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Why Urbanism Is Considered to be ‘Liberal’

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Development Why Urbanism Is Considered to be ‘Liberal’

Viewing 15 posts - 46 through 60 (of 67 total)
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  • #1102536
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    “The suburbs aren’t the middle-class haven many imagine them to be as new numbers show 16.5 million suburban Americans are living beneath the poverty .”

    There are probably that many poor in NYC alone…

    The total population of New York City is 8.4 million.

    #1102537
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    I’m thinking less of discussions relating to what’s been announced for development, and more about discussions surrounding what we don’t have that we want. I’d have to think that discussions of what we want have some sway ultimately in terms of what we get.

    Any time there’s any new announcement about any type of urban development (which is typically multiple times per week), there’s always a response about the lack of affordability, which we see both in comments here and via social media channels. Discussions about what we don’t have are already happening every single day.

    Nobody’s focused on the inequality of it all, including city government in any meaningful sense.

    I think the issue is that it’s tricky to strike the right balance between the public sector and the private sector when it comes to middle-class housing.

    On the private sector side, you’ve got a major focus on what makes the most money (the more expensive market first and foremost).

    On the public sector side, you’ve got focus on the low-income and homeless housing, which is seen as providing a social service. A new program between municipalities and nonprofits plans to add 27,000 affordable units to the region in the next 10 years:

    http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/09/27/alliance-seeks-low-income-homes.html

    The big question mark is about the middle class. They’re somewhat in between without being a focus of the private sector, nor are they viewed as a social service class that should be accommodated largely by public dollars. I believe there are conversations happening, as evidenced by Coleman’s announcement to focus on “workforce housing” in his 2014 State of the City, but outside of a few examples, there’s not a lot that’s been done on that front. I think it’s because no one knows what to do or how to execute those plans properly.

    Meanwhile, it’s not as if the middle class is 100% out in the cold. Columbus is often recognized nationally as having a low cost of living, which is a great thing. A quick Trulia search for homes under $200K yields over 1,700 results, spread all over the city:

    http://www.trulia.com/for_sale/Columbus,OH/0-200000_price/map_v/

    Of course, that’s not really an exciting headline, so it’s tougher to find the rah-rah crowd getting excited about that sort of thing.

    TLDR version: Options currently exist, although more needs to be done.

    #1102544

    jbcmh81
    Participant

    This is sort of related considering that modern urbanism seems to be centered around the Millennial generation: http://allcolumbusdata.com/?p=4555

    Columbus does amazingly well at attracting those in the 25-34 age group vs. a wide variety of national and local peers. In fact, almost 50% of the city’s growth since 2010 has been just in this one age group. Perhaps this is one reason the city and Franklin County continue to get more blue with every election cycle.

    #1102553
    KACramer
    KACramer
    Participant

    I think the true root of this is simply the amount of multiculturalism to which people in an urban society are exposed. Conservative politics of the last 20 to 30 years has been (in large part) based on “fear of the other” — fear of black people, fear of Hispanics, fear of gay people, and fears of Muslims, etc… In the city, population density means that people are more likely to interact for the “other” and more likely to see the humanity. This interaction makes it harder for certain Conservative politicians to demonize these groups. In a rural community, people may never actually have any interaction with a Muslim (for an example) and therefore are more easily manipulated by the politics of fear.

    Exposure is key. This is why the gay rights movement has progressed so quickly (though it seems slow I know, but relatively speaking is was a fast transition by comparison to other civil rights movements historically). People came out of the closet. People became aware that gay people were not the “evil” and “child-snatching” monsters that conservative politicians and religion scapegoated for so long (still do but the tide is waning). They were neighbors, friends, the kid down the street, and those relate-able characters on shows like Will & Grace. They became human to the mainstream and not merely the ambiguous undefined “other.”

    I’ve met people from the suburbs who haven’t been downtown since the 1980s, and while they protest that they are not racist, they use coded terms as there rationale. Even when I tell them about the redevelopment, I hear things like “there are all those thugs down there” (when crime rate downtown is pretty minimal these days) as code for “brown people”… These people are likely to view any public spending on these areas through the lens of racial politics. In their minds, the Scioto Mile and Greenways equates to being “wasted” on black people and as a “giveaway” to minority groups rather than seeing it as a benefit to the entire city.

    #1102564

    drew
    Participant

    Any time there’s any new announcement about any type of urban development (which is typically multiple times per week), there’s always a response about the lack of affordability, which we see both in comments here and via social media channels. Discussions about what we don’t have are already happening every single day.

    True, though it’s interesting to me that the people who observe the lack of affordability are not the ones who are championing such developments in the first place. Completely different groups, usually talking past each other as thought they don’t speak the same language. Which, in a sense, they don’t. Access, or belief in future access, definitely colors how one sees and talks about the city and the world.

    I think the issue is that it’s tricky to strike the right balance between the public sector and the private sector when it comes to middle-class housing.

    I don’t think the middle class is particularly a worthy focus – most of the developments that people complain about as being too expensive are, financially speaking, accessible to middle- and upper-middle class folks.

    This is worrying to me, because while you rightly observe that we are a relatively affordable city (the prices of even our highest-end developments confirm this), we’re also the second most economically segregated:

    http://martinprosperity.org/content/insight-segregated-city/

    When you study the cities on the bottom of the list, Minneapolis in particular, you can easily see what we could be doing that we’re not.

    I strongly believe that this segregation is deeply unhealthy, and likely to become significantly more problematic as the city increases in density.

