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Breakfast links: A rising tide


Photo by afagen on Flickr.
Vote again: The Alexandria City Council will revote on its waterfront plan in hopes that clarifying the zoning will curtail any lawsuits. They also plan to pass the bill with a supermajority, which opponents think is necessary. (Post)

Trinidad on the rise: Only 5 years ago, Trinidad was the site of shootings and police checkpoints. Now it sees rapidly rising home prices even approaching a million dollar listing. But will some current residents be priced out of the neighborhood? (Urban Turf)

Auction heats up: With one day left to go, there are now two bids for the West Heating Plant in Georgetown with the higher bid coming in at $701,000. This comes after almost a month of no bids for the site. (Patch)

Drive people around for money: A new service coming to DC called SideCar will allow anyone with a fairly recent sedan to pick up paying passengers. Passengers would then pay the drivers by way of a donation. (City Paper)

Where the bike crashes are: MV Jantzen created a map plotting the crashes involving bikes in DC based on DDOT's recent report on bike crashes. Though that data is likely not catching all the crashes. (WashCycle)

Where the jams are: By using anonymous cell data and mapping, one study found that specific areas around Boston were causing massive traffic. The study used data that was easily available, and could be used in DC. (Ars Technica, Drake Perth)

And...: The proposed second entrance and walkway at Medical Center moves forward. (Post) ... DC United is optimistic at the prospects for a new stadium at Buzzard Point. (Post) ... Use of public transportation has doubled in Frederick County over the last decade. (WTOP)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

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"More transformative, said Fearer, are apartment buildings that are being bought by developers, renovated, and then sold as higher-end condos."

From the Trinidad article. Very true, and given the difficulty in financing a larger condo building we are going to see a lot more of this in the next three years.

by charlie on Feb 19, 2013 8:32 am • linkreport

But will some current residents be priced out of the neighborhood?

Why would that be? If you've bought your place, and stay put, there is nothing changing for you. Your mortgage does not depend on that of others.

by Jasper on Feb 19, 2013 8:52 am • linkreport

@Jasper
"Residents" includes renters obviously. And they do get priced/pushed out.

by MLD on Feb 19, 2013 8:55 am • linkreport

@MLD; and elderly/unemployed people who can't pay the higher real estate taxes.

by charlie on Feb 19, 2013 9:05 am • linkreport

Quickly rising housing prices can be a neighborhood problem. A quick online data search shows that upwards of 60% of the units in the area are rentals. Even if landlords can't jack up rent, they can turn to the old slumlord tactics of making living there so unpleasant that tenants are forced out (obviously the majority of landlords aren't like this - but some will be). Especially for older renters or families that's a bad situation to be in.

by Alan B. on Feb 19, 2013 9:08 am • linkreport

Sense the reference to my Silver line essay and pictures was not included in this morning Breakfast links, here is the link to that post:

02 10 2013 Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

by Sand Box John on Feb 19, 2013 9:10 am • linkreport

@charlie

Property taxes are pretty low in DC (lowest in the region) and there's plenty of property tax relief for those on fixed incomes. I think most of the evidence I've seen posted around says that people who own their homes in general do not get priced out, they choose to move because their property is worth a lot more than they paid for it and they can use that equity to move to someplace bigger elsewhere.

by MLD on Feb 19, 2013 9:12 am • linkreport

The bids for the heating plant suggest that whatever historic preservation obligations apply give the building substantial negative value.

A 2 acre site there should be worth millions.

As a taxpayer I resent that.

by ah on Feb 19, 2013 9:17 am • linkreport

While some of this is probably speculative (will the bubble burst if we go into sequester?), I think it's also a sign that we need even more good old TOD around metro stations in this city. Large surface lots right next to metro stations(with a few exceptions) or anywhere downtown drives me crazy. Hopefully we can get more infill development rather than just pricing a bunch of people out of their homes.

by Alan B. on Feb 19, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

"But will some current residents be priced out of the neighborhood? " Of course! Why do people constantly get surprised that change for the better comes with some pain for those on the bottom? I'm not saying that something shouldn't be done about it, but it's disengenuous to think that there won't be losers with positive changes.

