Re: The Swagon

1

If this were satire it would be too far absurd to be funny. In reality, it's far too sad to be funny.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:11 AM
horizontal rule
2

Couldn't they just hire some Mexicans to cycle along right behind them as a sort of moving crumple zone?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:20 AM
horizontal rule
3

What is it about so many recent stories with the "look how virtuous a douchebag I am?" A FB story popped up on my feed about a hedge fund manager who quit because his 10-year old daughter had a fight with him and made a list of everything he'd missed in her life for work (recitals, first day of school, teacher conferences, etc.) The "heartwarming" story notes that he made $100M in one year but he gave it all up for family. Yeah, real sacrifice to have to only live off your $1B you've accumulated, douche. Maybe you could give $100k to a few thousand families whose parents work 3 jobs and miss their kids' lives too.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:22 AM
horizontal rule
4

In the early part of the 20th century, weren't there laws requiring cars to have someone walking along ahead and behind them with signal lanterns?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:23 AM
horizontal rule
5

3: I saw that same story and had the same muscle strain from excess eye-rolling.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:24 AM
horizontal rule
6

Is this supposed to be "safety wagon" or "swag wagon"? The latter is the first thing it looks like.
And it's it more dangerous to have a car going 20mph, making other drivers swerve around it, vs. just having bikes that are relatively easy to pass?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:25 AM
horizontal rule
7

Surely the truly Texas-style approach would be to mount an exercise bike on the back of a pick-up.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:26 AM
horizontal rule
8

They've added a whole bunch of bikes lanes around here recently. The good kind with some separation from traffic more than a shitty line of paint. Apparently, they also passed a law that you're not permitted to drive next to one without going to the local newspaper and posting a comment about how cyclists don't stop at red lights sometimes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:26 AM
horizontal rule
9

isn't it


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:26 AM
horizontal rule
10

My first thought was that it was some sort of car-sized chassis sandwich board that you wore to keep real cars at least 3 feet away.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
11

4: I had heard that but was ready for it to be an urban legend or some tiny town for 2 years. Looks like Locomotive Act, UK, large part of the 19C.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
12

This would certainly make the old, ridiculous complaint about having once seen a cyclist running a red light more amusing.
"Sure I ran that light, but the car behind me did as well! I know because I paid them to!"


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:30 AM
horizontal rule
13

10: There's at least one guy around here who straps a car bumper (the plastic kind) to his bike for just that reason.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:31 AM
horizontal rule
14

And isn't it more dangerous to have a car going 20mph, making other drivers swerve around it, vs. just having bikes that are relatively easy to pass?

It's safer for the cyclists but maybe more dangerous for other drivers but screw them, I think is the attitude.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:31 AM
horizontal rule
15

13: I've mentioned the practice of taping old gramophone needles to spacers on the side of your bike, so if someone drives too close to you SCREEEEEEE all down their paintwork.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:32 AM
horizontal rule
16

A modern update would be the broken shards of an old iPod's glass.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:34 AM
horizontal rule
17

4:

I think you're thinking of the British red-flag law, that actually dated from the early 19th century, and lasted into the 20th. Retarded the development of the British motor industry for decades.

I don't remember if it was statutory. I have an association with Lord Ellenborough, of tort fame, so it may have been a rule of law.

It was a reactionary response to Richard Trevithick's "steampunk" revolution. Inventor of the high pressure steam engine, he was building and running cars, buses and trucks in the first decades of the 19th century. The rule destroyed his business. A fascinating technical might-have-been.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:38 AM
horizontal rule
18

"In Victorian Britain, by law, all motor cars had to be preceded by a man on foot singing the Red Flag". (Not 1066 and All That, but something similar.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:39 AM
horizontal rule
19

Even better might-have-been: the law stays in effect and becomes the standard globally forever.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
20

14- I don't know, I'm thinking if there's a head-on collision near you when biking, even if it's in the other lane, it's not a great situation.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
21

Speaking of transportation, if your plans for today include going near an airplane, you're fucked.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
22

3.last is a thing that drives me motherfucking bananas about that flavor of children's movie/"nobody ever said to themselves on their deathbed 'I wish I had spent more time at the office'" glurp. I bet a lot of people would be goddamned willing to spend more time at the office if it meant they didn't have to work at Family Dollar as a second job to keep the heat on.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
23

Is this supposed to be "safety wagon" or "swag wagon"? The latter is the first thing it looks like.

Is not the term "sag wagon"?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:16 AM
horizontal rule
24

I ran a red light in a car a few weeks ago, because the cyclists next to me had STOPPED at the red light, then after about 15 seconds of very little traffic I guess they thought "Screw this" and went through the red light. So I reflexively went along with them, like you do when traffic starts up again.

Moral: Cyclists should do the red light = stop sign thing, not the red light = shorter red light thing.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:18 AM
horizontal rule
25

21: Damn. Hopefully this won't affect flights through Seattle, which is where I am now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:20 AM
horizontal rule
26

I was going to laugh at your silly Victorian laws, but we were only saved by a governor veto from something even sillier.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:24 AM
horizontal rule
27

Is not the term "shag wagon"?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:26 AM
horizontal rule
28

Ahem. I believe it is "shag'n wagon", for the rhyme.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
29

Or if you're my DFH friend from college, it's his Stabbin' Wagon.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
30

I would expect a DFH to drive a schwag wagon.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:42 AM
horizontal rule
31

And they say romance is dead.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:42 AM
horizontal rule
32

Hippies are serial killers?

I thought that was only true when you were in some sort of parallel Nixon universe.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:44 AM
horizontal rule
33

Hippies are serial killers?

Impossible, they don't have the work ethic.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
34

I [heart] 8.last.

Yesterday I was biking Iris to a friend's house, and we saw a pickup truck roll through a stop sign at ~10 MPH. I demand that all pickup trucks be restricted to designated lanes only.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
35

24 is hilarious. "Welp, guess it's time to go..."

The other day I drove through an intersection and realized I was not entirely certain what color the light was. I was using some sort of heuristic to determine whether to go, but my mind was elsewhere*. This was out in the country, so 0 chance of pedestrians, and I would have noticed another car, but really weird.

*not my phone, but I don't recall what. Possibly I was just looking at a building, because I do that. But I also might have been trying to recall something.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
36

I saw the same thing yesterday but with a VW. Light turned red all directions, walk sign came on, guy in a VW did what I now call a Milbank special, looking to the left while rolling through to make a right on red and almost hitting me and three of my kids. VWs shouldn't be allowed on streets that have pedestrian crossings.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
37

Hippies are serial killers?

No, Buffalo Bill had a Sagging Wagon.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:41 AM
horizontal rule
38

St. George had a Dragon Wagon.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
39

Someone should operate a bar out of a food truck and call it the Flagon Wagon.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
40

If this wagon's buckin'
...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
41

Charlton Heston was the best at Agon Wagon.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
42

Frogs have Paddy Wagons.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:56 AM
horizontal rule
43

If you do the most of these rhymes, you get to ride in the Braggin' Wagon.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
44

||
Big Academia Matt: "This is a first. @DaelNorwood cites @mattyglesias tweet in paper on US commerce and China trade in the 1780s
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
45

My favorite band in high school was Lagwagon, but I probably wouldn't trust those guys to keep me safe during a bike ride.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
46

I was going to make a Waggin' Wagon joke, but I've been pwned.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
47

36 describes the exact way in which I've been hit by cars (twice). Most of the time I can understand how accidents happen even if by "accident" they usually mean "negligence we don't care about". But seriously - who on earth thinks it's ok to drive in one direction while looking in the opposite one? On what world does that make sense?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
48

On a world with no pedestrians.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
49

When Google search goes weird:

Flights to Taggin Wagon Mobile Home Park - Holiday Weather
www.holiday-weather.com › The Americas › USA
Holiday Weather - We provide information on flights to Taggin Wagon Mobile ... Taggin Wagon Mobile Home Park 14 Day Forecast ·


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
50

And yes, flying today (or tonight, actually; it's a red eye).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:06 AM
horizontal rule
51

On a world with no pedestrians, one man dared to get out of his car and walk!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
52

48 is exactly correct.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
53

And that world was called... AMERICA.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
54

The ones who drive away from Omelas.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
55

Yeah, the look-left/turn-right thing is really common, and it's how I got "hit" by a car. (Mentioned somewhere in the archives. I saw the driver wasn't looking but didn't think she would go, because there was oncoming traffic. But then a big dump truck in the oncoming wanted to turn where she was coming out of, so they waved her into traffic—right as I had stepped in front of her car. I leapt up on the hood as she drove forward, butt-sliding across and landing on my feet next to driver's side of the car. It turned out I knew the driver, so I waved and ran on. The next time I saw her, she bought me a drink and apologized repeatedly.)

Based on the anecdata of drivers I see while running, I would say more people than not don't look to the right before they start their initial roll. They'll turn and look before giving it a lot of gas, but rolling slowly right while looking left happens a lot.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:32 AM
horizontal rule
56

I've done the look left, turn right thing.* Or rather, look left, check for pedestrians, then look right, and drive round. Looking more to the right, because that's where the traffic, and the cars going too fast are coming from.

Been caught out by it once, when there was a car coming the other way, on the wrong side of the road.


* Only, with the directions reversed, obviously.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:37 AM
horizontal rule
57

56 not describing a general habit, but I can think of a couple of junctions I pass through fairly regularly where the road is fairly blind in terms of visibility for traffic coming from the left [right], and where it's safer to pull round keeping an eye out.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
58

I think the 'look left as you're turning right' (I'm not sure if I've done it, but I wouldn't be surprised) is about estimated relative speeds. Because cars are so much faster than pedestrians, you can check right for pedestrians, and count on having ten or fifteen seconds before anyone you haven't seen can get in your way, and then use that time to look left for traffic in the lane you're turning into. It's a problem for bikes, which are faster than pedestrians, and you can screw it up even with pedestrians (as in Stanley's case) but it doesn't seem obviously insane to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
59

57: I sometimes don't check right until I've started rolling if it's a one-way. I once had to suddenly stop after starting to roll forward because a couple of cyclists were going the wrong way down the edge of a frontage road (with a 50mph or 55mph speed limit). One of them made an indignant face and gestured at me. If you're familiar with Austin, this was off mopac.

Ok, sure, I should check the wrong way of a one-way street because you never know when someone's coming the wrong way (and I'm now more careful about this), but being indignant about someone inching forward and then stopping when you're going the wrong way down a feeder to a highway seems like a bit much.

I've also had some near misses with cyclists who ran red lights or stop signs. I used to bike a fair amount until a bad injury and that kind of thing seemed even worse when I was cycling. Running lights has a pretty low risk of injuring another cyclist, but going the wrong way down a bike lane or shoulder is pretty crazy.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
60

Swiggity swagon, what's in the—dammit.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
61

Right. Of course you need to check to the right before a turn, but it's natural that if, having done so, you don't see anyone coming you're focused on the fast-moving cars on your left when making the turn. I actually wouldn't expect it to be too much of a problem for cyclists since they are supposed to be in the road on the right hand side of the street anyway.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
62

61 to 58.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
63

I made an effort to retrain my habits after I almost drove into pedestrians on two separate occasions, doing the look left, roll right. I blame that habit at least partially on the switch from manual to automatic.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
64

No, it's a real problem, because as a bike you're very plausibly in a bike line or on the shoulder to the right of the lane of traffic (and are allowed to be there), so you're coming up on the right of the turning car from behind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
65

It can be a problem when cyclists are biking on the sidewalk going against traffic, but that's just goddamn dangerous and in my view is on the cyclists, not the drivers (see also -- barreling fast down the sidewalk in front of the driveway entrance to a parking garage, where drivers are expecting pedestrians on the sidewalk).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
66

going the wrong way down a bike lane or shoulder is pretty crazy

Doesn't sound like this applies to your interaction, but some cities allow bikes to go the "wrong way" on a one-way street. My humble burg has been installing counterflow bike lines on several of the one-ways in town.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
67

Oh, 64 is a slightly different problem than the one I was imagining we were talking about. Seems to me that there, there's a shared responsibility for the driver to signal and make what it's about to do clear, and the cyclist to either stay in the regular car lane or exercise caution in approaching a potentially turning car.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
68

66: A street that is one-way for cars, but unbeknownst to cars has bikes going the other way, sounds pretty dangerous.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:09 AM
horizontal rule
69

66: my new city has those, and they're pretty great. They even have some with a raised median to separate bikes from cars. If I still biked I would be in love.

But this was approximately here. There's a bike trail that ends nearby. Going north from the trailhead requires either going against traffic on the frontage road or going out of your way. Some people prefer the direct route.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
70

The sign say "except bikes" so it doesn't seem very unbeknownst. Of course, our counterflow bus lane is an easy thing to forget when you are crossing the street.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
71

I just can't stop thinking of the USC frat boy naming his customized party van the Swagon. Or maybe that's what I should call the CTS-V wagon I'll eventually get.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:29 AM
horizontal rule
72

Swagonses? What is Swagonses?

Precious.


Posted by: Gollum | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
73

Is that a fancy CR-V?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
74

It doesn't take much daring speed to be unseen by cars when you're on the sidewalk, bicycle or pedestrian. In one of the cases where I was hit I was starting from a stopped position on the sidewalk, and in the other one traveling down a bike lane where the intersecting road had a stop sign. The "drivers don't see pedestrians/cyclists" thing applies surprisingly well when the pedestrians/cyclists are in areas specifically designated for them.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
75

our counterflow bus lane is an easy thing to forget when you are crossing the street.

So much so that they've spent the past 25 years adding more and more fencing along the sidewalk to discourage peds from crossing anywhere but crosswalks. Used to be just a few sections of piperail, but that was evidently insufficient.

The "drivers don't see pedestrians/cyclists" thing applies surprisingly well when the pedestrians/cyclists are in areas specifically designated for them.

I follow a guy on fb who runs a groups called Bicycles Belong in the Driving Lane, and he's fanatical on this point - that any system that puts cyclists anywhere but in the center of a driving lane is an invitation to drivers to not notice them and hit them, whether by drifting into the shoulder, turning across a non-separated bike lane, or not looking for them at intersections where there's a separated bike lane. As I say, I think he's a bit of a fanatic, but I also think he's more right than wrong. Bikes in driving lanes anger drivers, but bikes in the gutter/on the shoulder get killed by drivers. OTOH, that's really a city-only rule IMO, unless you're in a group. A single cyclist just isn't visible enough on a country road with speeds in excess of 35 and no expectation of bikers.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
76

Is that an American/European split? I have a vague impression that consensus among serious bike people in the US is exactly what you said -- that bicyclists behaving in any way other than as cars are just putting themselves in danger. Which I can see how it could be true, but is awfully intimidating -- it's pretty much "Don't get on a bike unless you can hack intermingling with traffic."

Infrastructure that separates bikes from traffic seems much more successful in what I see from, e.g., the Netherlands.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
77

76.1: I don't know that it's american/european exactly, but it has definitely been an exhausting split (is my sense) for people trying to get bike infrastructure built, because in addition to the drivers furiously opposiing it, you have "vehicular cycling" (that's the term of art) advocates furiously opposing it as well.

I used to pretty strongly believe in that stuff, and it does describe how I ride, but it really limtis urban cycling to experienced, in-shape people and turns off e.g. people who would like to ride as a family or casual (often female) cyclists, and it turns out in actual fact the single best way to make cycling safer is to get more bikes on the road, so it's pretty counter-productive.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:42 AM
horizontal rule
78

The main difference in the Netherlands (at least in the old cities that people visit) is that the overall urban infrastructure is more bike friendly and less car friendly, or even more simply that there are just a ton more people on bikes. I doubt that there's much specifically about bike lanes that could be exported, except for a "design your urban areas to be as massively inconvenient for cars as possible" which I suppose Tweety wants but (a) isn't gonna happen here and (b) with a few exceptions shouldn't happen here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
79

In this country, I think it's somewhat generational; people who were riding on the street and sort of making room for bikes in an activist-y way back twenty years ago were much more likely to push a vehicular cycling line than current "safe streets"-type advocates, who will more often point to the dutch model and things like that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
80

From my experience the most important thing (even more than dedicated infrastructure, though I love it) is just having a lot of bikes on the road. Once drivers know they're going to be there sometimes they notice when they're actually there. A while back* there was a bump in gas prices right in the middle of the summer, and I could tell the difference in what drivers could see almost immediately. Once the number of people out on bikes dropped to a more normal level (when it got cold) it didn't go back to the way it had been before.

I suspect that the difference has more to do with that than with anything else. So America is just one step behind a lot of places in Europe: once you have a baseline assumption that there are lots of bikes wandering around, and that they count as traffic and you have to look out for them then dedicated lanes with barriers are the biggest safety improvement. I mean, they're pretty impressive here too but you can't really continue them through intersections so they only do so much.

*Maybe 2008? I feel old now.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
81

(a) isn't gonna happen here and (b) with a few exceptions shouldn't happen here

I don't think (a) is true (I mean, it is happening here -- Broadway in midtown Manhattan is now much less convenient to drive on since you can't) and (b) is beyond obviously untrue.

Also I think "massively" is, uh, massively overstated. "Somewhat less convenient" (i.e. not worrying about epic amounts of parking for new buildings in dense urban areas, traffic calming, removing lanes to make room for pedestrian/cycle/park infrastructure) is plenty.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
82

Interestingly, the whole Netherlands thing is relatively recent; the bicycle infrastructure that people point to now didn't start getting built until the '70s, partly for environmental reasons but partly because there was a big outcry at the number of children getting killed by cars, which is apparently nbd in this country.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
83

"Somewhat less convenient" probably means "very inconvenient for white-flight-y suburban people commuting to work in the city, substantially better for people who live in that city." And I kind of feel like that's a positive development in itself, because making things worse for the people in the suburbs to the benefit of people in the city has a certain poetic justice to it (since it's the opposite of what usually happens, anyway). But a decent set of park-and-ride systems could probably alleviate most of the trouble there.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
84

And we're so absurdly far in the direction of making things maximally, solely, pathologically convenient for cars that any move back towards sanity is going to seem like "massive change"; the outcry that ensues if a legal on-street parking space gets removed for anything other than a curb cut is probably exhibit one, here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
85

I agree with 81. Especially the traffic calming part. The bike lanes they put in Oakland that narrowed the street near Phipps really make that a better street for everybody but the innately aggressive driver who sees any open pavement as a reason to speed up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
86

One interesting thing to me is the rapidity which with arguments against cycling and public transportation infrastructure have shifted here in Boston (and I think in New York) from "public transportation and cycling infrastructure are bad because they will make neighborhoods undesirably full of undesirables and undesirably difficult to drive to and from" to "public transportation and cycling infrastructure are bad because they promote gentrification and force out all the poor people with their unstoppable desirability".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
87

I just don't think that anything like the measures set out in 81 last, while often very good things, are going to get you anywhere near Netherlands-like density of bicycles, at least in US cities that are (often quite rightly! the car is a powerful and good and useful thing that a lot of users of cities benefit from, despite the obvious prejudice that 83 was kind enough to state openly) now largely built to facilitate use of the automobile. Which goes to a broader point, which is that while cycling is fun and great, bicycles are nice to encourage, and encouraging bicycling does have some nice follow on benefits, they're always going to be a very small and ancillary part of sensible urban planning and their importance on this front tends to be massively overrated by cycling activists.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:57 AM
horizontal rule
88


I'm generally sympathetic to the case for separate bike paths, for the reasons that Sifu cites. But one drawback is that once you reach the goal of converting a substantial fraction of car trips to bicycles, the bike infrastructure can exacerbate the bike-pedestrian conflict. You see this in a place like Münster, Germany, where the city has been pretty much given over to bicycles. Bicyclists treat pedestrians who have strayed into the bike paths (which are integrated into the sidewalks) with all the patience and consideration that Pittsburgh drivers apply to cyclists.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
89

I think the car-dependence stuff is overrated. Pittsburgh did just fine as a city with basically the same outline when cars were rare and the middle class used trolleys, trains, and walking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:59 AM
horizontal rule
90

89 -- yes, but for overwhelmingly large numbers of people, the car-based infrastructure was more convenient, practical, useful, and desirable than the trolley-based infrastructure, which is why it got torn up and replaced between 1930 and 1960. It's totally reasonable to want to recapture some of the benefits of that old system in a modernized way but pretending like there weren't reasons for getting rid of it in the first place is just as crazy and ahistorical as people who think that most major American cities weren't designed around the streetcar.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
91

I'm quite in favor of infrastructure; my only caveat is when it leads drivers to demand that cyclists be restricted to using it (I've seen numerous stories of cops threatening to ticket cyclists who aren't using bike lanes, whether legally in the right or no). For my personal self, I'll ride to protect my own safety, but I don't think riders in bike lanes are sheeple or whatever. OTOH, I do think it's really important for cyclists - even novices, or people out of shape - to at least understand the concept of "taking the lane": there are times when the only safe choice is to get in the middle of the lane, if only to be able to safely turn left.

