In an era of globalization, it is perhaps not surprising that displacement has become normalized. The Call for Papers for this volume of the Berkeley Planning Journal referenced the United Nations estimate of 65 million refugees globally, a staggering total that does not even include the internal displacement totals of the most affluent countries in the world. Many heroic efforts have emerged to assist refugees from nation-states, as well as victims of the affordable housing crises of advanced capitalism. Yet, there seems to be little movement towards addressing the root causes of displacement, or even taking preventive action to stabilize communities.
In this article, we trace the emergence of the false YIMBY/NIMBY dialectic now dominant in San Francisco housing rights discourse, studying its constitution and material effects. Specifically, we investigate how racial capitalism is constitutive of both YIMBYism and NIMBYism, drawing upon Cedric Robinson’s argument that racialization has always been constitutive of capitalism, and racism is requisite for capitalism’s endurance. We make our argument by drawing upon empirical research conducted by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), a data analysis, oral history, and critical cartography collective of which we are both a part. We also draw upon collaborative research between AEMP and community-based housing rights nonprofits and local housing justice organizing efforts, as well as literary and cultural analysis. Such a methodological approach facilitates the unearthing of the racial logics undergirding YIMBYism, pointing to the need for alternative analytics to theorize and mobilize against heightened forms of racialized dispossession. We begin by outlining San Francisco’s YIMBY and NIMBY genealogies, and then proceed to unravel the basic statistical logic underpinning YIMBYism. In doing so, we introduce an additional analytic that we argue is requisite for deconstructing YIMBY algorithms: aesthetic desires of wealthy newcomers. We suggest that the YIMBY “build, baby, build” housing solution fails when architectural and neighborhood fantasies are taken into account. We then study how racialized surveillance informs not only the NIMBY but also the YIMBY gaze, arguing that both camps are ultimately tethered to racial capitalism’s liberal legacies.
Across South Asia, women migrate for employment within their home countries, within the region, and to more distant destination countries. Despite regular and ongoing transit, they are subject to restrictions on their mobility. How do migrant women workers confront and resist these restrictions? This question calls for an analytical approach that considers both the nature of the restrictive forces they confront and the resistance strategies they bring to bear. Scholarship on governmentality traces how nation states, as sovereigns, deploy a dual system of thought and management to exert control over populations and the nations they inhabit. Gendered migration governance at the legal and policy level maps one of many forces that restrict women’s mobility across the region. Within South Asia, social control over women is informed by not only legal, but also political, cultural, and ideological discourses that are anchored in patriarchal social systems. Women workers migrate through varied “borderscapes,” landscapes traversed by competing discourses and practices that seek to define parameters of mobility (Rajaram and Grundy-Warr 2007). Based on fieldwork conducted between October 2015 and July 2016, this paper considers how local, national, and regional networks of migrant women in South Asia circumvent restrictive policies and resist patriarchal binaries. Examining their modes of resistance, this study lends critical insight into how gendered technologies of power are experienced and unmade.
This article addresses one of the biggest tests of our society: the urban displacement and racial injustice crisis. Today’s urban displacement crisis has reached a social change tipping point, but most solutions being advanced fail to prevent immediate displacement. This article debunks the prevailing strategies focused on building more market rate or affordable housing units as being able to effectively prevent displacement. It examines the impacts of urban displacement on the collective self-interest to advance climate change and racial equity. Lastly, the article provides an alternative vision for a paradigm shift based upon an understanding that housing is essential to public goods like clean air, clean water, and K-12 education. California and Oakland, California are used as case studies since they are the epicenter of the national housing unaffordability crisis and because of the authors’ work as policy change practitioners designing and implementing anti-displacement solutions in these communities.
Previous research into the costs of publicly subsidized new housing developments has found that nonprofit developers and program requirements to pay construction workers prevailing wages significantly raise project costs. An extended ordinary least squares (OLS) model is specified that aims to better capture the influence of project-specific variable costs and geographically correlated fixed costs. The model is tested with data from a 2014 State of California-sponsored affordable housing cost study. The OLS models’ estimates indicate that prevailing wages are associated with between 5 to 7% higher project costs. The cost effect associated with a developer’s tax exempt status is half as large as estimated in prior studies and is not consistently a statistically significant driver of costs. The model revisions help to identify other more important sources of cost variation, including large business cycle effects, fair market rents, average county construction wages, local government impact fees, and above-average architecture and engineering costs.
