Re: Minimum wage

1

Laws where a state says a city can't do something are far from accomplishing nothing. They keep urban or more liberal areas* from doing anything different from the rest of the state. It's a big deal because getting a city council to agree to something is going to be much easier than getting a state legislature, a governor, and a city council.

*I suppose they work the other way, in places that aren't Oklahoma.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:38 AM
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We need Cities Rights conservatives, to protect citizens from overweening state governments.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:41 AM
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Inclusionary zoning laws (like the anti-snob zoning law in Massachusetts) are an example of this kind of thing being used for (per my values) good.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:42 AM
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Locally, we're not allowed to ban fracking or require people to report lost/stolen guns.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:44 AM
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Hm, that wasn't a very good link in 3. Anyhow, it allows developers to ignore local zoning laws if those laws don't allow for the construction of sufficient affordable housing. All the rich towns with the 1.5 acre per unit lot size rules haaaaaate it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:45 AM
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I'm afraid it was the telco (or actually cable) industry that kinda invented this with the various "no you absolutely can't have muni-fibre" laws.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:51 AM
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Here is a better link than the one in 3.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:52 AM
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I am pretty glad that localities can't, for example, loosen state environmental regulations.

How we feel about how power is divided up and down the hierarchy I realize tends to be contingent on circumstances (states' rights), but we agree there needs to be some kind of division, right?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:53 AM
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If the state would take seriously the idea that it is ultimately responsible for the education of all residents, that would be just great. For some reason, local governments are sacrosanct when it would involve spending money to consider it otherwise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:57 AM
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we're not allowed to...require people to report lost/stolen guns

Goddamn big forgetful and inattentive gun owner lobby.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:06 AM
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The gun industry doesn't want to do anything that might disturb straw purchasers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:07 AM
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Ahh, that makes sense. Is it a recent change? As of June 2013 there were a bunch of municipalities with such laws.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:09 AM
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It's part of a broader rule prohibiting any local gun law. The reporting rule was just the case where people were talking about challenging it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:13 AM
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I think this is another example of a good version of this general sort of thing. It's funny to imagine how this particular one got passed: my suspicion is that some town was using public drunkenness statutes a bit too freely and someone complained to their state senator.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:13 AM
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I can't seem to find if it is a recent change or not.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:15 AM
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We're not allowed to tell the sheriff to stop wasting his time with the marijuana laws.

The question of whether we're allowed to tell local businesses that they can't discriminate based on orientation or presentation is in the courts now. (Challenge funded by a right wing zillionaire.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:30 AM
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Its useful to recognize that the conservative embrace of Federalism is basically bullshit. Their arguments about how important it is to devolve power from the federal government to the state governments would logically extend to devolving power from state governments to local governments. But red states are constantly passing laws that tie the hands of local governments.

Apparently conservatives feel the perfect level of government abstraction is the state level, but I have never seen a coherent argument about why that should be.

I think its clear that the actual reason is that state governments represent the easiest level of government for monied interests to exercise effective control over. At the federal level, there are too many other monied interests in competition. And the local level is far to diversified with too many jurisdictions to manage. But state governments are small enough that they are easy to buy, and large enough that they cover a broad population and geographic area. So, that's why everything needs to be controlled at the state level.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:51 AM
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They keep urban or more liberal areas* from doing anything different from the rest of the state.

Yep. NYC just got permission to drop its speed limit down to 25, after the state forced it up to 30 (that is, set a minimum permissible local speed limit of 30) a few decades ago. And 30 is definitely too fast on a Manhattan street -- mostly people don't go that fast, because it'd be a bad idea, but it's nice having the limit reflect reality.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:53 AM
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17: Whistles, stomps, inarticulate noises of agreement. This, exactly, and I say this as a minion of the state government.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:54 AM
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Is OK not generally a Dillon Rule state? I would have thought that setting minimum wage would not have been a power granted to municipalities in the first place.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:55 AM
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I should probably not open this can of worms, but 12 states have barred their municipalities from banning certain breeds of dogs, which is a good thing.