But all of this is easier when there are cyclists everywhere. The latest Census data says that Pgh has increased its number of commuters since 2000 by more than any city in the country (percent terms), which absolutely matches my observations. Hell, just the change I see at the major intersection where my kids' bus stop is, which I've been at for 3 or 4 years now, is breathtaking. Used to be a couple regulars I recognized from day to day, and now it averages at least 1 biker per light cycle, and it's not a great intersection.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
92

I think 89 is about right: the usual arguments against cities taking fairly significant steps to reduce car traffic in favor of public transport, pedestrians and (the variety of things resembling) bicycles look like pretty standard arguments against any changes you'll see. "Things will never work without massive subsidies for x" arguments invariably get into trouble when either x only started being massively subsidized relatively recently or there are places that don't do it to the same degree and seem to get along just fine. It's the same trouble that we saw with conservative arguments about healthcare reform: it only works when you can't point out places where it's not actually causing a catastrophe.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
93

I like to say I've been a vehicular cyclist for 50 years. I bite my tongue these days, in the hope the "mass of cyclists" argument proves out, and because I don't want to discourage people or be harsh to them. But I am apprehensive about backlash and change-of-fashion and the real possibility that infrastructure will eventually lead to the limiting of the vehicular cyclists right to the road as it is.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
94

90: The alternative was heavily subsidized and remains so. All I want to do with equally subsidize other methods of transportation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
95

[bicycles are] always going to be a very small and ancillary part of sensible urban planning and their importance on this front tends to be massively overrated by cycling activists.

This is absolutely 100% wrong in every particular and unjustifiable enough as to not be worth arguing with.

But I will say that the idea that fifty or so years of designing exclusively for automobiles has produced enough path dependence that it would be impossible to ever go back to considering other modes of transportation is concern trolling of the highest order. "We can never adopt the electric trolley! We have too many places to put all this horseshit!", says mid-19th century Robert Halford of Halford's Horseshit Concern Ltd.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
96

which is why it got torn up and replaced between 1930 and 1960

You're joking, right? I mean, that's part of the reason, sure.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
97

All transportation on public roads or right of ways is by definition "subsidized" -- this is true even if you have eg 19th century style "private" streetcar operators who just take their cut. The mix of what you do or don't have is an important question but whatever you do end up having will be effectively "subsidized" one way or another.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
98

90: Yes, because it's totally uncontroversial to suggest that the change was the result of a mass preference among citizens. I mean, what other forces could have been involved?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
99

96 is mostly bullshit. Or, I should say, I know for a fact that it's almost entirely bullshit in Los Angeles, which is the ur-example for the purported conspiracy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
100

Damnit. JRoth was faster. I assume that's because he drives a car and I use a bicycle, which is slower.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
101

95 -- oh, go fuck yourself. You're such a self-righteous annoying fanatic on this topic I don't know why I even bother trying to discuss it here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
102

pretending like there weren't reasons for getting rid of it in the first place

There were reasons! The unqeunchable abundance of high-energy-density gasoline, the delightful efficiency of broad, low-traffic highways, the ineluctably deteriorating ethnic squalor of un-airconditioned tenement developments, the low speed and danger of streetcars which shared roads. They were good reasons! They just were either wrong, no longer apply, or applied only if you ignored the nigh-catastrophic downsides that didn't become apparent until the retooling of infrastructure for strictly automotive use was already well underway. "It seemed like a good idea at the time" is, as I'm sure you'll agree, a terrible reason to keep doing something.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
103

96 also includes a list of other facts than the (limited) conspiracy, none of which look like "everyone thinks cars are best".


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
104

Swagon. Swagoff.

That is all.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
105

101: dude, I'm saying it's not true because there are a large number of world cities where it is not true. It's not even ideological! Look around!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
106

Plus, back when cars took over, you could drink and drive pretty much until you were too far gone to find your car. Now that you have to be sober, you can't drive lots of the time anyway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
107

Dude, quit swaggin' off. We're on a bike ride here.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
108


I was composing a wonky version of 95, but I'll let Sifu's more colorful version stand on its own.

On second thought, let me add one point: urban design that is less solicitous of automobile traffic contributes to quality of life in ways that go way beyond easier cycling.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
109

And if we're really going to get into it, the real reason car culture took over so completely was that rich people had -- and wanted to use their -- cars. You want to see the same distortion of infrastructure in action try flying a commercial airliner out of a large metro airport at the same time that a lot of private jets are aiming to leave.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
110

And, re 97, this isn't really a good reason to not get rid of a lot of the ways we subsidize cars. Actually it's mostly the opposite. We need to subsidize some things because transportation and transportation infrastructure never seems to work out well when it isn't. So the question is what we should be subsidizing, and how. Right now we heavily subsidize cars which is fine in very low density areas, but works out poorly in higher density areas like cities when compared to things that are (1) safer, (2) just as effective, (3) make people happier overall, and (4) are usually cheaper anyway.

I mean, it makes sense that a relatively wealthy person from southern California might be used to spending a lot of time in a car. But it doesn't mean that's optimal just because it's there.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
111

The theory in 96 really is bullshit though. And aren't you a historian MHPH? Maybe I'm mistaken. Anyhow, a good place to start on what actually happened with that infrastructure is is here.

And, assholes, I specifically didn't say that the existence of an automobile infrastructure is a good reason to keep intact with no changes whatsoever. Just that any changes you DO make need to reflect the reasons why we had the change in the first place and the real value that automobiles do provide. Which is what any non-insane urban planning person would tell you, unless they're complete bike fanatics like Tweety.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:20 PM
horizontal rule
112

the real reason car culture took over so completely was that rich people had -- and wanted to use their -- cars.

As a historical matter, this just isn't true, unless by "rich" you mean "broadly middle class." A huge part of the reason for the difference in automobile cultures between the US and Europe is precisely that a car in the United States was available to a relatively ordinary, working class person in the US by 1930 (certainly by 1950) whereas in Europe it wasn't.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
113

One thing I noticed this trip to Germany, moreso than in the past, is the permeability between (for want of a better term) US-style streets and the Füßgängerzone. I've known about the latter since HS German, and always enjoyed them on visits, but, as I say, I was really struck by how it wasn't always clear if one was actually in one or not - there's be a ped-dominated street, then a private car would slowly drive down, presumably legally.

It seems to me to be a particularly effective way of having and eating cake: the strictly no-car zone creates a critical mass and assumption for street-owning pedestrians, but the mixed zone permits practical auto access to larger areas that couldn't really justify an auto ban. And of course drivers on the edges of the mixed zone are solicitous of peds/cyclists, because there are tons of them, and the drivers get the distinction between car-first zones and complete street zones.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
114

unless they're complete bike fanatics like Tweety

Tweety is more of a walking fanatic these days. But it turns out that limits to car traffic that make things safer for bikes often end up making things safer for pedestrians as well. Part of that can be that the "complete streets" design philosophy builds in the needs of pedestrians as well, but it's also just that slowing down cars in urban areas is good for pretty much everyone except cars.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
115

I've ridden a bike like four times in the past year. Have I ever said that we should ban cars? I have not! I own and use a car! To be completely honest I would prefer not to, but it does some things well. But everybody owning a car, and an infrastructure that is designed for that to be easy, and an infrastructure that makes using a car in a dense urban area easy: all of those are legitimately bad things for a whole bunch of reasons. We should stop subsidizing cars and driving at the crazily high levels that we do, we should design urban streets and motor vehicle regulations so that they give at least equal priority to non-motor vehicle traffic, we should design our transportation policy around a goal that end-to-end solo commuting by car -- especially an individual car that has the same kind of footprint as current cars -- should happen in a minority of cases. Woo hoo check out commander cuckoo bananas radical bike faerie over here!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:27 PM
horizontal rule
116

It's also really unpleasant to drive when the person behind me thinks "I'm driving on a highway" and I think "I'm driving through the park where my kids plays." Narrowing the fucking roads seems like a great idea in many, many cases around here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:28 PM
horizontal rule
117

112: I'm not talking about 1930, let alone 1950. I'm talking about 1910-1915 and the invention of jaywalking (cf.), mostly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:30 PM
horizontal rule
118

Gosh, 111, I wonder if that's why I pointed out the list of other relevant factors, pretty much none of which come down to "cars work better than the other alternatives". The "real value" and the "reasons we why had the change in the first place" aren't likely to line up any more than they do for most of the things in the world, and especially not in this case.

Anyway, we seriously know enough about what having car centered cities does at this point that even if we didn't have plenty of examples of non car centered cities out there it would be worth taking a risk. The better your public transportation the better people's lives go for them, and that's not even considering anything related to the benefits of walking or biking.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
119

113: I'd get stressed out driving in the UK when I'd stumble into those areas because it feels distinctly wrong to my USian heritage take a car into a pedestrian zone. The main pedestrian street in Kirkwall is a small fraction of the width of, say, the Ithaca Commons but it's legit to take a car down it (difficult for two way traffic, though). It's certainly sensible for supply vans and whatnot, but it felt like a norm violation a la the Blues Brothers in the mall.

116: Agreed. It is interesting how the road narrowing in Schenley by the golf course has brought up a lot of discussion about bicycle/pedestrian conflict now that they'll get a separate lane. (And it really needs a separate lane--I walked that most nice days my last year at school and it was pretty scary.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:36 PM
horizontal rule
120

118 - Are you seriously basing your historical analysis on a list of "other factors" from a Wikipedia page? I really don't remember you being this much of a moron from past discussions but recently I feel like maybe I got you confused with someone else, you are kind of an idiot. Anyhow, there's a huge literature out there on the attractions of the automobile for mid-20th century people, most of which concludes that, yes, for a substantial majority of people, cars did work better than the system current then. That absolutely doesn't mean we need to enshrine the technological conditions of 1950 for all time or that we shouldn't encourage public transportation (or, for that matter bicycles, which are great) -- it just makes taking seriously the reasons why there was a turn to cars in the first place and dealing with them.

even if we didn't have plenty of examples of non car centered cities out there

We do? We have plenty of examples of cities which have urban cores that make driving difficult (and often rightly so!) have great public transit,etc. But absolutely all major world cities retain substantial roles for the automobile as a primary mode of transit, including the single-rider commuter car.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
121

we had the change in the first place

Consider that LA, which nearly doubled in population 1930-1950, is not typical, at least globally. IMO Yggles is right in harping on mimimal parking requirements as the lever to pull on. Make parking in a city center something that has to be explicitly paid for and the problem solves itself eventually.

I keep thinking that Daley's successfully stealing all the parking in Chicago and selling it is a good synecdoche, but it's too bulky, no associated visual image.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:44 PM
horizontal rule
122

119.2: Yes. I don't like walking that either. I hope the narrow and I don't see why the cyclists would need to feel grumpy about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:44 PM
horizontal rule
123

I hope they narrow...


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:47 PM
horizontal rule
124

Make parking in a city center something that has to be explicitly paid for and the problem solves itself eventually.

I don't agree with that formulation fully (you still have to plan around real transportation problems, this is an aspect that Donald Shoup totally got in the original book but Yggles characteristically ignores) but I'm totally on board with the general "high price of free parking" argument.

at LA, which nearly doubled in population 1930-1950, is not typical, at least globally.

You're of course right in general, but it's reasonably typical for the "why did we take out the trolley lines in the US" story. The reasons LA got rid of the Red and Yellow cars aren't very different than the reasons why the origin of the "Dodgers" as "Trolley Dodgers" no longer made sense in Brooklyn by 1960.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:48 PM
horizontal rule
125

It can't be that hard to dodge a trolley. They run on tracks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
126

122: Pedestrians might slow down cyclists. Since everything else about it sounds pretty good, I'm okay with that.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
127

Yes Halford, my complicated and subtle historical analysis that amounts to "it probably wasn't something that happened just because it was really awesome and everyone loved it" was absolutely based on nothing else whatsoever. I'll get back to you on that when I've read the huge literature involved, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait. If you get bored waiting, though, guess what's low in carbs!


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
128

124.1: Yeah, this sounds like "The market will provide a well run public solution catering to people too poor to afford parking".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
129

120. major world cities

Hong Kong has 8 cars/100 inhabitants. LA is not the world.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:53 PM
horizontal rule
130

Anyway, I've spent so many years hearing that the several billion dollar freeway that was to run right near my house was necessarily infrastructure and that funding the buses I take to work was government waste. I just sort of decided to reflexively oppose any and all construction of limited access highways.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:56 PM
horizontal rule
131

122, 126: See, there's a situation where I'm going to just keep using the damn street rather than dodge clueless pedestrians. Biking around the H. Park reservoir has taught me that people walking along the roads in parks apparently don't even see wheeled traffic: people walking in the section that's painted with bicycles; people walking abreast from curb to auto traffic lane; people walking counterflow and yet still not moving aside for the cyclist heading straight for them.

The scheme may be a net win - and I sure as hell favor fixing that watershed - but I agree that it's going to be a mixed blessing at best. I suppose I should add that I don't commute through there; I might feel better if I rode it when usage was heavier.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:57 PM
horizontal rule
132

130: It absolutely essential that you have a fast way to drive to Unionfuckingtown. For America.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
133

130 is why Moby is all right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 12:59 PM
horizontal rule
134

129 -- I probably should have said "major western city." But Hong Kong is also a kind of a special case -- until recently it was basically an isolated strip with nothing worth driving to, and, until very very recently, was populated primarily with people too poor to afford a car, and it has a car tax that (IIRC) is close to 100% of the value of the car, in order to discourage ownership. And yet even so it has a lot of private car owners and has and needs a massive car-based infrastructure to function as a modern city.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:04 PM
horizontal rule
135

Well, I think it's good to see a car used for god's intended purpose: in support of bicycle events. Transporting bikes to and from events; also a good use of a car.

More seriously, I can fully understand why people riding bikes would want something like this. At best, car / truck drivers are indifferent to people on bikes; at worst, they are actively impatient or hostile, to the point of recklessness. Which is inexcusable: someone on a bike puts no car driver's life at risk. And all for the smallest of inconveniences: having to wait a bit for a safe passing opportunity.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:04 PM
horizontal rule
136

Pedestrians not noticing wheeled vehicles in parks is a real thing, so maybe that barrier between the lanes should have occasional access to the main road for bicyclists to switch between them. But I'd also think a park designed for linear usage, particularly commuting--which this essentially is since it's isolated from the rest of the park--would be better than a place like the reservoir where you go to just putter about.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
137

This time of year, I spent lots of time stomping on acorns. That always cuts my attention span for other things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:08 PM
horizontal rule
138

I was thinking that, the canonical picture of a Chinese city in the 1980's included a whole bunch of people on bicycles. These days the canonical picture of a Chinese city is smog. We really don't associate the Chinese with bikes like we used to.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
139

138: ...double top tube. It is also the only model also manufactured in the larger 24-inch (610 mm) frame size. This feature is often cited as being designed to carry pigs, but there is little factual basis for this claim.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
140

double top tube

Are they afraid of nipples?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
141

Wait. Top Tube. Never mind.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
142

136 is a good point. Also, when it's commute time, presumably most of the cyclists (if not most peds) will be going in 1 direction. The thing about the graphic linked in 126 is that the bike/ped zone really is pretty narrow; 1 biker and 2 walkers at most. That sets you up for conflict with even a small amount of cluelessness/carelessness.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:25 PM
horizontal rule
143

Given the width and rush hour usage it's pretty likely that a multiple person pedestrian/cyclist pileup is going to happen the first time someone hears "on your left" and leaps to their left. I'm not sure how to fix that, though. A barrier sounds like a good idea, but it looks like they're making it nearly eight feet wide which seems a bit much. Another couple feet (and a dedicated "pedestrian" lane for pedestrians to completely ignore) would probably resolve most of the issues.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
144

Whoa, I finally read the comments and they made it a lot clearer why the cyclists are unhappy with the suggestion. This is a curvy road on a moderately steep slope. Given that the proposed mixed lane is pretty much a death trap.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:43 PM
horizontal rule
145

Eh. My bike path (all right, I haven't been commuting by bike for a long time now, but I still feel a sense of ownership) has a bunch of chokepoints that bad, and it's not a real problem, you just slow down until you're through.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:44 PM
horizontal rule
146

It's not that curvy or hilly for that park. Plus, right now there is no actual sidewalk at all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:47 PM
horizontal rule
147

Plus, no trees close to the road because of the golf course.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 1:49 PM
horizontal rule
148

||
Do hardware places actually refuse to duplicate keys that say "do not duplicate"? What if that part of the key is covered in White Out and you can just barely read it?
|>


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
149

There's no sidewalk right now but there are two shoulders, so you won't have bikes coming around curves to meet pedestrians/other bikes going the opposite direction. And you won't be able to move into the road if something like that happens. If people can just walk/bike along the barrier it's less worrying, but if they're going to do that why bother with making a big one separate from the path? A bottleneck on a hill with limited visibility and mixed traffic just seems like an unnecessarily risky plan to me.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
150

148: IME, they're perfectly happy to duplicate them, including stamping the copies with "Do Not Duplicate".


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:09 PM
horizontal rule
151

148: I think a lot of stores have a little self-service machine, where you can slide it in and let the laser beam do the cutting, no deception needed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:10 PM
horizontal rule
152

but if they're going to do that why bother with making a big one separate from the path?

Because the entire point for the people who can raise the money to do this is to reduce the amount of paved area and provide a way to soak-up rainwater. This is an environmental project first. And right now, pedestrians and bikes do very much meet each other going opposite directions because pedestrians walking on a shoulder walk against traffic and bikes riding on the shoulder go with it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:18 PM
horizontal rule
153

Liberalism and Gentrification Jacobin, today

"Behind every Jane Jacobs comes Rudy Giuliani with his nightstick."

"Instead, it does what liberal discourse so often does: it buries the structural forces at work and choreographs a dance about individual choice to perform on the grave. We get tiny dramas over church parking lots and bike lanes and whether 7-11 will be able to serve chicken wings."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:24 PM
horizontal rule
154

When the state withers away, the collective will can handle zoning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:26 PM
horizontal rule
155

150: That is exactly what happened. Well, they had a lot of keys marked "DO NOT DUPLICATE" and copied my key onto two of those. Maybe the command was aimed at me and not them. Who can know?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
156

I really liked the article linked in 153. I mean I don't agree entirely with it but it does have some really great lines, including the ones Bob quotes. "Behind every Jane Jacobs comes Rudy Giuliani with his nightstick" is just definitely true (as a generalization); it's not really a knock-down argument against Jane Jacobs, but it's true.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
157

Lots Good stuff at 153

"Tying up your assets, your middle-class future, in home values does something to people. It alters their interests. It sutures a professional class, of liberal and even progressive beliefs, to the rapacious capitalist expansion into the city. The people who move to gentrifying areas tend to have liberal, tolerant, cosmopolitan sympathies. But they are aligned materially with reactionary and oppressive city restructuring, pushing them into antagonism with established residents, who do nothing for property values.

Racism isn't just a bad feeling in your heart, as a liberal believes when she insists that she isn't at all racist. It's a force that emerges from the pressures of maintaining one's own position, and the resentments that spring forth from this process.

Conversely, anti-racism isn't just a good feeling in your heart, if you are aligned with the accumulation of capital (expressed in your property values) and ignorance, acquiescence or indifference to the structural forces.

"The fate of the dysfunctional and fatherless [sic] black underclass is likely to remain grim. Like their brethren across the country today, they'll be invisible to both political parties, and in D.C., they'll be confined to pockets of murder and mayhem, with no one to look after their interests.

He then concludes with a shrug, pointing out that an interracial couple, symbol of liberal progress, lives next to him."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
158

ecause the entire point for the people who can raise the money to do this is to reduce the amount of paved area and provide a way to soak-up rainwater. This is an environmental project first. And right now, pedestrians and bikes do very much meet each other going opposite directions because pedestrians walking on a shoulder walk against traffic and bikes riding on the shoulder go with it.

Yeah, boy, that hill. So what's the plan? I would imagine it would be nicest to have something like: narrowed road -> dedicated bike lane at or near level of road -> elevated sidewalk or whatever for pedestrians -> actual park/golf.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
159

I tell Hokey Pokey that my superpower is the power of reproduction. His is the power of bug spray (ie the white stuff spreading out from Spidey's wrist when he strikes a pose).


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:32 PM
horizontal rule
160

159 was riffing off the power of duplication, only very loosely.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
161

157 also has some of the good lines. I also liked this one, designed apparently deliberately to troll this thread: "The construction of a trolley line (of dubious utility, but just try to convince a yuppie that a streetcar is pointless) flagged my own neighborhood for skyrocketing property values, precipitating a rush that has become a steady churn of property circulation. "

[I'd say that a better way of putting it is that the utility of that streetcar was pretty obvious, but to whom and for what were questions swept under the rug].