I don't see the difference between wanting to live somewhere that's too expensive for your income level and wanting to stay in an area that's becoming too expensive for your income. One just got luckier than the other by being there first, and like Jasper said, if you've bought, then your mortgage stays the same. Taxes are the only variable, but that comes with an increased appreciation of your property. One can't have it all.

by Thayer-D on Feb 19, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

thayer - there are studies indicating that as neighborhoods gentrify, the rate at which people leave isnt much higher than it would be otherwise (we overestimate the stability of the non gentrified inner city neighborhood) just different people are moving in. What makes this different is the sheer pace of change in a place like Trinidad.

"I don't see the difference between wanting to live somewhere that's too expensive for your income level and wanting to stay in an area that's becoming too expensive for your income. "

The main difference is that someone already living there may have ties to neighbors in the area, that are of value, and not easily recreated in a new place. So their loss is more than just their neighborhood of preference.

That is NOT to say that such changes should be stopped - in the abstract, without knowing what policies are suggested to retain older residents (which could range from IZ, to rent controls, to refraining from investments that increase area desirability, to raising the height limit to decrease pressure on transitioning areas) its hard to evaluate them (and I dont think this thread is the place to do so). Its just a matter of acknowledging a real cost that comes with rapid transition.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 19, 2013 9:32 am • linkreport

A common practice in California and elsewhere is to cap the property tax payments, but capture the value upon sale for fixed income/senior property owners. This would seem to me to be the best of both worlds, though as it is, between the 50% homestead deduction, senior discounts and the 10% cap on appreciation, there are fairly generous programs already in place.

by Andrew on Feb 19, 2013 9:39 am • linkreport

I can't comment on whether Alexandria City Council is following the law or not on the process (though their attempt to pass it again with 2/3ds as a favor to those who initiated said law suit over that seems to be in very good faith)but the overall objections to the waterfront plans are ludicrous.

You're converting industrial or simply inaccessible waterfront property to a mix of parks (now disconnected from one another) and commercial properties (notably hotels who is a prime target for getting a lot of taxes for relatively few services). The counter to this was all parkland plus a museum (of some undefinable purpose) and when the question of how all that was supposed to be paid for and you could hear the crickets chirping.

by drumz on Feb 19, 2013 9:40 am • linkreport

"Real estate agent Jennifer Myers thinks [there isn't a housing bubble in Trinidad]"

Maybe that's true, but asking a real estate agent if there's a real estate bubble is like asking a child if it's bed time. The answer is always no.

by TM on Feb 19, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

Maybe that's true,

True, but don't attack her point just because she's a real estate agent. The converse is also true: just because someone expresses incredulity about rapidly rising home values, that doesn't automatically mean there is a bubble.

When the median home sale price in nearby Capitol Hill is north of $600,000, it's not all that hard to see why an area that's essentially adjacent to the Hill would rise up to better match that obvious demand.

http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/state-real-estate-capitol-hill

Yes, the whole area was indeed undervalued.

by Alex B. on Feb 19, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

@Andrew - California's practice has been an abysmal failure in a number of respects, including a massive decline in funds available for education, significant inequitity of taxes between owners of similar houses, and a significant lock-in effect.

DC's policies, perhaps overdone, are far better at limiting the blow from rapid appreciation while maintaining some semblance of equity and protecting (poorer) seniors from being unable to afford taxes on homes they've lived in for years.

by ah on Feb 19, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

Aren't urbanists supposed to be against the existing resident bias? There's always winners and losers in economic and social change.

by onelasttime on Feb 19, 2013 10:03 am • linkreport

Does anybody know if the foreclosure freeze is driving up the cost and/or availability of mortgages in D.C.?

If I were a lender, I wouldn't offer mortgages/home equity loans in D.C. except to people with the highest credit worthiness for fear of not being able to get my money back in case of default. If so, that could be seriously contributed to the affordable housing problems; people couldn't purchase their homes (for example, in tenant conversions) even if they wanted to.

by Adam L on Feb 19, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

Alan B. has a better understanding of how the gentrification process works than other commenters today. Having concentrated poverty and high crime rates, as we have seen in Trinidad, is certainly not a goal. But such negative factors do allow for low property values, in turn promoting lower rents. Landlords in poor neighborhoods tend not to show interest in the value of their property. They are interested in the revenue stream. As taxes increase, their incentive is to charge more in rent, and thus people are driven out.

