Issues in Real Estate Development for Activists 201
December 12, 2019 8:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about returning to local political activism after several years away. I want to be smarter about it than I was then, so I'd like to compile a not-too-long reading list for background on several key issues in urban development.

I'm primarily looking for non-judgemental evidence-based books, articles or other documents that would inform discussion or argument about policy on the following topics:

-- Real estate development as a business (What the world looks like to developers who are in it for the profits)

-- Problems in creating good zoning code or other law to shape development in accordance with municipal objectives

-- Gentrification, eviction and tenant displacement

-- Affordable housing production

-- Homelessness

-- Public transportation

-- Transit-oriented development

-- Positive and negative effects of the tourism and hospitality sector for a city's residents and its economy

I was involved in city politics previously for several years, first as a NIMBY, then as a convert to new urbanist and high-density urbanism thinking, so I don't need basic introductions or propaganda. I now feel the truth about urbanism is more complex than any of those positions alone and would like to become competent to reason with others about it. Again, materials of a more objective nature are mostly what I'm looking for, but reportage or narrative style writing that is truly excellent would interest me as well. Truly excellent podcasts, youtube shows or blogs on any of these topics would also be welcome.
posted by bertran to Law & Government (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Sightline Institute is an solid resource that focuses on the Pacific Northwest but includes plenty about California, too, as well as national trends. City Observatory is based in Portland but similarly covers and touches on national trends.

You're saying "objective" but I think it might be difficult to find in-depth reporting on these issues from folks who don't have a perspective.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:27 PM on December 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

My friends who are urban planners have mentioned the book The Color of Law. I haven't read it yet, but it appears that the author was on Fresh Air, so that might give you a sense of whether you want to pick up the book. Here's a link to that interview.

I also sent you a me-mail.
posted by kochenta at 9:00 PM on December 12, 2019

A few things you might find useful:

Human Transit. A very clearly written primer to the basics of transit planning. Walker is really good at explaining trade-offs (for example: maximizing ridership vs maximizing geographic coverage) without taking sides.

Living Downtown: The History of Residential Hotels in the United States. This is an excellent history of what used to be the dominant form of lower-income housing in many cities, and it touches on a lot of your key points (zoning, displacement, affordable housing). I can't recommend it enough.

Perverse Cities. This is very narrowly focused (the unintended consequences of poorly-structured municipal fee schedules), but I found it useful.
posted by ripley_ at 9:15 PM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might peruse Planetizen's Best Books lists.
posted by slidell at 10:39 PM on December 12, 2019

I've found Christopher Leinberger - Island press reviews and website very helpful re planning, urban design and landscape - IDK how objective though as I (from what I can recollect) he got into development finance when banks wouldn't lend money on his more progressive projects.

Leinberger's Leading the money, Architectural Record June 2003 was the first article on the intersection of planning and finance and it got me hooked on the subject, it's mainly about time-tranching to spread income streams and enable higher build input

Kathleen Wolf often writes on the interesection of people, money and landscape\planning\ecology. Sometimes writes wry articles with names like "Designing Consumer Habitat".
posted by unearthed at 1:58 AM on December 13, 2019

Nine-Tenths of the Law: Property and Resistance in the United States by Hannah Dobbz, a fantastic history of squatting and property law rights.

Evicted by Matthew Desmond
posted by veery at 12:52 PM on December 13, 2019

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