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
162

158: I get that it will be suboptimal for the fastest cyclists on that stretch, but the plan as proposed will be a huge improvement for the PWSA, pedestrians, and any relatively timid bike rider. That strikes me as a reasonable trade, especially since the faster cyclists can use the road.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
163

It's also a fun article just about DC specifically. But man "Behind every Jane Jacobs comes Rudy Giuliani with his nightstick" is such a great line.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:44 PM
horizontal rule
164

That is a great line, but … what does it mean? NB I have not read the article.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
165

I mean, I would have thought, better Jane Jacobs that Robert Moses.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
166

So I should google Jane Jacobs, I guess.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:47 PM
horizontal rule
167

Something like that the inevitable product of finance-capital driven new urbanism for Yuppies will be a repressive focus on quality-of-life crimes that favors the new residents at the expense of the old. As I say, it's not a decisive argument against Jane Jacobs (for one thing, the pre "Giuliani" mode of policing also wasn't great), but it does point out the deep connection between new urban gentrification and the police apparatus.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
168

So "Jane Jacobs" is metonymy for something not all that Jacobs-related?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
169

Like, "Jane Jacobs" = "people who like Jane Jacobs lately"? (NB I didn't even finish The Death of Life of Great American Cities.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
170

Bro the article is there for you to read for free. But yes, a metonym for Jacobs-related new urbanist ideas.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:54 PM
horizontal rule
171

163, 164: If rich white people move into attractive urban neighborhoods, they're just going to oppress the picturesque minorities who live there already. Gentrification sucks and I'm going to paint anarchy symbols all over my Doc Martins and go sulk in my room now.

I mean, yes, that's a problem, we've had rich people move into our building and get pissy about kids who've lived there forever playing ball outside, but you know, there are ways to cope with that other than "Let's keep our cities segregated!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
172

I bike up Schenley now and then, I'm moderately fast (not a road biker, but ride ~50 miles a week, so more than casual), and I am OK with the plan. I think it would be problematic if the path had to accommodate two-way bicycle traffic and two-way pedestrian traffic. However, since it is basically a long hill, I would take the road going down the hill and take the path going up the hill. Going down it is easy to keep up with traffic, and going up that hill, slow pedestrians don't slow you down as much as they would on flats or downhills. (And perhaps this can be enforced with appropriate signage.) So there would only be one-way bicycle traffic plus pedestrians on the path. In that case I think 10 feet would be enough.


Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
173

I refuse to read the article for free, Halford. I insist on paying good money to read the article.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
174

166 is making me have to breathe very deeply.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
175

174: imagine how Eichler felt.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
176

171 -- characteristic hysterical yuppie response! You may be an unconscious racist. [n.b. -- I am also unquestionably a gentrifier and all criticisms in the article apply to me personally. My financial future depends in no small part on paying an exorbitant amount for property in a "bad" neighborhood and hoping that in the future it becomes sufficiently non "bad" for someone else to pay an even more exorbitant sum for it. But the choices aren't really "resegregate the cities" or "unbridled gentrification." The article does a good job at explaining how even the gentrifiers aren't really driven by "choice."]


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
177

174: My dad always says that some people come off as smarter than they really are, because they give the impression of being alert. Fooled you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
178

172.middle is a good point, and makes me feel better about it. I freely admit that I'm so far from biking like a normal person that my intuition for general usage is approximate at best.

I haven't the faintest notion, other than generalized yuppie-hatred, what Jane Jacobs and Rudy Giuliani have in common, except for A.NYC, B.freaking the squares*. Giuliani's main goal was enforcement of mixed use communities? I'm sure that every single urban planner in 1990s New York would chuckle darkly at the notion.

*that is, the author gets to mess with liberals by evoking the anti-liberal. Clever, and clearly unprecedented. Or, ZING! That's who wins policy debates, right? The guy with the best zinger?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:03 PM
horizontal rule
179

What are you thinking of in terms of 'bridling' gentrification? I mean, I'll hate rich people as much as anyone else here, while noting that there are certainly definitions under which I fit into that category, and I'm all for taxing them into oblivion (note for regular readers: watch this space for possible future 'taxing them into oblivion' news!), but focusing on where they're living seems loony. Worrying about the availability of affordable housing for people in need is a real issue; getting all culturally disturbed about the possibility that real people will have to share urban space with obnoxious rich people seems pointless to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:04 PM
horizontal rule
180

I think I'm OK with gentrification, having spent my childhood in a neighborhood that was slowly, then quickly, proceeding in the opposite direction, and it fucking sucked.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
181

Maybe you should read the article!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
182

I sometimes joke that Jammies and I are gentrifying the neighborhood. JRoth can attest to the kernel of truth.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:07 PM
horizontal rule
183

I did!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:07 PM
horizontal rule
184

Jane Jacobs should start throwing salt behind her shoulder.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
185

That's my takeaway.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:12 PM
horizontal rule
186

In context, that quip is practically defamatory w/r/t Jacobs.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:12 PM
horizontal rule
187

183 -- then, you can see that the point of the article is precisely to attack liberal handwriting/celebration of the cultural aspects of gentrification (which, really, are two sides of the same coin). Instead of seeing it as a structural transformation, driven by finance capital at the expense of the poor. To which, sure, alternatives are extortionate taxation, affordable housing, financial reform, etc. (although the article doesn't really get into addressing solutions).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:12 PM
horizontal rule
188

Handwriting s/b handwringing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:14 PM
horizontal rule
189

I mean, it makes some concrete points about the problematic relationship between government and developers. But this shit:

This produces racism. Racism isn't just a bad feeling in your heart, as a liberal believes when she insists that she isn't at all racist. It's a force that emerges from the pressures of maintaining one's own position, and the resentments that spring forth from this process. It produces fear and hatred of the poor for being poor, for having any pretense of being on equal footing with the propertied. It is a hatred for the potential threat to the property values which underpin a tenuous future among the professional middle class: blackness.

Is just pointless. You're a white person who avoids living near poor black people? Racist. You move into a neighborhood near poor black people? Inevitably even more racist! Think of a number from one to ten. Wrong.

There are specific problems that can be specifically addressed about housing, and development, and what actions local government should be taking. The broadbrush "every possible course of action is even more racist than the last one you thought of" writing just irritates me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:14 PM
horizontal rule
190

I don't know about New York City, but I strongly dispute that gentrification is necessarily driven by finance capital at the expense of the poor. I've seen it here actually driven by individual owners who couldn't afford the established neighborhoods as they bought and fixed up houses one by one. Finance capital came, but later.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:16 PM
horizontal rule
191

Jane Jacobs has a place on my list of persons, references to whom ought to be suspended for a time, with the object of rescuing their names and associations from becoming entirely threadbare and meaningless.

Others on that list: Charles Bukowski, Steve McQueen, Adlai Stevenson, Susan Sontag, GG Allin.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
192

… Batman?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:18 PM
horizontal rule
193

Yeah, my neighborhood it seems mostly to have been opera singers and other classical musicians. I suppose the mall across the river with the Target and the Marshalls has something to do with finance capital, but I have to say I think of it as more blight than gentrification.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:18 PM
horizontal rule
194

PENMANSHIP COUNTS, RACISTS!


Posted by: OPINIONATED LIBERAL HANDWRITING | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:18 PM
horizontal rule
195

It's not pointless, it's reality. If you are in fact primed to benefit from pushing minorities out of your neighborhood and welcoming in more white people, and resent the existence of the pre-existing minority culture for interfering with your property values, you are in any meaningful sense a "racist," whatever is in your heart of hearts about the skin color of who'd you invite to a dinner party. That this is irritating to the sentiments of liberal gentrifiers (including, as I said above, me) doesn't make it any less true.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:19 PM
horizontal rule
196

So, if I want to avoid racism, I have to move out the suburbs where all the Santorum voters live.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:21 PM
horizontal rule
197

195 to 189.

And sure, 190 is the story in some places, but it's not the story in most and it's certainly not the story for long if the neighborhood hopes to keep gentrifying.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:21 PM
horizontal rule
198

Well, sure, if you resent the existence of the pre-existing minority culture you're absolutely a racist. It's eliminating the possibility of not so much resenting your neighbors that I think of as making that kind of tone pointless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:21 PM
horizontal rule
199

So, if I want to avoid racism, I have to move out the suburbs where all the Santorum voters live.

No, that wouldn't work either. You may not be able to avoid being racist! Deal with it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
200

I thought that living in black neighborhood made me less racist, most prominently because you can't be afraid of a stranger just because they're black when most people are black. Of course, I didn't own property there. Thinking about buying property here isn't making me more racist (I don't think), but it certainly makes me anti-undergraduate and could see how the same dynamic in a different place would make people more racist.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
201

Self-flagellation is great, accepting that there's racism in all of our hearts is great. But things like that article and the way you're talking lead to "Not only are we all racist in our heart of hearts, every choice we can make is equally racist. Might as well order another martini while grinding our heels into the faces of the poor, then."

Not productive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:24 PM
horizontal rule
202

If two mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive options have the same upshot ("you're racist"), then I'm not sure what the point of pointing it out, in either case, is, actually. I mean, what is someone supposed to do with that knowledge? (Maybe the answer is, take to the streets.) But if you really want to say "that's just how it is, punkt", then … ok?

Also, it seems weird to say that "if you're primed to benefit from pushing minorities out of your neighborhood and welcoming in more white people" you're racist, since one could for structural reasons be a potential beneficiary of those things happening yet also actively oppose their happening.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:24 PM
horizontal rule
203

Actually, I live in a neighborhood that didn't ever de-gentrify or integrate, unless you want to count Jewish people as minorities.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:25 PM
horizontal rule
204

I haven't read the article (or even most of the comments here!) but all the summaries seem needlessly loaded. Try: if you're in a position to care about property values, you'll find yourself aligned economically, if not ideologically, with oppressive forces that act disproportionately on the poor.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:27 PM
horizontal rule
205

Füßgängerzone

Things That Sound Awesomer in German


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:27 PM
horizontal rule
206

I read the article, sort of. My review: There's a good reason everybody killed the actual Jacobins after a year in power.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:27 PM
horizontal rule
207

it's eliminating the possibility of not so much resenting your neighbors that I think of as making that kind of tone pointless.

If the value of your home depends on your neighbors either (a)cleaning up their act, (b) moving, or (c) eventually being priced out of their homes and moving, it's gonna be hard not to resent them at some level, or at least make the possibility of accommodation thin or temporary gruel. "Resentment" here doesn't just mean "I hate black people because they're black," it can mean "gosh I really do hope new people move in and raise housing prices so I can have a sweet retirement."

I'm not saying this doesn't suck for one's self-image but things that don't suck aren't necessarily "pointless"; "racism" isn't just another word for "mean thing that people call me that I must personally be individually capable of fixing through my good intentions." Indeed its the reservation of the term "racist" as a taboo word that's exclusively about someone's intention that is part of the problem.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:30 PM
horizontal rule
208

So … it's still cool to be a renter, right?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:33 PM
horizontal rule
209

204 puts it more simply. Maybe we should just get rid of the loaded term "racism" and reserve it for "intentional racial animus" if it makes everyone feel better. But, yes, you are economically and structurally on the side of the gentrifier you've signed up for a system in which you personally benefit from forcing your (likely poor, likely minority) neighbors out of their neighborhood, and like it or not that's going to affect you.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
210

207 ignores everything about how schools and many public services are funded.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:35 PM
horizontal rule
211

I admire Halford's rhetorical ingenuity in moving the discussion from whether cars rule, bikes drool to the equally meaningful but perhaps less personally irritating battlefield of whether owning a house near minorities makes you a racist (or the companion question of whether being a Jacobin editor lowers your standards for argumentation).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
212

If the value of your home depends on your neighbors either (a)cleaning up their act, (b) moving, or (c) eventually being priced out of their homes and moving, it's gonna be hard not to resent them at some level, or at least make the possibility of accommodation thin or temporary gruel. "Resentment" here doesn't just mean "I hate black people because they're black," it can mean "gosh I really do hope new people move in and raise housing prices so I can have a sweet retirement."

You know, I think you think you're being tough talking like this: "Oh, you think it's possible to not make racist choices, but really it's inevitable. Loathe yourself, and recognize there's nothing you can do."

In fact, thinking this way is letting middle-class white people off the hook. Go ahead and loathe yourself if you want to, we probably all should, but thinking that "gosh I really do hope new people move in and raise housing prices so I can have a sweet retirement" is an inevitable attitude rather than a choice you can make or not make is bullshit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:43 PM
horizontal rule
213

210 -- Schools that ... mostly don't serve the community that's forced to move out of the gentrified neighborhood, or serve them very poorly. At least if the LAUSD is an example.

But things like that article and the way you're talking lead to "Not only are we all racist in our heart of hearts, every choice we can make is equally racist. Might as well order another martini while grinding our heels into the faces of the poor, then."

No one is actually saying that, and it's always lame to equate self critique with hopelessness. There's lots you can do to change conditions or improve them-- some of which you've even pointed to in this same thread (higher taxation, etc.). Recognizing that personally benefiting from gentrification involves being part of a structure of class oppression doesn't mean you have to give up all action. It just always stuns me how, despite all the talk of liberals being the people who won't take their own side in an argument, actual liberal SWPL types are resistant to the death to recognize the basic contradictions in their situation.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:44 PM
horizontal rule
214

In fact, thinking this way is letting middle-class white people off the hook. Go ahead and loathe yourself if you want to, we probably all should, but thinking that "gosh I really do hope new people move in and raise housing prices so I can have a sweet retirement" is an inevitable attitude rather than a choice you can make or not make is bullshit.

It's a pretty inevitable attitude if you're a gentrifier hoping for an increase in value of your home. Unless there's some other mechanism for getting to that increase in property value (and, in practice, in large urban US areas in the past 30 years there hasn't been). And in terms of "letting people off the hook" the way to avoid that is not to just avoid pointing out to people the actual lived contradictions of their position, as you seem to want to do.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:47 PM
horizontal rule
215

I would think Halford would know perhaps better than anybody else here that gentrification can happen perfectly well in the absence of the kind of infrastructure changes we were talking about above. He might not know that, conversely, those infrastructure changes can happen without having a meaningful effect on gentrification, but that's true too.

What is fundamental to all of this, though, is that gentrification is an absolute straw mean in these conversations, especially when they are conversations happening between more-or-less relatively wealthy white people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
216

207: I think the phrase you're grasping for is "structural racism".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
217

owning a house near minorities makes you a racist

We should probably have a moratorium on the word "racist" because it obviously invokes the ultimate SWPL taboo. But owning a home *as a gentrifier* certainly implicates you in the process of gentrification, which in a formerly majority-minority area means that you will be, at least in part, hoping that your former neighbors move out and/or that the culture of the area changes, to their detriment and your benefit. I don't see how that's in any way controversial.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:51 PM
horizontal rule
218

I'm also a little disappointed that Halford has abandoned "it is not possible for most people to not drive Cadillacs to work" in favor of "McManus gets it right" but eh, what can you do.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:51 PM
horizontal rule
219

that gentrification can happen perfectly well in the absence of the kind of infrastructure changes we were talking about above

This is true.

those infrastructure changes can happen without having a meaningful effect on gentrification, but that's true too.

Probably also true, certainly true in theory, in practice not at all the case in the US in the last 30 years.

I agree that the two conversations are not necessarily related, at all, but in practice much new urbanism has come in on a wave of gentrification.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:54 PM
horizontal rule
220

It's a pretty inevitable attitude if you're a gentrifier hoping for an increase in value of your home.

Yes, if you build in "gentrifier hoping for an increase in value of your home" into your description of the relevant population, it's inevitable, but surely you realize that the comeback is now, "is it really inevitable that a person moving into X neighborhood is hoping for an increase in the value of his/her home?" (Note that someone not so hoping would not necessarily be hoping the value would flatline or decline.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
221

It's a pretty inevitable attitude if you're a gentrifier hoping for an increase in value of your home.

Sure. If you're buying a cheap house in a poor neighborhood as an investment strategy because you're hoping the poor residents are driven out and replaced by rich white people and your property value goes up, that's definitely a racist investment strategy. If you're taking action to drive your neighbors out in the hopes that they'll be replaced by richer, whiter people? Also racist. Like I said again, those things are choices, and are not inevitable results of living in an integrated neighborhood.

Critiquing an action as racist is only meaningful unless you're comparing it to some other preferable course of action. I'm not hearing that from Jacobin or from you, just handwringing about how we should all accept that whatever we do is just as bad as anything else we might do, and it's a pathetic attempt to evade responsibility to deny it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
222

221.2: McMansions in the suburbs are the only honest path.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:56 PM
horizontal rule
223

220: This is, in fact, textbook question-begging.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 3:57 PM
horizontal rule
224

Is there some law french for question-begging or do you guys say "petitio principii" or what.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
225

That Jacobin article is really on point. There's lots of really fucked up ideas embedded in lots of urbanist discourse, and it is a primarily middle-class, bourgeois, (duh) project which deserves to get a good kicking from the left occasionally.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
226

comparing it to some other preferable course of action

Redistributing capital, taxing the rich. That's explicit. The "oh we're all bad people everyone is doomed" is your own spin on it. I'm not sure why you think a critique of yuppie gentrification means that all people are permanently incapable of any positive course of action. It doesn't.

Like I said again, those things are choices, and are not inevitable results of living in an integrated neighborhood.

What is your alternative strategy for earning money over time on the value of your home that you purchased in a poor neighborhood? I guess one answer could be "It becomes a wealthy black neighborhood," which is equally classist but less heart-of-hearts racist. Another could be Nosflow's "I don't really care if the value of my home goes up or not" which is an attitude shared by approximately 0% of homeowners.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:02 PM
horizontal rule
227

I can't think of when it's come up, but I'm pretty sure there's no legalese for it. I think if I were talking about question-begging, I'd just speak English: "In arguing X, plaintiff assumes the very thing he is trying to prove..."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:02 PM
horizontal rule
228

Also what are people buying homes in the hope they'll lose value? I mean, yes people probably don't articulate these things to themselves, and sure some people are buying homes and gentrifying by-accident, but lots of people do buy homes in up-and-coming areas in full knowledge of the game.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
229

226: how about working to end the mortgage interest deduction and get rid of property investment as a retirement strategy? As a non-homeowner I could get behind that one.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:05 PM
horizontal rule
230

Because redistributing capital and taxing the rich has nothing to do with worrying about where the currently rich are buying real estate. Reducing inequality is wonderful. Busting people's balls about the moral import of what neighborhood they're moving into does not do anything to reduce inequality, and pretending that it does diverts attention from the real issues, like taxing your and my ilk into oblivion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:05 PM
horizontal rule
231

As I already explicitly noted, there's a difference between buying a home with the affirmative hope that its value will decline and not buying a home with the affirmative hope that its value will increase as an investment strategy. "This will be cheaper than renting and it will be nice to set down roots" seems like a valid reason for buying a home (in a place where housing costs are still lowish, even); if you want to make Halford's inevitability argument, you pretty much have to claim that houses are only bought as investment vehicles.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:06 PM
horizontal rule
232

I admit though that I'm not entirely clear on what moves a body to buy a home since it's never been something I have anything like a reason to consider.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:10 PM
horizontal rule
233

there's a difference between buying a home with the affirmative hope that its value will decline and not buying a home with the affirmative hope that its value will increase as an investment strategy.

I answered 220 in 226, but to reiterate: there are essentially no homeowners anywhere who are not hoping for an increase in the value of their home. It's most people's main source of capital and wealth. Even if you value the house as a consumption good (and most people do) there is just no way that you will also not be concerned with your home's overall value. Demanding that people not care (for "moral" reasons, with no enforcement mechanism) about the value of their home seems like an infinitely more hopeless and futile strategy than (a) recognizing the structural problems of gentrification and (b) recognizing that the solution to those problems is to severely redistribute and tax capital. At most, what you would get would be people pretending not to care about the value of their home.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:10 PM
horizontal rule
234

230 -- but arguably gentrification is a specific evil (or a process bound up with specific evils even if not in and of itself) different from simple inequality, so applying an analysis that focusses on the racism of gentrification might bring up other things we can do - say, a reanalysis of the planning process to consider whose interests are considered when, or a reconsideration of the operation of urban local government, or whatever, in a way that isn't simply about taxing and redistribution.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
235

Redistributing capital, taxing the rich.

This is not actually an alternative course of action to living here, versus living there. Even the redistributors and agitators on behalf of redistribution will live somewhere.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:12 PM
horizontal rule
236

232: take a look at the mortgage interest deduction sometime and consider how much money you'd save if you bought a house vs renting.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:13 PM
horizontal rule
237

Home as store of value, rather than investment. I would be very happy with a house that would not appreciate more than a set amount per year (enforced by a compact barring selling for more than that grown amount down the line) in exchange for affordability. People care a lot about value appreciation by and large these days, but you're going to get that when housing is unaffordable and people are beset by the sunk cost mentality, plus uncountered real estate industry propaganda and a general elevation of greed and everyone-for-themself social contract.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:16 PM
horizontal rule
238

Also, at least where we live buying a house is the only real way to get some amenities. (More than one bedroom, your own washer and dryer, things like that.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:16 PM
horizontal rule
239

Because redistributing capital and taxing the rich has nothing to do with worrying about where the currently rich are buying real estate. Reducing inequality is wonderful. Busting people's balls about the moral import of what neighborhood they're moving into does not do anything to reduce inequality, and pretending that it does diverts attention from the real issues, like taxing your and my ilk into oblivion.