But more importantly, the fact that Trinidad is gentrifying raises the greater question of affordable housing. Its continued loss is a real concern. Hopefully, Gray's plan will make a dent. But celebrating Trinidad's rise without realizing and addressing the cost is bad policy.

by thesixteenwords on Feb 19, 2013 10:09 am • linkreport

@witc,
"The main difference is that someone already living there may have ties to neighbors in the area, that are of value, and not easily recreated in a new place. So their loss is more than just their neighborhood of preference."

No doubt. There's a loss of something when little Italy dies, when Chinatown dies, or when Chocolate City becomes 31 flavors. I guess I don't hold anyone citizens interests higher than anyothers to a fault. That means the rich of Woodley Park shouldn't be able to take away publicly paid for right of way's via Rock Creek becasue they don't want thru traffic, but it also means that an older resident of an ethnic enclave dosen't get preferential treatment to live in an area over some poor college kid trying to move into a central neighborhood.

I bemone the loss of culture and character, but I think fairness is more important and I trust that something new will pop up, even if it's hard to define and different.

by Thayer-D on Feb 19, 2013 10:09 am • linkreport

To add on to ah's comment. Proposition 13 in California is a big reason why they are in such a deep fiscal hole.

by RJ on Feb 19, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

"Aren't urbanists supposed to be against the existing resident bias? "

contrary to what some think, "urbanists" are not monolithic. we share many goals, and many means of attaining them, but some issues divide us - and the question of affordable housing, inclusionary zoning, income mix, and general attitude to socioeconomic class seems to be one that in particular dividers the liberals from the libertarians (both of whom are frequenty urbanist, and are in agreement on much else)

"I bemone the loss of culture and character,"

reread my post - I was not even addressing the issue of culture (and related externalities). I was purely looking at it from the viewpoint of costs and benefits to existing residents.

People have "sunk costs" in their social networks. Those costs are lost when they move on top of their change in their housing choices.

Its like the difference between tearing down a building to build a new one, and building on a vacant lot. Both may have the same construction costs, but in the former there is the loss of something of value.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 19, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

"but it also means that an older resident of an ethnic enclave dosen't get preferential treatment to live in an area over some poor college kid trying to move into a central neighborhood."

Again, without a particular policy proposal, its hard to evaluate any treatment of anything.

You do realize this could be an argument, not for housing preferences or rent control, but for, say, ADU's, buildings without parking minimums, etc to make it easier for those college kids to find housing elsewhere, and ease some of the pressure for rapid gentrification. It could also be an argument in favor of improving transport options from the inner suburbs, to accomplish the same thing.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 19, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

As an urbanist, I think we are supposed to appreciate all sides of complicated issues. I'm not anti-gentrification at all, but I'd like to see most of it accomplished by targeted increases in density rather than a wave of new residents that displaces old ones. Moving around all the time is fine when you're a young, healthy adult but we should make a place in the city for families and older residents that need more stability. That's one of the reasons I think the streetcar system is so necessary as a tool to spread around new population density in dense clusters without overwhelming whatever neighborhoods are on the edge of the gentrification wave at the moment.

by Alan B. on Feb 19, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

@ah,

There is also the problem with having to deal with the issues with environmental remediation (likely in the millions) for decades of industrial solvents, fuel bunkers and associated tons of machinery that has to be removed.

That's the problem when you sell stuff "as-is". You get a much lower price because all of the existing problems have to be paid for by someone.

by DCr on Feb 19, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

I read "ties to neighbors in the area, that are of value" to mean culture. If you meant it differently, then I misunderstood you, but everyone looses ties when they move, whether becasue they can't afford to live there or for any other reason. As liberal as I (think) I am, I just can't see the government getting into the level of coddling that would entail addressing people's "sunk costs in their social networks". Socioligically you are correct, but does that translate into something the government should deal with? Everyone has had "sunk costs" taken away from them unless they are the .1% for whom life has left unscathed, and even then, they might want to leave to grow.

