Is Gentrification Wrong?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I must confess that I have never quite understood the argument against "gentrification", i.e., against people buying property and improving it in order to make money. Usually the process seems to reduce crime and improve the general cleanliness of a place. Why is this wrong? Don't property owners have rights too? Is it better for our cities to be filled with poverty and desperation than with hope and upward mobility? Isn't this the American Dream after all?


Rick Ballard said...


If you want to get a feel for the "bleaching" effect of gentrification put this San Francisco - 2000 census report up next to this 2005 report. Gentrification does not account for all the change - South of Market redevelopment accounts for a fair piece. 20 percent of the blacks are gone as are 10 percent of the Hispanics. Quite an achievement for such a progressive city. Sen. Feinstein's husband played a big part in the resegregation effort - as did Willie 'The Thief' Brown.

Such lovely people.

terrye said...

I think it depends on the context. There are some people who tried justifying the Kelo decision on grounds that it would improve the neighborhood. The question is for whom?

I know people in rural people who resent city folks coming in and bringing all manner of zoning laws and restrictions and clean up efforts with them. They want more people in the country but when all of a sudden a farmer with hundreds of acres is being told he has to tie up his dog or get rid of the old derelict farm equipment he uses for spare parts because someone else wants it that way..well... that causes hard feelings.

But then again when we see the condition that some of the neighborhoods are in it would seem almost anything would be an improvement.

Perhaps I am not really understanding exactly what gentrification is??? Is the concern just about race?

Rick Ballard said...

In part, the standard refrain is that it reduces 'diversity' and increases bland homogenization. It's akin to the disdain expressed towards McMansions. San Francisco is a rather special example because there is no land available for expansion of the city. The other argument against gentrification comes in cities with vicious rent control programs.

I have nothing whatsoever against gentrification - I just find it amusing to watch lefties scream about it while the elected officials they put in office collect handsome rewards from the real estate interests.