Disaster Capitalism and Gentrification

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose will forever change the trajectory of Houston, Key West, and other coastal towns. Disaster paves the way for radical capitalist economic policy, from development to war to charter schools. Don’t you know what happened in New Orleans after Katrina?

As you think about the cost of recovery, policy implementation, and government subsidies, remember that the Department of Defense 2017 budget is $582.7 BILLION. That is $582,700,000,000. Houston’s $50 billion recovery effort is 8% of the DoD’s 2017 budget. 

There is no such thing as a “natural” disaster, because who’s in harm’s way, and the kind of harm they face, is a product of human choices. – Andy Horowitz

Here are a few articles + highlights to get you up to speed

Bleakonomics, New York Times – book review of “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein.

  • 100,000 less black people live in New Orleans in 2015 than in 2000
  • most of the city’s public schools have been replaced by privately run charter schools

 

Katrina’s Silver Lining by David Brooks – a primer on how NOT to think after major disasters. This is a dog whistle for the “ambitious and organized” to remove anyone who can’t “culturally integrate”… what Brooks fails to discuss is the underlying systems that created racial inequality in the first place and allowed Katrina to wreck so much destruction on impoverished neighborhoods–racism and the new jim crow.

 

How to Stop Gentrification by Colin Kinniburgh – a look at disaster, the citizens, the developers, and the government’s role in gentrification across the US

  • New Orleans has “become the second-least affordable city to live in nationwide”
  • “In 1976 alone, the city of New York shut down thirty-four fire stations in poor, largely black and Latino neighborhoods; by the end of the decade, seven Bronx census tracts had lost virtually all of their buildings, and another forty-four tracts had lost more than half.”
  • “Economic isolation and the fraying of the social safety net contributed to record levels of crime in inner cities, with public housing complexes hit particularly hard. Policy elites’ response was to blame the buildings themselves….”
  • “black wealth was decimated in the 2008 housing market crash…In 2007, the average black family had a net worth of one-tenth the average white-family’s; by 2011, that number had dropped to one-sixteenth”
  • and keep learning…”it is important not to lose sight of the ways that personal attitudes and actions daily aggravate the crisis of gentrification”

 

Get Ready for Trump’s Diaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein – how the government, Trump, and contractors can exploit diaster for personal and political gain

  • after Katrina, Pence (as chairman of Republican Study Committee) suspended wage labor laws, regulation, and zoning, and made “the entire affected area a flat-tax free-enterprise zone”, repealed environmental regulations, and gave permission for new oil refineries (duh, global warming) –> will be used by Trump to court the labor movement
  • top contractors from Iraq were hired by the government to provide mobile homes to evacuees just 10 days after the levees broke. Their contracts ended up totaling $3.4 billion, no open bidding required.
  • Emergency workers and local volunteer morticians were forbidden to help clear bodies because it impinged on a contractor’s “commercial territory” –> bodies rotted in the streets for days
  • a religious group was paid $5.2 million to build an emergency worker base camp, which was never built – the group had only organized religious youth camps

 

North Carolina denied 99 percent of federal recovery funds for Hurricane Matthew by Michael Rios – here’s what happens when everything is destroyed but you’re not a big “brand” like New Orleans or Houston.

  • in 2016, Hurricane Matthew ripped through Eastern North Carolina, leaving the state with $1.5 billion in damage and 80,000 households to register for FEMA. FEMA is only allocating $100 million.

 

The Transformative Vision of Community Land Trusts by Aaron Tanak – we need to rethink the concept of land

  • we should recognize that land is not just the square feet that we live on but the source of the natural resources that we depend on
  • land in a CLT is owned by the nonprofit and leased to home and building owners at an affordable price.

 

2 ways to fight gentrification by Adam Hengels – the forces behind gentrification aren’t what we think they are

  • The mechanism of gentrification is not development. It is zoning.
  • The battlefield is in the more wealthy neighborhoods where empowered residents fight to keep new people out.
  • The enemy is the rich people who use their influence to thwart development in their neighborhoods.
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The Case Against Major-League Sport Stadiums in Urban Areas

Before leaving Raleigh, a conversation emerged around bringing a major-league sports team to the capitol city. Several people–all men–thought a football or basketball stadium near the amphitheater would be THE BEST THING EVER.

Let me tell you why it’s not:

1. Stadiums are dead zones. The NBA plays 41 home games per year, the MLB has 81 home games per year. What happens the other 324/284 days? Not much, maybe some concerts and big college games. And that’s not just an empty stadium, that’s empty parking lots, shuttered retail space, and a lot of dead sidewalk.

Have you been near a stadium during the day? I’ve seen Indianapolis, Charlotte, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis stadiums first hand. It’s terrible. Parking takes up 3x as much space as the stadium itself. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis covers 6 to 7 city blocks for the stadium, parking, and landscaping. These megablocks have poor walkability scores and rarely, if ever, include ground-floor retail.

Erik Weber has a great post on specific stadiums.

Dogers
Dodgers Stadium (pink) and parking (orange)
Philly
Philly Stadiums (pink) and parking (orange)



 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “The Case Against Major-League Sport Stadiums in Urban Areas”

Uber Can Do Anything As Long As We Buy What They Sell

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Uber is a private company. They set pricing, company values, and customer service. If a company run by a pretty awful bro turns a blind eye to assaults, has no respect for consumer privacy, and touts a price-gouging (dynamic) business model, then make the decision to not support them. Like every other private company, they will only be around as long as they have customers. It can be inconvenient, but every rider has the option of calling a taxi, which is simple with a smartphone.