Posted by: Clark | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:53 AM
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In California, not so much that business doesn't sit comfortably on the throne, but they can't abide that labor and various other groups have a seat at the same table, and I think that's behind various recent stabs at devolution. The thankfully-failed Prop 31 would have given counties the power to amend state law, with the Legislature having veto power. Theoretically only to better promote the same objectives. And the Six Californias initiative, which didn't get the signatures, would have given new powers to the six regions it designed as an "interim" measure before the division of the state.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:54 AM
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21: The animal rescue people have more pit bulls than Walmart has food with corn syrup. That's more than enough reason to ban them in the city as far as I'm concerned.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:57 AM
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Am I right in thinking most or all US municipalities have plenary power? That is, there are plenty of specified things they can't do, whether by constitution, or state law overriding, or state law enjoining them from taking specific actions, but outside those boundaries, they can come up laws for whatever new issues come up, like puppy farms. I wonder what it would be like if they just had enumerated powers.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 9:23 AM
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23: My city just fines you if your dog isn't fixed, directly addressing your concern without any of your vicious dog breedism.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 9:29 AM
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We just have a cheaper dog license if you cut off your dog's goodies. Given that the annual license is $20 for an unfixed dog, this probably isn't a sufficient incentive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 9:32 AM
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5. The inclusionary zoning stuff is only in effect if a town has less than 10% affordable housing. So, in practice two things happen.

First, developers who are looking for zoning variances and such threaten to build affordable housing instead of McMansions, which scares the local boards into giving in on the variances.

Second, to get up to the 10% level the town is usually eager to accept most or all affordable apartment development that will quickly get them over the line, but only if it's in an out-of-the-way, not-in-their-backyards part of the town.

Once a town gets over 10%, any interest in affordable housing shuts down pretty fast.

So yeah, it's a decent idea but the implementation has not been so great.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 9:36 AM
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Are you explaining this to me, or to somebody else who didn't already know that?

In any case, would you like to point to a better implementation? 10% affordable housing is more than 0%. Out-of-the-way part of town is still in the town.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 9:41 AM
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Yeah, California is not immune from this sort of thing. Although the only example that comes to mind is the Costa-Hawkins law from 1996 that overturned local rent control, which was at a time when Pete Wilson was the governor.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 9:45 AM
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28. It's the only one I know much about.

Getting more affordable housing in the suburbs (80% of the affordable housing built under the law is in the suburbs) seems to be predicated on the idea that the suburbs are the goal of all striving. This was possibly a supportable idea in 1969 when the law was passed, but not so much any more.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:11 AM
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seems to be predicated on the idea that the suburbs are the goal of all striving

No. Getting more affordable housing in the suburbs is predicated on the idea that there is value per se in both mixed income communities -- as opposed to Corbusier-style hyper-concentrations of poverty -- and in having housing for low-income workers relatively near to their places of employment which are probably more likely to be geographically distributed (especially for service workers) than the workplaces of high-income professionals. Urban areas in Massachusetts tend to have much more affordable housing by percentage than suburban areas, even after forty-some years of 40b.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:19 AM
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(80% of the affordable housing built under the law is in the suburbs)

That seems about right if the suburbs are like here. The idea is to make it harder to use zoning to make educating children from poorer families the sole problem of poorer families.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:24 AM
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It's also worth pointing out that "the suburbs" in this case include places like the Route 128 corridor and the cape, where for good or ill there are tons and tons of service industry jobs and often very little affordable housing. It may behoove the residents of Weston or Lexington to have everybody working at nearby malls commute two hours on the bus but it's not necessarily in the interest of those commuters.

And Moby's point about schools is an excellent one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:31 AM
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Moby lives in near a school district where the per capita income is $12,000 and it's failing. The solution: charter school.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:39 AM
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And another school district centered on a town with a per capita income of $80,000 and really big lots.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:41 AM
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Moby's not sure how he feels about referring to himself in the third person. Can the Hulk and Bob Dole be wrong?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:42 AM
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Any other DC residents feel left out of this discussion? I realize that I haven't lived here all my life and in some sense I chose to give up state-level government when I changed my residency, and anyways maybe I should consider myself lucky given what the topic actually is, but still, this is as foreign to residents of the capital as it is to the Scots here.