This both misunderstands the issue and is wrong. No one is calling you a morally bad person for moving into a poor neighborhood or buying a home in the suburbs. No one is calling you a in-your-heart-of-heart racist. But, yes, moving into a home in a poor neighborhood as part of a systematic process of moving other poor people out of that neighborhood is indeed a problem that is directly linked to class dominance, increasing inequality, and to harm to the poor. You are a part of that. The solution is broader redistribution, not moral chastizing of the gentrifiers (that everything has to be about chastizing people for their bad intentions is the liberal notion, in which this is all some morality play designed for the benefit of our good conscience). But the issue of increased inequality and redistribution of capital very much has something "to do" with gentrification. And, at a minimum, it should cause urban yuppies to rethink the thoughtless *celebration* of gentrification.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
240

This is a problem and a solution that has nothing to do with "gentrification" as discussed in the article or anywhere else I've seen. People talking about "gentrification" are talking about changes in neighborhood composition over time, and complaining that richer people are attracted to "desirable" neighborhoods where poor people now live (and talking as if micromanaging that kind of "desirability" will do anyone any good.)

Reducing inequality is a good thing. Talking about "gentrification" as if it's a separate problem is useless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:18 PM
horizontal rule
241

arguably gentrification is a specific evil

Which is to say, fairly effectively argued against, if you accept some reasonably banal things about how human patterns of settlement ought to look.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:18 PM
horizontal rule
242

Similarly we're all going to live in high rises in parks, if you accept some reasonably banal things about how human patterns of settlement ought to look.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:20 PM
horizontal rule
243

238: I thought you had your own washer and dryer?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:20 PM
horizontal rule
244

Where gentrification is tied to increasing residential density, it's a positive for the environment because it makes non-automotive retransmission transportation possible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:21 PM
horizontal rule
245

I just wanted to go back to that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:22 PM
horizontal rule
246

Isn't gentrification's relationship to density a pretty complex thing? Certainly some gentrifying neighbourhoods decrease in density.

And you can increase density without gentrifying (of course) and in fact the tying of investment, planning choices, etc to white people's presence and benefits is kind of a major problem with gentrification as driver of urban improvement.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:24 PM
horizontal rule
247

Go back with an extra word.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:25 PM
horizontal rule
248

236: "...Wow! I'm actually spending more money just to have someone else do most to all of the routine maintenance, do regular safety inspections/assessments, cover any surprise plumbing/other fixing costs, deal with any property tax complications and assessments, worry about any local regulations on how things have to look/what has to be mowed or shoveled, worry about whether the property is increasing or decreasing in value since that impacts my long term financial situation, and have the freedom to get up and move if I actually need to without worrying about a massively complicated real estate market!"

I mean, I'm late-stage-graduate-student income and I still tend to think it's worth some money to avoid a bunch of low level but frequent and complicated things to worry about/deal with. I also suspect that about six years ago a lot of people soured on the idea of treating homes as an investment.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:25 PM
horizontal rule
249

This is a problem and a solution that has nothing to do with "gentrification" as discussed in the article or anywhere else I've seen.

Again, you seem to really want this to be true, but it's not true. Here is how gentrification works -- richer people buy, at higher values, property in poorer neighborhoods, in the hopes that people currently in those neighborhoods will (at least in large part) move out, the neighborhood will "change," and the value of property in the neighborhood as a whole will increase. That is directly tied into the expansion of finance capital (how are people getting the loans to buy those properties in the first place, and, even more importantly, how are developers financing the development needed for the gentrification) and increased inequality (what is allowing you to buy up those homes?). If you live in a city, you can't just separate out gentrification (which you're OK with as a SWPL liberal) and rising inequality/dominance of capital -- the two are intimately related, even if you don't want that to be the case.*

*The article really is focused less on that issue per se than another one, which is of interest, which is that new urbanism has in fact been used to accelerate and encourage that process (I do agree with Tweety that this isn't necessarily true, but as a factual matter it has been true).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:26 PM
horizontal rule
250

the hopes that people currently in those neighborhoods will (at least in large part) move out,

This is definitely the part that's BS, as has been noted.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:28 PM
horizontal rule
251

250 -- Really? Because how else does the process work. N.b., "I don't care about the value of my property" is not an acceptable answer, because it is in fantasy land.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:29 PM
horizontal rule
252

Certainly some gentrifying neighbourhoods decrease in density.

I can't think of a case like that in the U.S., unless you count blowing up public housing high rises. For much of the middle class, the choices are basically suburban living, almost always in places deliberately zoned to make it impossible to live without a car) or moving into a poorer neighborhood in an urban setting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:30 PM
horizontal rule
253

252 -- Manhattan is significantly less dense as a whole than it was in 1950, and the most gentrified neighborhoods have, in general, seen the greatest decrease in density.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:33 PM
horizontal rule
254

243: I do. And I have no expectation that if I had to move is be able to find another place that had it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:34 PM
horizontal rule
255

I do

I was going to say that I had laundry in my Palo Alto rental, but then I remembered that it was a condo being rented to us (likely) in contravention of association rules. And that was ten damn years ago anyway.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:37 PM
horizontal rule
256

I really have no idea what the point of contention in the gentrification argument is.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:37 PM
horizontal rule
257

252 -- if you go from say, large families living in a villa to a dual income no kids couple, that's a decrease in density. Similarly, if you have a boarding house or other single bed providers who then get priced out of the market, that's a decrease in density (or, rather, a shift in density.)

The drop in densities in Manhattan can be attributed to a general rise in living standards, right? Similarly the shift of the urban working class from inner city to ex-urban living is often, essentially, a decrease in density.

So a lot depends on the specific character of gentrification: is it accompanied with infill housing etc, which it mightn't always be, is it possible to increase residential density within the planning frameworks etc. And you should be able to achieve those goals without requiring gentrification.

It's just that gentrification is a process driven by well-off whites, and those processes driven by well-off whites are the ones that are able to tap into resources and power in a society dominated by well-off whites.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:38 PM
horizontal rule
258

253: Manhattan in 1950 isn't the right comparison since that's before gentrification and instead when suburbanization was happening. The population is up quite a bit since 1980. For Brooklyn also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:38 PM
horizontal rule
259

249 - I mean, you're the one who lives in a place where real estate prices are going to increase so I guess you would know, but I don't even buy that narrative unless you're talking about the last ten years in a very thin slice of the market. Isn't the historical pattern instead "poor whites with a good deal of cultural capital" (artists, students, pre-21st century gays) "move into 'sketchy' neighborhoods due affordability" &rarrow; "bars, good coffee, trendy restaurants, dog groomers, yoga studios follow" &rarrow; "rents go up, minorities and later artists etc. move elsewhere"? The first wave of gentrifiers aren't speculators and may not even be homeowners. This actually strikes me as very similar to the Jane Jacobs-as-metonym-for-gentrification thing, given that one of the main things I took away from The Death and Life of Great American Cities was her argument that many supposedly sketchy neighborhoods due to be destroyed for the benefit of rich, often suburban, whites were in fact perfectly well-suited for the act of living there with copious amounts of reasoning as to why.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:40 PM
horizontal rule
260

Suburbanisation is closely related to gentrification. Where do the people priced out of the urb go etc.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:40 PM
horizontal rule
261

Damn, that should have been →. I lose Old School HTML credit.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:40 PM
horizontal rule
262

I've rented in DC and NYC. Whatever else you think of plopping down Target/Best Buy/Panda Express/whatever in Columbia Heights, it's not the kind of thing Jacobs was talking about. Adams Morgan seemed more like Jacobs ideas and Astoria and Inwood in NYC even more so. Many DC neighborhoods of the sort the Jacobin article seems to be describing, in my experience, are intensely residential without much in the way of commerce or city life on most blocks of most streets. They're suburbs with urban veneers.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:41 PM
horizontal rule
263

The drop in densities in Manhattan can be attributed to white people moving to New Jersey after the development of the automobile. Boarding houses and SROs house a very, very small set of the population and have since before gentriciation was a thing. Gentrification almost always includes infill housing and increasing residential density because of the increasing value of the land. Halford keeps mentioning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:42 PM
horizontal rule
264

I'm more or less in the situation that nosflow and Minivet describe, but I suppose being able to treat a home as only a store of value and not an investment is extremely privileged.

Pittsburghers: Speaking of gentrification, do you know anything about the buildings going up on Fifth in Uptown? Uptown (especially the parts not being gobbled up by Duquesne or Mercy) has always seemed like it'd be a gentrifier's dream given its location, but it's been languishing while adjacent areas have been doing very well.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:43 PM
horizontal rule
265

259 gets it right, malformed html entities notwithstanding. I suppose it could be argued that there is a sort of later, baroque, performative gentrification that skips most of the steps and starts with house-flipping speculators, but the only place I've really plausibly seen that is LA.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:44 PM
horizontal rule
266

264.2: I blame the hockey team.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:45 PM
horizontal rule
267

Isn't the historical pattern instead "poor whites with a good deal of cultural capital" (artists, students, pre-21st century gays) "move into 'sketchy' neighborhoods due affordability" &rarrow; "bars, good coffee, trendy restaurants, dog groomers, yoga studios follow" &rarrow; "rents go up, minorities and later artists etc. move elsewhere"? The first wave of gentrifiers aren't speculators and may not even be homeowners.

Even for the very first wave, as property gets bought, there is the hope that eventually the neighborhood will be transformed such that money can be made. And while just maybe possibly the first wave of (say) Soho gentrifiers in NYC in the 60s and early 70s weren't concerned about making money from property at the end of the day by at least no later than 1985 the game was up and it was clear throughout the world that urban gentrification was a money maker. A lot of the dynamic you're talking about is driven by people who buy up apartment buildings and rent them to creative people (at ever increasing levels of rent) in hopes of profiting from the neighborhood change/increase in property value over time.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:47 PM
horizontal rule
268

259 is the general narrative of gentrification, which is often expressed in a sort of tragic "oh no, us poor artsy whites moved to this vibrant neighbourhood but now there are too many boring, bougie whites, so we must move on in search of more vibrancy!"

I am slightly suspicious of it, because it does rather erase any guilt that the artsy intelligentsia might feel about their role in gentrification.

I also kinda doubt it is the process occurring in DC as described in the Jacobin article.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:50 PM
horizontal rule
269

Actually, the article tells the story of the connection between capital and gentrification in DC pretty specifically. This isn't a new thing and the idea that it's driven by people not looking to benefit from rise in property value hasn't been true in at least 30-40 years, if it was ever true at all, as some people on this blog know better than I do. At any rate it is now true for exactly nowhere in the US -- even Detroit gets bought up, when it does, in hopes of making gentrification money.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:51 PM
horizontal rule
270

Incidentally, the people making the most noise about how the coming train in our neighborhood is just a force for gentrification are white artists who've lived (rented) here 20 years or less. Their landlords -- largely immigrants who have made good and moved to the suburbs -- don't mind it a bit, just like they didn't mind renting to the artist-types.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:52 PM
horizontal rule
271

259 is the general narrative of gentrification, which is often expressed in a sort of tragic "oh no, us poor artsy whites moved to this vibrant neighbourhood but now there are too many boring, bougie whites, so we must move on in search of more vibrancy!"

Right, and that also ignores precisely the capitalist motive that is at the heart of basically all actually existing gentrification, at least in the United States, in the past 30 years. It's not exactly a fairy tale, especially for renters, but it ignores most of the relevant dynamic.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:53 PM
horizontal rule
272

270 -- imagine that, the interest of the landlords.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:54 PM
horizontal rule
273

I think you mean the people of color.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
274

Anyhow my point is that the artists, who were in fact the early stage gentrifiers, actually have nothing financially to gain and much to lose from the process, just as laid out in 259.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:56 PM
horizontal rule
275

274 -- Yes, but their landlords don't, which is the entire point -- they welcomed both the artists (and now whatever new thing) in the hopes of making money from them, thus changing the dynamics of the neighborhood. It's not uncommon at all for the first wave gentrifiers to get pushed out as that process unfolds but that doesn't change the fundamental dynamic for the owners of property.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 4:58 PM
horizontal rule
276

Also can I just say that the arts are a pretty tiny economic segment. I am suspicious of any claim about any large scale economic process that heavily involves artists as a major player for that reason.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:00 PM
horizontal rule
277

...at the end of the day by at least no later than 1985 the game was up and it was clear throughout the world that urban gentrification was a money maker.

The fuck? I guess that explains all the people buying, unseen, cheap houses in the rust belt, losing money on them, not paying property taxes, and then abandoning them to the detriment of the neighborhood.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:01 PM
horizontal rule
278

I thought they were like the shock troops/thin end of the wedge of gentrification, not the major drivers in themselves.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:01 PM
horizontal rule
279

Except that the owners of property in poor neighborhoods are not generally predatory outsiders, but local residents who managed to save their way into buying a building. Now as you know, bob, this makes them class traitors of the first order, but if we aren't being strictly Marxist here the Cui Bono calculations have to take into account that one of the big classes of people who benefit from gentrifying neighborhoods has to be "people who already lived in the neighborhood."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:02 PM
horizontal rule
280

279 to 275.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:02 PM
horizontal rule
281

279 -- except for new homeowners, or new landlords, to whom the original owners sell (obviously true for owner of condos or SFH). And, even when you have a stratum of original owners who hold onto rental property throughout the wave (which certainly can happen) it's usually a tiny segment of the larger poor community that's being displaced.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:04 PM
horizontal rule
282

278 - I guess I am suspicious because being an "artist" seems to absolve the first stage gentrifier of any responsibility: they are an artist, what do you expect? It's like tenements have artists like beetles.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:05 PM
horizontal rule
283

The author of that Jacobin article sounds like the kind of person who would call the cops at the slightest provocation while saying: "it's not me, it's capitalism. My hands are tied." And then return to the party on the deck outside.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:06 PM
horizontal rule
284

279, 281 -- but isn't this also true of the pre-gentrified suburb? Often there will be a class of wealthier people from the community concerned who have the capital needed to own housing, often on a reasonably large scale, who are able to function as landlords/speculators/developers erc. Which isn't a moral failing on their, but does indicate that most communities are heterogenous and benefits and costs fall unevenly, and further, benefits will tend to fall to those already wealthy.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:10 PM
horizontal rule
285

It's actually kind of stunning how much the standard gentrification narrative just ignores the money and capitalist interest that drives the entire process. I hadn't actually realized until today the nearly infinite ability of UMC liberals to bullshit themselves on this issue. I don't know what the conservative equivalent would be, maybe climate change denialism? But that doesn't work because it would have to be something that undercuts their core conservative principles. Oh I know, it's like federal subsidies for rural areas who vote Republican.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:10 PM
horizontal rule
286

I still don't think you've shown in the slightest that money and capitalism drive the process of gentrification any more than they have driven any other real estate dealing. There's certainly far more individual effort by those of modest means in gentrification than in suburbanization.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:14 PM
horizontal rule
287

284 -- sure, there are always local real estate capitalists in poor communities, even pre-gentrification, and as Tweety says they can definitely do well during gentrification (at least until they sell out, at which point they've taken their profits). The specific gentrification process is attracting capital and investment in the hopes of transforming the neighborhood, and some of the beneficiaries of that transformation can most definitely be original owners. But, ultimately, the result will be the change in the neighborhood and the transfer of ownership to those who can afford to pay for it, generally richer UMC people in the case of single family property and developers/larger landlords in the case of buildings. Some of the original owners might well get lucky and do well and make their way up the chain -- getting from poor to rich through investing can happen, even in America. Doesn't change the overall dynamic, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:15 PM
horizontal rule
288

281: I mean, that really depends on how much is rental, how much can plausibly be converted to condos, how much is single family, etc. I wager that in LA a substantial portion of the population in North Pasadena, say, pre-gentrification were actually homeowners. New York would of course be very different.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:17 PM
horizontal rule
289

money and capitalism drive the process of gentrification any more than they have driven any other real estate dealing.

You mean, real estate dealing that's almost entirely a matter of money and capital?

There's certainly far more individual effort by those of modest means in gentrification than in suburbanization.

Maybe, but so what? The underlying dynamic of profiting-by-moving-poor-people-out-of-the-neighborhood is still there in urban gentrification. I'm not praising suburban developers as a saintly alternative.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:17 PM
horizontal rule
290

287 -- yeah, I'm not disagreeing with your fundamental point. The existence of local capitalists is necessary for the operation of large scale capitalism. Doesn't mean large scale capitalism doesn't exist.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:25 PM
horizontal rule
291

Ethnic turnover has been a feature of urban neighborhoods since the dawn of time. There were complaints when Jewish people moved into Irish neighborhoods, or when Puerto Ricans started living near Poles. But, shit man, everyone's got to live somewhere.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:26 PM
horizontal rule
292

Does anyone know of any effective programs by cities to tax financers and developers of gentrifying construction and redistribute those revenues back into the area in a way that benefits low-income incumbents?


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:27 PM
horizontal rule
293

I just want to mention that I now stand with ogged in having completely lost what the point of contention is and who claims what.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:28 PM
horizontal rule
294

Seconding dalriata. I don't want to sell either of my properties, so I don't want them to go up in price. It only increases my taxes and homogenizes the annoyances my neighbors cause me. I live here because I like it, weather and neighbors and all. Also we can choose to invest more in structural value -- earthquake-safer foundations, water intake lines -- than most rentals would let us.

Almost all my peers in the tech boom I bowed out of chose to leverage their real-estate instead; a few are now out-of-sight rich, a few sold at big losses, most of them are maybe now breaking even after some underwater years.

I hope the house stays worth `a few years of medical care', we need that much store of value, but that could be many dollars or few (or letting a skilled carer live here in lieu of rent, to get traditional).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:32 PM
horizontal rule
295

292 -- I believe one of the Midwestern cities starting with a C has used Georgist land taxes to this effect, but am too lazy to Google it. Cincinnati? #TLTG


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:34 PM
horizontal rule
296

Arguably the much-derided "poor door" development in NYC is an example of exactly this in action. In general it is relatively common for subsidized development in gentrifying neighborhoods to come with stipulations about numbers of affordable units, and those subsidies are often necessary to get enough financing to do new development. But I dunno; per the poor doors, and like everything, it's complicated in practice.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
297

I talk about gentrification in our neighborhood, but the previous (white) owners of our house bought it as gentrifiers of a sort in the late '70s because they liked the historic quality of the place, and it's more complicated than the more standard urban gentrification narrative and I'm not sure if that's because it was white people being displaced and that made it more gradual or what.

Tonight we just watched the homecoming parade since it goes past the top of our street and only takes 5 minutes or so. I'd be really torn about who'd get my vote as Homecoming Queen, the shaved-head white girl from the art club who'd made her corset out of duct tape and whom I've seen hanging out at the library, the beautiful girl in the super-fancy dress running to be the first Reina Latina, or the black girl with huge burn scars over her face and torso, who's quite popular and seems very friendly and like a good mentor to younger children.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
298

||

Kevin Drum has kittens.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
299

More to 292, there's some kind of development fee that (I read) Seattle doesn't charge but most other Washington municipalities do and maybe we'll start, now that half the center city has been highrised and the infrastructure is groaning.

Instead we're cutting bus service, aaugh, including to places that were built with low parking requirements because they were on good bus routes.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
300

Having now read that Jacobin piece, I'm struck by the degree to which it's tinged by the crazy bubblelicious behavior of real estate in the District; I'm not old, and I have friends who were living next to shooting galleries (after college, even, so not even twenty years ago) that are now multi-million-dollar houses, and the degree to which ordinary American racism and classism is positioned as being predicated on gentrification, as though a handful of black kids riding dirt bikes around at a cookout in Marietta, GA, or Elgin, IL, wouldn't potentially produce appalling reactions among white barbecue guests. And, as people said, If you want the American dream of a middle-class life with a home you own in the city in which you work, you have few other choices than to join the shock troops of the onslaught against the urban poor is, in fact, a totally fucked attitude.

I'm still not sure how you can get from the colorable argument that Jane Jacobs' opposition to low-income housing projects is a precursor to gentrification and the destruction of the neighborhood that she was writing about to using Jacobs as a symbol of the kind of old-school urban renewal that drops a Target in Columbia Heights or a whatever-the-hell that stuff is into Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. This seems to be -- based on ten minutes of additional reading -- a massive confusion about the arguments Sharon Zukin is making about Jacobs, but I hadn't heard of Zukin before tonight so what the hell do I know.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:39 PM
horizontal rule
301

297: yah it's always more complicated, though. That's what makes this conversation sort of silly, unless your point is, in fact, that Robert Moses was the best thing that ever happened to the South Bronx.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:41 PM
horizontal rule
302

293: I think the question has become whether, by assuming that all gentrifiers are going to be liberal and white and all soon-to-be displaced people are not white, Halford is making the most racist statements of all.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:41 PM
horizontal rule
303

The 'poor door' in itself doesn't bother me, not least because the presumptively richest of my immediate neighbors is also the most reliable bad-neighbor jerk and I avoid her and her ill-raised spawn and their poor dogs. Uh, not you, imaginary litigious Googler; on the other corner.

