Over this past week, I largely examined literature on a range of subtopics pertaining to my project, in preparation for writing a finalized project in earnest in the coming week and a half. I had accumulated a set of articles to potentially cite far earlier in the semester and taking the time to read through them seemed helpful. First, there are a number of examinations of neighborhood associations and their relationship to planning in cities, including Dier
Several sources directly deal with the issue of regimes of urban governance in terms of the emergent nonprofit-developer nexus that I hypothesized over the course of this study. Stabrowski (2015), drawing on his 2 years of experience working as an organizer and administer of a tenant services contract, detailed how Inclusionary Zoning in Northern Brooklyn was pushed forward as part of a neoliberal regime that deliberately pulled nonprofits into its orbit. He critically notes the latent contradiction of inclusionary zoning—that it seeks to harness and boost the power of the real estate market in order to generate “affordable housing.” Community based organizations and other nonprofits were drawn into municipal plans for inclusionary zoning by several means. Stabrowski argues that over the course of their proliferation across the U.S. since 1966, CBOs have evolved from grassroots and oppositional organizations into mediators between municipalities and citizens. Driven by funding sources, the devolution of powers from the municipality, partnership with private funders and city governments on projects, and the constraints of the housing market, these organizations have become part of the manufacturing of consent. As he concludes:
The actors involved in these processes––the state, private developers and local community-based organizations––comprise an expanding affordable housing regime… In the entrepreneurial city, [Community Based Organizations] have not only become financially reliant upon the competitive contracting process, but also—as this case study has shown—increasingly subjected to the underlying assumptions, logics and methodologies of the contracts themselves…. In the process, the affordable housing regime has evacuated the housing question of all of the tensions, contradictions or antagonisms internal to capitalist housing itself—between use and exchange values, profits and affordability, or scarcity and availability. Indeed, the underlying faith in the private housing market permeated even the measures designed to minimize or prevent its anticipated exclusionary effects, as the design of the TAS contract demonstrated. ‘Affordable housing’ generated through the rezoning was posited as its key mitigating measure. According to this logic, only by encouraging gentrification—through tax incentives and density bonuses for luxury development, would it be possible to minimize gentrification—through the production of affordable units. (1134)
These shifts may all be read as part of a move from government to governance by municipalities, discussed at length by Jessop (2002) and McDonell (2012). Rather than being the primary decision maker, municipal governments in this model increasingly adopt a position as a mere mediating force between interest groups, reconciling the competing visions of others with each other and with the technical trade-offs of urban planning. Thus, the increasing reliance on stakeholder advisory commissions. Though this increased citizen participation in the planning process is cast as democratization, it must be more critically considered. As McDonell and Stabrowski note, such governance forms constitute a form of “roll-out” neoliberalism, ensconcing business interests as integral to the public interest and bringing community based organizations into alignment with expanded realms for capital.
I also did some research into the roots of the term “missing middle” housing that has been bandied about frequently throughout the RIP SAC process. Though duplexes, triplexes, and rowhomes have long formed part of the urban fabric, the categorization of these types as middle housing and their valorization is a recent emergence. Daniel Parolek, an urban designer at Opticos Design, coined the term in 2010 and created the diagram illustrating these types on a transect between single family homes and apartments. The term took off, however, following the American Planning Association Conference in Seattle in 2015. Eli Spevak, of course, was one of the six keynote speakers at this conference, pointing to potential national importance with regard to infill housing. The rapid dissemination of this idea within planning circles is pretty remarkable, filtering from obscure coinage to planning bureaus across the country in little over a year.