Alternately, go Vermont! And all those other states that are well-functioning across the board and way to the left of the rest of the country. I haven't followed Vermont news all that much since moving away, but apparently they have single-payer health care and somehow managed to avoid death panels.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:43 AM
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34: That stretch of the Mon really needs outside help. Zipcode tattoo guy can't do it himself.

37: Apparently they don't vaccinate their kids.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:51 AM
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Can the Hulk and Bob Dole be wrong?

Rickey Henderson says hell no!


Posted by: Rickey Henderson | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 10:58 AM
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I was wondering during the Scottish referendum what the maximum of devolution is -- having the referendum at the same time as the Ferguson tragedy did rather point up that small places can get badly captured. Off the cuff I'd say that principles should be top-down and mostly concerned with justice and externalities, and implementation bottom-up and appropriate to each locale, but that doesn't seem to be how we regulate at all. Maybe it can't be.

Slacktivist talks about subsidiarity, probably I should go look that up.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 1:37 PM
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I have no idea why Corbusier's name is tied to concentrations of poverty. It's so lazy.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 3:14 PM
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If you want to blame anyone for the spatial segregation of rich and poor, blame the Victorians and the industrial revolution.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 3:17 PM
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If you want to blame anyone for the spatial segregation of rich and poor, blame the Victorians and the industrial revolution.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 3:17 PM
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I have no idea why Corbusier's name is tied to concentrations of poverty. It's so lazy.

If it's lazy to do so, that implies there's some obvious, but fallacious, reason to do so. Therefore you must have some idea.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 3:19 PM
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Antisemitism? I mean, it's gotta be, right?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 3:33 PM
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Corbusier's name is tied to concentrations of poverty in high-rise developments with lots of plazas near cities because the people who built them were heavily influenced by what they took to be his ideas. Them's the breaks, Boozy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 3:59 PM
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Ah, so it is just laziness then, thanks.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 4:51 PM
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Sorry, that was very cranky. But honestly, why do you think that the major state building programmed aimed (and generally actually pretty successful) at eliminating slum conditions generated by the market has come under sustained critique during the period of neo-liberal reaction? Might it be that buying into cheap and easy "slum clearances were a bad idea" narratives is not the best thing to do? Maybe the state's role in the provision of housing through the major modernist building programmes is attacked for ideological reasons by people who were actually quite happy with the pre-existing Victorian slums, and repeating that kind of smear campaign might be long term counter productive to getting to a decent social democratic settlement that involves the state's direct intervention in the housing market?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:09 PM
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If it makes you feel better, I always confuse that name with the brandy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:09 PM
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48: I don't know which French guy to blame for it, but high rise public housing projects really didn't work here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:14 PM
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I'm not super nostalgic for them, but in general they were a lot better than the slums they replaced - particular in Europe, where Corbusier was working - and a lot of the flaws were due to the fact that the ongoing upkeep wasn't done, and then the dissolution of the post-war social democratic consensus in the 70s-80s, particularly the rise of mass unemployment etc.

It's also not the case that all high-rises, or all apartments, or all slum clearance projects are the same, and in fact some were quite successful, some mediocre, and some, of course, miserable failures. The (valid and important) critiques of the early Corbusier style were often incorporated into major post-war building projects like the Smithsons' - this is the CIAM/Team Ten split, basically.

And fundamentally, it wasn't Corbusier that introduced spatial segregation into the European city. That was development of the 17th-19th centuries, and in many ways the Corbusierian city was less spatially segregated than the pre-existing forms or the sprawl-oriented suburbia that won out, and still predominates.

