Creating this 5 page capstone ended up being a more involved process than anticipated. While the methods and results section was largely copied over from my final analysis post from the end of last semester, with minor revisions to reduce its length, the introduction/background required substantial tweaking to convey the essential details within the length requirements. My conceptual framework of gentrification has been informed by my reading of David Ley’s The New Middle Class and the Remaking of the Central City over the break. I found his critique of Smith’s rent gap hypothesis and proposed drivers of gentrification convincing.
Ley points out that, empirically, though cycles of capital disinvestment and reinvestment are an important aspect of gentrification, it is not most intensely disinvested areas which are gentrified first. Indeed, some of the most disinvested and core-adjacent neighborhoods remain substantially ungentrified, even in the most intensely gentrified cities (think the Tenderloin in San Francisco, the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, the Lower East Side in New York up until the 2000s). Gentrification instead proceeded first in modestly devalorized areas adjacent to historically-elite districts, where developers perceived lower risks of investment, in more of a spillover model of revalorization. Ley also usefully situates gentrification within the frameworks of “post-modernism” and “post-Fordism,” highlighting the ways in which the cultural attitudes and economic structure of towards cities shifted around 1970. While these frameworks are only briefly referenced in my 5 page thesis, they will figure within the build-out of my thesis moving forward.
One of the main issues I’ve been tackling in terms of the structure of my thesis concerns the integration of my regression analysis of housing price effects and my qualitative analysis of the Orange Line planning process. After meeting with Liz, I decided to include most of this qualitative analysis with the background on the Orange Line. This qualitative analysis will eventually include a recounting of the station area planning process of the Orange Line (including an analysis of its reliance on the language of revitalization), as well as the rezoning and urban renewal policies enacted in its anticipation. Another issue I need to deal with is expounding on the relationship between property value increases and displacement. My tentative approach on this matter are to cite previous literature on the subject and the concern on the part of planners with this relationship, as shown in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan.
The 2035 Comp Plan itself is now figuring much more prominently in the implications section of my thesis, which was developed dramatically by writing this five page thesis. This week, I began to read through the text of Comp Plan, which I had previously only been using to gather information on the zoning changes associated with the Orange Line. I found a host of interesting language, which refocused my implications section into an analysis of the disconnect between the utopian goals of planning as creating triple-bottom line sustainability with transit-oriented growth and the limits of primarily relying on policies to enhance the private market. This bind, I argue, is at the heart of the dilemma of contemporary planning—a simultaneous desire to enhance equity with the creation of places and the reliance on private real estate as a vehicle to create those places.