Furthermore, I have 3 points in response to the Triangle Business Journal’s article on the NC Attorney General’s involvement after Halloween:

  1. Uber made the entire dynamic pricing model very transparent. I received several emails and notifications from Uber leading up to Halloween and how to avoid costly ride. Also, Uber required the passenger to confirm they understood the “multiplier” on 2 separate prompts.
  2. It seems that most of the complaints are coming from people leaving bars between the hours of 12:30-2:30am who knew planned on drinking and wouldn’t be able to drive home. It’s not Uber’s fault they were drunk and made a bad financial decision.
  3. Every Uber rider had the option of calling a traditional cab company and paying a price determined by city policy.

You can protest Uber by not giving them your money. It will send a powerful message.

Photo by TechCrunch.com

Food Truck Proposal for Raleigh’s Moore Square

The City of Raleigh is spending $12 million to revamp Moore Square, one of two downtown green spaces. While the space needs an upfit to reflect the world-class status Raleigh is working towards, I believe there are smaller steps the city could take to attract crowds and increase revenue.

Restaurants, shops, and a children’s museum face the square on the west end. To the east are empty lots and storefronts. There is no reason to walk through the center of the square. Currently, the square is known for its homeless population that are attracted by public transportation and a variety of services aimed towards people in need.

I suggest the city allow two food tucks to serve from the middle of the square. Area food trucks are eager to run in downtown Raleigh, and are willing to pay for the opportunity. Each truck would easily pay $100 per shift. After a few weeks, the city would have enough funds to buy picnic tables and other amenities to create a more enjoyable experience.

Other cities proved that the presence of food trucks aren’t detrimental to other businesses; they increase interest and foot traffic. People will take lunch breaks in the square, visit after work, and spend time outside. Furthermore, the square will feel more safe with a greater public presence.

Sure, a city employee will have to schedule food tucks and process payments, and other employees will have to empty the trash can more frequently, but I think 4 food trucks per day will generate enough revenue to cover it.

C’mon Raleigh!

mooresquareplan

Activate14: Architecture + Design Event Series

What started as intra-office conversation on hosting architecture and design events quickly turned to reality when Frank Harmon Architect decided to sponsor the inaugural summer event series at the AIANC Center for Architecture and Design (CfAD) in Raleigh, NC. Planning quickly commenced with the AIANC Program Committee. We decided to bridge the events by focusing on issues facing North Carolina cities: sustainable foodways, alternative transportation, and urban housing.

Within 2 months we had started the framework for Activate 14 (a play on the address of the CfAD), released a Design + Build Competition Call for Entry open to North Carolina architects, architecture students, and artists, and started planning for 4 summer events.

Activate 14 is an annual event series that instigates conversations with the public about current architecture and design issues shaping our communities. It is free, public event series in downtown Raleigh, utilizing the entire grounds of the CfAD with cascading events to feature educational components, food, drink, music, children’s activities, and art.

This has been my primary focus for the past 2 months and I’d love for you to check out the website and give me some feedback, especially if you live in North Carolina!

 

My NYE Wishes for Raleigh: A List

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I think about Raleigh all the time. I want to make it better, I want to contribute, I want to provide services to encourage a thriving urban center. Here are some of my wishes for the New Year.

I wish for increased ridership on public transportation; dedicated bike lanes; attainable rents for startup businesses or discounted rents for the first 6 months; successful implementation of the Market and Exchange Plaza renovations; window displays in abandoned buildings; more interactive public art; a nighttime gathering space that isn’t centered around alcohol; cool playgrounds; politicians concerned with living wages, alternative transportation, and all things green; a great anchor tenant in 227 Fayetteville; a local grocer near my home; BIKE SHARING; a neighborhood cleanup; utilization of empty lots; shelters at bus stops–we’re bare to the elements; streets democratically oriented towards pedestrians and cyclists, not large personal vehicles with lonely riders; pedestrian scrambles on Fayetteville during the lunch rush; food trucks!; c’mon parklets!; affordable solutions for downtown living; Dorthea Dix to become a park; a bar in the basement of the Velvet Cloak; intersection repair, everywhere; mixed used buildings that haven’t been value engineered; a GOOD donut shop; light rail; and, as always, books, books, and more books.

Well, this list could go on but I’ve exhausted my supply for the night.

What do you want?

photo © Matt Robinson, RaleighSkyline.com

Custom Textiles: Print All Over Me + Spoonflower (Durham!)

While doing some research today I ran across another custom fabric company called Print All Over Me that lets me pick an object to digitally print whatever pattern I want or pick from another’s uploaded design (that user receives 20% of the sale). I can’t speak to the cut or fabric but the print is as good/bad as you make it.

Spoonflower–Durham, NC–is similar but you buy printed fabric by the yard, which means you have to make the object. They have 12 fabrics to choose from including silk, linen, and cotton.

Either way, here are two services that help you MAKE IT HAPPEN.

These custom clothing services will keep popping up because who wants to go out and run into someone wearing the same shirt? Then it gets down to Who Wore It Better? and things get ugly.

Speaking of which, what’s going on at NCSU’s College of Textiles?

Images from PAOM, who am I to judge?

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yikes