The tearing down an existing building versus building on an existing lot is a great analogy though. Why not just tear down willy nilly and trust that something new and different will rise in its place? Becasue of the shared culture and identity that some of those older buildings bestow on a community, both local and national. That's why I thought you where refering to culture, becasue beyond the personal which is impossible to quantify, there is at least a perceptual change in an altered culture, even though still quantifiably hard to define.

I think we ought to have mpdu's and subsidized housing for sociological reasons, which contradict my fairness point. The greater good of an economically diverse community where by people see other types of people can lead to better governance and more harmony through less ignorance from living in isolation from other groups. I don't think there's a magic formula to what's ideal, but my whole point was that the constant qestion of "will some current residents be priced out of the neighborhood?" seems like liberal guilt rather than an honest question. The question might better be asked, how shall we ensure a diversity of housing options to have a mixed population and all the benefits one accrues from that.

by Thayer-D on Feb 19, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

It's important to remember that there is an equal and opposite reaction wrt to changing neighborhoods and culture. The first mistake is to assume that neighborhoods are static.

Sometimes changes are uniformly bad (though even "bad" can be flexible) but other times they aren't. It doesn't really do anyone good to simply bemoan your loss and try to preserve your neighborhood in amber but rather actively plan for adaptation.

by drumz on Feb 19, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

Landlords in poor neighborhoods tend not to show interest in the value of their property. They are interested in the revenue stream. As taxes increase, their incentive is to charge more in rent, and thus people are driven out.

In gentrifying neighborhoods, landlords are often more interested in appreciation than rental income.

I live adjacent to Trinidad, and though my rent has crept upward, it hasn't kept pace with the insane real estate boom in the area, and I definitely pay below market rates. He could easily charge 15%-25% more, and still find tenants. However, he's planning to sell the building, knows that I treat the place well, and doesn't want to find new (short-term) tenants.

So, for now, I'm safe. However, once my lease expires and he sells the unit, I'm screwed. I'm not going to be able to find anything else in my neighborhood that I can reasonably afford. There are fewer and fewer rentals, and the housing costs are off the charts.

It's funny, but I never imagined that I would end up being a victim of gentrification.

by andrew on Feb 19, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

I agree with Alan B's point entirely, one I advocate at every turn. It's a matter of supply and demand, and what's in demand are close in/transit convenient housing options. Build out the street car network and increase supply. Only then will the market stabilize to the point of not "overwhelming whatever neighborhoods are on the edge of the gentrification wave at the moment." There are other strategies that will help like MPDU's etc, but it will never be entirely fair, but that shouldn't be an argument for holding back progress.

by Thayer-D on Feb 19, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

"As an urbanist, I think we are supposed to appreciate all sides of complicated issues. I'm not anti-gentrification at all, but I'd like to see most of it accomplished by targeted increases in density rather than a wave of new residents that displaces old ones."

If you can show some argument why it's unfair for existing middle class residents to preserve exclusionary zoning to the detriment of potential/new residents while exclusionary policies are fine in areas inhabited by lower-income people, without referring to some principle of preferential treatment, I'd like to see it.

by onelasttime on Feb 19, 2013 10:44 am • linkreport

Andrew: ask your landlord to offer a long-term lease. The purchaser of a building automatically assumes any leases for the full term of the contract so you'd be locked in for at least another year or so at/near your current rate even if someone else buys the building. The landlord may not go for it since it would impede on his selling power, but can't hurt to ask. And if he likes you, he could make an exception. Worked for me once.

by 7r3y3r on Feb 19, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

Re: Heating Plant Auction

The way online auctions typically work -- whether they are for real estate or trinkets on ebay -- is that all the bidding happens in the last 10 minutes (or less) of the auction. For real estate auctions, there's often a rule that the auction will be extended by a couple of minutes if there's been a bid in the last minute. I've seen that rule extend auctions by more than an hour.

by Falls Church on Feb 19, 2013 11:32 am • linkreport

Landlords in poor neighborhoods tend not to show interest in the value of their property. They are interested in the revenue stream.

