Jesse Simpson’s 2017 ENVS honors thesis, “Planning Gentrification: Municipal Policy & Price Effects of the Orange Line in Portland, OR,” is available as an ENVX publication here.
Here is Jesse’s thesis abstract:
The mission of creating more environmentally-friendly and socially-equitable cities is critical; recognition of this need has increasingly informed urban policy. Urban planning strategies for realizing these laudable goals of inclusivity and sustainability are expressed in terms of a market-oriented and entrepreneurial smart growth framework, which seeks the revitalization of cities with transit-oriented development (TOD). This thesis critiques the discourse and practice of transit-oriented development with reference to a case study of a recently-constructed light rail line in Portland, Oregon. I deploy a hedonic analysis of property values in conjunction with an analysis of planning documents to illustrate the connection between plans and property values. Light rail was envisioned as a catalyst for development, development cast as its own end; the hedonic analysis illustrates that this strategy has already boosted land values, setting the stage for the profitable redevelopment and gentrification of neighborhoods along the line. This analysis raises equity concerns surrounding transit-oriented development as a strategy for promoting inclusive cities; increased property values will tend to displace the lower income, transit-dependent residents who most benefit from increased transit access.