Friday: Links and Progressions

1. Open Data is moving forward, and fostering a community of people excited to look at it.

2. UPDATED: Read Balingit. Proposed amendments to the Land Bank bill are being circulated and marked up. Some of these are on-point and necessary changes; others are less helpful. Proponents of the land bank will be assailed from their left using whatever means available.

3. In the next Jordan Miles civil trial, reconsiderations on the admissibility of evidence provide evidence of data yet to be addressed. (Updated.)

4. The Democratic race for Governor just changed more (and even further.) We appear to have a friend in Pennsylvania. The mayor explains.

5. The City and UPMC will pick up conversing when the time is right.

6. The Mayor’s nominee to direct BBI is completing her state certification.

7. Scott Bricker of BikePGH has been appointed to the SPC — and here is how.

54 thoughts on “Friday: Links and Progressions

  1. Rocky

    “Tim McNulty, spokesman for the mayor, said Kennedy made clear in the application process she did not have the degrees listed. Still, she was the highest-rated candidate “by far.””

    I wonder if that says more about Kennedy, or the quality of the other applicants.

    It seemed fishy that she was moving from Philly to Pgh–kind of a step down, career-wise, it would seem–but now that the details are coming out, it’s making more sense.

    Whatever happened to that city council investigation of Talent City? Maybe everyone’s agreed that it was an intriguing, somewhat expensive idea that just didn’t pan out.

    As is often the case, quality candidates aren’t eager to take lower paying public service jobs. Consequently, we have Peduto saying recently on WESA that the police chief job salary has been beefed up to try to attract a good candidate, and the communications manager salary ended up being higher than the initially advertised rate. Does anyone have other examples of new hire salary inflation?

    Reply
    1. Brian Tucker-Hill

      Or Kennedy is one of those people who is qualified by job experience more than educational background, and who is willing to make a career move where she would be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, all in a City that is frequently ranked one of the most livable in the country, particularly once you take cost of living into account.

      Reply
    2. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      On Kennedy, I’d add that Philly’s Dept. of Licenses and Inspection came under “intense scrutiny,” and she had to speak and answer frankly on behalf of the whole Dept. in that atmosphere. Maybe she’s moving to Pittsburgh as an opportunity to build a better Bureau. Maybe the Mayor is hiring her because he likes how she handled herself under fire.

      On Talent City, layering is always a challenge and I tend to agree Rocky there are plusses and minuses. My impression is the City is getting good value from the process, but it is slowing things down and can be a distraction in conversations. I wonder how the organization and relationship are evolving, but it appears they are committed and satisfied.

      Reply
  2. Brian Tucker-Hill

    Random aside and old news, but I didn’t realize until now that CONNECT was promoting a multi-municipality version of the Land Bank:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-local/2013/11/25/Peduto-pushing-shared-services/stories/201311250072

    Presumably this idea would further spark controversy among those who favor hyperlocal control of land use, but to me it sounds like a really promising idea, subject again to the caveat that the Land Bank not be assigned the sorts of zoning, planning, and other relevant policy-making tasks currently allocated to existing municipal units.

    Reply
    1. busesarebridges

      The financial sustainability of a landbank depends on a diverse range of real estate holdings, with sales from more valuable property helping to fund landbank operation and the maintenance, management and improvement of blighted properties. Wouldn’t a legislative mandate for a geographical limitation to Pittsburgh (where such a large proportion of vacant land is blighted) mean a far greater struggle for landbank financial viability – and the greater independence from potential for micro-politicking and string-pulling that comes with funding dependence on other sources?

      Intermunicipal cooperation of landbanks/landbanking certainly seems crucial to long-term functionality.

      My question: was one of the reasons for a seven-member Pittsburgh land bank board to allow future expansion of board membership to represent the County and/or other municipal partners?

      Helen

      Reply
      1. Brian Tucker-Hill

        I’m not sure a City-only land bank would have any problems being financially viable, but I would turn the question around and ask if land banks in some of the suburbs would be viable if they were separate from the City. Consider a place like Wilkinsburg where a land bank could be very useful–but could it be done efficiently on such as limited scale?