Actually, the revenue stream is in direct proportion to the value of the property. The ratio between your revenue stream (net of costs) and the property cost is known as your "capitalization rate". Cap rates (basically, your return on investment) tend to be clustered around 8%, so if your property increases in value, you should be able to increase rents/revenue stream.

by Falls Church on Feb 19, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

Re: Trinidad

It's a catch-22. Residents of crime-ridden areas would like to see actions taken to reduce the crime. However, once crime goes down, property values and rents go up, pricing out low income renters. The thing is, as a low-income renter, you can't have an expectation of being able to live some place forever. Yes, it sucks, but it's just one of many things that sucks about being low-income.

What the city needs are more programs to help renters become owners (although there are already quite a few). For example, I know of a modest-income couple that recently moved out of a rental in Trinidad and was able to purchase a fixer-upper in Trinidad through the City First Program. They're putting some sweat equity into transforming the home from derelict-to-livable which helps make the entire block seem nicer. Obviously, that's not going to work for everyone since you need to be hard-working and educated enough to be aware of and take advantage of the program. But, you can't hold the city's progress hostage to a requirement to fix everyone's problems.

by Falls Church on Feb 19, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

"As liberal as I (think) I am, I just can't see the government getting into the level of coddling that would entail addressing people's "sunk costs in their social networks". Socioligically you are correct, but does that translate into something the government should deal with? "

"exclusionary policies are fine in areas inhabited by lower-income people"

"But, you can't hold the city's progress hostage to a requirement to fix everyone's problems."

Im not for stopping gentrification, or even for creating a tailored program to preserve the community networks that low income people have in their old neighborhoods. All Im saying is that there a range of policies - from reserving spaces for existing residents when we redevelop an old public housing project into mixed use - to IZ - to trying to ease the development process and increase densities where we are building new so as to reduce gentrification pressue - that look more attractive if you put some positive value on those existing neighborhood ties.

Look - whenever we argue for ADU's, or for more sensible historic preservation, or for eased parking minimums, or for a relaxed height limit, or just about anything to accommate the echonomic demand of younger people for housing in already "transitioned" areas the "NIMBY's" come out with "just send them to a poor neighborhood, we should gentrify more of those" Thats going to happen anyway, of coures - but all I am saying is that speeding it up comes with a cost, a nontrivial cost.

The aging affluent NIMBYs who fight change, will still be able to live in their neighborhood after the change - they may not be able to park for free, their may be a bit more noise - but they can still stay where they are comfortable, in their own houses, near their neighbors, churches, community institutions. The poor black renters in places like Trinidad will not. When you fight to keep, say, Tenleytown just the way it used to be, you are condemning some poor person (who may be particularly dependent on informal social networks for their quality of life) to a serious social (not just real estate) displacement.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 19, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

I think these paragraphs deserve repeating:

Look - whenever we argue for ADU's, or for more sensible historic preservation, or for eased parking minimums, or for a relaxed height limit, or just about anything to accommate the echonomic demand of younger people for housing in already "transitioned" areas the "NIMBY's" come out with "just send them to a poor neighborhood, we should gentrify more of those" Thats going to happen anyway, of coures - but all I am saying is that speeding it up comes with a cost, a nontrivial cost.

The aging affluent NIMBYs who fight change, will still be able to live in their neighborhood after the change - they may not be able to park for free, their may be a bit more noise - but they can still stay where they are comfortable, in their own houses, near their neighbors, churches, community institutions. The poor black renters in places like Trinidad will not. When you fight to keep, say, Tenleytown just the way it used to be, you are condemning some poor person (who may be particularly dependent on informal social networks for their quality of life) to a serious social (not just real estate) displacement.

The point is that the people affected by gentrification are typically the poor, and typically the same ethnic groups. The poor are the most burdened (on a per-income basis) by increased commute times and costs. They are the ones who might need to borrow money informally from each other. The list goes on, but the point is that the poor generally have a harder time adapting to those changes than the middle class and wealthy. These are well-established phenomena.

