But, as the article goes on to point out, this also prevents new housing from mitigating the high cost of housing in low supply. The activists are completely wrong, high-density development has traditionally deteriorated surrounding communities - but there are ways to build up housing supply, while maintaining a pleasant civic environment.
But first let's address the activist's points: high density development traditionally has a negative impact on the surrounding urban space. By negative impact I mean things like: gated communities that segregate income classes, skyscrapers that create harsh micro-climates at pedestrian level and all-glass condos that create glare and require incredible heating and cooling energy to be liveable.
So is it possible to integrate high density housing into urban areas while mitigating the negative impact of the surrounding urban environment? Better planning and building codes would do a lot to prevent gated communities and unsustainable building practices. As for building density, which is tangentially related to my area of study (M.Arch candidate) - the best precedents are historic European cities, like Paris. Paris lies at a optimal sweet spot for building density, that allows it to sustain a rich urban life, achieve moderate energy usage (unlike glass condominium tower developments) with relatively modest densities - mid-rise buildings.
So if there's a path forward to deal with gentrification, it will involve amping up the housing supply in the city using an integrated, consistent midrise development patterns. It is possible, but blocking development is incredibly short-sighted, you've got to tackle the development models used in cities.
I’m curious what would happen if many zoning restrictions were loosened (for instance allowing lots of units with no dedicated parking spaces, and encouraging mixed use residential/commercial) and replaced with a 5 or 6 story maximum height, something like central Paris density, and if property taxes were allowed to go up commensurate with property value (damn Prop 13). If combined with transit infrastructure improvements, I suspect it would be possible to keep a very nice walkable livable city with dramatically increased housing stock. [Which is I guess some of what you’re talking about.]
Personally I think there's a culture of over-prescribing development which is making it illegal to building good cities.
When I say historic European cities are a sweet spot, I mean, they're the most reasonable density you build up to, without getting into the congestion, traffic and transportation energy problems of Eastern cities.
With regards to the midrise model I'm promoting above, I should add it's usually best practise to 'anchor' public transportation nodes like subway stops, with high-rises, so as to compact more density around these areas. Also, while I have yet to see a convincing scheme to successfully integrate affordable housing into downtown, high-demand areas, one of the least-bad incentive schemes is to make them a condition of allowing developers to build tall.
Essentially, high-rise has it's place in the city as a useful strategy to increase efficiency of high-demand areas or help create mixed-income areas.
I'm assuming you're referring to the Huassmann's renovation?
The cynic in me wonders whether existing residents are just attempting to (and succeeding in) increase the value of their real-estate investments (however small) under the guise of protesting gentrification, though that might be a little far-fetched.
Ultimately it's an incredibly fascinating process to watch. I don't know that I'd exactly call it xenophobia, but it is incredibly interesting to see the gentrified residents use arguments very similar to larger anti-immigration arguments (e.g. 'they dont fit in with the local culture, they dont even try to integrate, they ruin my livelihood'), arguments that are often used to target those same resident populations on a national scale.
I honestly didn't even realize this was the cynical view, I thought it was quite evident. The fact that people protesting high housing costs could also be against development seemed so insane that the only rational explanation was low-information anti-high-rent voters being bamboozled by all the advertising etc that the homeowner crowd puts out (and election advertising is made even more potent by SF's referendum system).
*Note that this doesn't imply that homeowners per se are assholes, but is a modifier indicating that I'm referring to the intersection of SF homeowners and assholes.
The realist in me doesn't "wonder."
London has a long history of welcoming immigration, and is currently extremely welcoming of wealthy immigrants in particular. Housing density is always rising. New buildings are always going up, and existing buildings are frequently being turned into flats. This welcoming behaviour has done nothing to prevent even reasonably well-off natives being priced out of the city.
> The only crime is in sacrificing one to make way for the other.
There's no real suggestion here. How does one avoid this sacrifice?
Builders of new flats in London are required to offset their luxury accommodation with some "affordable housing", as an attempt to prevent this sacrifice. This has not yet worked. Not-so-wealthy immigrants to London find themselves either in substandard housing, or just not-very-good housing in the outer zones. Natives find themselves living with their parents until they're 40, or leaving the city altogether.
I would say that the only way to ensure that gentrification has a positive effect for all involved is to be more welcoming of actual immigration, but less welcoming to cash-only immigration. The rental and flipping markets are out of control. There is a surplus of big-money cash buyers pricing those on normal incomes out of the homebuying market, whilst charging ever-increasing rents to their tenants (which further reduces said tenants' abilities to escape the rental market, and eventually forces them out to make way for wealthier tenants).
Tipping the balance in favour of renters rather than lessors would help this. Rent controls; making eviction harder; preventing homebuying by non-residents; increased taxes on empty properties. All these would slow house price rises and allow people who don't own a Russian utility company to stay in London for longer.
Anti-immigration / anti-change is stupid. Nobody would be where they are today if change never happened. Get off my lawn.
Are they saying we should let the slums remain slums? Keep them in their place? Sounds like it.
Unsustainable start-ups? Check.
Easy Fed money? Check.
Hype and BS in proposals? Check.
Not solving real-world problems? Check.
Pre-IPO liquidity for founders and backers? Check.