To tie it all back to the local government thing, a lot of this work was done by municipalities as part of municipal socialism. It's one reason that Margaret Thatcher hated councils, and a lot of the attacks on council housing in the UK worked out as useful ways for central government to screw over councils that attempted to provide social housing - right to buy being a good example.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:28 PM
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Maybe, but he's one of three architects I can name (excepting those I know personally). And one of those I can only name because of crossword puzzles.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:32 PM
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Unless we can count Albert Speer and Mike Brady.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:40 PM
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the major state building programmed aimed (and generally actually pretty successful) at eliminating slum conditions generated by the market

The US cities I've lived, the modernist programmed antipoverty buildings failed utterly, and various shabby tiny-yard-for-everyone sub-bourgeois subsidized neighborhoods sometimes haven't.

I suspect that there's something in the USian asshole-neighbor temperament that effloresces especially badly in large modernist programmed buildings, as I was floored in Amsterdam and even London and Milton Keynes by how non-assholish the modernist buildings were. Not shading the neighbors or deranging a centuries-old street alignment or putting sharp or staining material where pedestrians will brush against it: how novel. And the combination of expecting showoffy rude-type modernism and then building it on the cheap as poverty relief and not maintaining it, that didn't work at *all*. The dopey stick-built neighborhoods could at least be patched by the residents.

So I greatly enjoyed the Ben Aaronovitch novels' discussions of London's severely modernist buildings with humanist results, and also his mention of local-resident-designed projects of the present day (mostly dense townhouses, mildly traditional in style), which I mentioned to a Seattle neighborhood activist who leapt on it as a usable example.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:48 PM
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Here, they replaced the highrises with a Target, which is just a tiny bit Neo-liberal sounding. But it's really seemed to work and the replacement housing is still mostly very dense and transit accessible by U.S. standards.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:55 PM
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Seattle's boom is throwing up high-rent highrises, and a lot of glossy glassy five-over-one apartment blocks, and everyone who remembers the last two booms -- and the intervening crashes -- is worried that they won't be maintainable in a low-rent crash economy, and that they're all going to hit some end-of-economic-life money sink at the same time and bankrupt... who? Probably not the developers. How horrible will they be when badly maintained? At least non-highrise buildings can be patched up piecemeal.

This is also what worries me about the `poverty door' building in NYC. Let us plan for plumbing as well as philosophy!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 5:57 PM
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You poop in the door?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:01 PM
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I think people seriously underestimate how atrocious depression era housing was - we're talking indoor plumbing as major advance in liveability here.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:09 PM
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The projects here in MPLS have mostly worked out pretty well, depending on your demographic loyalties. Rapson's Riverside Plaza, the "New Town in town" development near the University, just got a $93 million renovation with local, state, federal and private funding. It still doesn't have enough elevators, but it's been a home for thousands and thousands of new Americans. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was originally envisioned as 70/30 market rate/subsidized, but for most of its 40 year life, has been the inverse of that ratio.

The other projects that were initially built as 100% subsidized have had their ups and downs, but I don't think any of them have been bulldozed, except perhaps the very oldest ones.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:10 PM
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58: Absolutely. "Swede Hollow" in St Paul and "Bohemian Flats" in Minneapolis were the two notorious slum areas here. Initially built/occupied by those two ethnic groups, as you might imagine, I believe Swede Hollow wound up mostly Mexican before it was cleared, and Bohemian Flats stayed more Eastern European throughout its existence. At any rate, they don't sound like particularly nice places to live -- especially Bohemian Flats, where a lot of the housing was regularly flooded out.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:15 PM
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I think what's telling is that, at least here, the massive modernist housing projects weren't popular with the residents. This is the case in Cabrini-Green, Pruitt-Igoe, and whatever our own East Liberty highrises were called. In our particular case, I'm lead to believe that East Liberty had a lot of good housing from previously being a somewhat wealthy neighborhood before white flight took in, so the highrises were detrimental to the residents. (It was also part of a pretty dumb street readjustment, intended to make it a commercial center but that actually made it unattractive to live in and easy to get around and past.)

It does sound like things are better in Europe (and the Antipodes?), but even there they didn't always get it right even with the best of intentions (e.g. Bijlmermeer).