In this exploratory piece, I present a case study of the complex machinations of one community in Bangkok in their 13-year struggle to stay on their land. I ask how legal rights, rights talk, and political maneuvering figure into their strategies, as well as how their involvement with a larger social movement has shaped their efforts. The non-traditional form of the piece allows me to walk step-by-step through the community and the processes at play while considering multiple framings that may help us better understand the community’s situation.
This collection of essays by prominent African scholars centers familiar themes of continuity and emergence, as well as rupture and disruption, but filters them through new light. To think of African futures here is to engage with the diverse contexts through which these accounts reimagine visions of futurity and connections to the past—from the macro scale of urban construction in Kinshasa to the micro dynamics of a prayer meeting breaking up—and to view their interconnections. Drawing from new material and earlier pieces of Africanist scholarship on crisis and change by these scholars, the contributions in this collection are grouped thematically and speak to one another through a framework, which describes the construction, imagination, and deconstruction of temporality and, in particular, futurity in Africa. The editors, Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio, offer a textured introduction and foreground the collection as a relational reflection on the “motley ensemble of verdicts and diagnoses” proffered by previous writing on African contexts (1). The volume thus avoids the binary of despair and triumph in representations of the continent, and provides a valuable addition to scholarship on temporality in relation to refiguring Africa’s futures. As the editors write, the volume aims “not so much to iron out the contradictions nor to disprove the verdicts (though such disproving will at times be necessary) as to think within the paradoxes, perplexities, and apparent certitudes Africa is taken to insinuate” (3).
In The Color of Law (2017), Richard Rothstein takes what once was a familiar narrative of racial segregation in America and turns it decisively on its head.
With bountiful evidence and rigorous detail, Rothstein rejects the prevailing view, upheld to this day by the Supreme Court, that individual decisions create a natural geography of de facto racial segregation in our cities, and argues instead that our government at all levels abetted and sponsored what is in fact de jure segregation. This is the heart of The Color of Law. According to Rothstein, the government has systematically violated the rights it created in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Bill of Rights for black Americans, and his book is essentially a treatise that methodically uncovers this narrative of history.
Each chapter of the book presents a careful yet forceful analysis of historical data, records, and events that uncover this de jure segregation across all facets of our cities. Rothstein demonstrates how public housing, zoning, insurance policies, taxation, labor unions, and police forces all developed and executed racially targeted policies and practices that created widespread discrimination and inequality at the hands of the government.
Worker cooperatives—businesses that workers collectively own and manage—offer an opportunity to ‘anchor’ wealth in the community, particularly in communities where deindustrialization has led to high unemployment and disinvestment in community institutions. Cleveland is one such Rust Belt city: greater Cleveland ranks in the top 10 metropolitan areas for concentrated poverty, with 28.2% of the metropolitan area’s poor residents living in extremely poor neighborhoods.
In 2009, a broad group of stakeholders in Cleveland came together to try to address the city’s economic development challenges by means of an innovative ‘place-and-people-based strategy'—Evergreen Cooperatives.
Waterloo, Ontario, a city of about 100,000 people in a metropolitan area of roughly half a million, is home to both the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University. Substantial increases in enrollment at these institutions over the 2000s and early 2010s have contributed to a recent building boom in privately-developed, off-campus, purpose-built student apartments centred on the Northdale neighbourhood, located between the two universities. While the formerly middle-class postwar suburban neighbourhood dominated by single-detached bungalows had previously been increasingly occupied by student renters, the municipality has since acted as an enabler by rezoning much of the area to accommodate high-rise residential towers—in some cases up to 25 storeys. These drastic urban changes engender displacement in a number of forms across spatial scales ranging from the local to the transnational and at various temporal moments.
As we become more cynical of the federal government’s ability to get things done, there is a growing movement to empower cities to step up and take more control over their own economic destinies by “measure[ing] what matters.”
