Downtown Eugene


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.

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