when he originally stated his opinion.
Lee and I are from the same part of town, it's not HOW I say it, it's what I really think.

Needless to say I see his point between the expletives.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:55 PM   #7
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Gentrification is on steroids here in Atlanta, has been since the 90s..

My thoughts?... I'll get banned.

It's an issue in DC too.
Honestly, I haven't thought about it much so don't really have an opinion either way. Curious to hear what others say.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:53 PM   #8
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Well, I guess that teaches me to try to start something that will be an interesting discussion, LOL.

I've never been the "gentry" except during one brief period in a neighborhood that had largely been abandoned before it got a tax abatement to be renovated by developers (it was a rental and I left when I got married and bought a house), but I've almost always lived in city neighborhoods, because I don't like the "residential-only" vibe of traditional surburbia.

As I see it, the trend to return to urban living is a very good thing on the face of it; it preserves valuable architectural infrastructure, stabilizes the tax base, and makes more efficient use of living space and civic services. The downside in some cases is that it can dispossess a lot of people if speculation is allowed to run riot, and even sometimes when it isn't.

An odd situation happened near me, in a mostly lower-working-class neighborhood that was largely owner-occupied. Public schools are pretty bad in my district, so as an experiment, a group of educators got together and decided to open a Montessori charter school. The goal was to debunk the idea that it is impossible to close the achievement gap if your student body is uniformly disadvantaged. Because it was necessary for the experiment, an attendance zone was drawn around the school. The first two years the teachers had to knock on doors and troll for students, because religious school attendance is traditional here. By the third year, the consistent test scores were beginning to prove that their theory had traction, and they developed a waiting list. Another building was renovated, classroom space doubled. However, by the fourth year, they noticed that the student body that had been so homogenous when they started out was beginning to fracture along economic lines, and they went looking for why. It turns out that the presence of the high-scoring school was drawing positive attention, and a lot of the childless residents sold out -- to families who were MUCH more prosperous than themselves. The school could no longer continue the experiment because the neighborhood was no longer in the target income range, and they lost grant funding, which in turn forced them to cut programs. I find it an amazing example of the law of unintended consequences.

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Old 02-27-2014, 02:40 PM   #9
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You take the good
You take the bad
You take them both
and then you have
the facts of life

Or, as our friend Newton explains, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is no good without bad, no pure without evil, no upside without some other downside.

Now, on the plus side, you have rich people moving into what had been poor neighborhoods. So, what becomes of the poor? Well, if they're property owners, they prosper in the sale of their land. If they stay, they benefit from the influx of $$ into their neighborhood. Yes, the culture will change, but those who claim to have "created" the existing culture have supplanted some previous culture. One time many years ago, Spike Lee's ancestors were the "new ones" changing things in the neighborhood. These new people are no better, nor worse than he. And generally speaking, an influx of money and employed residents into a poor neighborhood is a good thing, even if it means a shift in cultures.

Now, having said that the point about the bass playing is a valid one. We have the same thing where I work. Our entire street was once nothing but factories. Because of the factories, land around there is cheap. So, people move into the neighborhood, then complain about factory workers parking in front of their homes. And those factories provide jobs for residents from all over the county.

Or, you have the farms gobbled up and turned into subdivisions. And then the new subdivision dwellers complain about the stench from the hog farms.

So, in the end, if you want to come in and get the lights turned on, the trash picked up, and fatten up property values, go for it - just save some smoked goat for me. BUT, if you want to come in and whine that you don't like the factories or farms that were there first, or the guy who's always worked on his car in the driveway, or the guy who has practiced his bass for 46 years, we don't need you. We don't own the neighborhood, but neither do you.
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Old 02-27-2014, 03:41 PM   #10
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It's an old article from an older study but it basically states that Spike's whining is for the birds:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/...fication_x.htm
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Old 02-27-2014, 05:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumbo4x4 View Post
So, in the end, if you want to come in and get the lights turned on, the trash picked up, and fatten up property values, go for it - just save some smoked goat for me. BUT, if you want to come in and whine that you don't like the factories or farms that were there first, or the guy who's always worked on his car in the driveway, or the guy who has practiced his bass for 46 years, we don't need you. We don't own the neighborhood, but neither do you.
Yeah, this.

My take is probably a little different because I'm from a place where there's no risk of crowding out the working class the way I've heard described in some other areas - state law limits property tax increases except in years when there is a change of ownership, so rapidly rising property values don't force lower-income residents out of their homes. I think for the most part renewed interest in urban living is a good thing and hope to move back to the city myself as soon as I can (which, sadly, probably won't be until at least 2 of my 3 kids are grown).