Acknowledging these facts does not mean that you need to have large, exclusionary laws, but it doesn't mean that there is nothing we can do. It certainly should not be the poor neighborhoods that should be shouldering all of the growth and disruption, as lots of NW activists implicitly suggest. This is why growth in NW is so important.

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 19, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

Damn, my comment on awitc's posts starts with "the point."

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 19, 2013 12:58 pm • linkreport

I've never advocated for exclusionary zoning and I would never do so. Personally, I think we need to be addressing the issues through other policies related to zoning, social services, taxation, transportation etc. AWITC provided a great list of examples already.

However, I do think we should pay special care to not further disadvantage poor residents. As Neil said, generally research shows that the poor are more reliant upon social safety nets for a variety of things from loans to daycare to community healthcare.

Equitable development will spread new density around the city so that to the greatest degree possible people can stay in the places they are if they want to, while the city can absorb new residents. No one has the right to keep their neighborhoods static, nor should they have to to absorb more than their fair share of change. I think when the city is more stable socially, everyone will win through reduced crime and acrimony.

by Alan B. on Feb 19, 2013 1:13 pm • linkreport

@ Neil Flanagan:The point is that the people affected by gentrification are typically the poor, and typically the same ethnic groups. The poor are the most burdened (on a per-income basis) by increased commute times and costs.

Isn't the idea that the poor will find better jobs in their improved neighborhood, and make more money? Isn't the idea that kids that grow up in a better neighborhood, have a better chance in school? Isn't the point of redevelopment that there are more job opportunities so that poor people can become less poor?

Does this actually happen?

by Jasper on Feb 19, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

Those things don't happen if a neighborhood just turns over completely, and families renting in apartment buildings are kicked out so developers can do condo converts.

by MLD on Feb 19, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

Jasper if you're a single mother making $1500 a month after taxes (not even worst case scenario by far). Rent going from $500 to $1000 is going to trump just about any other consideration. Having a better school they can no longer attend is just going to be salt in the wound. No one thinks you can shield everyone from economic conditions but you can put some policies in place to ease the burden. Not to say that the city isn't doing anything, but it's starting to feel like the poor areas are getting thrown under the bus while the wealthier neighborhoods are getting off scot free.

by Alan B. on Feb 19, 2013 1:40 pm • linkreport

Yes, this is why there should be more development across the city and not just "gentrifying" areas. Tell it to the folks in upper NW who continue to fight development, fight ADUs etc. They won't buy it and will dismiss the theory as an indiscretion of hopeful youth.

by William on Feb 19, 2013 1:50 pm • linkreport

"The aging affluent NIMBYs who fight change, will still be able to live in their neighborhood after the change - they may not be able to park for free, their may be a bit more noise - but they can still stay where they are comfortable, in their own houses, near their neighbors, churches, community institutions. The poor black renters in places like Trinidad will not. When you fight to keep, say, Tenleytown just the way it used to be, you are condemning some poor person (who may be particularly dependent on informal social networks for their quality of life) to a serious social (not just real estate) displacement."

This strikes me as dangerous territory. Yes, the NIMBYs do face a different circumstance than the "out-gentrified." Yes, NIMBY's do not get physically pushed out of their neighborhood, but to them their neighborhoods and lifestyles are not the same ("Where did the neighborhood go"). I wonder what axiological calculus you are using which allows you to recognize the claim of the "out-gentrified" based on their circumstance while denying the NIMBYs any right to a claim.

by onelasttime on Feb 19, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

Well, I'm not sure that's something you can proscribe rather than tackle on a case by case basis.

But usually the issues deal with parking (particularly free parking) or a vague fear of undesirables (however you want to define it, students, poor people, bar-goers etc.). The former needs to be managed and its silly to halt any progress in an area in fear of disrupting the status quo (even attempts to remedy it via managing demand. And the latter usually just boils down to smacking down prejudice and should hardly ever be seriously considered.

by drumz on Feb 19, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

I wonder what axiological calculus you are using which allows you to recognize the claim of the "out-gentrified" based on their circumstance while denying the NIMBYs any right to a claim.