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:17 PM
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58: Is it possible depression era housing was worse there? Lots of it was bad, of course, but I don't think much of it was without plumbing in any area urban enough for a high rise. My dad grew up walking outside to shit, but that was in a very rural environment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:18 PM
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My understanding was that the American cities took municipal water systems very seriously starting around the turn of the century, but (like everything good) it's possible that wasn't uniformly applied to poor, non-white, or immigrant areas.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:21 PM
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You do have to be careful with "unpopular with residents". One common trajectory (not always! some started out awful and never got better) was that they were originally popular, and then, as the maintenance and upkeep was neglected, got less and less popular, until eventually being seen in a very negative light - especially when coupled with the general collapse of industrial America & the downward pressure on the working class. I'm not sure, but I think people have suggested this was the case for Pruitt-Igoe (I haven't see the documentary The Puritt-Igoe Myth yet, but I keep meaning to.)

Orwell discusses slum clearance schemes in The Road To Wigan Pier, and it's actually quite a valuable document of views at the height of the inter-war depression.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:26 PM
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This says toilets were required even in tenements in the big cities by 1900. I'd bet hot water was lacking for many, but no indoor plumbing was a rural thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:29 PM
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58: I don't think that's as relevant as whatever the best option available when the neighborhoods were improved was, though. That is, the story I'm familiar with is of tenement dwellers, terribly badly housed due to economics beyond their control, who were moved into giant buildings of a style they didn't like and the middle-class in their cities didn't want to live in either and told to be grateful that they finally had plumbing. I was a kid in St Louis in the 1970s when Pruitt-Igoe came down, though, so the well is poisoned for me. The redlining in detached-single-family neighborhoods there was also visibly bad.

The explanatory variable is probably more StL vs MPLS than architectural style, but saying `but the projects had plumbing!' is the same bad argument as saying that no-one is really poor now because they have fridges and TVs.

(Vaguely relevant, a friend and neighbor of my mother was living in a (barely) converted chicken coop in the 1950s; had been converted in the 1930s. Outhouse plumbing, though in Florida that's not so bad. Not only did the school kids make sure he knew they knew, but the neighborhood still referred to `the chicken coop lot' into the 1990s. Wow, people are mean.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:32 PM
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According to the Wikipedia page on Pruitt-Igoe, something like 30,000 homes in St Louis had communal toilets in the 40s. Which is maybe better than some of the most deprived and/or bombed out areas in Europe, but it's still indicative of the very low standard of housing we're talking about here.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:34 PM
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64: Good point on initial popularity. I'll have to look into that. I'm pretty underinformed about this, but it's fun playing Simplicio.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:36 PM
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67: That's the south. That would be a different kettle of fish than Pittsburgh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:36 PM
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Middle class (and rich!) people lived in modernist high rise housing too - this is a weird Tom Wolfe-ism that seems to perpetuate itself without reference to things like Mies van der Rohe's entire career.

I don't want to defend the entire history of housing projects - they were often very awful places to live by the time they were demolished, owing to decades of no maintenance, the collapse of local economies, and failure by local government to continually building housing, forcing them to take on a more and more difficult tenant base. But at the time they were built, they were major advances on the previous accommodation, and often were actually reasonably well liked by their residents.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:40 PM
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Oops, crossed 64. I don't remember anyone saying the residents ever liked Pruitt-Igoe, even when the grownups were arguing bitterly over whose fault it was. The argument went more `they aren't grateful!' vs `no-one would want to live there!' Hm, wikipedia on the subject has a lot of factors, including cost-cutting in both design and construction and that a low-rise adjacent project did fine, as did two-family stairwells.

Anyway, the problem with ongoing maintenance of subsidized housing is one I've been mentioning repeatedly: an advantage of old styles is their repairability in relatively small units, so the neighborhoods are more resilient even if less robust.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:43 PM
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I don't want to claim that residents uniformly loved high rises. But it's not historically accurate to claim that residents uniformly hated them at the time they were built either. There were a mix of views, and the ongoing feedback from residents & general critiques were often incorporated into the next wave of high rise planning - this is where Park Hill's "streets in the sky" stuff comes from, for example.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:51 PM
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70.1: I don't think anybody is arguing that you can't successfully populate a high rise with people who have voluntarily decided they wanted to live in one.