But geez, pick a place to live because you want to live there warts and all. Don't move in and start trying to make it just like the place you left but with different scenery! Whether it is moving into a city and complaining about hearing neighbors, traffic, or businesses or moving to the country and complaining about animal sounds/smells and clotheslines, that sort of mismatch indicates a poor choice in surroundings not a community problem to be corrected. I'm in a small town but we get a lot of that - suburbanites move here because they love the "quaint" but then run complaining to the city council when they hear the neighbor's chickens or catch sight of someone's delicates drying in the sun. I just hope they don't reach critical mass to start making changes until we're long gone.
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Old 02-27-2014, 05:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmeck View Post
It's an old article from an older study but it basically states that Spike's whining is for the birds:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/...fication_x.htm
sorry schmeck, I love ya but this article is for the birds.

I was born and raised in Harlem. 153rd and riverside drive. and believe me when ole gentrification came to down, all heck broke out.

Here in the nutshell is what happen to my building.

My building was an old prewar building, meaning it was big and had some serious archeticual (sp) designs. huge lobby, winding staircases, iron works molding the works. anyhoo most of the tenants were what we call in NY rent control.
bottom line when the owners of the building found out he could get upwards to 4K a month for units that were now getting 1500 month. well let the shenanigans begin. My apartment 10d was huge, back in the day you had extended family living together. so the apartment I grew up in was 5 bedroom 3 baths etc. Now granted my grandparents lived with me but in NY apartment scene it was big.

long story short, it took us 2 years, organizing a tenant rights association, rallying in public and suing that sucker before he finally conceded that maybe he was breaking the law.

Now if you are an owner you may not be forced to move but if you rent,
gentrification most definitely kicks you out faster than you can sneeze.

Now let's look at 125th street. famous ave, home of the apollo theater. tons of small businesses, minority owned. what happens when starbucks opens up? Very easy, the independant small business guy is gone, what building owner is going to allow him to stay when he can triple the rent and allow a chain to come in?

LOL last time I was visiting family there are now about 4 starbucks on one avenue.

Now I haven't listen to spikes rant, If I can't listen to you for more than 2 minutes without the f-bomb going off, I'm not listening.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by eliza61 View Post
sorry schmeck, I love ya but this article is for the birds.

I was born and raised in Harlem. 153rd and riverside drive. and believe me when ole gentrification came to down, all heck broke out.

Here in the nutshell is what happen to my building.

My building was an old prewar building, meaning it was big and had some serious archeticual (sp) designs. huge lobby, winding staircases, iron works molding the works. anyhoo most of the tenants were what we call in NY rent control.
bottom line when the owners of the building found out he could get upwards to 4K a month for units that were now getting 1500 month. well let the shenanigans begin. My apartment 10d was huge, back in the day you had extended family living together. so the apartment I grew up in was 5 bedroom 3 baths etc. Now granted my grandparents lived with me but in NY apartment scene it was big.

long story short, it took us 2 years, organizing a tenant rights association, rallying in public and suing that sucker before he finally conceded that maybe he was breaking the law.

Now if you are an owner you may not be forced to move but if you rent,
gentrification most definitely kicks you out faster than you can sneeze.

Now let's look at 125th street. famous ave, home of the apollo theater. tons of small businesses, minority owned. what happens when starbucks opens up? Very easy, the independant small business guy is gone, what building owner is going to allow him to stay when he can triple the rent and allow a chain to come in?

LOL last time I was visiting family there are now about 4 starbucks on one avenue.

Now I haven't listen to spikes rant, If I can't listen to you for more than 2 minutes without the f-bomb going off, I'm not listening.
Not quite following what happened in your above story - were you forced to move out because you couldn't pay rent on your large apartment once the landlord saw that other similar properties were increasing rent, or were you in an excessively large apartment for rent control?

The studies that went with that article are probably pre-Starbucks era, but it was clearly stated that the study showed that gentrification changed the demographics only 0.5% more than nongentrification over time. Sorry you were in the 0.5%.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:53 PM   #14
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much. Housing values dropped and are nowhere near what they should be. Spike Lee is a hypocrite. He doesn't even live in his old neighborhood. I've heard he has a place on the upper east side of Manhattan.
What, this old thing? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...d-artists.html
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Not quite following what happened in your above story - were you forced to move out because you couldn't pay rent on your large apartment once the landlord saw that other similar properties were increasing rent, or were you in an excessively large apartment for rent control?

The studies that went with that article are probably pre-Starbucks era, but it was clearly stated that the study showed that gentrification changed the demographics only 0.5% more than nongentrification over time. Sorry you were in the 0.5%.
Yes, we would have been forced out along with everyone else, no way could the tenants afford a exponential increase in rent. we just happened to have a few lawyers in the bunch who organized my building (I should say I was a kid so the parents were the driving force) and about 10 other buildings who's owners were doing the same thing. Landlords were increasing rent 200, 300% in the middle of leases. Then when they saw it wasn't going to be that easy, they started doing things like turning off the water (saying pipes were breaking), turning off the elevator.

after a 2 year battle in court, the tenant association finally won and a few regulations were put into effect. stuff like a maximum on how much rent can go up, tenants having right of first refusal.

I'm not a spike lee fan at all but gentrification definitely does hurt many poor especially if they are not property owners.
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