Well, the neighborhood changes regardless of who you are. The claim is not to the same conditions the neighborhood has always seen, it's a claim to a place to live without having to travel 3 hours on a bus to get to work, or a claim to send your kid to the same school they've been going to for years.

by MLD on Feb 19, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

"Yes, this is why there should be more development across the city and not just "gentrifying" areas. Tell it to the folks in upper NW who continue to fight development, fight ADUs etc. They won't buy it and will dismiss the theory as an indiscretion of hopeful youth."

You raise a good point. There is a tendency for people to doubt the benefits of building new housing for wealthy people, and then to turn around and lament gentrification. Perhaps there'd be fewer people looking in established areas if there was more new housing for them.

by onelasttime on Feb 19, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

"I wonder what axiological calculus you are using which allows you to recognize the claim of the "out-gentrified" based on their circumstance while denying the NIMBYs any right to a claim"

Simple - the benefits of the 'status quo' vis a vis a neighborhood are a coumpound of many factors which include such things as parking, congestion, noise, familiar shops and similar amenities, the presence of friends, the presence of ones church (or other formal social organization) the presence of informal social organizations, etc.

There are two reasons the claims of the poor are greater than those of the affluent (notice I never said the claims of the affluent are worth nothing). One because many, if not most of the items on that list will not change with an influx of outsiders as long as the old timers can physically remain in the neighborhood. I tenleytown resident who sees change may lose their ease of parking, may face more crowded streets and sidewalks, and a different mix of shops, due to say several new mixed use buildings - but they will still have their old neighbors nearby, they will still be close to their church/synagogue/communityassoc, they will still walk familiar streets for the most part. Someone from Trinidad who moves to PG say, will lose access to all their familiar shops, familiar institutions, and even to their friendship circle (unless everyone from the same block in trinidad moves to the same part of Cap Hghts, which I suspect does not happen often). A whole is greater than any part.

Plus the affluent are more likely to have both money and their education and skills to make up for any losses in networks they do suffer.

BTW, this is not an issue for DC alone, but in theory applies to the suburbs as well - but even the most rapidly gentrifying places in arlington and Alex are transitioning slowly relative to certain parts of DC. And speed matters, I think.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 19, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

"Well, the neighborhood changes regardless of who you are."

I absolutely agree. Trinidad is changing into a neighborhood that the poor cannot afford.

by onelasttime on Feb 19, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

And its changing more rapidly than it otherwise would have, because of decisions that have been made not only WRT upper NW, but I think also decisions about DuPont, Logan Circle, and other areas in NW. And the slowness of redevelopment in Hill East and McMillan. And due to, yes, the height limit.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 19, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

"Plus the affluent are more likely to have both money and their education and skills to make up for any losses in networks they do suffer."

This is just what I was afraid of, the idea that the poor are worse off, so they should receive preferential treatment. You say the the affluent have the "money", "education", and "skills" to make up for losses, but that's treating the losses that NIMBYs face to the losses the out-gentrified poor face. It's not NIMBY's complaint in the first place is not related to finances but to quality of life issues that money, education, and "skills" cannot solve.

by onelasttime on Feb 19, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

There are different categories of quality of life issues. It's somewhat offensive that you would rank inconveniences in the same category as people getting their lives thrown into turmoil. Not being able to find a parking spot in front of your house is an inconvenience. Having to move an hour further away from your job and everyone you know is a bit more detrimental to your wellbeing. Not all "losses" are the same. Furthermore, the more affluent usually have more resources at their disposal to mitigate those losses when they do occur.

by Alan B. on Feb 19, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

AWITC, when you say "slowness of redevelopment in Hill East" do you mean specifically the old DC General site? Because housing prices in Hill East are just nuts.

We're currently searching for our first home to buy, and I find it frustrating and depressing. Housing prices are astronomical, I'm shocked at what people are asking for places that need to be completely gutted, and the knowledge that I'm probably going to end up contributing to making the neighborhood unaffordable.

by Birdie on Feb 19, 2013 2:47 pm • linkreport

Yes, I think its called "Reservation 13" - not the private housing stock west of 19th street.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 19, 2013 2:52 pm • linkreport

I absolutely agree. Trinidad is changing into a neighborhood that the poor cannot afford.

