Downtown Eugene

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fashionable prisons

This is a conceptual drawing from KWG, the developer that has offered to hire themselves to the City of Eugene, to destroy the West Broadway neighborhood, and, apparenty, to build posh incarceration facilities in the heart of downtown.

Urban Renewal is a wealth concentration mechanism -- governments condemn neighborhoods and destroy lives, to provide taxpayer sponsored development projects to the elite. It's never good for people, unless people force it to do good. Urban Renewal is famous for "the projects", ghetto apartment housing for poor blacks kicked out of neighborhoods wanted by the rich. Nowadays, Urban Renewal funds projects targeted at the wealthy consumer. But the buildings are the same. By destroying real neighborhoods, and creating superficial buildings in which community is impossible, the tenants get to live impoverished lives of "luxury". We have to stop this nonsense.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Urban Renewal: profit through bigotry

Urban Renewal, an extremely regressive mechanism, built to provide high-profits to the wealthy at taxpayers' expense, has always made strong political use of bigotry: against the poor, against the young, against the homeless, against people who drink, against street musicians, against petty criminals, against street vendors, against struggling creative people, against street life, against small business, against people who party, and against the 'different' --

James Baldwin, 1963:

A boy last week, he was sixteen, in San Francisco, told me on television -- thank God we got him to talk -- maybe somebody thought to listen. He said, "I've got no country. I've got no flag." Now, he's only 16 years old, and I couldn't say, "you do." I don't have any evidence to prove that he does. They were tearing down his house, because San Francisco is engaging -- as most Northern cities now are engaged -- in something called "Urban Renewal", which means moving the Negroes out. It means Negro removal, that is what it means. The federal government is an accomplice to this fact.

Now, we are talking about human beings, there's not such a thing as a monlithic wall or some abstraction called the "Negro Problem", these are Negro boys and girls, who at 16 and 17 don't believe the country means anything that it says, and don't feel they have any place here, on the basis of the performance of the entire country.

Urban renewal has not changed. At the height of the dotcom boom in Palo Alto, I watched as the remains of an old black-hispanic neighborhood in East Palo Alto -- used heavily by its poor residents, servants to the wealthy in silicon valley -- was bulldozed with Urban Renewal and similar non-democratic financiang methods, to build a high-priced, megalithic office park, at public expense.

Supporters of Urban Renewal don't care what exists. They don't care that people live and work and have history in a neighborhood. They don't care if people's lives depend on that neighborhood. They only think of what they want to see ... not what is already there. They think of themselves as "better" than the people who are there, and they believe their fantasies are more important than other people's realities. And, of course, they have support in this bigotry, from all their wealthy friends who make huge profits on inflated fees for government-subsidized construction.

The results are almost invariably bad. New does not mean better, and Urban Renewal is infamous for its support for anti-human 'architectural experimentation'. Given Urban Renewal's true purpose, of course the results will not be good for people or communities.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Co-opting community

Just came back from a nicely-run Town Hall forum by a local progressive radio station, KOPT.

Eugene's supposedly "progressive" and "sustainable" Mayor Kitty Piercy, boldy advocated a plan to spend better than $40 million to displace an affordable arts, non-profit & commercial district, that serves thousands of people a week, with an upscale mall.

However, she hid her intentions, and the actual legislation she has backed, by stealing rhetoric from the grassroots community development phrasebook. When pressed for time, she even amusingly threw in a "neighborhood ice cream parlor" to justify her supposed change-of-mind regarding a public park in the project.

She even ended the event on an outright lie: that the $40 million will not raise taxes. The City has provided her a study showing that it will. And it's common sense: where on earth is that $40 million, to subsidize the developer's bottom line, suppose to come from? Of course it raises taxes, both directly and indirectly.

It's pretty amusing that the "yes" blog on measure 20-134 is written by a former producer of "Star Trek". Perhaps he believes the $40 million will just materialize out of thin air? Certainly, Star Trek was always the epitome of the Sterile Utopian vision ... these are the kinds of "visionaries" who want to mold the concrete-and-glass prison-cities of the future.

However the mayor, and her courtier Greg McLauchlan, didn't mention the Urban Renewal disasters ... they mentioned those in the 60's & 70's of course, because these are safely distant. They claimed that Urban Renewal has "changed" ... just like US Foreign Policy has "changed" ... well, as someone who's neighborhood is about to be torn down with public money, cash that is sorely needed elsewhere, I can say categorically that Urban Renewal has not changed significantly.

Painfully, these two newspoke their way through their presentations. They painted a joyful utopian picture, using lovely things they have actually voted against: parks, historic buildings, community services, affordable housing, local businesses ... exactly like all propaganda, they use community as rhetoric, when they are hell-bent on destroying it, for the profit of their powerful friends. They've done it before, they'll do it again ...

... don't be fooled. The more money we give the City, the more damage they'll do, the more local businesses they'll destroy, the more historic buildings they will destroy, and the more community services they will drain of money. They have already passed ordinances to that effect.

Vote No on Measure 20-134. Stop City Hall.