I am bothered if the health-and-safety infrastructure of the poor half of the building can be let decay while the rich half is maintained. Anyone know? Seperate fire and water, or same?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:42 PM
horizontal rule
304

297.2 is tempting me to make some snarky joke about how Halford would tell all those girls to save their show-offy differences for their own time, but there's really no way to get there without being an asshole, so I guess I'll settle for this weakass paralipsis instead.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:45 PM
horizontal rule
305

This discussion is making me think that the bourgie late stage gentrifiers are making things unnecessarily hard for themselves. I mean, why spend time chasing the interesting artsy types around the city? Just form some sort of homeowners association and buy up a couple relatively inexpensive properties in the neighborhood you already live in. Then offer them up to the arty people and graduate students you want to live near to at below market rates, and watch them stream right in bringing the culture you want to pretend to be part of with them! I bet a lot of arty poor sorts would be ok with living in a suburb as long as a whole bunch of them were also living there and they didn't have to pay a lot for it.

I mean, ok there's a certain cold-bloodedness to it ("Oh that? That's the building where we keep our gays.") but why lie to yourselves? Be open about your desires, wealthy bourgie sorts, and see them more efficiently fulfilled!


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:46 PM
horizontal rule
306

I was recently thinking that something like 305 is the endgame for SF. More specifically something like: ground floor is a coffeeshop/bookstore/speakeasy/etc., basement and 2nd floor are below market rentals specifically for the employees of said cool retail, and the floors above are super expensive SV condos.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:48 PM
horizontal rule
307

304: They weren't the only candidates, but noteworthy among the six or seven total. And Halford would probably approve since they were all dressed up, right?

305.2: We're 6xxx and there's an interracial gay male couple at 5xx on our street, which makes it even funnier when we get their mail or vice versa, because apparently we all look alike. (There's an interracial gay couple on the cross-street block too, so at this rate we'll have taken over the whole city within a few hundred years!)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:51 PM
horizontal rule
308

I think they get out via the teenager exception, apparently this particular jackboot is reserved for the younger set.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:54 PM
horizontal rule
309

Dressing nicely didn't seem to do the little ones any good, it was crush crush the little souls. Toward towards "social cohesion" and no white space.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:55 PM
horizontal rule
310

I just want to mention that I now stand with ogged in having completely lost what the point of contention is and who claims what.

Yeah, me too, and at this point I have desire to try to wade into it anyway.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:56 PM
horizontal rule
311

Onwards towards...


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:56 PM
horizontal rule
312

Just form some sort of homeowners association and buy up a couple relatively inexpensive properties in the neighborhood you already live in.

My understanding of Halford's neighborhood is that its history is somewhere between these two models -- that its gentrification was driven by people noticing that the neighborhood's Victorian and Craftsman housing stock hadn't completely deteriorated despite being in a neglected no-man's land, location-wise. Instead the first wave being artists looking for cheap space it was more architects looking for beautiful homes they could rehabilitate, yielding to a pretty quick second wave of flippers/investors.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:56 PM
horizontal rule
313

I was recently in DC, and was actually pretty shocked, flying in, by the proliferation of Versailles type houses in the far Virginia exurbs.

But no, go ahead and complain about MC white couples scraping their pennies together so they can afford to live in a run down neighborhood.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
314

310: But are you at least out of the airport?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
315

314: Yes! I am in fact in Albuquerque. I'll try not to gentrify anything too much.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 5:59 PM
horizontal rule
316

Except that the owners of property in poor neighborhoods are not generally predatory outsiders, but local residents who managed to save their way into buying a building.

Except that a) I'm not sure this is *generally* who they are, though these people certainly exist and bully for them, and except that b) most local residents aren't owners of fuck all, and in the absense of very strong rent control laws, gentrification means they get a swift boot, often after they've worked hard to make the area appealing to outside capital.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:02 PM
horizontal rule
317

313: I was recently in Islamiastan and was actually pretty shocked, flying in, by the proliferation of women getting stoned to death DO I HAVE TO EVEN FINISH THIS THOUGHT

the whole point of making this about capital and not individuals so it doesn't become about MC white couples declaring their horrendous guilt as they sip their white wine lattes in their brownstones saying "what can you do?"


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:06 PM
horizontal rule
318

296: the poor door is not complicated in practice. One of the reasons to require mixed-income developments is to facilitate social mixing. Developers often complain that the city could get more bang for the buck if they built more apartments in a cheaper part of town. That's not entirely wrong, but taking the more expensive construction path and then eliminating that one benefit is nuts.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:08 PM
horizontal rule
319

317: That's not necessarily going on in this thread, but that pretty much is what's going on in the Jacobin piece.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:11 PM
horizontal rule
320

317 - Which is why it's so bizarre to see the Jacobin guy, who presumably is some flavor of Marxist, assert that the only thing for white people to do is enjoy their Reisling because they're complicit in the power structure. (Or they can stay in suburbia, that's cool too, boo.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:11 PM
horizontal rule
321

I am pwned by 319 as the December 2 was pwned by the 18th Brumaire.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:13 PM
horizontal rule
322

assert that the only thing for white people to do is enjoy their Reisling because they're complicit in the power structure. (Or they can stay in suburbia, that's cool too, boo.)

Yeah except that he never actually says this, or even implies it. That this is the projection that team Unfogged SWPL is anxious to put on the critique is interesting but weird. I honestly don't understand the reaction.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:14 PM
horizontal rule
323

If you want the American dream of a middle-class life with a home you own in the city in which you work, you have few other choices than to join the shock troops of the onslaught against the urban poor.

Other choices presented: none.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:15 PM
horizontal rule
324

And if this is projection, it's awfully attenuated. I live in a racially integrated streetcar suburb of Cleveland. I am neither expecting nor, frankly, desiring some sort of boom in real estate prices in my neighborhood.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:16 PM
horizontal rule
325

I think what's bothering me most about this discussion in general and Halford's contentions in particular is the conflation of new urbanism and gentrification. The new urbanist credo takes as axiomatic that there are too few neighborhoods with housing stock and physical environment like the poor neighborhoods that get gentrified. The archetypal new urbanist wants to build more neighborhoods like this, preferably in urban infill locations, not get into a bidding war with poor people over the scarce existing neighborhoods. It's about alternatives to the prevailing paradigm of new construction (sprawling, suburban, single use zoning, car oriented). A Target surrounded by acres of free parking is about as far from new urbanist principles as you can get.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
326

The unspoken point isn't understand your complicity in the system and wallow in guilt, but rather understand your complicity in the system and join the rev. Whether that's much of an advance is . . .


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
327

Also, I don't like Reisling.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
328

323 -- But that actually is true for a reasonable subset of American cities in which people really do work (I guess the other choice is move to the suburbs, but that's not the city in which you work). I mean, sure, you can move to a cheaper city and work there. But if you work in one of the really expensive ones, and want to be in that city, and have the middle class dream of home ownership, and have the income to get you into the home ownership market, you pretty much are going to be some flavor of gentrifier. He's acknowledging that this is true for some people but it doesn't mean hey just don't move in from suburbia or abandon all political action, just let's be somewhat aware of what's actually going on.

324 -- that wasn't meant as a personal attack on your own living situation. I really don't understand the response systemic critique=automatic despair=therefore ignore the systemic critique.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:22 PM
horizontal rule
329

326: What's the rev? The rhetorical replacement of liberal handwringing with leftist handwringing?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:22 PM
horizontal rule
330

You may find Riesling more to your liking.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:22 PM
horizontal rule
331

the conflation of new urbanism and gentrification

I agree (and agreed above) that there is absolutely no theoretical need to conflate these two and that neither one requires the other. But I think you'll agree that as a practical matter in many American cities new urbanism is in fact being used to encourage gentrification. That may be a regrettable fact but it is a fact.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:25 PM
horizontal rule
332

It's not at all bizarre for the Jacobin guy to point out that individuals have no choices, because Jacobin is inclined towards systemic Marxist critique. It is perfectly fair to say that the article does not point the way towards solutions, if you are the kind of person who hates to read critique without solutions. It is a very big problem! It may be necessary to understand it before drafting solutions.

319-320, 317 is directly to 313, which suggests that the real problem is McMansions so it's absurd to complain about gentrification, much as Richard Dawkins suggested that the suffering of women under Islamist rules made it silly to complain about sexual harassment at cons. I guess I did have to finish that thought.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:25 PM
horizontal rule
333

328 - As I said in 300, I think the systemic critique in there is wrong or at least incomplete because it totalizes gentrification as the root cause of what are, I think, broader American pathologies, and not to get all lurkers-support-me-in-email-y, I think 319 shows that I am not unique in my reading of that piece as giving in to "whaddayagonnado?" oppression wallowing. If I had a job in DC and wanted to engage in right action, what if anything could I do? I think there are viable responses, a number of which were offered by LB much earlier in the thread (and seemingly rejected by you), but the article doesn't seem interested in them. (Which, you know, it doesn't have to be! The author can do what he wants. But the vibe is totally what-a-shame-Riesling-drinking to me.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
334

On consideration, maybe part of that vibe for me is the absence of people of color from the piece. Racist moped-haters to Sharon Zukin to Jane Jacobs to Jacobin writers. (I'm making an assumption on that last based on his name.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
335

Don't these cities have, like, governments and stuff? That set policies and regulations for things like land use? I don't get why this conversation is all about the purchasing decisions of individual homeowners. (I'd also like to echo neb's question way upthread about where, if anywhere, renters fit into this.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
336

Most of the n.b. in 176 applies to me. According to Zestimates, our home value has gone up nearly 50% in the 18 months since we bought in our 82%-Latino neighborhood with median household income of $42,000. It would be absurd for me to pretend I'm not part of the shock troops of the etc. etc. And it's also important to note, since we keep coming back to that very colorful quote, that the "shock troops" are not traditionally in command.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
337

332 -- These were bigger than McMansions, and bigger than mansions. And I think the relationship between the super-rich near the nation's capitol and economic inequality in society at large is a whole lot more direct that that between oppression in the Middle East by religious fanatics and oppression in Cleveland by idiots who don't understand the basics of modern society.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
338

(So yeah, I guess I wasn't able to resist wading in after all.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
339

I don't get why this conversation is all about the purchasing decisions of individual homeowners.

Yes. The 'gentrification' framework identifies the structural problem as a matter of who moves into what neighborhoods, and strongly implies that right action consists of not being a part of 'gentrification' -- that is, if you're middle class and white, not moving into poorer, more minority neighorhoods. That's, IMO, a dumb place to look for the structural problem, and a really bad rule of thumb for identifying the least bad choices a middle-class white person can make in deciding where to live.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:36 PM
horizontal rule
340

What's the rev?

It's when you start the car by seizing the engine of the economy.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
341

The intense desire for rising property values Halford describes is also, I think, a result of as well as a cause of the gentrification spiral. If you can feel there are stably desirable stably your-income places to live around you, then you'll be much more comfortable with the idea that your house can stay roughly worth the same, matched to inflation, as it ever was.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
342

I am in fact in Albuquerque.

Don't miss that left turn.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:39 PM
horizontal rule
343

312 is what I was thinking of in 265.last.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
344

a number of which were offered by LB much earlier in the thread (and seemingly rejected by you)

I haven't been here long enough to reject any solutions (unless you think my 332.1 is against any solutions short of revolution, which, sure, why not). Affordable housing is a critical part of it as is a tax base to support it. Rent control and strong tenant's rights are a huge part of it -- we haven't said anything about evictions, which are wielded with abandon to accelerate SF's gentrification, and substantially in LA. There are development- or location-specific things you can do, e.g. having a nonprofit own the land and the homeowner buy and sell the house alone. But the big problem is the big problem: labor losing, capital winning, and a giant pool of money that once would have been paid out in wages eternally on the lookout for new physical spaces for investment. This is hard to address in planning.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
345

strongly implies that right action consists of not being a part of 'gentrification'

I think you are reading "we are all part of the problem" and inferring "the goal is to take right action to not be part of the problem." I submit that the proper inference is "it is a hard problem and none of us can get out of it through individual action."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
346

a number of which were offered by LB much earlier in the thread (and seemingly rejected by you)

I don't remember doing that. The only thing I rejected from LB was the flat assertion that gentrification was unrelated to capitalist-driven inequality/not a part of participating in capitalist-driven inequality/not worth worrying about as part of capitalist-driven inequality.

The particular author of the Jacobin piece isn't interested in giving solutions. However, I do think there are a range of solutions that are immediately implied by his systemic critique, that absolutely get swept under the rug if you think that gentrification is just some non-issue/part of the natural growth of cities/driven not by finance but by altruistic artists just trying to make space beautiful. For example: focus on including specific affordable housing elements, not just new urbanism elements, in neighborhood planning. Raise property taxes. Figure out ways to, where possible, convert tenant buildings into shared-ownership buildings. Think (heresy of heresies) about rent control. Etc. etc. Note that these are all way more specific answers than you'd get without a specific critique of gentrification. Moving away from land use specifically, use the tax system and increase public finance and do all the other things we'd like to do to socialize the economy anyway.

But I do also think that getting people to wake up to the systemic critique has a role and that we don't need to saddle any piece of the kind with a pat solution or else have everyone's response be "oh are you saying there's a systemic problem, guess we can't do anything then ha ha ha, go blame capitalism pointlessly, radical."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
347

That parenthetical was addressed to Halford (author of 328), not to you. I agree with everything in 344, and part of why I'm pushing back so strongly against the Jacobin article is I feel like Mueller is focusing more on the problem of Williams graduates moving into the U Street corridor than anything you're saying.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:44 PM
horizontal rule
348

318: except... that's not a very good answer to why you build mixed income housing! You build mixed income housing because, as I am given to understand the jacobin guy points out, lack of affordable housing is a systemic problem and a market failure. You make it mixed income because then you make the kind of neglect that afflicted early public housing more difficult. Having the poor door might make the latter neglect more possible, as clew points out, but the lack of social cohesion amongst the classes, meh? That seems second order at best.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:45 PM
horizontal rule
349

335 -- IME, local governments fall pretty strongly on the side of gentrification. And why wouldn't they? Unless the polity is really so small that the actual losers from gentrification have a blocking position, you have a situation where as each new person displaces an old person, the city gets (a) more money and (b) another vote in favor of the gentrifying city policy.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:46 PM
horizontal rule
350

or else have everyone's response be "oh are you saying there's a systemic problem,

For me part of the trouble with the discussion as it's unfolded here is how it has wobbled between "there's a systemic problem" (yes!) and points about who individual gentrifiers "resent the existence of" (whether they do or don't is a bit beside the point if we're doing systemic critique). Also what does this all have to do with the price of bike lanes?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
351

the "shock troops" are not traditionally in command

But if the legionaire lives out his twenty-five he may get a grant of land among the goths.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
352

If you ask me, which nobody is, government subsidy to build or maintain affordable units is the only plausible solution, and "gentrification" is at best a sideshow.

Except in SF, where things are even weirder, and it seems plausibly like new construction per se could be helpful, although it goes against my instincts to believe that could be sufficient (related, to tie the sub threads together, to why building bigger freeways doesn't improve traffic).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
353

And I don't see much to disagree with in 346, either. I'm even on board with wedding it to an attack on New Urbanism and Jane Jacobs, which I think is part of Sharon Zukin's project, but the author did a crappy job of presenting that case; wanting short blocks and mixed use zoning does not in fact equate to a desire to disenfranchise the poor and allow pools of international capital to transform urban demographics even if, arguendo, on that front Jacobs' legacy is negative.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
354

346 before seeing 344, which pwns it pretty much completely. 345 is also my response. I guess I'd also add that the kind of systemic critique in the piece is helpful precisely because it gets you beyond the terrible frame of "am I a good person or a bad person if I move to a poor black neighborhood." That isn't really the point or a helpful approach. Gentrification is a big, systemic problem that needs big systemic solutions even if or maybe especially if you're caught up in the system along with everyone else and end up moving to the poor black neighborhood.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:52 PM
horizontal rule
355

Oh hey it occurs to me to point out that the rise of mixed use development (and breaking up superblocks and all that HOPE VI kind of stuff which was not uncontroversial) was led by people who were very heavily influenced by Jacobs and the new urbanism but who were not in any way interested in finally ridding neighborhoods of poor people, in fact seeking -- troublesome aspects of the actual results of their policies notwithstanding -- the exact opposite.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:55 PM
horizontal rule
356

grant of land among the goths

But the shock troops pretty clearly want to live in the city, not a suburban mall.

I live in a racially integrated streetcar suburb

I'm not skilled enough to use this to pivot back to the previous topic.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
357

334: You mean like the author is assuming white middle to upper class people are both the default subjects of and audiences for systemic critique?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
358

I am more confused than ever about what potential points of disagreement might be. I guess I am more suspicious of rent control than some!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
359

One thing that may be underdeveloped in the Jacobin piece is the analysis of gentrification and policing. The whole thing about how gentrifiers are more likely to call the cops feels much more individual-blamey. There's definitely a pattern of cleaning up the neighborhood for the sake of capital, and the BIDs are a big part of that, but it's not deftly addressed there.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
360

fake accent has displayed a fairly brutal efficiency in this thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
361

354: What was the point of the paragraphs about the nice man consumed with hatred for the moped-riding black teens, other than to locate an important part of the problem of gentrification within the souls of the gentrifiers? I agree with you that it's a terrible frame for the problem, but it's the frame the linked article uses.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
362

347: Right. Doh.
348: Yeah. It's not the strongest reason, but affordable housing people definitely talk about it.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
363

355 said "mixed use" where it really importantly should have said "mixed income". Oh well!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
364

359 to 361, handily enough.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 6:59 PM
horizontal rule
365

Locating three floors of apartments over a Ralphs is going to finally rid me of these teeming wretched masses!


Posted by: Opinionated, Confused Mixed Use Developer | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:00 PM
horizontal rule
366

government subsidy to build or maintain affordable units is the only plausible solution

I hope the knifecrime island contingent can opine some more on social housing when social housing worked pretty well. The LRB had a jeremiad on how it's been dismantled that put the dismantlement right up there with farming the salt tax. I don't see how SF or Seattle could *afford* to buy as many units as are being displaced, let alone enough to make housing less awful; I suppose if we were broke and terrified by the Depression and then WWII and a credible fear of civil revolution, we might find the money.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:03 PM
horizontal rule
367

IME, local governments fall pretty strongly on the side of gentrification.

Yes, of course they do, for the reasons you list. All the more reason for people who really care about addressing these issues on a systemic level to put whatever pressure they have available on the points in the system where the most immediately relevant decisions are being made.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:05 PM
horizontal rule
368

366: well, mandate 30% affordable in new multi-unit developments and agree to fast-track the permitting process might get you there, and also might be the most hilariously unpopular policy since the dawn of time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:05 PM
horizontal rule
369

You all annoyed me into talking to people at the bar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:06 PM
horizontal rule
370

369: do they have thoughts on gentrification?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:08 PM
horizontal rule
371

Anti-snob zoning in Massachisetts has been sort of fascinating to see in practice; it turns out that if the alternative is giving up their snobby, snobby zoning most towns will begrudgingly try to put some affordable housing someplace.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:09 PM
horizontal rule
372

white middle to upper class people are both the default subjects of and audiences for systemic critique

It sure seems to me like they could use some systemic critique -- though I agree they shouldn't be the "default" subject. And that's also my response to LB in 361 and also to rfts' frustration with the article's points about who individual gentrifiers "resent the existence of" (whether they do or don't is a bit beside the point if we're doing systemic critique). I do think there's a lot of value to just pointing out the mere fact, in harsh and maybe polemical terms, that gentrification in a real sense requires a level of resentment of the non-gentrified, at least to the extent that removing the non-gentrified and changing the neighborhood for the sake of increasing property values is a necessary part of gentrification. That seems like an obviously uncomfortable truth but I do think it's a truth.

I think part of my frustration with the reaction here is that people want to equate pointing out uncomfortable truths with requiring immediate, unrealistic total despair (or, contrarily, immediately requiring harsh moral judgment against putative badguys-- people just shouldn't resent the non-gentrified even if they're locked into an arrangement where the structure of propery investment in a real sense requires them to). We should be able to live in some reasonable adult middle ground where we understand that people are subject to systemic pressures and those pressures are bad, and we should work on finding ways to alleviate them, even though that's hard.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:11 PM
horizontal rule
373

I've been trained to view rent control as a destroyer of neighborhoods, but I am curious as to where that theory came from.

Wikipedia doesn't seem to indicate, but it does say "According to American Austrian School economist and anarcho-libertarian theorist Walter Block, and the Econ Journal Watch of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation organization of free market think tanks, continued studies by economists still show a near universal consensus on the ineffectiveness of rent control, both first generation and second generation."

So, it could be that I'm overly suspicious of Austrian School anarcho-libertarian theory, but maybe the rent control thing bears a reexamination. Not saying its wrong, just that I sure as hell don't trust that guy to tell me its right.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:11 PM
horizontal rule
374

This thread has moved on, but as a pedestrian, it pisses me off when cyclists, over the age of 15 or so, think that it's okay to speed down the sidewalk.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:12 PM
horizontal rule
375

370: Didn't ask. Very pro union though


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:15 PM
horizontal rule
376

That's a good thing to be in a bar.

