Two Gentrification Videos (One Funny) and Other Planning Links Worth Clicking

Sign protesting gentrification in the Mission District. [photo by ClockworkGrue via Flickr]
Sign protesting gentrification in San Francisco’s Mission District. [photo by ClockworkGrue via Flickr]
When SNL starts tackling an issue, you know it’s gone mainstream. Perhaps post-mainstream. Such is the case with gentrification, which is clearly on the minds of people around the country as the economy picks up steam. The subject keeps popping up like yet another farm-to-table gastropub.

Here are two videos addressing gentrification, plus eight more planning-related articles that have captured my attention over the past few days.

1. Answer: It Stinks

“What It’s Like To Lose Your Home To Gentrification” []

I knew I recognized the young gentleman in this video. He was one of the neighborhood kids captured on camera last year in a sorta-heated argument with a group of Dropbox employees, who had reserved a Mission District soccer field that historically had been used for pickup games—thus personifying San Francisco’s growing culture clash. In this Buzzfeed-produced video, the young gentleman—his name is Kai—takes you on a short tour of the Mission District. Contrary to the title, it doesn’t really delve too deeply into how Kai felt about his family getting evicted from their apartment. It’s basically him pointing at various upscale bars/salons/condos and saying, “That didn’t used to be here.”

2. SNL on gentrification, artisanal mayo

“Bushwick, Brooklyn 2015” []

For a video that arguably does a better job of capturing how gentrification alters the character of a neighborhood, check out this sketch from last weekend’s Saturday Night Live featuring Kenan Thompson, Kevin Hart and Jay Pharoah as a couple boyz in the hood discussing spinning class, retail therapy, and wine and cheese pairings. There’s some easy targets getting skewered here, but the execution is smart and funny.

3. Like a miniature version of the Bay Area’s housing crisis, but in Michigan and with a poorer Oakland

“Consultant tells Ann Arbor officials housing affordability an issue for many” []

A primer for those of you who aren’t from Southeast Michigan: Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan. Next door is Ypsilanti, which has a reputation as being the Brooklyn to Ann Arbor’s Manhattan (or Oakland to Ann Arbor’s San Francisco, if you prefer). But Oakland’s poverty rate is less than 20 percent, whereas Ypsilanti’s is approaching 30 percent, putting it in a category with the likes of Newark and New Orleans. Meanwhile, roughly half of renters in Ann Arbor are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Basically, wealth and poverty are becoming more concentrated.

4. Meanwhile, on a farm up the road …

“Cottonwood Barn dispute to return to court over event venue’s fate” []

In a still relatively rural area just outside Ann Arbor (and literally across the street from the church where my mother works), the question of whether you can just go and turn a barn into a music venue has ignited a zoning battle that is headed for the courts.

Rendering of California's high-speed rail passing through Fresno. [photo via]
Rendering of California’s high-speed rail passing through Fresno. [photo via]
5. Every opinion anyone ever had about high-speed rail in California

“California High-Speed Rail: The Collector’s Edition” []

For the last half a year, The Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows has been looking at the Golden State’s $68 billion gambit from just about every possible angle. Here he provides a compendium of links to all 17 posts in the series—covering all the pros, cons, arguments and rebuttals from the project chairman, critics, readers and Fallows himself—plus another three recent, relevant articles from other sources.

6. Urban revitalization: Turns out there ain’t an app for that

“Remaking Vegas In A Tech Billionaire’s Image: Will It Last?” [] CEO Tony Hsieh has been pouring a few hundred million dollars of his own money into reviving downtown Las Vegas. NPR checks in on how it’s going. Planners will no doubt enjoy the part where Hsieh laments that revitalizing an urban core turns out to be more complicated than launching an app and takes longer than 24 hours. But seriously, Hsieh shows genuine interest in city planning but admits that he’s learning as he goes.

7. Next up: Identify cities by their Starbucks dispersal

“Quiz: Can you name these cities just by looking at their subway maps?” []

In my last link roundup, the Post’s Wonkblog challenged readers to name cities based on unlabled street grids. The sequel tries to recapture that magic with public transit. I got eight out of 10 this time.

Separated bike lane on Polk Street in San Francisco. [photo via]
Separated bike lane on Polk Street in San Francisco. [photo via]
8. Proof you can use “exciting” and “bike infrastructure” in a headline (at least in San Francisco)

“Coming in 2015: 10 exciting bike infrastructure projects on the way to the Bay Area this year” []

From bike racks on Amtrak trains to a new approach for cyclists crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

9. And things are only going to get boonier

“Horrible commute is a boon to East Bay tech firms” []

The Chronicle went a little deeper in examining the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s new report on Bay Area traffic, looking at how increasing congestion is altering the job market. In Berkeley and Oakland, employers are now using “You won’t have to cross the Bay Bridge” as a selling point in their recruitment efforts.

10. Sorry, Twin Cities, but that font is Comic Sans awful

“The subliminal power of city fonts” [, via]

Here’s one for all the planners who are also font nerds (all three of us!). The Guardian looks at cities that have developed their own personal fonts as part of their branding efforts, from Eindhoven, Germany, to Chattanooga, Tennessee.


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