Showing posts from July, 2017

Review essay: who loses when a city develops?

Richard Florida, The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class--and What We Can Do About It (Basic Books, 2017)

Peter Moskowitz, How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality and the Fight for the Neighborhood (Public Affairs, 2017)

We've got to make sure the people here are being lifted up from the rising tide. --ZAK PASHAK, Detroit (quoted at Moskowitz 2017, p. 76)
Peter Moskowitz has a passion for social justice and a talent for long-form journalism, and both come across in How to Kill a City. Built around four urban case studies--New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco and New York City--he looks at the harms that have come to individuals and communities in the last decade's urban resurgence. The damage isn't hard to find, either: people priced out of their longtime homes, landmark buildings torn down and neighborhood establishments shuttered, diverse communities taken over by upper middle class whites.


Design meetings last week

Two public meetings Tuesday raised issues of neighborhood design in the center of town, including enhancing walkability.

At the Metro Economic Alliance downtown, we got our first look at the wayfinding and branding signage chosen for downtown, the MedQuarter, New Bohemia and Czech Village (with City Council approval and timetable yet to come). The signage was developed by Corbin Design which is headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan.

Drivers would be served by this type of sign, indicating which section they're in, and orientation to other sections and attractions.

Pedestrians could benefit from more detailed markers, including "you are here" type maps and interesting historical facts.

Some signs would show walking times to various attractions, which might encourage people to walk more rather than returning to their cars and re-parking.

A closer look at the map, which is stylized and does not depict actual Cedar Rapids.

Book review: "Dream Hoarders"

Richard V. Reeves, Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What to Do About It (Brookings Institution Press, 2017)

The power of Richard V. Reeves's argument is probably best exemplified by the troubled reaction of a New York Times reader. David Anderson of Weston, Florida responded on June 26, 2017, to an op-ed column by Reeves:
My wife and I fall within Richard V. Reeves's target. We met at an Ivy League school in the 1990s and fall within his "healthy six-figure" income range. Our children attend an expensive private school. If you are waiting for us to apologize, don't hold your breath.Mr. Reeves should leave the Beltway and meet some upper-middle-class Americans. It might be enlightening. We attended good schools because we studied hard. We're not legacies: Nobody else in our families attended an Ivy League school. If you met us 20 years ago, you would have seen two 25-year-olds w…

The housing conundrum: Cedar Rapids

Some takeaways from this weekend's community conversation on affordable housing:
The focus of the discussion was not on housing for, say, teachers and firefighters, as it might have been in New York or San Francisco. Most of the panelists' concerns dealt with those employed at the low end of the pay scale, people with criminal records, and people with disabilities. Lisa Gavin, staff attorney for Iowa Legal Aid, noted their clients typically pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing--the official standard of "affordable" is below 30--which makes them one crisis away from homelessness. For a typical Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient, for example, receiving $735 a month, even $300/month rent is not affordable. Dale Todd, who moderated the discussion, cited the well-known situation created by de-institutionalizing mentally ill people without a plan for housing them.All panelists looked to the federal government for funding. Jennifer Pratt, Cedar Rap…

Post No. 250: Staying on what really matters

When people find out I teach American government, more often than not they try chatting me up about the last election or ask what I think of President Trump. These are not conversations I seek: I've written about the election and about Trump, whose presidency has been as shameful as his campaign was...
...but anyone who knows me knows I'm not a "political junkie" who spends hours watching cable news, fainting with excitement over who's up and who's down in national government, and grooving on manufactured outrage. Maybe I suspect people are too hungry for affirmation, either that I agree with them that Trump is awful, or else that I am an academic elite who can't be trusted.

Trump is awful--he's dishonest even by the standards of the stereotypical politician, he's not a competent manager, and to the extent he has policy ideas they're not good ones--but what good would it do to masticate on this? Early on in this blog, I resolved to focus on w…

What's up, Cleveland?

Cleveland, Ohio, has had as tough a time as any American city making the transition from the industrial to the post-industrial era. During the decade 2005-2015, when many observers saw a return to urban centers by both residents and businesses, Cleveland's population actually dropped by 14.2 percent, more than any large city except for Detroit and New Orleans. On key indicators of community well-being, Cleveland's percentage of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher (15.8), median household income ($26150), and percentage of adults in the labor force (58.2) score well below the U.S. as a whole, and below even comparable cities like Chicago, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. This has occurred despite the presence of "eds and meds" led by the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, the city's largest employer.

The City of Cleveland has maintained a lot of the downtown architecture from its heyday, while trying to open up access to Lake Erie. The Terminal Tower was built in…