Measurement is often carried out under an evaluation framework that is set up to identify priority areas for growth and then determine progress toward reaching the desired outcome. Evaluation frameworks are one of several tools appropriated from the private sector that bring a data-driven approach into the public sector (and also, increasingly, in the nonprofit sector).
The High Line – a nearly one-and-a-half-mile linear park in Manhattan built on an elevated section of a disused railroad trestle – is a useful case in considering both the effectiveness and problems of an evaluative framework.
On September 11, 2012 a fire broke out in a garment factory, located in Baldia Town, Karachi, Pakistan (on the same day, incidentally, another fire broke out in a shoe making factory in Lahore, another urban center in Pakistan).
Baldia Town is located inside the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE) in the Karachi metropolitan area. Reportedly, 314 people died in the garment factory fire, which was said to have erupted due to a short circuit, and over 600 were seriously injured, while 100 were rescued.
When the fire finally died down after 12 hours, the extent of the damage came into full view: the loss of life had been this significant due to the exit doors being locked from the outside, which trapped workers inside the blazing structure. Locking doors is a common practice in production industries in Pakistan to discipline labor. The practice allows factory owners to make sure workers don’t take any unauthorized breaks.
As the companies, workers and wealth of Silicon Valley creep north into the city of San Francisco, the effects of an industry with a relatively small but highly paid labor force are leading to widespread social unrest. Embodied in the symbolic protests around “Google Buses,” lower-income residents are reacting to tech’s ability to produce so much wealth that is thinly distributed to a small labor force, disinvested from local infrastructure (with private transportation), and funneled to comically useless purposes like the “Google Barges” mysteriously floating in the Bay. However, conversations about tech wealth are often limited to its distribution—with even mainstream economists (as well as The Economist) conceding that, “Facebook will never need more than a few thousand employees.” Clearly, the other side of this is production; even with its relatively small labor force, Facebook can generate billions in wealth and profits. Instagram, the hip photo sharing mobile application, famously had only 13 employees when it sold for $1 billion (that’s around $77 million per employee).
There was a time—not too long ago—when informal settlements the size of small cities were practically invisible. Large and empty beige-gray fields, intercepted by an occasional thin blue line, signifying water, and several thicker, windy white lines that stood for major roads, would pop up on the computer screen when searching for infamous slums such as “Kibera” on Google Maps. The information void stood in stark contrast to the hundreds of thousands of people living in Kibera, ironically tucked away between some of the city’s most valuable and celebrated resources: the Royal Nairobi Golf Club, Ngong Forest and the Nairobi dam.
“I don’t mind the American soldiers on our streets. If I could talk to them I’d ask: Why are you so afraid of us? Why do you fear us so much?”
So answered my Afghan friend, when I asked him how he felt about the American troops parading the streets of Kabul. I expected him to be appalled by the invasion on his privacy, or sovereignty. But what appalled him most was their fear, and how it seeped into his everyday life. When he looked at them too long, they pulled out their gun, he said. I thought the high walls and barbed wires of Kabul’s new architecture conveyed the same message.
David Chavis’ 1990 article, “Sense of Community in the Urban Environment: A Catalyst for Participation and Community Development," highlights the effects that perception of environment, social networks, and how residents’ sentiments about their communities can further influence the behaviors and perspectives of others. The article further emphasizes the importance of citizen participation in community organizing and explains why it has been regarded as key to improving the quality of the physical environment, enhancing services, preventing crime, and improving social conditions.
Yearning for a rural lifestyle is a legitimate desire for all city dwellers. It is more than understandable to think about a nicer place if you can afford it, considering that “nicer” often means more greenery and nature. Nevertheless, countryside living is not only an aspiration for people in Bogotá who are planning a systematic exodus from the city’s current sense of collapse, but also for displaced rural people who try to make a living in the city. Sometimes there is a situation of urban dwellers colonizing farmers’ land, or the current national social illness of forced displacement.