        Personally, I also don’t see any good reason to treat, say, the problem of vacant and blighted properties in Homewood as a completely separate issue from the problem of vacant and blighted properties in neighboring Wilkinsburg. Both areas would very likely benefit from improvements in the other area, and both would also likely see less progress if their neighbor did not improve.

        So, I think it makes ample sense to explore a bigger land bank, whether it be all of the County, just CONNECT, or something else.

  3. Brian Tucker-Hill

    I know I have made this point before, but I think it is worth noting again how extreme this sort of rhetoric is:

    “Rev. Burgess explains, ‘We do not believe those outside our communities should have the power to steal our land and decide the future of our neighborhoods. This new Community First Land Bank legislation prevents that from happening.'”

    Let’s translate that a bit:

    “We do not believe those currently outside our communities should have the power to buy properties within our communities and invest in them in accordance with the citywide zoning and planning process.”

    If that is really what these people believe, isn’t this a manifesto for complete secession? What is the point of being part of a single municipal unit if you don’t even trust your fellow citizens to make land-use policy, one of the most basic municipal functions?

    This isn’t an attack from “the left”, it is an attack from separatists.

    Reply
    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      That’s precisely correct, Brian. Three things are happening:

      Generally, the disinvestment-afflicted community is offering solid input to a necessary bill which desperately needs it.

      Some in that community however do not trust the share of power in a unified Pittsburgh, fearing it can only be used to oppress them. To them, separatism comes naturally and rationally. You take care of your own business and keep your hands off of ours.

      Meanwhile, some in an old guard are exploiting that mistrust to retain all old guard privileges in the arbitrage of economic development, despite the public advantages of public incorporation.

      That’s why finding a sweet spot of trust in the nature of the appointments to the Land Bank’s board is so important. It’s why a formal role for an Advisory Commission might be important. And personally, I think it should go in the ordinance that our landbank cannot merge with a County one or some other one, without some very supermajoritous process. Seems like a rational fear we don’t want to inflame.

      Reply
      1. Brian Tucker-Hill

        You are outlining what seems like a sensible approach. I’d just note that since I do think at least some larger group of municipalities (maybe well short of the whole County, however) could potentially benefit from a common land bank, I wouldn’t want to make the possibility of such a land bank too difficult to achieve. But I also recognize that the perceived legitimacy of such a land bank would matter quite a bit.

  4. Shawn Carter

    Brian,

    Considering the original premise of the City’s landbank legislation was, “trust us… don’t worry about community participation, input and oversight, and, don’t worry, ‘someone’ will fund it”, the true separatism is on the part of the proponents, not those with the temerity to scrutinize it.

    In fact, the proponents of the legislation are, as we speak, rewriting the legislation in secret.

    As bad as government is at doing some things, at least it is legally obligated to tell the public where the money is coming from.

    And like it or not, the proponents have yet to explain to the African-American community, 28.5% of the City, what will happen when they merge the lamdbank into the County, where African-Americans have even less representation or voice.

    This should be attacked. And those attacks should continue, unceasingly, until those crafting the plans in secret come clean about these issues.

    Reply
    1. Brian Tucker-Hill

      I don’t think “separatism” means what you think it means:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separatism

      “Separatism is the advocacy of a state of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group.”

      The original proposal was for a Board of seven members, four picked by the Mayor and three by Council. So, it was a citywide governance structure, fairly typical for the City’s special-purpose agencies.

      The new proposal contains all of the following elements designed to give the most affected neighborhoods/districts a special say in what happens: the Board of now eleven would have seven of its members specifically representing the most affected neighborhoods/districts. In addition, neighborhoods could create binding neighborhood plans the land bank would have to comply with. In addition, local community groups could reserve properties for their own future use. And finally, each Council member could veto any land bank disposition.

      As I quoted, people like Burgess are explicitly arguing that if the most affected neighborhoods/districts don’t get all this special control over how the land bank would operate, it is tantamount to those outside those communities having the power to steal their land. That very notion assumes that citizens of the City who don’t live in those communities are “outsiders,” and further argues that those who live in those communities have an exclusive claim to make land-use policy in those communities.