    #1102571

    Matt Boyd
    Participant

    Urbanism and Liberalism…. Anybody who does scientific studies and statistical analysis will tell you to be very careful. Just because there is correlation in the relationship does not necessarily mean there is any kind of causation in the relationship. Be careful not to draw conclusions that really aren’t there even if density is a great predictor liberalism, there may not be causation (in either direction).

    Also, as with most CU posts, the conversation has gotten a little helter skelter, but I would also like to add the opinion that the reason why only high dollar developments are being constructed (both urban and suburban) is because the credit markets have completely dried up for lower, lower-middle, and even middle class people. Only those who are very financially well established can get credit to make purchases such as new homes / condos. The developers know this, so that is who they are targeting. The sales pitch that has proven to resonate to both the young professional with no children and the downsizing empty-nester is the “Shangrilah of the new urban living environment”. The fact of the matter is that we still have a national economy almost entirely based on construction and credit markets and they needed to come up with a new sales pitch to re-energize the construction industry following the lower-to-middle income focused housing bubble collapse.

    #1102598
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    I strongly believe that this segregation is deeply unhealthy, and likely to become significantly more problematic as the city increases in density.

    Agreed.

    #1102599
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    The fact of the matter is that we still have a national economy almost entirely based on construction and credit markets…

    That may not entirely be true…

    https://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/whats-different-about-the-latest-housing-boom

    #1102625

    drew
    Participant

    Urbanism and Liberalism…. Anybody who does scientific studies and statistical analysis will tell you to be very careful. Just because there is correlation in the relationship does not necessarily mean there is any kind of causation in the relationship. Be careful not to draw conclusions that really aren’t there even if density is a great predictor liberalism, there may not be causation (in either direction).

    Totally agree. And I’d expand upon that to add that it’s likely that density is neither provably positive or negative in just about any other social metric, either. I read something recently correlating urban environments with increased anxiety disorders. Correlation, yes. Causation… uh, maybe?

    And, to account for my contribution to the helter skelter nature of this thread, I’ll add this: My intent was to suggest that I don’t think that Columbus’s particular flavor of urbanism, both in its existing reality and in its aspirations, has much of a liberal lean to it at all. We have very specific and localized problems to solve, and yet an instinctual desire for density through shiny spendy new things we’ve seen somewhere else… which seems to amount to a pattern of density increases that contribute to our existing segregation problems rather than to mitigate them.

    #1102627
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    …an instinctual desire for density through shiny spendy new things we’ve seen somewhere else…

    I don’t think that oversimplification is a fair generalization to make.

    #1102637

    jackoh
    Participant

    Let me offer a way to understand this. Liberalism = progressivism. Progressivism = urban development. Urban development = more money in the urban core. Therefore liberalism = more money. Anyone who misses the connection between liberalism and the making of money, in spite of the notion that liberals are seen to oppose wall street and business profits, understands nothing. Liberalism is inclusive because it understands that if you want to sell anything you cannot limit your market. Liberalism is tolerant because it understands that its proclivities depend on not making enemies of those who find its proclivities distasteful. Liberalism believes in equality as long as equality is defined on the basis of a similar level of education, a similar level of appreciation for some notion of “aesthetics”, a similar commitment to a life style that subsumes itself within an overarching legal, economic, and social definition of what constitutes a “humane” way of living. Liberalism is nothing more than another of the group ideologies, in competition with those of other groups, that seeks to further and justify the interests of a specific group of people in the society who want the interests of their group to be seen as some kind of universal notion of world redemption. Liberals are, in some ways, not much different from ISIS.

    #1102876

    Matt Boyd
    Participant

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Matt Boyd wrote:</div>
    The fact of the matter is that we still have a national economy almost entirely based on construction and credit markets…

    That may not entirely be true…

    https://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/whats-different-about-the-latest-housing-boom

    I think it is “not as precarious” (as stated in the article) because sketchy loans are not being made to lower-to-middle income people. The people buying into these new developments have a more firm financial foundation. They don’t not need as much credit assistance to make the purchase, true. However, I think much of the US economy is still founded on the construction of new dwellings, purchasing items for those new dwellings (refrigerators, Home Depot stuff, and decorating), and a general consumer confidence resulting from a returned sense that their home values will continue to rise thus the willingness to return to spending and increasing their general level of carried credit. It’s not like wage stagnation suddenly went away. The economy is steadily “growing” and the only way for that to happen is through increased carried credit and people spending the cash they have been saving for the past 7-8 years.

    So what do you need to get this financial mechanism back into action? A new sales pitch to a new demographic of buyers.

    #1102880
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    It’s not like wage stagnation suddenly went away.

    Locally, it has:

    https://www.columbusunderground.com/columbus-ranks-1-in-wage-growth-in-the-us

    So what do you need to get this financial mechanism back into action? A new sales pitch to a new demographic of buyers.

    Agreed.

    #1102883

    drew
    Participant

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>drew wrote:</div>
    …an instinctual desire for density through shiny spendy new things we’ve seen somewhere else…

    I don’t think that oversimplification is a fair generalization to make.

    Maybe not, but our city limits sprawl much more than just about any other city of our size, and our development patterns are almost all focused on an area within a mile or so of downtown. This development pattern, which is not solely motivated by private interests, is an ‘every city’ approach to a city that’s not like every city.

    Honestly, I see our development over the last 5-10 years as a matter of trying to play catch up with others, rather than playing our own game.

    #1102887

    drew
    Participant

    Let me offer a way to understand this. Liberalism = progressivism. Progressivism = urban development. Urban development = more money in the urban core. Therefore liberalism = more money…

    Sounds to me like you’re conflating the American definition of liberalism with the European definition.

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