Gentrification debate

I know that the tensions in San Francisco has been a recent topic of debate around these parts, so I thought I’d post this article by Daniel Hertz about the process of gentrification and what he believes in actually happening - he kind of ties it to bad city policy on housing stock. He also thinks that no matter how well-intentioned those moving into urban neighborhoods are, there is less choice than we think in these issues. Not surprisingly, he focuses on both race and class. I think it’s a pretty good piece, and is at the very least, thought provoking.


I read this earlier this week. Was wondering about posting it here somewhere.

Now you don’t have to! :wink:

What did you think of his argument?

Not sure. I see where he’s coming from though. I used to live in Seattle’s gaybourhood and always felt like I was intruding. I loved living there but it wasn’t important to me.

Now we live in a very sleepy, very white, very middle class bit of the city, I’d say it couldn’t possibly get more gentrified but they are trying to ruin its character (as with the rest of the city) by building as many ugly condo and apartment buildings as possible. I guess the demand for housing is there so they are needed but…

Mind, we also live in a brand new townhouse instead of one of the old Craftsman homes so we’re still bad people. Lovely views of Mount Rainier and the Olympics from our rooftop, though :slight_smile: For now, anyway.

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I mean, the logic of the author seems sound, but to me the difference is that

Every person in the room was white. Every person had graduated from a relatively prestigious four-year college.

these people are always such herbs. and this guy just wrote a get-out-of-jail-free card for themselves.

yeah, I’m white. yeah, I’ve lived in the places that my presence made it OK for these dudes to move in. but I grew up occasionally on public assistance. I went to 50/50 public schools (depending on where I was uprooted to at that time.) the university I did not graduate from was not prestigious at all–it was the cheapest option. I only mention these things because even when I lived in the West End–literally the hood–it never felt like “oh boy, here I go,” it was just normal. I mean, I know there are a lot of scholarship cases, but basically, when we’re talking about “went to a prestigious college,” them moving to these areas is literally the first time they’ve downgraded in their entire lives. philosophically, they can understand their place and their impact, but my contention is that if they were able to just blend a bit, this whole chain of events would slow down as to be manageable. I could be wrong, but I just wanted to get that off my chest.

It’s like, as soon as white folks started to move into the 4th Ward, suddenly there was a wack, white-person-styled bumper sticker that they could advertise that they were “supporting” their neighborhood. dog, are you serious? why are you blowing up your spot like that? what is the point of that? the answer is: you think you’re special. Just let it go, fuck.

I imagine SF is a very peculiar case, since those employable in the highest level of the tech sector seem to favor an advanced case of “unable to blend.”

I dunno, there’s no easy answers but I’m just speaking from what I’ve seen. I’m sure all the black dudes in the West End thought I was a herb, too, so whatever. I only know about housing as far as “where can I afford to live” rather than as a “lifestyle choice.”

I wonder if this is like when the bottom fell out of feudal Japan. The samurai class was aimlessly wandering around in a similar way–educated, designated as “high class,” and faced with a downgrade for the first time in their history.

The article is basically on point. Individual choices about consumption have no influence on socio-political trends; that requires collective action. As the article concludes,

The exact solutions can be debated, but I would start by lobbying your local government for housing subsidies for the low-income, protections against eviction due to rising rents, and an end to exclusionary caps on housing construction that keep prices artificially high.

One of the things crippling political resistance in the US is the widespread memory lapse about the possibility of collective action; most social problems are framed in terms of decisions about consumption by the middle class (and people who aren’t middle class are trained to think of themselves as middle class).


You must get this a lot, but “liveable ballard” evoked something entirely different for me.

Until I clicked, I was expecting to see something about to make one’s peace with a concrete monstrosity.


I’m not sure anyone got modern society in the same way that JG Ballard did…

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