      So, no, there is only one separatist position here, meaning only one position arguing for the need for these neighborhoods/districts to make their own land use policy–indeed, to “decide the future of our neighborhoods”–separate from the larger group.

      And incidentally, Burgess has very explicitly made this about race. A previous quote:

      “‘If I said I was going to take 50 percent of Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Oakland and the South Side Flats and give it to poor Blacks to control and distribute, what do you suppose the reaction would be?’ he said.”

      http://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2014/01/29/burgess-no-protection-for-black-neighborhoods-in-land-bank-proposal/

      As I pointed out before, the people of Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, etc. HAVE already agreed to share control of their neighborhoods with “poor Blacks” precisely because those neighborhoods are subject to City zoning and City planning and so on. So again, Burgess is taking a uniquely separatist position, explicitly arguing for the proposition that poor Blacks should no longer be subject to this same sort of citywide land-use policymaking, because those people in Squirrel Hill et al can’t be trusted.

      Speaking of which, from the Wikipedia article on separatism linked above:

      “Groups may have one or more motivations for separation, including:

      emotional resentment of rival communities”

      First on the list, even.

      Of course, some might sincerely believe instead that these items on the list apply to today’s Pittsburgh:

      “the economic and political dominance of one group that does not share power and privilege in an egalitarian fashion.

      economic motivations: seeking to end economic exploitation by more powerful group”

      But my question is if that is true, meaning if the City is now just an instrument for the exploitation of poor Blacks by the dastardly white elites of Squirrel HIll and Shadyside, why stop the separatism at land-use policy?

      And finally, people should probably keep this list item in mind:

      “propaganda by those who hope to gain politically from intergroup conflict and hatred”

      Reply
  5. Shawn Carter

    Sitting in rooms with the representatives of 15 community groups who were left out of the process and residents of vulnerable neighborhoods who deserved their proper input.

    Not to mention fair housing advocates.

    And allowing them to navigate their own sausage-making process(es) to arrive at the amendments Burgess and Lavelle put forward.

    Reply
  6. Shawn Carter

    And, unlike some, Burgess and Lavelle, being open, published the results of their progress thus far for the whole world to see, celebrate, criticize and suggest or even demand further amendments to, which, in my mind, makes their process infinitely more public and legitimate.

    Reply
    1. busesarebridges

      Deb Gross has expressed support for circulating her first draft of the legislation online, and has been very responsive and respectful to questions and suggestions in a wide range of venues and media (including timely and in-depth responses from her staff to email questions and concerns.)

      She just held a meeting at the CEA in Homewood that I’m sure will inform her efforts. I really don’t know how “secrecy” can be construed from the intensive process of gathering input from the community before revising and publishing the next set of amendments. She will be publishing her amendments openly, with time for public reading and further debate before a vote is called.

      Reply
      1. Shawn Carter

        Helen,

        It is one thing to allege that you are open to change and quite another to actually be open to change.

        Deb didn’t hold meetings in Homewood, because I was there. She agreed to show at those meetings, which I do not discount, but the community group held that meeting, and she and Corey showed up to, late.

        And the reason? “Sorry we were late, but we were having dinner with Mayor Peduto about bringing a Slovenian LED factory to Hazelwood.”

        So much to unpack there.

  7. Shawn Carter

    Although I am sure Bram will attempt to defend the continued secrecy with some series of statements on the level of, “But if they do it in open, they will just be attacked again…”

    Well until someone tells the Citizen how this landbank will be owned and operated, who will fund it and what mechanisms are in place to ensure that they are not disenfranchised, they should be given no quarter whatsoever.

    Reply
    1. Brian Tucker-Hill

      “Well until someone tells the Citizen how this landbank will be owned and operated, who will fund it and what mechanisms are in place to ensure that they are not disenfranchised, they should be given no quarter whatsoever.”

      The startup funding for the land bank was the only thing on your list that was in fact left unclear in the original proposal, and while an important issue in its own right, I don’t think that is really a governance issue.

      Otherwise, it is not in fact the case that the answers to your questions were unclear, any more than it is unclear how City Planning is governed, or the URA is governed, or so on. Rather, certain people just didn’t like those answers (or saw an opportunity to get something out of saying they didn’t like those answers).