70.2: Pruitt-Igoe wasn't even occupied for decades in the sense of two entire periods of ten years. All the time it was occupied were during relatively good economic times.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:54 PM
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In most US cities the middle-class and rich mostly didn't live in high-rises. There wasn't very long between land and timber being cheap, and gasoline being cheap. Hence the tsuris over San Francisco developing high-rises and Changing Everything.

Odd if this isn't so in NZ.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:54 PM
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73 - That's what 66.1 is arguing, no?

To get back to the local government thing again, I do think that St Louis vs Minneapolis is a pretty important factor here - well run places will tend to do things well, badly run places badly.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:57 PM
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74: Many of the cities in NZ (e.g. central Auckland, Wellington and its satellite cities, Dunedin, Nelson kinda) are tightly constrained by bays and steep hills, so the urban land area can be pretty constrained making them more vertical than similar cities of their sizes elsewhere. There are some nice-looking high rises in central Auckland. (But also lots of rich suburbs.) Does not apply to Invercargill at all.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:59 PM
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But honestly, why do you think that the major state building programmed aimed (and generally actually pretty successful) at eliminating slum conditions generated by the market has come under sustained critique during the period of neo-liberal reaction?

Because in practice, for a number of reasons, many of them no doubt extra-architectural, they sucked. The fact that what they replaced also sucked is genuinely irrelevant.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:59 PM
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Also, St Louis really might be a meanest case for urban living even in the US. Ferguson didn't surprise me at all. The place had private neighborhoods that handle their own utilities and security, and got out of contributing anything to the metro ditto, and were *smug* about how much nicer they were than Those Neighborhoods.

OTOH, I was dragged into a dark alley with a guy with a gun there, and when I said I'm a student and all I have are math books and three dollars, cross the damn street and rob the rich people! he dropped me. All the luck I expect to have, right there.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 6:59 PM
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Leaving aside the high rises, I think we can (on the basis of reading his wikipedia page) fairly blame Corbusier for the stupid sweeping green areas surrounding lots of high rise developments. People demonstrably don't want to walk across sweeping fields of empty to get the groceries.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:00 PM
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Well, yeah. I grew up in a wildly successful 'housing project' -- brick towers in a park. But while it was subsidized, it was middle-class rather than poverty housing, and it was always impeccably maintained. Nothing fundamentally wrong with the concept if you do it right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:00 PM
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The fact that what they replaced also sucked is genuinely irrelevant.

The fact that Section 8 and scattered site seem to suck less seems relevant, but maybe it's too early to tell.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:01 PM
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That 'yeah' was to 73.1.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:01 PM
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And by "groceries", I mean "beer".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:01 PM
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74 -- NZ has very little high rise housing. What there is tends to be inner urban apartments, mostly young professionals. State housing in NZ followed a pretty different path to that in Europe/America owing to various factors.

Most rich people don't live in high rises - most people full stop don't live in high rises. But high rises aimed at rich & middle class people were successfully built in post-war America - Lake Shore Drive Apartments being the obvious exemplar.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:03 PM
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an advantage of old styles is their repairability in relatively small units, so the neighborhoods are more resilient even if less robust.

In our town, most of the public housing is on land that has become increasingly desirable, right by a major bridge. The city's response is that the public housing will be all or mostly demolished and people will be relocated throughout the city, though no longer in one concentrated area. So there will be the building I've mentioned before thats a complex for parents in college that also offers daycare/aftercare for their children and a supportive environment for their families, but I haven't been able to get a handle on where they really want people to go or if this is what will happen. And the public housing isn't bad, just like semi-crummpy apartments but large and not untidy.