I mean, it's a good thing in general, but it's good for the bar, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:17 PM
horizontal rule
377

373 - If you can't trust a professor at Loyola's business school -- a fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute -- who was briefly in the news for saying that slavery was pretty okay from a libertarian perspective except for the whole violation-of-property-rights thing to give rent control a fair shake, who can you trust?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:19 PM
horizontal rule
378

Halford, I don't know that resentment is at all the right word here. I suppose it depends on just how run down the neighborhood really is, and how strongly values are brought down by current residents. When we bought in Bethesda, on the DC line, it was clear that the trend in our little micro-burb was the little houses (it had been a Quaker farm from the Revolution to the Civil War -- a tiny bit of which was fought on the grounds) were getting bought and doubled in size, and the income profile of the neighborhood was going northwards fairly steadily. Older folks cashed out and moved away.

I don't think anyone resented the older folks, it was clear what the trend was, and what values would be like in a decade or two.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:29 PM
horizontal rule
379

Sometimes I fantasize about creating an organization called "Libertarians for Slavery," and post a bunch of specious arguments under a fake name, and see how many people I can get to join.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:29 PM
horizontal rule
380

372: The thing that is confusing to me about your position here, Halford, is that you seem to be both arguing that systemic critique should make people uncomfortable and bemoaning the result that it does in fact make people uncomfortable.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:30 PM
horizontal rule
381

378: Right. There's something troubling to me in the Jacobin critique; the assumption that the poor people living in the neighborhood are the problem that's keeping property values down. Analyzing gentrification as a process of replacing poor people with rich people because the poor people are occupying desirable real estate makes sense to me as a basis for systematic analysis. Analyzing it as a process of converting undesirable real estate to desirable real estate by clearing out the poor people who are too unpleasant to live near -- which is part of what I see in the linked article -- seems to make unwarranted assumptions about how bad it is to have poor neighbors, either in any objective sense or in the eyes of gentrifiers.

I'm not objecting to the systemic critique as too harsh, but as being off target.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:51 PM
horizontal rule
382

to be both arguing that systemic critique should make people uncomfortable and bemoaning the result that it does in fact make people uncomfortable.

Not really. I'm saying that it should make people uncomfortable, but that people should be able to accept things that are uncomfortable without thinking they automatically should make you despondent and politically quiescent or are moral accusations of being "bad" that one must reject out of hand.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:54 PM
horizontal rule
383

Sober people argue more effectively. Hooray.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
384

To 381.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
385

Analyzing gentrification as a process of replacing poor people with rich people because the poor people are occupying desirable real estate makes sense to me as a basis for systematic analysis. Analyzing it as a process of converting undesirable real estate to desirable real estate by clearing out the poor people who are too unpleasant to live near -

This is a distinction without a difference, really. The reason the poor people are undesirable is bound up inextricably in their occupancy of the desirable real estate (or their ability to depress the value of the desirable real estate). You might get situations like Carp's, where it's just old folks waiting to sell (though that can also be a kind of resentment! get out old person, let's have this neighborhood change and turnover), but more likely when you're dealing with an actually poor neighborhood, you want both the people out and the neighborhood to "change" and this by necessity requires that you want your neighbors to be different.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
386

I'm saying that it should make people uncomfortable, but that people should be able to accept things that are uncomfortable without thinking they automatically should make you despondent and politically quiescent or are moral accusations of being "bad" that one must reject out of hand.

Okay, but on the one hand that seems like a pretty high standard to set given how people generally react to things that make them uncomfortable, and on the other hand, why? What's the goal of this awareness? If it's just to move past individual defensiveness toward developing systemic solutions, okay, cool, I think most people who comment here are basically there with you already, so let's move on to developing those solutions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
387

There is an accordion in the house and waltzes are being played on it. This is good.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:02 PM
horizontal rule
388

387 to 386.last?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:04 PM
horizontal rule
389

Mais bien sur!

Actually just free floating enjoyment of kid revelling in newly acquired instrument. Topic of thread very close to day job, not particularly interested in duking it out with halford this evening. We have illogical and screwy ideas re provision of housing and design of urban space in anglosphere is all I'm saying.

Awesome fun to watch someone stretch their brains and body around something new and yet totally within grasp.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:15 PM
horizontal rule
390

I don't see how SF or Seattle could *afford* to buy as many units as are being displaced

I am way to tired to have a coherent opinion on this thread right now, but that reminds me that I recently saw a statistic that, "Chinese buyers are snapping up a third of all houses worth more than $1 million in Seattle and its suburbs."

An interesting example of people with money from outside a community buying into it (though not, in this case, buying the cheaper properties. When I saw that it seemed like positive news, without thinking about it too much, but I don't know if that holds up to examination.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:18 PM
horizontal rule
391

"way too tired . . ." (I suppose that's a mistake which actually lends credibility to the sentence).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:19 PM
horizontal rule
392

When I saw that it seemed like positive news,

...huh. Why? It makes me think of Russian oligarchs expensively buying up property in London and only ever using it as an occasonal pied a terre.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
393

Topic of thread very close to day job, not particularly interested in duking it out with halford this evening. We have illogical and screwy ideas re provision of housing and design of urban space in anglosphere is all I'm saying.

Yeah, same here, and agreed. (Actually not very close to my day job per se, but certainly to my general field and background.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
394

We often dislike people because we've hurt them or plan to; that might be the missing mechanism for 381.

Waltzes: We dance together, I told him from the heart,
Whether we dance together or apart.

I can't see why foreigners buying a lot of houses (right now Zillow says 283/2291 Seattle houses are asking more than $1e6) is good either, especially as the usual explanation is that those are the people planning to pith China itself of its wealth and stability. And our economy is already tied to China's through import-export, we don't really want everything to crash at once (again).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:41 PM
horizontal rule
395

Instead of girls powering passing out cigarettes, there are girls passing out free e-cigarettes. Because gentrification.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:41 PM
horizontal rule
396

I'll take that as a concession of defeat, from both of you. Kidding!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
397

You need to make up a phone number and an email address to get a free e-cigarette.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:53 PM
horizontal rule
398

There was a good piece in the LRB re housing a couple of months ago, and J Madon is good as well.

Copenhagen faced many of the same geographic & demographic challenges as SF 40-50 years ago. Different choices, born of different political landscapes. At least we got a regional train system out of that moment.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:56 PM
horizontal rule
399

Mason.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 8:57 PM
horizontal rule
400

Dixon.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:05 PM
horizontal rule
401

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n01/james-meek/where-will-we-live

Bonne lecture!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:08 PM
horizontal rule
402

Line.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:21 PM
horizontal rule
403

Little slow on the trigger there, Mobes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:22 PM
horizontal rule
404

This thread is the best thing ever.

Am I doing my neighborhood and the global left a favor keeping property values down with questionable housing maintenance, semi-abandoned vehicles, not very festive holiday decorations, and not building a giant house on theoretically developable land?


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:39 PM
horizontal rule
405

Jake!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:40 PM
horizontal rule
406

nosflow!

Did you really turn to the dark side and go techie on us?


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:43 PM
horizontal rule
407

I wouldn't say it's all that much darker than analytical philosophy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:44 PM
horizontal rule
408

But then I know basically nothing about either.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:44 PM
horizontal rule
409

Nor would I, but neither of us were ever analytical philosophers.


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:44 PM
horizontal rule
410

True, true.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:45 PM
horizontal rule
411

It does have a certain bourgeois grubbiness what with the paying customers and high salaries and luxurious private buses and all.

No one complains about philosophers ruining the neighborhood!


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:47 PM
horizontal rule
412

406/7: yes, I did, but in defense of my former self I was never really in the mainstream of analytic philosophy (most of my views were distinctly minority positions).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:47 PM
horizontal rule
413

Quai d'Orsay is a very funny movie.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:49 PM
horizontal rule
414

(And aside from doctrines I liked to think that I was more open to non-analytic texts, approaches, and traditions…)

No one complains about philosophers ruining the neighborhood!

Has the biggest downside to the new career been having to answer the question what I do when meeting new people? No, not really, but I do feel, I don't know, silly or self-conscious giving the answer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:49 PM
horizontal rule
415

There were those in my 1L class who timed the questions of the philosophy phds.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:53 PM
horizontal rule
416

I honestly cannot imagine how anyone with a philosophy phd could stand law school or the law, where argument from authority is A-OK.

A friend of mine used to describe stuff he was working on as a law student and then clerk and it all sounded incredibly annoying.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:56 PM
horizontal rule
417

You could always lie? Or be vague and elliptic? I find myself doing the latter sometimes, despite having been in the field for my entire career.

Of course it's funny when the person you're talking to does the same thing and it turns out you're actually coworkers.


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 9:58 PM
horizontal rule
418

Justement! Most annoying if you take the plunge after a different training & then feel compelled to convince yourself. Self-conversion is a bitch.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:00 PM
horizontal rule
419

I wouldn't say it's all that much darker than analytical philosophy.

The Leiter side.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:00 PM
horizontal rule
420

Without the crossover of philosophy and the law we wouldn't have Br/ian Le/iter, and boy would that be a shame...


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:01 PM
horizontal rule
421

pwned.

418: the engineering->management transition is pretty bad this way because you're tempted to prove you can still do the real work.


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:04 PM
horizontal rule
422

But it's a bit too long, this movie.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:05 PM
horizontal rule
423

No personal experience, but have impression with engineering / management there is more continuity than law school / practice of law. Let alone Philo!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:09 PM
horizontal rule
424

Lucidité!

Fraternité!

Efficacité!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:19 PM
horizontal rule
425

None of my comments have suggested that we don't need a systemic critique. But I don't see a lot of use in the one in that Jacobin piece. You can get to 344-346, which I don't disagree with, without it, and indeed a lot of the basic structural critique is already a familiar part of discussions of gentrification.

But the Jacobin piece is missing other structural things like politics (local, state, federal, legislative, administrative, judicial); changing attitudes towards urban and suburban space (there's nothing inherently desirable or undesirable about a row house or town house or brownstone or Victorian, and 40-50 years ago lots of upwardly mobile people (not just white people, but white people were less constrained on where they could go) were moving out of many of the areas that are now being gentrified)*; the difference between gentrification and older so-called urban renewal policies, which often weren't about replacing one set of residents with another, but replacing residential neighborhoods (and displacing their residents) marked as slums with commercial space like convention centers or office buildings, or with infrastructure like freeways that were meant to bring people to the non-residential core of the city**; and the distinction between renting and owning, since owners can stand to benefit from this process, and in single-family dwelling neighborhoods you're talking largely about homeowners, not just big landlords.

*Also driven by corporate capitalism. It's almost like saying "capitalism, amirite?" isn't sufficient to explain variations in urban geography!

**Given the history of white flight, it's pretty clear that structural racism is about more than gentrification-born resentment, and can structure more than one type of metropolitan geography. This would be interesting to explore on a deeper level than saying "those black kids make you, member of my assumed white audience, uncomfortable because you want them out so more white people can take their place." Because 40-50 years ago it might have gone: "those black kids make you, my assumed white audience uncomfortable, and that's why you're trying to sell and head for the suburbs."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
426

423: probably true! but it is sort of stressful having to relearn empathy after ten years of arguing with computers beats it out of you.


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:30 PM
horizontal rule
427

I probably should have stopped writing that once it was clear the conversation had moved on.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:31 PM
horizontal rule
428

It makes me a tiny bit sad that even the engineer-engineers I know spout corporate speak these days, rather than just the management-engineers.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:38 PM
horizontal rule
429

425 is kind of annoying. Why didn't he also discuss the impact of feudalism on land tenure practices? Why was there no comparative study of gentrification with Canada? What about the impact of military service on settlement patterns? Why didn't it cover absolutely everything I might be interested in?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:52 PM
horizontal rule
430

I guess I deleted the part where I said you could easily object to 425 with something like 429. But I don't really care; I just don't think an objection to that crappy piece necessarily means objecting to structural critique.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 10:58 PM
horizontal rule
431

When bric-a-brac was part of a revolutionary politics


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-26-14 11:46 PM
horizontal rule
432

This discussion reminded me of this Doonesbury strip.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:18 AM
horizontal rule
433

Based on my own N of 1, I'm going to argue that Halford is projecting in this thread with the "everyone buys a home thinking in terms of an investment" claim.

I'm back to renting now since I moved to a new city (I don't miss owning at all. It's massively over rated and kind of a pain in the ass, with all the minor complications you have to deal with), but when I did own a place I bought it because I wanted to live near where I worked. So I could walk in, just to connect back to the original topic of the thread.

Of course my attitude was probably influenced by the fact that everyone knows that property values in Cleveland will never go up, no matter what, so there's no point in thinking about it.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:31 AM
horizontal rule
434

425.last is a good question, well posed. Better reading than the juvenile Jacobin article, which itself seems like a snarky comment and nothing more.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 5:30 AM
horizontal rule
435

425: I guess the rough claim there is that New Urbanism made upwardly mobile people think cities were great, leading them to gentrify rather than fly, and now look where that got us.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 6:11 AM
horizontal rule
436

I enjoyed tremendously the comments and discussion of the Jacobin article, as a classic demonstration of bourgeois rationalism, moralism, and reformism. "Don't criticize, especially without offering constructive solutions. Political economy is a social engineering and urban management set of medium-term problems. And it's all the fault of racist Republican suburbanites."

Of course there has been a library of work done on class and space, and rather than Jacobs, I would recommend starting with Lefebvre and de Certeau, and then maybe Harvey.

Strategy vs tactics, space versus place, poaching, etc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 6:16 AM
horizontal rule
437

Actually, I am quite fond of bourgeois rationalism, reformism, and moralism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 6:29 AM
horizontal rule
438

I'm sure it doesn't suit everyone, but it's not a bad life. The offering constructive solutions part is kind of addictive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 6:33 AM
horizontal rule
439

Anti-bourgeois surrealism, radicalism, and libertinism gets you better Super Bowl commercials.


Posted by: Madison Avenue '68er | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 6:35 AM
horizontal rule
440

If there was well-defined problem with rational parameters, Yo, I'll solve it.
Assuming I can get funding for my DJ to revolve it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 6:38 AM
horizontal rule
441

This is probably pwned by 425, but Halford's argument strikes me as nonsensical. (I haven't read the Jacobin article, which may be awesome. But I have been trolled by Jacobin before, so I'm avoiding it.)

I will take this quote as a concise summary of the argument:


But, yes, moving into a home in a poor neighborhood as part of a systematic process of moving other poor people out of that neighborhood is indeed a problem that is directly linked to class dominance, increasing inequality, and to harm to the poor. You are a part of that.

If this argument holds, then straightforwardly if you move away from a home as part of a systematic process of moving poor people into that neighborhood must be great, right? Think of all of the housing stock you are opening up for poor people to move into. Therefore, white flight must have been a progressive triumph.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
442

Rationalist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
443

Gentrification strikes me as a side-show issue that has gotten elevated in prominence as a substitute for politics, rather than an actual important political issue. Gentrification is only even possible because the previous generation of middle-class people found poor people completely terrifying, and the current generation finds them less terrifying. "Finance capitalism" is involved insofar as it can make money off the middle class, but the driving force is underlying shifts in the middle-class demand for housing.

The problem is that middle-class people has money and power, and poor people don't. This would be just as much of a problem if the middle-class had stayed put all along. Gentrification has nothing to do with it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
444

But I have been trolled by Jacobin before, so I'm avoiding it.

At least its nice to trolled from the left, for a change.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
445

441, 443 -- maybe you should read the article, asshole, because that's not its point at all. Honestly, I feel like I need to take a break from this place. I'm starting to generally hate all of you smug fucks and am about to turn into Bob.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
446

Have a cookie! I agree that commenting without reading the articles is annoying, but someone who, uh, has been using your pseud does that all the time.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
447

Has anyone ever seen mcmanus and Halford in the same place?

Seriously though, the Jacobin article was almost pure trolling, albeit in the best sense of the word. Yes, there are money and class and power differentials. Yes, richer people moving into a neighborhood kind of sucks for the people who live there already, although if they own any of the land they may make some money in the process. What can you do about it? Other than start the revolution and/or vote for higher affordable housing requirements on new development?

Is it about race? Not really; other marginalized groups are feeling driven out of their neighborhoods as can be seen by the fact that I (very occasionally) get called "breeder" when walking down the street.

Also, who the hell tries to defend people riding motorized scooters in circles around the neighborhood? Those things are per se obnoxious.


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
448

447.3: You should stop wearing the "Free Sperm, Pull Knob" t-shirt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
449

445: I'm not responding to the article. I'm responding to your position.

Anyway, I have now read the article because you made me feel bad, and I don't think it changes anything, simply because the basic premise is so absurd. When the middle class moved out of cities, was it good for cities? Obviously not. So why is it bad for the middle class to move back in? The article isn't really an argument but, in typical Jacobin style, a series of grand rhetorical gestures in service of its main idea. So now if you move in the city you are part of the "shock troops of the onslaught against the urban poor." This isn't an actual argument, because if you take it seriously it means that you are morally wrong for living near the urban poor, which when said outloud is a completely indefensible statement.

If you move into the city, and demand zoning or police action that screws poor people, then you're an asshole. But if you do the same thing in a suburb, you're just as big of an asshole. Your moving didn't change your assholeness.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
450

I hadn't looked at the Jacobin article until just now, and perhaps this has been said already, but the moment the author opens with the phrase "liberal ideology", I know there's trouble ahead.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
451

Halford, relax. You are right, and your critics are wrong. I am puzzled how anyone can disagree with your argument. When the UMCs move in (and they're not middle class, they are upper middle) and improve the buildings, prices go up and the poor are priced out of the neighbourhood. This is the story of so many brownstone Brooklyn neighbourhoods, is also the reason why the gentrification of Harlem is controversial.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
452

449 -- hey, idiot, the choice as outlined in the article or rlsewhere isn't between "is it a good thing for the middle class to move into cities or not" (on the whole I agree it's a net good thing). The point isn't some morality play or utilitarian cost-benefit analysis of the pluses and minuses of the middle class moving into cities. The relentless need here to turn something that makes people moderately uncomfortable into those kinds of binary choices is itself telling. It's a polemical analysis of some of the effects that gentrification has as well as some of the trade offs that take the sheen off of the pro yuppie gentrification tale. The fact that you can't see this but insist on some kind of overall cost/benefit analysis of gentrification on net without looking at specifically how its ironies actually work demonstrates that mainstream economic thinking has turned your brain into mush.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:20 PM
horizontal rule
453

I was thinking about relaxing but then I decided to say fuck it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
454

Ok, I finally read the article too. I think it's a case of being sympathetic to the conclusions and overlooking the flaws. "Mopping up operations?" Come off it, comrade. That said, I think this isn't a good criticism.

When the middle class moved out of cities, was it good for cities? Obviously not. So why is it bad for the middle class to move back in?

This is precisely the kind of thinking the article is warning against. "I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't!" No, you're white and rich if you do, and white and rich if you don't.

There are two main points amidst the bluster: what I said in 204, and the admonition to not get lost in the narrative of gentrification as a cultural battle between relatively rich and poor individuals, when it's a capital-driven phenomenon.

Grr, crying kid, gotta go.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:30 PM
horizontal rule
455

But gentrification is besides the point. You should feel bad because you have more money and power, and society caters to you because you have money and power. Whether or not you decide to move is besides the point. You could move to rural Nebraska, and society would cater to you just as much.

The only reason "gentrification" is an issue is if the cost/benefit analysis of gentrification in specific is negative. Without that cost/benefit analysis, it's just a candidate for the Stuff White People Like site.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
456

The important thing for us UMC urban liberals is to keep remembering, no matter what, is that nothing bad ever really involves us, it's all the fault of the suburban racist homophobic Republican other. I mean come on, we like bicycles. No need to worry about your part in the system. ABS, always be smuggifyin'.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:36 PM
horizontal rule
457

454: Yes, I'm white and I'm rich, wherever I live. So why are we talking about where I live?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
458

You could just have said "always be smug".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
459

I don't even disagree that much with 455! But guess what an analysis of what the specific dynamic of power looks like in gentrification might still be pretty important and useful. But that gets in the way of ABS.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
460

gentrification is besides the point

No, it's symptomatic rather than causative, but it's a symptom that liberals have experience with, and which is subject to a particular kind of rhetorical effect-of-capital-hiding move, which makes it a good topic for a polemic directed at liberals about the effects of capital.

Ok, really gotta go now.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
461

456: The Jacobin argument functions the exact opposite of the way that you seem to think it functions. If you move to a poorer neighborhood, then you are part of the shock troops of the onslaught against the urban poor. Therefore, if you don't move to a poorer neighborhood, you're off the hook for the shock troops charge. Therefore, if you don't want to feel guilty, you should keep living in your suburb. If you take the argument of the article at all seriously (which you shouldn't, because it's Jacobin and attitudinizing), then you would conclude that you shouldn't move to a poorer neighborhood, and if you keep living in your suburb then you're off the hook for the bad things in the article.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:44 PM
horizontal rule
462

The Walrus and the Carpenter...