      Reply
  8. Shawn Carter

    How is funding not an inherent issue of governance, Brian?

    The City Planning Commission is governed by a set of laws and rules, the URA is as well.

    The reason the URA doesn’t utilize eminent domain is precisely because of intense public scrutiny and accountability.

    To go back to the Planning Commission, only City Council can match them in terms of land-use powers, and Council has budgetary powers not available to the Planning Commission.

    I understand that some wish for a different process. So do I. But as messy as this process is, I would not trade it for a more secretive, less accountable, less public one any day of the week.

    At least this one provides the maximum amount of sunlight, which may not be enough, but is far more than any other process can provide.

    Reply
    1. Brian Tucker-Hill

      “How is funding not an inherent issue of governance, Brian?”

      Governance refers to the process by which decisions are made. Where the land bank gets its startup funding is not that sort of issue, although of course it is an important issue in its own right.

      As for actual governance issues, I think we agree the URA and Planning Commission are both extremely important bodies. So if governing the land bank in an equivalent way to the URA or Planning Commission would constitute outsiders stealing land from poor black people, why is not the same call to arms going out to change the way the URA and Planning Commission are governed?

      Reply
  9. Shawn Carter

    Brian,

    Because in government, the finances are part and parcel of what decisions get made and how.

    The government can’t say, “Trust us.”, because the law mandates the government to disclose the source(s) of funding in the legislation authorizing the action(s).

    I am totally certain that if the residents of the Lower Hill had the ability to force the City and the URA to justify its actions in 1956 with the laws mandating environmental justice that took affect in 1970, that the Civic Arena would never have been built.

    Crosstown Boulevard, now Interstate 579, but in 1960, an expressway connecting the Parkway East, Bigelow Boulevard and the Boulevard of the Allies, would never have passed the Environmental Impact Statement processes that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970 that the feds, state and local governments did not have to deal with in 1956.

    That would have required an IJR.

    Also, the original location of the Civic Arena was Highland Park, not the Lower Hill.

    But the King and Mellon families cut a sweetheart deal with the City to build the Arena somewhere other than Highland Park. According to Pitt architectural historian Franklin Toker before City Council, “The Kings and Mellons cut a sweetheart deal with David Lawrence and City Council to spare Highland Park in exchange for tye deeding of hundreds of acres to the City of land they owned.”

    The City built expanded the Zoo and built the PPG Aquarium on that land, and 100 acres of land in the Lower Hill, including 1300 buildings, 413 businesses and 8,000 residents, mostly black, were displaced.

    What possible reason do poor people have to now trust the. City?

    Reply
    1. Brian Tucker-Hill

      “Because in government, the finances are part and parcel of what decisions get made and how.”

      Not always, and in this case we are talking just about startup financing. If, say, it was a line item on one year’s capital budget, that would have no significant implications for future governance.

      “What possible reason do poor people have to now trust the. City?”

      Well, there you go. My point is just that if you really feel that way, there is no reason to restrict this issue to the land bank. I presume you in fact would favor a total secession of poorer neighborhoods from the rest of the City.

      Reply
      1. Brian Tucker-Hill

        If you don’t want to be governed in common any more because you don’t trust the other members of the larger group in question, that is in fact a desire for secession.

        That said, I understand that when relatively poor areas in particular contemplate secession, it can be seen as a major problem that they will no longer be able to draw on the less-poor parts of the larger group for financial support. So, secession AND reparations is a fairly common demand in such cases.

        But I am not seeing in the actual proposed amendments to the Land Bank bill, or the rhetoric for that matter, the reparation aspect. I just see the separatist aspects.

  10. Shawn Carter

    Arguing that communities should have substantial say-so over what happens in their neighborhoods is not secession.

    The only people who would dare refer to it as such are those who are unable to defend the actions of the original proposed legislation on their merits.

    No one is advocating secession or separatism. This isn’t Texas. The City’s poor communities couldn’t secede if they wanted to. The reason? These neighborhoods have no economies. For years, this City has made conscious and intentional decisions which either disenfranchised, disinvested and displaced the residents of poor communities. So it seems Mr. Tucker-Hill and Mr. Reichbaum seem to advance a paternalistic agenda, where the decisions should be made FOR these residents, for an inexplicable set of reasons.