We're talking about the ramifications of that, not the statement of fact. If you responded to entire comments that would actually be useful discourse.

This is just what I was afraid of, the idea that the poor are worse off, so they should receive preferential treatment.
Wow, that's only been the foundation of our entire government/society since about 1932. Not really controversial.

You say the the affluent have the "money", "education", and "skills" to make up for losses, but that's treating the losses that NIMBYs face to the losses the out-gentrified poor face. It's not NIMBY's complaint in the first place is not related to finances but to quality of life issues that money, education, and "skills" cannot solve.

Here's how it works: when neighborhoods change those "quality of life issues" effect everyone in the neighborhood, rich or poor. We're ignoring that for everyone, and only concentrating on the displacement issue as it effects everyone.

You're talking about apples and oranges. Alan B compares them quite well:
Not being able to find a parking spot in front of your house is an inconvenience. Having to move an hour further away from your job and everyone you know is a bit more detrimental to your wellbeing. Not all "losses" are the same.

by MLD on Feb 19, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

AWITC,
"A tenleytown resident who sees change may lose their ease of parking, may face more crowded streets and sidewalks, and a different mix of shops, due to say several new mixed use buildings - but they will still have their old neighbors nearby,"

Not always true, just like it's not always true that all the neighbors in Trinidad will be forced to leave becasue someone exsercised their right to purchase property.

Take my father, who stayed in the Chevy Chase MD. house I grew up in after my Mom passed away. All of the sudden it's proximity to Bethesda became apparent to the market at large and his property taxes went through the roof. Now he wasn't "affluent" despite his "education and skills" becasue he was retired having bought the house in the 70's. This is the same story for a lot of the poorer neighborhoods that you don't hear about becasue like me, I just assumed the market is what it is. Now does it suck? Yes, but do I expect the city (county in this case) to hand me a break? Not really. He made his profit from not being a renter and moved to NC. But this happened to many renting families in the appartments through out Bethesda.

What we need is more supply of what clearly most people in this region want, and that is transit friendly, ammenity rich, pedestrian oriented communities. The only way to do this is to build more fixed transit. This isn't an either or argument. Do all the other things people have talked about. Change the zoning around all existing metro stops, have MDPU's, speed approvals to flood the market with more housing, use greed to everyone's advantage. But the idea that only the poor suffer from gentrification isn't true.

by Thayer-D on Feb 19, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

it's starting to feel like the poor areas are getting thrown under the bus while the wealthier neighborhoods are getting off scot free.

Well, I wouldn't call the thousands of dollars the wealthy pay in taxes "scot free". The middle class and wealthy clearly contributing to the city's progress.

by Falls Church on Feb 19, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

FC

I dont think that comment was meant to be a general discussion of the justice of our socioeconomic system, in the USA in general or DC in particular - but more specifically who is bearing the external or semi-external costs of rapid growth and change in the District. Clearly not all affluent people nor are all poor people - certain affluent areas (esp close to metros) are being impacted most by growing density, and certain poor areas (like, well, Trinidad, for example) are being impacted by race and class change.

I meant only to indicate that the costs of transition/displacement are real, and are worth taking into account - not that they are infinite, or trump all other considerations. And the question of relative burden came up because onelasttime seemed to think that the fact that many (but obviously not all) commentors here are concerend with such costs, but are less concerned with such costs in places like upper NW, was a form of hypocrisy.

Needless to say, I do not think it is hypocrisy. You need not share my beliefs about the differences, but I do believe they exist and are significant.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 19, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

I still can't quite figure out what to do about this out pricing problem. One single thing you can not avoid when developing areas is that pricing goes up. New buildings in DC are mandated to have affordable units, so all you can hope is that local poor people get a spot in there.

by Jasper on Feb 19, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

Not sure what to make of all the complaints against Tenleytown. Sure it could do with a few more restaurant and retail options (and a movie theater), but otherwise it's not in such bad shape.

by Chris on Feb 20, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

Bottom line from reading these comments - I don't want to ever be slimed with the title 'urbanist.'

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Feb 22, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

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