I contend that the middle class moving out wasn't what crashed our cities; that was done directly by redlining & freeway construction & attacking the middle class neighborhoods that stayed & following economic policy that destroyed employment from the bottom up. The best answer to not having enough nice places for everyone to live in is to make more places nice.

I'll go see what our $15-minimum movement needs. Judges who don't kowtow to capital, I fear.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:46 PM
horizontal rule
463

460 is right and not as crazily put as I would do it. Also "smuggify" is a word I just made up, but I like it -- it doesnt just mean "to make smug," but creating the mental and physical space so as to make maximal liberal smugness possible. ABS, follow SWPLs. ABS.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
464

462: In Philadelphia, the middle class moved to New Jersey to get away from black people. If you know them, they will openly admit this to you.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
465

To 411


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
466

Oh come off it Halford, you're clearly in the wrong here. I mean, really. This is just the sort of naivete and ignorance I'd expect from someone who thinks it's ok to eat animal flesh and drive a car. I mean, have you even considered your impact on the environment? And even if you don't care about the planet that sustains your life you should at least care about your health. Switching to a vegan diet would help you out immensely. A simple combination of bread and lentils can replace the protein you get from the animal products, without having to deal with all that saturated fat clogging up your arteries. And you can still have treats like french fries or pizza when you want it (vegan cheese has a bad reputation, but it's actually really good).


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
467

463: Dude, you're the one who's gentrifying a poor neighborhood. I live in the suburbs. (But in a railroad suburb, because I am in fact a moral examplar.) Plus, I've never owned a house.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
468

466 -- unlike Walt, I actually do sincerely think you're an idiot and a morally repugnant asshole, so I'm not engaging. But, sure, I'm as guilty as ABS as anyone.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:00 PM
horizontal rule
469

464: Yeah, I don't think letting those people remove themselves *hurts* a neighborhood, directly. It's what gets done to those left behind. I was a kid in St Louis and can picture most of these strategies block by block. The pogroms in East St Louis were cold ashes but not forgotten.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:01 PM
horizontal rule
470

Here's a different Jacobin article on gentrification and race that I think is actually worth reading, not that my opinion has any importance.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:02 PM
horizontal rule
471

(vegan cheese has a bad reputation, but it's actually really good)

wat


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:03 PM
horizontal rule
472

It's not actually good. But a lot of it is paleo, so there's that.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:07 PM
horizontal rule
473

For everyone who can't seem to read this as anything other than a Buzzfeed quiz called "How Politically Virtuous Are You?" here you go: if you live in the suburbs, you are not part of the problem of gentrification. If you live in a gentrifying area, but you vote Democratic, you are not part of the problem of voting Republican. If you were recently evicted from an apartment and now live under a bridge, you may or not be part of the problem of traffic, depending on whether your cardboard shack edges inconveniently into the roadway.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
474

I don't think 472 reaches maximum smugness. It's good once you've educated your tastebuds? Cleared the toxins out of your chakras? But not in a way we can understand?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:14 PM
horizontal rule
475

I don't have any strong feelings about the article's argument, but as a portrait of the typical DC gentrifier, it lines up perfectly with my experience in my neighborhood (a wave behind those the article focuses on). My block is maybe a 1/4 gentrifiers at this point, and though all of them are I'm sure very virtuous people--literally everyone I can think of is some kind of stereotypical DC public interest/NGO do-gooder; I'm the block's only agent of Big Evil I think--holy crap the sense of entitlement that the neighborhood should look exactly like the neighborhood of their dreams, this instant. The block email list (which of course is just the gentrifiers) regularly gives me a small stroke. What can we do to get rid of the "intimidating" guys who drink themselves into a stupor on the corner? (They are not intimidating.) What can we do about the "illegal rooming house" on the block? (It's just a bunch of poor people renting rooms, technically against code but then so are most of the basement apartments half of these people are renting out.) Oh no they're opening another pupeseria around the corner--what can we do to get a toddler-friendly sit-down restaurant instead? I'm sure it's not (subjective) racism, or even necessarily concern for property values, but the obliviousness to the fact that some people in the neighborhood might not share their vision for it is staggering.

And that moped-hating is a real thing, people lose their minds over the menace of black kids on motorbikes. A couple weeks ago I was hate-reading a vile comment thread on a neighborhood blog on this subject after an accident, the gist of which was outrage that the DC police are not doing everything possible to stop these animals--from infiltrating their "gangs" with undercover agents, to tracking them with helicopters, to high-speed chasing them and if that means some of them getting killed if they take a spill, well, that's a risk we're willing to take. In general there's a lot of outrage in the gentrifying neighborhoods that cops aren't stationed on every corner, 24 hours a day, to make sure nobody spits on the sidewalk.

(My hands, to be clear, are clean. Despite more than a dozen attempts in the last several years to buy a house in this neighborhood--four times on this very block--I haven't been able to do so on terms that would make sense compared to the really great house we've been renting way below market. So my financial interests are aligned with Team Entrenched Squalor.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:24 PM
horizontal rule
476

The article in 470 is interesting and seems obviously right.


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:24 PM
horizontal rule
477

Halford, you may take leave from the blog, but only if you convince dsquared to come back


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
478

I suppose if you found some other suitably entertaining provacateur that would do, subject to an approval process.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
479

I haven't read either of the Jacobin articles and probably won't, but 475 certainly seems to clarify the context of the first one. If those are the people it's targeted at then yes, it probably is a good idea to make that argument to them.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
480

Sharon Zukin on Jane Jacobs is good too.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 3:00 PM
horizontal rule
481

I skimmed the linked thread in 475.2 and the hysterical gentrifiers seem to have a point: this exact guy is well-known around the neighborhood and frequently reckless on his motorbike, but the cops refuse to do anything. The high-speed/helicopter chasing is a red herring. A beat cop couldn't have spotted this guy on the sidewalk sometime and had a talk with him? A patrol car couldn't have snapped pics of him zooming around so they had something if they ever succeeded in pulling him over without a chase?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 3:35 PM
horizontal rule
482

Probably no real point in commenting now (although I think it's pretty important to note that the Jacobin author really needs Jane Jacobs to appear from behind a nearby sign and explain just how much s/he understands of Jacobs' work - it's entirely possible there'd be less objection to the article if it wasn't so patently ignorant in its use of a kind of important person in urban history), but I think this whole conversation here has been muddled largely because there's been no definition of terms. I've seen comments that seem to implicitly state that everyone views gentrification as a negative term, and others that implicitly state the opposite. Forget whether gentrification is a net gain for society, it's probably important, when talking about how people view gentrification, to at least agree whether people think it's awesome or horrible.

In my world, gentrification is and always has been a dirty word, so an article that seems to need to tell gentrifiers that they're doing a bad thing seems superfluous at best. 475 suggests that maybe things are different in DC, and people walk around wearing "Kiss Me, I'm a Gentrifier" shirts without irony, and so maybe it makes sense (although pretending to make a systemic critique when you're really sniping at your annoying neighbors is just the leftist thing ever). But this conversation here has been hopelessly muddled by the lack of clarity on this point.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 3:36 PM
horizontal rule
483

Obligatory data point: the only new homeowner (as opposed to new landlord) on our block since we moved in 13+ years ago is the elderly black lady who's lived in her scattered site public housing unit since it was built in 1968. The Housing Authority has a rent-to-own program, but she'd never been able to get satisfaction. A former classmate who moved in a block away knew how to navigate the bureaucracy, and the lady now owns her home. I'm not sure who was the shock trooper in that story.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 3:39 PM
horizontal rule
484

Man, I'm just not a good liberal. If only I were able to become part of my community I might see something worth preserving against gentrifiers.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 3:45 PM
horizontal rule
485

Is it wrong that I now want to set up a gentrification twitter account along the lines of Kim Kirkegaardashian and call it Jane Jacobin?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 3:56 PM
horizontal rule
486

480: Nothing to object to there, although there's a sort of weird hint at blaming Jacobs for unforeseeable consequences related to correct observations:

But she underestimated the strength of middle class tastes for social homogeneity and aesthetic coherence that drive gentrification.What Jacobs valued − small blocks, cobblestone streets, mixed-uses, local character − have become the gentrifiers' ideal. This is not the struggling city of working class and ethnic groups, but an idealised image that plays to middle-class tastes.
This maps on perfectly to one of my big complaints about the original SWPL site, which is essentially that there's an objection to people whom the author disdains* doing things that are done by most people everywhere. The urban forms Jacobs identified and prized (at a time when TPTB neither recognized nor valued them - see Le Ville Radieuse) are the way urbanized people have lived pretty much for 7000 years. But, according to Zukin, now that the middle class, with their tastes, is on board, then fuck that shit.

*in the case of SWPL, there was a self-hating to it, but it was still driven by "whatever 'white people' do is inherently and obviously risible"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:19 PM
horizontal rule
487

I'm not entirely clear how it's a defense of the original Jacobin piece to say that it's not trying to offer solutions, just pointing out to people who are doing something that is individually reasonable and without any good alternatives that they should feel bad about it, because of systemic something.

Oh good, more free-floating guilt aimed at liberals. That always leads somewhere productive. Probably the source of every social improvement over the past 3 centuries.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:24 PM
horizontal rule
488

Also, and this is a serious question: what the hell is meant by "Neo-Cons" in the essay linked in 480? Is this some alternate usage that has currency somewhere? I'm aware that the term hasn't always and everywhere exclusively meant war-mongering assholes who are wrong about everything, but what group is she trying to point to? Neoliberals?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:26 PM
horizontal rule
489

488: I didn't really get that subheadline either. The piece doesn't really go into it; it's more of a straight-up retrospective analysis. Maybe Architectural Review is trying linkbait.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:33 PM
horizontal rule
490

But the people who that would be referring to would be like Nathan Glazer or Moynihan if you think of him as neoconservative (I've never been clear on that). Or I guess maybe not them since they were contemporary with Jacobs, but people who followed who work on urban policy.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:37 PM
horizontal rule
491

I don't have a lot of smart things to say about the article, but I wonder whether taking DC as an example of how gentrification happens was a good choice. I think DC is a bit unusual compared to other big cities for a number of reasons (disparity in wealth, high numbers of folks with high social capital who are underpaid relative to their peers in other cities, local governance messes). One thing I notice is that the article is quite right that the gentrified neighborhoods in DC are a bit funny - they look a lot more like close in suburbs than like most of DC's other neighborhoods. They're definitely more planned and designed than the older "nice" neighborhoods, but that doesn't match what I see on Chicago's South Side. That looks to me more like the typical pattern: first, the houses get fresh paint, fences get put in or patched, yards are free of trash, then the pawn shop/liquor store/corner bar/barber shop is replaced with a more middle class shop or two, then the changes accelerate. In DC, it seems like the stores and restaurants come in pretty fast compared to housing, or might even precede it, like near the ballpark. I think JRoth has some of it in 482. I don't know enough about other places, but I suspect the story would be different in some of the specifics if it were talking about, say Brooklyn. At this point, gentrification in DC seems fairly accurately described as far as I can tell.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:50 PM
horizontal rule
492

From the sounds of it, what's happening on potchkeh's block isn't susceptible to any sort of systemic solutions. As described in the second Jacobin article, people who think the housing there is underpriced -- maybe because they're not as racist as the median buyer -- and for whom the price really matters, are buying properties in a marginal neighborhood. Surely no one thinks the city should prevent them from doing so.

They're bringing their values with them. We can point and laugh, but its what everyone does whenever they go anywhere. I'm happy to join efforts in my home of 5 years to improve things, as I see improvement. Fewer coal trains running to China, more areas off limits to motorized recreation, patronizing live music of certain types, supporting the smoking ban, non-discrimination laws, anti-trapping, etc., etc. I don't care if people point and laugh, I care if we're going to be able to win ground on some of these fronts.

The state should certainly resist efforts at unfair law enforcement, but I think it's a fair bet that it's not just the gentrifiers who would like to see fewer dirt bikes and ATV zipping through the neighborhood at unsafe speeds.

Now I do think it would be a good idea to wrest some of the money and power from the Virginia ex-urbs, and use it to subsidize rent (in a carefully controlled manner) to lessen the impact on long time residents of now-gentrifying neighborhoods. No one, though, is entitled to state support to maintain a cultural status quo: people can move where they will, and bring their culture with them.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 4:59 PM
horizontal rule
493

Now knocking stuff down and building new stuff is an entirely different class of endeavor, and one the state should be involved with.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 5:03 PM
horizontal rule
494

just pointing out to people who are doing something that is individually reasonable and without any good alternatives that they should feel bad about it, because of systemic something

Assume for the sake of argument that a thing a) is individually reasonable and b) has deleterious consequences in the aggregate, and c) all other options also have bad consequences. Is it better not to mention it in the first place?

Snarkout pointed out in 334 that this is a conversation among gentrifiers. But can you imagine reading this conversation as someone who had to leave their longstanding neighborhood because the rent got jacked after it got a light rail stop and a healthy grocery store? Maybe making comfortable new arrivals feel bad is an OK price to pay for getting them to consider the system that got them there.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 5:32 PM
horizontal rule
495

Maybe making comfortable new arrivals feel bad is an OK price to pay for getting them to consider the system that got them there.

But does it even work? Do they actually read things like the Jacobin piece and reconsider their position in all this, or do they just get defensive and complain about it the way people in this thread have? Maybe potchkeh should post it on his block email list and see what happens.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 5:46 PM
horizontal rule
496

FWIW, there aren't many bicycles in Hong Kong. But there is a commuter escalator.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 5:55 PM
horizontal rule
497

488:First Section Here N-C started as a cultural reaction to the late sixties.

Through the 1950s and early 1960s, the future neoconservatives had endorsed the American Civil Rights Movement, racial integration, and Martin Luther King, Jr.[20] From the 1950s to the 1960s, there was general endorsement among liberals for military action to prevent a communist victory in Vietnam.[21]

Neoconservatism was initiated by the repudiation of coalition politics by the American New Left: Black Power, which denounced coalition-politics and racial integration as "selling out" and "Uncle Tomism" and which frequently generated anti-semitic slogans; "anti-anticommunism", which seemed indifferent to the fate of South Vietnam, and which during the late 1960s included substantial endorsement of Marxist-Leninist politics; and the "new politics" of the New left, which considered students and alienated minorities as the main agents of social change (replacing the majority of the population and labor activists).[22] Irving Kristol edited the journal The Public Interest (1965-2005), featuring economists and political scientists, which emphasized ways that government planning in the liberal state had produced unintended harmful consequences.[23] Interestingly enough, many early Neoconservative political figures were disillusioned Democratic politicians and intellectuals, such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served in the Nixon Administration, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, who served as President Ronald Reagan's UN Ambassador.

Also:New York Intellectuals

However, it takes a really really radical young Leftist or an old with a long long grudge to maintain and sustain a rage against the people on the NY Intellectual List. I am proud to count myself among them. Don't like any of those fucks.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
498

Here's the thing: as the aforelinked Doonesbury indicates, gentrification isn't exactly a new phenomenon. And, as exciting as radical critiques that offer no solution are, people who actually give a shit about the people who live in these communities - including, you'll be shocked to hear, non-Marxist residents who care more about the place they live than about raising the consciousnesses of incoming yuppies - have been working on the problem. And a big part of the solution turns out to be pretty simple: come together as a community, develop a plan for how to fix the pre-gentrification community, and then make clear to elected officials that you're the voice of the community.

Someone up above dismissed this option as hopelessly utopian or something, but it really does happen, and it makes a huge difference. One of the lessons my first architect boss pounded into my head is that whoever has written evidence wins - if you've got a phone note about a conversation, it doesn't matter what anyone else claims after the fact, unless they have a contemporary record that backs them up. Similarly, if a community has a formal plan, that gives them a massive leg up on developers (capitalist overlords?) who want to come in and shape things to their liking. Instead, TPTB weigh the plan of the largely disenfranchised community equally with the desires of the capitalist developers. Because residents have more votes than developers.

And this isn't some grad school fairy tale. I live in the neighborhood that is, arguably, the fastest gentrifying in a city that is going shockingly fast from Detroit-like cautionary tale to a place that Portland, OR should emulate. And residents, by and large, are satisfied with what's happening because they started writing plans ~20 years ago, laying out a groundwork that has guided negotiations between developers and the city.

And again, not a single bit of this comes from Jacobin-flavored bullshit. Indeed, it has much more to do with Jacobs-inspired recognition that incumbents have value and deserve a voice. Somehow, nihilist liberal-blaming hasn't been a factor in the least.

PS - longtime residents love the new Target. Due to community demands (in the written plan!), there is no surface parking, it's located at a major transit nexus, and it's bordered on one side by lovely New Urbanist affordable housing built to replace a dysfunctional low income high-rise that was built by the sorts of people Jacobs was fighting. Half the people shopping in Target (and a good chunk of the workers) are longtime residents thrilled to have a choice better than dollar stores and Rainbow. I remain convinced that Jacobin types don't really understand the difference between class war and social esthetics.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 7:28 PM
horizontal rule
499

Old Target is nicer than it ever was, but still New Target is where everybody goes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
500

In case not clear, 498 was me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
501

I think most of the US loves Target. I kinda do, despite myself.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 7:54 PM
horizontal rule
502

It was clear to me. I go to new Target even though I live much closer to old Target.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
503

Here, they shut down old Target when they opened New Target. Apparently the guy who owns the strip mall where Old Target was housed is an utter asshole, so in the five or six years since, the strip mall (very close to our house) has just sat there and decayed. Everything else moved out shortly after Target. Now and then there's a rumor that someone is trying to get something going there - grocery store, movie theater, etc - and the shittiness of the land owner always tanks the deal. GOOD STORY, where's my $5.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
504

New Target is on the former site of a public housing high rise. Old Target where the Homestead Works was.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
505

A little something for the Jacobins.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:11 PM
horizontal rule
506

That was me again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:11 PM
horizontal rule
507

We have an entire strip of highway, leading to non-shitty suburban areas, where this pair of brothers own nearly every strip mall, and they refuse to be anything other than slumlords. Some of their properties sit empty for 5-10 years, but they'll be damned before they invest in the buildings or just sell the fuck out.

Real estate was the area where it first became clear to me just what bullshit free market dogma is. There's one piece of land, and one person owns it, and one person can be fucked in the head six ways to Sunday. There's nothing the market can do to affect that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:25 PM
horizontal rule
508

504: Homestead Works being the largest steel mill in the world for awhile there. For context.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:27 PM
horizontal rule
509

My mom lives in JRoth's neighborhood (though on the end that was never as low-income as other bits) and it does kind of seem like the magical dream of neighborhood development.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
510

We have an entire strip of highway, leading to non-shitty suburban areas, where this pair of brothers own nearly every strip mall, and they refuse to be anything other than slumlords. Some of their properties sit empty for 5-10 years, but they'll be damned before they invest in the buildings or just sell the fuck out.

Ooh what area is that?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:34 PM
horizontal rule
511

Hey, JRoth, and perhaps others, I was wondering if anyone outside of the Twin Cities is aware of our huge, albatrossian failure of urban planning/neighborhood aesthetics/local control, namely: the K-Mart store that cuts off Nicollet Avenue. Pretty standard story, I imagine: Everyone was freaked out about white flight and shopping malls sucking all the money out of the central city, so in the 70s they gave K-Mart this piece of land that divides one of the major north-south arteries in the southern part of Minneapolis. It turned to blight almost immediately, dragging down the adjacent areas as well. Everyone who is not K-Mart has wanted to get rid of it forever, but because it's a consistent money-maker, that they never put any money back into, Sears/K-Mart refuses to budge. Every couple of years there is new speculation about some deal to get rid of it, or rebuild it in such a way that the street is contiguous again, but it always comes to nought. Maybe it's not the worst planning disaster in Mpls history, but it's right up there. Could practically be a case study on the fucked up assumptions behind urban renewal projects.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:45 PM
horizontal rule
512

Which one isn't it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:45 PM
horizontal rule
513

51 South. Saw Mill Run, out towards Brentwood.

It's pretty much exactly as shitty as when you lived here, when Pgh was Detroit now. Probably shittier. I was out there 2 weeks ago, couldn't believe it was still declining. Everything in the county gets better but there.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:45 PM
horizontal rule
514

can you imagine reading this conversation as someone who had to leave their longstanding neighborhood because the rent got jacked after it got a light rail stop and a healthy grocery store?

One of the major problems I had with the article is the author doesn't seem to have thought it important to talk to anyone who'd either had to leave or was feeling the pressure to leave. This is especially a problem if the whole point is gain some insight into the relationship between gentrification and liberalism, as all of the people in this situation are likely to have liberal or liberalish views, not just the gentrifiers.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:46 PM
horizontal rule
515

Why was there no comparative study of gentrification with Canada?