    Carl Redwood and Helen Gerhardt rightly point out that affordable housing, or the lack thereof, has only further exacerbated the outmigration of the poor from City neighborhoods to suburban municipalities.

    There has been some discussion about the need to build 20,000 new housing units in the City and to attract new residents.

    Where exactly are we to build 20,000 new units? Probably on the 20,000 vacant land parcels the City is currently considering landbanking, in poor neighborhoods.

    Because although the average land parcel in this City assesses at about $25,000, in Squirrel Hill and Shadyside, the cost of a land parcel (without a building on it) is well over $100,000. In Homewood, the assessed value approaches $3,000 per land parcel.

    How will low- and moderate-income residents be able to afford it, since the poor residents can’t afford the rents in the current housing stock in these neighborhoods right now?

    And announcing the desire to build 20,000 new units of housing over the next ten years, and creating a land bank to allegedly make “more efficient” the process of recycling unproductive land, taken separately, sound logical and perhaps even laudable.

    But when taken together, as they must be, they lead to a more insidious outcome, even if the motives are pure, which I would have to say at this point is a highly suspect proposition.

    What will likely happen?

    Gentrification, writ large, priced out renters, senior citizens who can’t afford to pay skyrocketing real estate taxes, even more outmigration and displacement, arguably to Rankin, Braddock, McKeesport and Clairton.

    This City, for 20 years and counting, refuses to use the $8 million/year the state gives it to lower the tax bills for seniors and long-term homeowners whose tax bills have gone up because of the improved conditions of their neighborhoods, not because they built additions onto their homes.

    The City took $160 million in tax dollars specifically earmarked for that purpose and gave it to developers to build such regional delights as the South Side Works and the Pittsburgh Technology Center, and oh, yes, how could I forget, Lazarus.

    Worse, the City apparently has no appetite to change this behavior.

    If anything, the separatists aren’t the residents of the poor neighborhoods. The separatists are now inside the wall, trying to systematically push out everyone whop can’t afford lawyers or to make campaign contributions.

    Reply
    1. MH

      Given that the city taxes only wages, not overall income, I think it’s pretty clear that seniors have get more than enough of a tax break without any special treatment on the real estate taxes.

      Anyway, it’s difficult for me to see why someone whose taxes doubled because the neighborhood is rebounding and they now have an asset worth twice as much is somehow a bigger problem for the government than somebody who had to move because the neighborhood’s housing stock hasn’t seen any maintenance because nobody is going to put a new roof on a house worth $5,000 or something.

      Reply
      1. Shawn Carter

        MH:

        When the state says, “Take this money and give it to a particular group of people, the City shouldn’t say, ‘yeah, right, whatever.'”

        I’m not attempting to draw an equivalency here. I’m point out a malignancy. There is more than just one group of Pittsburghers the government doesn’t really care about.

        I worry about seniors, the poor and children alike. If we have tools that help these different groups in different ways, I’m all for using them.

        But if local government can deny seniors and middle-aged homeowners (the majority of all likely voters, btw) the relief guaranteed them under state Law, that tells me that poor people are absolutely going to be screwed.

      2. MH

        If it were really a matter of clear state law, somebody would have sued on it. It’s just the state legislature pandering to old people, like with those lottery adds they used to do.

      3. Brian Tucker-Hill

        I’m actually not sure what Shawn is talking about here. The City offers Homestead exclusions under Act 1 (school) and Act 50 (municipal), and also has an Act 77 (senior tax relief) program. In fact as I recall, part of how the City made its post-reassessment collections revenue-neutral was to make these programs more generous.

      4. MH

        Boy were the old people who lived in the same houses for thirty years really pissed about the reassessment and completely uninterested in how they were just now paying the same taxes I’d been paying for since the old person who used to own my house moved to Florida.

    2. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Shawn, the RB/RDL amendments also calls for decisions being made “for them by another group of residents”. It just calls for the Mayor’s appointments to be far fewer and very tightly proscribed, for Council at large’s choices to be greater and not proscribed from picking among the scores of relevant community and advocacy groups in the City, for Council members representing a few districts to additionally place their own direct lackeys on the board, and for another final veto at City Council.