In the next town over, where all my girls and Rowan came into foster care, I drive past a place where nice little townhomes and a small (6-story?) retirement community for public housing are being built. But most of the people in public housing are in a place that's hidden away on a hill where no one who's not going there to see it will ever have to see it. And while I've made a point of showing the girls I'm not afraid to go there or anything, I actually was scared for the first time the last time I did drop some photos for Nia's mom. I don't like that she's living there and I'm glad that Mara's family is gradually moving out to other places, because it's just a disaster, people penned in with no shops and no jobs and no outlets for the people who live there and so when things get dangerous like it looked like they were going to the last time I was there there's no way out and no one outside cares. It's really made me think that visibility is part of the key, that wealthier people don't actually want to have to see poorer people being tortured even if they support it politically.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:04 PM
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78.last: Woah. Glad you stayed safe. Good thing you were armed with a sensible redistributive argument.

For some reason I had this mistaken idea that St. Louis was actually less fucked up than I've found out it is recently. Probably from reading 19th century history where it was an outpost of German immigration in a mostly culturally Southern area.

79: Ugh. What a great way to make a building feel isolated from its neighborhood.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:07 PM
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N.B. I don't dislike Corbusier per se -- I can see one of his buildings from my desk, and I like it a lot. I also don't dislike urban renewal per se, although... yeah, I dunno, maybe I do. I think the fullness of time has showed that razing was maybe an over-reaction to the immediate problems with victorian-era urban workers' housing. I also don't dislike high-rise housing; a lot of it is really lovely. But in the U.S., Corbusier is a synecdoche for a never-well-thought-out plan to better serve the poor by concentrating them in poorly-served-by-transit high-rise developments, and that was a fucking horrible idea, pretty much from day one, even -- legitimately shockingy! -- in NYC, the only city that already had pretty decent transit access, and the "neoliberal" plan of integrating poor populations somewhat more into the community has -- despite not providing nearly enough units, and proving susceptible to developer capture -- done a generally better job of giving poor people a stable place to live that isn't dangerous. Now, along this whole narrative trajectory are there many, many places where the disingenuous perfidy of the rich and amoral laid a heavy thumb on the scales? Sure! But practically, that is the situation in which one is expected to work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:07 PM
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"shockingy" isn't a word, of course. I meant "troublingly".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:08 PM
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Oh oh also I should amend 87 to say that there actually are real and measurable benefits to having a (relative) lot of poor people in one place, and those have been papered over by some of the integrate-into-the-community programs like section 8, to the bad fortune of residents. But there is a middle ground between Pruitt-Igoe and a pure voucher system.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:11 PM
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Look at the Wikipedia aerial picture of P-I -- it's nothing like the surrounding little brick houses (many of which were probably duplexes or four-plexes, iirc). StL is flat and surrounded by cornfields and was not space-constrained and did not put middle-class people in highrises and didn't *need* to build P-I that way. It was rude-neighbor grandstanding with poor people's lives.

I should go do a walk-through review of the Bullitt Center and its scandalously slow elevator.

Thorn, the best assisted housing in Seattle is right above the shabbier end of downtown and it's all peeling plywood but everyone has a tiny garden, and the air is good, and it has great access to jobs (!!! now why should that matter?) and it does need to be rebuilt but everyone's titchy about whether it will mysteriously turn into all market-rate. Looks like probably not.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:14 PM
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85.last: Agreed on visibility. The invisible (but sometimes very close to rich area) public housing neighborhoods around here really are an awful way to treat people.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:15 PM
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It was kind of awesome the time we were in the icky projects and Lee was all positive because she'd beaten a bunch of 9-year-old boys in basketball and hurt their feelings because she was a girl and THEN a community college student of hers walked by smoking a joint and stopped to talk to her about his homework and visibly (presumably because high) went through a whole series of thoughts about "Do I offer her a hit? Do I pretend this isn't what I'm doing? Are we all just cool with this?" and we were all just cool with it and things were fine. But that was also the time I had to stop a bunch of preschoolers from playing with splintery scraps of wood with nails in them, because free range children have their pluses and minuses.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:21 PM
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93

Leaner, more healthy meat, but more tetanus.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:29 PM
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didn't *need* to build P-I that way

the combination of tight, Congressionally mandated limits on construction cost per square foot and Davison-Bacon Act wages usually left no alternative.


