Gentrification is the ugly downside to urban development. Beginning in December, I attended two publicized meetings on the topic by an urban-identified at-large council member. At the informal meetings, I was struck by how little some representatives knew about gentrification. Some cited it as an inevitable and also somewhat positive process.
One way these positive testimonies for gentrification have occurred is by segmenting the process away from its underlying drivers. In the meetings, most of my attempts to discuss gentrification in the context of city subsidies for projects like 21C and Rupp Arena–or the city’s current disinvestment in many poor-trending suburban and near-urban locations–fell on deaf ears. The consensus was that such things occurred in separate spheres with little practical connection to our topic.
Here’s another study, this one from San Francisco community advocacy group Causa Justa::Just Cause, showing just how wrong that leadership consensus is on gentrification. As the Causa Justa study states, “gentrification is the outgrowth of public disinvestment in marginalized communities and years of unjust economic development policies.” In other words, it’s choices we make, and choices our political and business leaders make.
To ensure that we do no keep doing the same destructive things over and over again to the same marginalized communities, we must unsure more well-rounded and better-informed public representation.