      Aside from making the land bank board irrelevant by again alerting all planners and residents to earn approval from the appropriate City Councilor before they even draw a sketch, go to a community meeting or meet with a potential funding source… the amendments do not better empower poor residents so much as few City Councilors, and them only vis a vis the Mayor.

      The greatest force in gentrification can be City Councilors representing poor and minority districts looking forward to the next election pointing out how many jobs and how much money in development they are bringing, and saying “Trust us.” Mayors obviously do it too. That’s why we need a balance between the two houses of government which residents each vote for, and equal proscriptions binding both to the community.

      And like everything else in government we require a ton of formal transparency as well as ongoing active involvement among citizens, or it’s never going to be the tool we need to begin digging clear from this mess.

      Reply
      1. Shawn Carter

        The single most effective means of systematically disenfranchising poor residents is to first systematically disenfranchise City Council.

        You can call it “efficiency” if you choose, and I agree, it will be an efficient and effective disenfranchisement of vulnerable populations.

        Democracy is messy. Trust me, I know. But eliminating democratic processes cannot possibly be what progressives were selling as the bedrock principle of the “New Pittsburgh”, could it.

        Yet, this landbank will deliver precisely that.

        And Brian, I was referring not to Act 77 of 1993, but, rather, to Act 186 of 1986, which was funded by Act 77 of 1993.

        There is a good reason to protect seniors, MH: Many of them lack the ability to generate income after they exit the workforce.

        The state gives us the money to defray a good bit of the tax increases without harming the City’s coffers, so we should use it for that purpose, not to build Cheesecake Factories and McCormick and Schmicks’ on brownfields.

      2. MH

        The single most effective means of systematically disenfranchising poor residents is to first systematically disenfranchise City Council.

        Given the current climate in Harrisburg, it may be best not to say anything that the Republicans could take as a challenge.

      3. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        But wait, Shawn at 3:45 – Pittsburgh has been undergoing wave upon wave of disenfranchising, largely un-remediated gentrification. How could that have been possible if the Council district rep system is what we’ve been using, and it’s the best protection against gentrification?

        The best protection against gentrification will be an accountable, balanced, regulated and independent public body facilitating the recycling of abandoned and properly forfeited property in an open forum.

    3. Brian Tucker-Hill

      “Arguing that communities should have substantial say-so over what happens in their neighborhoods is not secession. The only people who would dare refer to it as such are those who are unable to defend the actions of the original proposed legislation on their merits.”

      I think people can look at the comments above and judge for themselves how and why that particular word (“secession”) came up. Certainly it is true that these proposed amendments alone would not constitute secession, but my point was that the sort of rhetoric being employed in favor of the amendments would seem to be making an argument that is not limited to just the issue of how the Land Bank is governed.

      Again, if you really think things like, “What possible reason do poor people have to now trust the City?,” why would you only be concerned about citywide governance of the Land Bank?

      “So it seems Mr. Tucker-Hill and Mr. Reichbaum seem to advance a paternalistic agenda, where the decisions should be made FOR these residents, for an inexplicable set of reasons.”

      No, of course not. Speaking just for myself, I believe the Land Bank should have a very minimal role in terms of actual policy-making, and as applied to dispositions of property, that would basically mean just selling properties to the highest bidder. To the extent there are going to be operative land-use policies, they should be applied through existing entities, including City Zoning and City Planning, the Historic Review Commission, and so forth. Given that model, I do not in fact see a problem with the Land Bank having something like the Board as originally proposed.

      So there are at least two hidden premises in your attempted description of my views that I reject. First is the premise that the Land Bank ought to be a place where a lot of substantive land-use policy is made. Second is the premise that residents near a lot of potentially-affected structures would not be participating in self-governance in such a case. As part of the electorate for Mayor and individual City Council members, they would have the same say in the governance of the Land Bank as any other residents in the City.

      “Where exactly are we to build 20,000 new units? Probably on the 20,000 vacant land parcels the City is currently considering landbanking, in poor neighborhoods.”