I don’t remember the first time I saw a homeless person You can’t find one of those in Lexington, Massachusetts Birthplace of the American Revolution Red pavement without payment of litter, Elegant boutiques, dainty planted trees Cul-de-sacs curled around mansions Little girls boys bright, bubbled futures – so few chills For want is no friend to upper middle class glut Fear does not feed on green pesticide-not-quite-grass As dreams are blown from mouths like bubbles – fragile, wet, still steaming Weightless they cling to skin, nesting, become another skin, home My home But if you can’t find a home here, then you have no home This town is not for the homeless.
Shrinking cities have been the subject of much conversation in recent years. With Detroit filing for bankruptcy protection and the growing concern about aging cities in Europe, the discussion is gathering ever more momentum. In a climate of hasty blanket statements and one-size-fits-all solutions, Aksel Olsen takes a step back to critically examine the phenomenon of shrinking cities, in order to find real, practical solutions.
A significant number of cities and regions across the US and Eastern Europe currently face population decline, economic contraction, or both. The ‘greying of Europe,’ where nearly a third of the population will be 65 or over by 2060, is increasing pressure on social services, urban infrastructure, and the labor supply.
This is a tale of a well-intentioned stream restoration project in a residential park-neighborhood of Richmond, CA that sparked a community power struggle. The unintended consequences of the restoration left the neighborhood divided. Neighbors who wanted to reduce criminal activity in the park were pitted against those attempting to promote local pride with aesthetic improvements. It provides an interesting case study bothfor understandingsuccessful urban creek restoration and neighborhood-level politics.
San Francisco has oftenserved as a blank canvas since its rapid rise to prominence after the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s – the subject of countless visions for how the built environment should be designed. Whilesomewereoutlandish and others more grounded, the many ideas advanced over the years for guiding the City’s development have each presented a roadmap for moving forward, complete with nested values of what is most important for the future. Such is the subject ofUnbuilt San Francisco – an exhibit currently presented at five locations around the Bay Area, including at UC Berkeley (more details below). On display are plans, renderings, models, and other media depicting unrealized visions for the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of these proposals, such as a BART line running into Marin County, many wish had been built; others, like Marincello, a 30,000-person community in the now-preserved Marin Headlands, we cannot imagine advancing today. The exhibit covers a journey of great breadth, ultimately leaving the viewer with anuneasy sense of what could have been.
Some see the rising steel structures in downtown St. Louis as milestones in a long-awaited project, others as an unwelcome reminder: as construction on the Cardinals’ Ballpark Village becomes more visible, controversy surrounding the $650 million development has also grown.
Ballpark Village has been envisioned as a new downtown destination for over a decade, but like thousands of other developments nationwide, remained just a vision until earlier this year due to the recession. The 2007 plan included high-rise condominiums, bars, shops, restaurants, plus the introduction of a street grid intended to integrate the project into the surrounding downtown neighborhood. The current construction, however, will include none of the mixed-use features, and replaces much of the planned development with a bemoaned surface parking lot.
Greece. The word brings to mind a dazzling array of images. Whitewashed houses topped with cobalt blue roofs. Windmills and grape vines. Anthony Quinn dancing with a glass of ouzo by the sea. Yet what the word does not automatically trigger is desperate landscapes comprised of abandoned, half-constructed homes.
This article explores the vernacular architecture of Greece (in particular the island of Santorini), and also investigates such landscapes in times of economic debt & crisis. As the US government finally reaches a deal to end government shutdown and avoid default, we can look to other countries for precedents regarding how debt crises affect building, planning and constructed landscapes at the local level. This isn’t an alarmist cry against the certainty of a debt-ridden future. Instead, I tracethe possibilities of how debt affects the built environment, and ask if we should begin thinking about parallel models and case studies. Although Greece and its islands may comprise a much smaller geographic scale than the US or Canada, it is an instructive example and microcosm that we can learn from.
These are the questions with which University of California Berkeley professor of City Planning Ananya Roy begins her headlining talk at TEDCity2.0. Roy takes the audience through an examination of the “cottage industry” of city officials, advocacy groups, and others who spend countless hours pondering this notion of world-class city identity. In municipalities across the globe, from Shenzhen, China, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, local leaders want to know whether they have the “it” factors for achieving world-class city status.