Has anyone read anything about innovative solutions to food deserts, by any chance?
(Farmers markets do NOT count, especially in places that don’t grow crops year around)
Have any of you seen Flag Wars? We watched it in my Urban Design class yesterday. It was on PBS but it is set here in Columbus. Just, wow. It was pretty intense. I’m very familiar with issues of privilege, poverty & gentrification, but seeing it played out like this was very interesting.
Shot over a four-year period, Linda Goode Bryant and Laura Poitras’ Flag Wars is a poignant and very personal look at a community in Columbus, Ohio, undergoing gentrification. What happens when gay white homebuyers move into a working-class black neighborhood? As the new residents restore the beautiful but run-down homes, black homeowners must fight to hold onto their community and heritage. The inevitable clashes expose prejudice and self-interest on both sides, as well as the common dream to have a home to call your own. Winner of the Jury Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival, Flag Wars is a candid, unvarnished portrait of privilege, poverty and local politics taking place across America.
If you’re interested in gentrification issues at all, I highly suggest renting this (you can get the DVD on netflix, other places too, I’m sure.)
There’s not much direct subsidy of suburban subdivisions — developers pay for all interior roads and sidewalks, sewer and water hookups to City lines, and drainage and water retention facilities. They pay steep fees for City reviews and inspections. Depending on the size of the project, the City might require the developer to build on-site facilities like wastewater treatment plants. The City charges impact fees on top of these costs, and also can make developers pay the cost of off-site improvements that are roughly proportionate to the development’s impact.
The real subsidies are the large amounts of money we spend to construct and improve the arterials that serve the suburban developments. Travis County has just proposed another such subsidy — $133 million in bonds, mostly for new and expanded roads in the City’s suburban fringes, particularly the rapidly developing northeastern part of the county:
Using reasonable assumptions, the present value of the future stream of county taxes generated by $100 assessed value is $9.4. Thus, the roads must increase property values by around $1.4 billion to pay for the cost of construction. But that doesn’t include the annual cost of maintaining these roads. If we assume the lifetime cost of maintenance equals the cost of construction, these roads must generate a net increase of $2.8 billion in property value to pay for themselves. That’s the equivalent of 15,000 $180,000 homes that would not be built but for the new roads.
In 2002, OHC and PPD were central players in a community planning process that shed a spotlight on the neighborhood’s problems with crime and vacancy. As OHC staff worked more closely with police officers, it became clear that bricks and mortar could be some of the strongest crime-fighting tools in the neighborhood. OHC set out to acquire the worst nuisance properties and turn them into high-quality affordable housing. The police backed the organization at every turn, such as by working with representatives of the fire and building inspection departments to explain to negligent owners that they would have to be held accountable or sell.
When the City of Providence made a commitment to rehabilitate the riverfront area into a nine-acre public park, OHC, PPD and a number of other partners teamed up in a LISC-sponsored training to consider how principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)1 could inform the redevelopment process, both in terms of the park’s physical design and programming to promote active use. They emerged with a plan that would make the park an anchor for the neighborhood’s transformation.
Equally important, they reinforced a new framework for policing and community building in Olneyville: Police and community developers would examine problems together, whether it be a spike in crime or a rash of foreclosures. They would consider how their different expertise and resources could contribute to solutions and act accordingly—taking care to strategically time enforcement actions, community engagement efforts and development milestones to be mutually reinforcing.
Years later, beautiful new homes have replaced the worst nuisance properties. The park offers a safe and well-used green space, community garden and bike path that connects the neighborhood to other prosperous parts of the city. Calls for police service dropped more than 85 percent from 2002 to 2007, without notable displacement to nearby areas, and crime has remained low since. The strong working relationships between community developers and police have withstood tests of leadership transition—three different commanders of PPD’s District 5 have worked closely with OHC over the years—and have helped the neighborhood respond rapidly to problems like concentrated foreclosures that threaten its newfound vitality.
The original article is much longer, and here. Necessary read for people planning on working in blighted areas!