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:31 PM
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Davis. Stupid iPhone.


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:41 PM
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That was my only chance at fame.


Posted by: Opinionated Ghost of Senator Davison | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:46 PM
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I made that joke despite, as far as I can tell, there never having been a "Davison" in the U.S. Congress.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:47 PM
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86: Hah, I was having a miserable time in first gradschool and was nearly suicidal and had influenza and a scary USSR housemate who threatened to have her father have me shot and I was not much afraid of being shot in the head, I just didn't want to be raped in the bushes first. And also the redistributive argument was pretty clear.

St L seems to be worse at race and class integration, or even mutual accomodation, than (say) Atlanta. Don't know why. Too many immigrant groups? Not quite rich enough? The private neighborhoods?

When we moved *out* of St Louis, when I was a middle-schooler, and into ruburban idiocy, our chicken coop was designed after Corbu's Star of the Sea, only with bad chicken puns. Alas, no pictures. The original was a private beach house, IIRC.

I wonder where the failure point for towers-in-a-park is. University campuses in the green-sward style are sometimes delightful, and walking past other people's yards in leafy suburbs is fine, and perhaps LB will describe the felt experience (and groundskeeping routine) of her childhood. It isn't just badly maintained public housing that fails, because some universities and a lot of `business campuses' look great from the air but are awful to walk around in. Average trip distance? Likelihood of seeing other people? Densely connected paths vs culdesacs? Wind speed? Noise? Daylight? Leylines?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:47 PM
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94: This was the height of cheap suburban sprawl. Levittowns in new suburbs wouldn't have been cheaper? They were for everyone else.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:49 PM
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Given that the ur-type of European wealthy living is literally a large building in a park, I have to admit that I have my doubts about any theory of architecture which totally condemns that form.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:52 PM
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Those people all had ur-horses and servants.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:56 PM
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98.first: Ugh. That all sounds awful.

98.last: I would guess some combination of trip time and isolation from the surrounding community. My school had some big green areas but none of the buildings were that far away, and you could walk right down the main drag and be on an urban shopping street. It was actually a bit more isolated than I would have liked, but that was more due to the geography and city planning (ravine on one side, wonderful but huge park on another) than anything intrinsic to the university itself.

But leylines definitely matter. That's why the built Milton Keynes on the line between Lindisfarne and Mont Saint-Michel (LOOK IT UP, TOTALLY REAL FACT..oh, no, 50 miles off, nevermind)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:56 PM
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98.last: leaf-blowers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:58 PM
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100: It's a lot easier to do well for a family with additional resources than it is to do for hundreds of unrelated people.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 7:59 PM
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104 - of course, it's an absurd comparison. But there is something in it.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:01 PM
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100: Yes, that's why it's so *odd* that some of them fail so badly.

(Or we could argue about park as vert, venison and enclosure vs the fairly late and definitely English extensive greensward thing. Also, in novels, the grand estates put in carefully landscaped walks and rides and ambages, they don't think people want to actually walk over the whole thing.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:02 PM
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I guess if anyone was wondering who would take over Halford's trolling responsibilities we now have an answer.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:04 PM
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107 - I felt it was incumbent on *someone*.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:09 PM
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I would never have learned to type without Davis-Bacon.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:25 PM
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This seems like a good thread to re-recommend Hands Over the City, possibly my favorite film about politics, and, more relevantly, a film about urban politics and land development in postwar Naples.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:44 PM
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It's also on Hulu; I might watch it again right now.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:47 PM
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There's a great scene where the developer is showing the left politician the inside of a modern apartment (with indoor plumbing and a toilet!) and talks about how much better it is than the slums its replacing and the politician talks about how the poor will be priced out of it and pushed to a different set of substandard living conditions.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:52 PM
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Or at least that's the implication.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:53 PM
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I'm just going to keep serially posting in this abandoned and poorly maintained thread. Squatters rights!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 8:53 PM
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Twenty more comments and it's yours by adverse possession.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-10-14 9:03 PM
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