Here you go.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:48 PM
horizontal rule
516

515 was me.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:49 PM
horizontal rule
517

Context: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/news/special/NicolletandLake

http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/255211171.html


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:50 PM
horizontal rule
518

I haven't been able to keep up with this in realtime, but it still seems worth noting that fake accent has been the hero of this thread. (I initially typed "worth nothing," and I guess that too. Sorry.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:50 PM
horizontal rule
519

511: I don't know about that, but it does sound unbelievably typical. The combo of awful urban planning with just sufficient profitability is so poisonous. Most of our relics of urban renewal failed on their own terms such that they could be replaced, but there's a horrible, mostly empty mall on the North Side that persists as a zombie because redeveloping/replacing it would be such a massive undertaking.

Maybe if someone explained the Marxist critique to the owners, they'd turn it into low income housing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:51 PM
horizontal rule
520

518: Hear hear!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:52 PM
horizontal rule
521

It's weird, because it seems like there's almost always the political will to bulldoze anything else in this town, but this stupid, horrible K-Mart (I worked there for a couple of weeks 20 years ago, and it was dreary beyond belief) resists any effort to uproot it. The only comparable thing here was a couple of blocks in the downtown financial district that were mostly surface parking for 20+ years, but are now finally being turned into high-end condos (not that I'm such a huge fan of high-end condos, but at least there'll be decent tax revenue from them.)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 8:56 PM
horizontal rule
522

518, 520: Don't smuggify me!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
523

Also, that article linked in 515, which I've finally finished reading, may just be the best thing I've read about Saskatoon today.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 9:39 PM
horizontal rule
524

519: What a horrible building. Old Allegheny is a collection of neighborhoods that could be coherent if it didn't surround that black hole. I didn't even realize it was designed to be a mall until a few years ago--it looks more like a Stalinist secret police headquarters.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 9:55 PM
horizontal rule
525

Reading the thread backwards, I've really enjoyed JRoth's comments on the state of things in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Especially the bit about the new Target--everyone does seem to love it and the shoppers are diverse in class and race. I didn't see how to square that with the sniping above. It's big box but done in a way that's a net benefit to the community. Anyway, it's good to know why things are how they are. I should pick up a book on urban planning.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 10:09 PM
horizontal rule
526

I should pick up a book on urban planning.

Jane Jacobs is a classic place to start, although I'm ashamed to say that I haven't actually read any of her books myself. Somehow they were never assigned for any of my classes, and I've never gotten around to reading them on my own.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-27-14 10:31 PM
horizontal rule
527

They're bringing their values with them. We can point and laugh, but its what everyone does whenever they go anywhere

Oh come on, the point of my anecdotes was not (simply) to point and laugh, and nobody's suggesting that new residents shouldn't try to change things, or that their interests conflict in every particular with those of long-term residents. I'm certainly happy about plenty of the changes in my neighborhood (even though I'm not benefiting in the form of higher property values), and many of the long-term folks probably are, too. My point was that there's a very real obliviousness on the part of many of these people in assuming that their priorities should naturally be deemed the community's priorities, without any meaningful attempt to actually reach out to the 3/4 or so of the community that was here before us shock troops came along.

Here's another illustrative anecdote in that vein: This summer, after yet another round of late night alleyway gunfire, several of my gentrifier neighbors decided that what we really need to do is commission a wall mural--I swear I am not making this up--that would "send a welcoming message" but also convey that this community won't put up with that kind of thing. Of course everyone on the block is on board with having less gunfire around. But setting aside the self-parody of this proposal as a solution to a very real crime problem, this strikes me as tone-deaf to the point of being seriously offensive, for a handful of newcomers to take it upon themselves to "welcome" the people who have been living here all along.

the author doesn't seem to have thought it important to talk to anyone who'd either had to leave or was feeling the pressure to leave

I guess I could go talk to the several families in the small affordable housing unit at the end of the block, who were notified last month of the owner's intention to sell to a developer, and who are trying to organize to do something about it but clearly don't have the means to submit a serious competing offer. I think it's safe to say they're not happy about it. I know that the sweet little zillion-year-old guy who had rented part of a house down the block for the last 25 years wasn't too pleased when his landlord died and his kids realized he'd been sitting on a gold mine and sold the place last spring. And I'm still depressed about our former next-door neighbor, a very dear woman who had lived in the house all 60-odd years of her life, a former teacher but living on disability for a while. One morning this summer she texted us to say that she was sorry not to say goodbye in person but she was too emotional about the whole thing, and was moving to an apartment in PG county. Turned out she had already sold to a developer a few months before, and from what I can tell (which, admittedly, may not be the whole story) got royally screwed--I would have cheerfully given her a couple hundred grand more than he appears to have given her. I mean, I know it's the circle of life and all that, and of course there are big winners in this too, but I'm not sure you need to do a ton of investigative reporting to confirm that there are plenty of serious losers as well.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 12:33 AM
horizontal rule
528

, but I'm not sure you need to do a ton of investigative reporting to confirm that there are plenty of serious losers as well.

No, you don't. You may not even have to do much more than relate the kinds of experiences you talk about in your comment. And the point of doing this isn't to "confirm that there are plenty of serious losers as well", which isn't in dispute. Simply confirming their existence would just be another instance of the general problem of talking about gentrification like they can't be part of the conversation. The point is to acknowledge that you're talking about people who exist beyond being the objects of a set piece about how white people are uncomfortable with black people. The Jacobin article fails to even meet this minimal standard.

In just your comment you have a story about someone who rented and couldn't really do anything about the situation, and someone who owned who may not have been able to stay even in the best case scenario but who may have, with the kind of assistance JRoth talks about in 483, been able to sell at a higher price, which could have mitigated her loss somewhat. In the Jacobin piece you have an argument that capitalist forces pretty much inevitably drive the interests of gentrifiers and longstanding residents apart in such a way that it produces racism which, though I guess the author may not say it explicitly, apparently can't be bridged, and then the author sneers at anyone who suggests things might be more complicated than that.* I've got no problem with criticizing the tone deaf people who suggested the welcoming mural, and calling out the other similar stuff you mentioned earlier, but I don't think they they're all that far from the author of the Jacobin article, when you get down to it.

*Maybe worth noting that this is specifically a sneer at people who mention that there are nonwhites among the gentrifiers. Probably numerically a pretty small group, but I don't think this is a case where handwaving them away is going to make your analysis better.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 1:55 AM
horizontal rule
529
Snarkout pointed out in 334 that this is a conversation among gentrifiers.

This surely can't be true, can it? I personally have never lived in a neighborhood that wasn't either holding steady, or in long-term decline. (I even managed this trick in Seattle, which is probably tough to do.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 2:18 AM
horizontal rule
530

513: I had an interesting dinner last night with several exceedingly rich people from Pittsburgh. We talked at length about the city's transition from hellscape to whatever it is now (whatever it is now, as you know, is very close to my ideal American city).

My takeaway: it REALLY mattered a lot that it was a union town (because non-rich people were used to working together against rich people (like the ones I dined with last night)); it's a very demographically stable city, for a city, including among the very rich (which is one of the reasons that using DC (or San Francisco) the way the Jacobin author does is perhaps misguided), which means that wealthiest people there were and are surprisingly invested in the longterm health of the place and not just looking to make a quick buck and then cash out; the Church, like the unions, was an important part of maintaining a sense of community and neighborhood solidarity (so that, even as things gentrified, they didn't get so out of control that longstanding residents were shunted to the margins (or the freeway underpasses)), including even among the very rich, who seem to have some sense of commitment to what we might think of as social justice (though I'll grant you that my sample is small, I think there's something to this); it's not SUCH a desirable place that someone like Halford would move there, assuming he would get filthy rich by buying a nice house in an iffy neighborhood (and so the increase in property values never approximated DC or SF, and thus the city never became a speculators' paradise or a safe haven for foreign capital (I don't think there are too many Chinese and/or Russian oligarchs buying houses in Squirrel Hill). Other things.

Anyway, the point is: I'm not sure Pittsburgh is in many ways a better example of anything than DC is. But it sure is a terrific place. Living this close to it but not being able to live in it seems sort of unfair, but I guess I'll just learn to bask in its reflected glory.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 5:54 AM
horizontal rule
531

Here's another observation: the Jacobin author is misusing Jane Jacobs, but I'm sort of okay with that, because the way that "Jane Jacobs" or "eyes on the street" has become a shibboleth for "I'm a righteous white person. Although I may be affluent and overeducated, don't hate me for having bought this row house/bungalow/converted loft space when prices were reasonable. I'm actually down with the gente." sort of annoys me. Still, I heart JJ.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 5:58 AM
horizontal rule
532

Final observation, and then it's back to work: Sharon Zukin has been writing good stuff, though always a bit polemical and prone to unravelling at the edges, for a very long time. I typically find myself impressed by scholars/writers/anyone at all who have success early in their careers and then manage to keep at it for a long time. Somebody should probably give her a MacArthur one of these days.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
533

I don't think there are too many Chinese and/or Russian oligarchs buying houses in Squirrel Hill.

They might have been able to be oligarchs, if they'd have applied themselves. Anyway, lots of Chinese and Russian slackers living here. This means we now have great dumplings and even more pointless parking fights.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:05 AM
horizontal rule
534

530: fair enough, and like I said I'm not interested in defending the article's larger argument, only jumped in because it seemed, from quickly catching up on a long thread, that the prevailing view was that the species of obnoxious (or even "objectively racist") liberal gentrifier it describes was a creature of myth. It's definitely not a myth here, though as others have said there are a bunch of reasons it might be disproportionately common in DC compared to other cities.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:07 AM
horizontal rule
535

534 to 528, not 530.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:07 AM
horizontal rule
536

I wonder how long it would take me to get from eastern edges of Pittsburgh to here. Probably long enough that I should stop thinking about it and get back to work.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:11 AM
horizontal rule
537

I've lived in Pittsburgh eleven years and never driver to where you are.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:15 AM
horizontal rule
538

"Chinese and Russian slackers living here...even more pointless parking fights"
Again with the Asian driving stereotypes.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:15 AM
horizontal rule
539

529: the only time I've ever made money on a house was when we sold the place we owned in Oklahoma.* Everywhere else, I've either broken even or lost money. I'm bad at real estate.

* And even then, we only made a few thousand dollars. But given that we bought the place for $76k, a few thousand dollars was a pretty healthy return. Still, the couple that bought the place from us sold it five years later for twice what they paid us. I'm still not sure how that worked. I'm bad at real estate.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:15 AM
horizontal rule
540

537: looks like a minimum of three hours and fifteen minutes. Which is exactly how long it takes to get to DC, Baltimore, Philly, and Cleveland (one of these things is not like the others, yes, but still).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:19 AM
horizontal rule
541

540: ? ~about 2:30.

IF you were willing to do eastern edge exurb you could get it to less than 3 hours.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
542

less than 2 hours.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
543

I'm thinking from a the door of a house located in an inner-ring neighborhood, on the east side of the city, to the door of my office on campus. That looks like a realistic minimum of 3:15-3:30.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:52 AM
horizontal rule
544

I guess it's actually 2.75 hours door-to-door in good weather and without much traffic (like right now).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:54 AM
horizontal rule
545

Anyway, close enough for the occasional meet-up, maybe, but too far to commute.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:56 AM
horizontal rule
546

Live halfway, and start gentrifying the countryside!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:56 AM
horizontal rule
547

No one ever gentrifies the dying farm communities in Kansas, because RACISM.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:57 AM
horizontal rule
548

Jesus, how slow do you drive? Google says 2:19 from CMU (as proxy for close-in East End) to Penn State (and it would be a reverse commute for the most part, so little traffic). Now, if you include parking, and walking to the office, stopping for coffee, etc. that adds some; but your inapt comparison to the driving times to more distant cities, and your odd use of decimal hours (who does that?) in your last estimate indicates to me that you are attempting to convince yourself that it is stupid to think about any further. Which it pretty much is, but that can be arrived at by the actual facts without embellishment.

Also, you're a snob. (We almost all are here, of course, if only second-tier ones.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:16 AM
horizontal rule
549

In respect for the sensibilities of the intervening communities, he was planning to commute in a buggy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:17 AM
horizontal rule
550

Maybe your immersion in the world of academic obfuscation has addled your ability to see things clearly.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:17 AM
horizontal rule
551

Occurs to me that the link in 550 would probably be the basis for a decent FPP.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:19 AM
horizontal rule
552

We should have an FPP about every single thing Steven Pinker writes, just in case.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
553

Google, just this second, tells me 2:37 from the parking lot near my office to Squirrel Hill, no address and no coffee. Also, your Halford impression is coming along, but it still needs work.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:37 AM
horizontal rule
554

You are definitely under 3 hours from Pgh. Harrisburg is just over 3 hours. I've done the drive many times.

Reaching Philly is a pain from the west. If you try to go away to various places you'll quickly be surprised by how much easier it is to get to Baltimore.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
555

I wonder if Google factors my driving speed into its calculation.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
556

I've driven to Philly twice, DC three times, and Baltimore twice, and Baltimore has been easiest. Getting to Philly is fine until the Schuykill, which always seems to be congested.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
557

Hmm, I get 2:22 from what I guess to be your likely building to Forbes & Murray.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
558

Biking I get 14:20 and 44 hiurs for walking.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
559

Maybe it's taking me to the far side of squirrel hill? Certainly everyone here insists that it's doable in 2.5 hrs (sorry).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
560

Also, your Halford impression is coming along, but it still needs work.

Having just spent time in various precincts of Ecotopia, I find myself questioning as conflicted as ever about the sanity of those of us who moved away from Omelas.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
561

This is fascinating, guys. What does your google maps say now? Ok, what about now? Now? Don't leave me hanging.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:04 AM
horizontal rule
562

22 east of Pittsburgh is a godawful drive. I couldn't see doing that routinely.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:04 AM
horizontal rule
563

561: You wouldn't understand.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
564

I miss it, but don't regret the decision. Yet. Let's talk in February.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:07 AM
horizontal rule
565

561: I checked all of the distances on Google Maps as well, so apparently it is fascinating.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
566

Mexicans don't have an appreciation for quantitative analysis.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
567

545 is the funniest thing ever written on this blog.

549: wrong direction.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
568

To be metapedantic, there are some (possibly schismatic) Amish communities in the coves of west-central PA.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
569

I was thinking of the area around Smicksburg. I am aware of all internet Pennsylvania Amish traditions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
570

Apparently gentrifiers have driven all the original commenters out. I'll bet a Starbucks will be opening on the front page any day now.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
571

I didn't mean to suggest that clueless racism was a myth. Just that you can't fight it systemically.

The wall mural thing IS pretty funny. It's like broken windows theory run amok -- people are shooting people because the walls aren't welcoming enough. Or, more like, hey let's make this look like it isn't really the right kind of place where you're supposed to shoot people, so maybe the shooters and their victims will head a couple of blocks over to do their shooting/dying.

I think it's a great idea to go get money and power from the exurbs and use it to mitigate losses from gentrification. Better yet, increase incomes in low income neighborhoods.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
572

||

Not all of these are good but some of them are really amazing. Also the first comment that loads with the page (at the moment) reads

Am I the only one who finds this whole thread unhelpful and counter-revolutionary?

which is great.

|>


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 11:57 AM
horizontal rule
573

572: I'm trying to figure out where "counter-revolutionary" is coming from and coming up empty.* Clearly my political education is lacking.

*unless humor is just supposed to be inherently counter-revolutionary.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
574

Celebrities are so deeply intwined in the current system by their very nature--despite their protests otherwise--that to invoke them in a very serious discussion is to give support to the powers that be.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
575

lolwut


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
576

575 demonstrates that ideas are not so much concepts that we carefully evaluate but infectious agents that feed off our brains. Yudkowski has invented the intellectual equivalent of Ebola.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 2:07 PM
horizontal rule
577

Hey, he's a physicist who has discovered both that there's something that isn't just physics and also that something that isn't physics is important. That's no small thing.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 2:23 PM
horizontal rule
578

575 has solved a tricky lede problem for me. There ought to be a handy museum of things people really have said which are not just straw manning


Posted by: nworb | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 3:10 PM
horizontal rule
579

"from a physics perspective where everything is simply an arrangement of elementary particles, this might be even harder than it appears"

lolwut indeed.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
580

579.last gets it right. Is this the hippies saving physics again, or something? The Dancing AI Fapsters?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
581

577: are you kidding? "Hey look, there is a thing called 'consciousness'/'economics'/'biology'/'art'! As a physicist I am well placed to be the first to investigate its mysteries!" is rather a well-worn trope at this point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
582

I'm waiting for a physicist to tell me about gentrification.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 4:13 PM
horizontal rule
583

Assume these particles are arranged poor-wise, while these particles are arranged rich-wise, quantum-mechanics shows that they can occupy, while in superposition, the same mixed-use micro-brewery cum loft space so long as no one takes a census.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 4:41 PM
horizontal rule
584

Maybe if I wrote some really popular Harry Potter fan fiction I could acquire more influence over the future and funding of my field.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 4:54 PM
horizontal rule
585

581: To be one of those he'd have to say that last bit, though, which he doesn't. In fact he notices that they're different - instead of following the observation in 579 with "so I'll get on that" he actually figures out that it's not really part of physics.

Of course, he goes on to assume that the only way to make a really intelligent AI to work would be to define the good in terms of arrangements of particles or something. But he does seem to think we need to solve all of Ethics first before translating it into physics rather than just doing physics instead of it with ethical terms slapped on, and that's a kind of progress right there.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 5:11 PM
horizontal rule
586

584: Can't hurt.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 5:22 PM
horizontal rule
587

Speaking of Target, our local one has this hilarious colonnade thing out front, presumably so people believe that Thomas Jefferson designed it, just like all the other brick-and-white-column buildings in town.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:39 PM
horizontal rule
588

Perhaps they should start with a simpler apparatus. Give a general function for cars, or maybe coffeemakers, as arrangements of particles first and then we can think about minds or goodness or whatever.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:54 PM
horizontal rule
589

Gentrification has its upsides, for sure.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
590

I'm waiting for a physicist to tell me about gentrification.

I'm waiting for an AI to do it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 8:56 PM
horizontal rule
591

This seems like a promising start.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 9:43 PM
horizontal rule
592

Question: is it inherently more ridiculous that a physicist should suppose his discipline holds the answer to the problems of all other disciplines than that a biologist should?


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 10:00 PM
horizontal rule
593

No, but physicists seem to do it more often than biologists. Not as much as economists, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 10:05 PM
horizontal rule
594

I guess economists usually limit themselves to the social sciences rather than literally all disciplines, but it seems like the same sort of phenomenon.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
595

Biologists know our own subject is infinitely complex, let alone other subjects. Derek Lowe writes about this.

Exceptions: The occasional epidemiologist who tries to model the spread of languages or food trends or whatever, and the evolutionary biologists who don't understand that evolution only exists under certain conditions, like when there's reproduction, and there's a finite lifespan etc. etc.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 10:23 PM
horizontal rule
596

Yeah, there is a weird tendency for certain types of biologists to make uninformed and uninformative forays into certain types of linguistics. It's not all that common, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
597

The Lowe post linked in 595 is really quite good.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-28-14 10:41 PM
horizontal rule
598

oh fuck. I have just finished a long piece on the justification of thoelogy or something(lolwut) and am convinced down into my bones that it is all utterly worthless tripe. But how else can you write about a philosopher except by trying to explain how their work might matter?


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 12:54 AM
horizontal rule
599

And following that (very good) Derek Lowe link in 595, I came across this -- it's not just 4chan but a named, identifiable Associate fucking professor in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Delaware State University who is writing for a Liberian newspaper saying that Ebola is a CIA conspiracy.

Add this to MBNA and the only rational response is to nuke Delaware, again and again and again. Sorry for you people who may live downwind.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:02 AM
horizontal rule
600

599: Does anything ever happen to these guys? Peter Duesberg has been an AIDS denialist for decades and yet, tenured professor at Berkeley!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:29 AM
horizontal rule
601

It really is extraordinary that the anti-public-transport coalition in the US seems to consist of both a) Jacobins, who don't want it because it will make neighbourhoods more desirable, thus raising property prices and forcing black people to leave, and b) wealthy suburbanites, who don't want it because it will allow black people to travel easily and cheaply to their neighbourhoods in order to rob them, thus lowering property prices.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:45 AM
horizontal rule
602

Maybe if I wrote some really popular Harry Potter fan fiction I could acquire more influence over the future and funding of my field.

50 Shades of Grey was originally Twilight fan fiction, so you've got a clear template to follow.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 4:07 AM
horizontal rule
603

Does anything ever happen to these guys?

Police unions. Tenure. Kill a bunch of unarmed people. Spread a bunch of truly dangerous lies. Potato. Potahto.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 4:32 AM
horizontal rule
604

I mean, presumably if the public transport connected poor areas to rich areas, then the locals in the poor areas would make so much money from robbing (or, to be more generous, working for and selling stuff to) the locals in the rich areas that they could afford even the higher rents in the poor areas. We will defeat inequality through COMPULSORY TRAINS.

Maybe this is the real reason that London's underground system includes a line connecting the very poor bits (Stratford, Kilburn) with the very rich bits (Bond Street, Canary Wharf) which is called the Jubilee Line.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 4:42 AM
horizontal rule