      That number is only plausible if there is building going on lots of different places. Some undoubtedly would involve vacant properties in areas with lots of such properties, but a lot of those units will be Downtown, and in the Strip, and in the South Side, and Lawrenceville, and so on.

      I do understand why given the history of poor urban planning (in Pittsburgh and elsewhere), people would be nervous about what such ambitions could mean for their neighborhood. On the other hand, hyperlocal planning can be just as crappy, and in the long run just as detrimental to poor people, racial minorities, immigrants, and so on, as citywide planning.

      So the long-term answer here is not to try to recreate another URA, but this time with politicians who claim to speak for poor Black people in control. The long-term answer is to rethink how much of this sort of planning we really need at all.

      “What will likely happen? Gentrification, writ large”

      Hyperlocal planning doesn’t necessarily stop gentrification, and can actually make it systematically much worse. The basic problem is that to address gentrification in the long-run, you can’t just think about whether existing households are going to be pushed out, you also have to think about where new households in the future are going to go. Hyperlocal planning, even when nominally “anti-gentrification,” often actively works against the interests of those future households, such as by constraining the number of new units in the relevant locale. Even with affordable housing requirements, this can end up creating a situation in which if you are a poorer household which is not lucky enough to win the affordable housing lottery, you will be pushed out to relatively undesirable locations that make future economic prospects worse.

      None of this is to say understanding the causes of gentrification and trying to adopt public policies to combat the negative effects is futile or otherwise unjustified. But the idea that hyperlocal planning is the solution is not well-grounded in logic or experience, and in fact it is often part of the problem.

      “If anything, the separatists aren’t the residents of the poor neighborhoods. The separatists are now inside the wall, trying to systematically push out everyone whop can’t afford lawyers or to make campaign contributions.”

      The answer, of course, is that they both could be separatists, and I certainly acknowledge that Galtism is a form of separatism.

      But to be clear, I have never claimed that all the residents of poor neighborhoods are separatists. Indeed, to do so would be to assume that every person who is currently claiming to speak for those residents actually reflected their views, which is an assumption well worth avoiding.

      Reply
  11. Shawn Carter

    MH:

    The reason no one sued in 1994 was that the City illegally froze the tax bills of the eligible homeowners so they would never notice. When it became clear that doing that was unsustainable, they unfroze the tax bills and blamed the spike on the County reassessing their properties.

    Actually, the state Legislature amended the Regional Asset District law to strip the Mayor (then Tom Murphy) of the Authority to expend that $8 million/year, instead, granting that authority explicitly to City Council.

    In addition, the change in the RAD law forbade the City to hand those dollars over to the URA to defease debt service on development bonds (the original problem in the first place.

    Reply
  12. Shawn Carter

    MH:

    The money was irrevocably dedicated to bond defeasement, an agreement which couldn’t be changed until the bonds are defeased.

    So they made the necessary changes to ensure that there would be no repeat.

    Reply
    1. MH

      I’m still confused. The state said the city couldn’t spend the money except on the bonds until it defeased the bonds?

      Reply
      1. MH

        I admit that I may not be unconfusable in the limitations of a blog comment thread. I had to look up “defease” and may not have gotten it right. I’m not much of a finance guy.

      2. Shawn Carter

        The state couldn’t force the City to welch on the bonds. What the state said was essentially, okay, these funds are locked up until the URA bonds are paid off. But you can NEVER use these funds for this purpose again.

  13. Shawn Carter

    MH:

    Republicans don’t scare me. They harbor no pretense of their total lack of desire to be responsible for the urban areas.

    And, as Act 13 of 2012 demonstrated, even localities controlled by Republicans detest the infringement upon local land-use control by the State.

    Reply
    1. Brian Tucker-Hill

      Of course the sort of mental habit of thinking of urban land development as a species of public nuisance that should be subject to local NIMBYism in the same way as a fracking site is a large part of why hyperlocal land use planning ends up being adverse to the interests of poorer households in the long run.

      So when it comes to hyperlocal land use planning, “even Republicans favor it” should be more “especially Republicans favor it,” since it is most harmful to those they care least about.

      Reply

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