Urban

Revisiting Medellin’s Governance Arrangement After the Dust Settled

By John J. Betancur (University of Illinois at Chicago) and Peter Brand (Universidad Nacional de Colombia) | When the world is dark, any ray of light feels like the sun. Emerging from the profound crises that decimated the economy and social fabric of Colombia’s second city Medellin in the period 1980-2000, a grassroots movement and a powerful corporate group (GEA) formed a governing alliance that assured the world that the city had risen from the ashes. The new millennium saw strategic signature interventions in the poorest and most violent sectors of the city which captured the attention of the world while a public-private partnership consolidated the interests of the corporate group. This followed in the wake of a shadowy partnership of national government and paramilitary forces which produced the violent expulsion of urban militias of the left. An ensuing national amnesty and local pacts allowed control of large parts of the city by narco-paramilitary organizations in exchange for drastically reduced homicide rates – an essential component of some formidable city marketing which sold to the world the idea of the Medellin ‘miracle’ based on its social programs and progressive urbanism. This myth earned the city 21 national and 30 international awards (Mazo, 2016) but ignored critical works characterizing it as smoke and mirrors (see Hylton, 2007; Brand, 2013; MacLean, 2015). After the dust settled, this study spoke to 40 of the protagonists of the Medellin model and examined documents, reports, and archives to reexamine the coalition behind this experience. Read More

May 17, 2022 // 0 Comments

Where in Los Angeles Do Homeless People Sleep? The Neighborhood Distribution of Unsheltered Homelessness and Its Changes Over Time

By Eun Jin Shin (Sungkyunkwan University) | Homelessness has been one of the most critical issues facing major US cities in recent decades. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s latest Annual Homeless Assessment Report (2020), about 0.57 million people in the United States experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2019. Although some cities, like Chicago, have witnessed a general downward trend in homelessness in recent years, numbers have risen dramatically in Los Angeles—an area known for long-standing high homelessness rates. Read More

May 12, 2022 // 0 Comments

Metamorphic Metropolises: What’s at Stake in Chinese Cities’ “Administrative Division Adjustments”?

By Kyle Jaros (University of Notre Dame) | Imagine that residents of New York City awoke tomorrow to reports that the governor of New York State had authorized, without public consultation, a far-reaching change to the city’s territorial map: Brooklyn would be split into two boroughs and the Bronx would merge with newly annexed Westchester County to form a northern mega-borough. This would be huge and highly contentious news for New Yorkers, with far-reaching implications for business, housing, infrastructure, public services, and governmental operations across the metropolis. Read More

April 19, 2022 // 0 Comments

Mapping Racial Capital: Gentrification, Race and Value in Three Chicago Neighborhoods

By Jesse Mumm (DePaul University) and Carolina Sternberg (DePaul University) | “Every one of you that comes into this neighborhood, it ups our property rate ten thousand dollars,” one Black woman on the West Side of Chicago tells two white newcomers walking by where she sits on her front porch. How is gentrification racial? In our new UAR article, we look at race and gentrification in three Chicago neighborhoods: Garfield Park, Pilsen and Humboldt Park, where we map changes in demographics, property value, and material conditions. Garfield Park lies at the heart of the supermajority Black West Side; Pilsen has been called the cultural center of Mexican Chicago, and Humboldt Park hosts Paseo Boricua—the Puerto Rican Promenade. We know that gentrification is not always linear, and its multiple causes not universal, but enacted through urban phenomena as disparate as toxic loans, planned gallery districts, and subway restoration. Yet this does not diminish their meanings as racial projects, and our findings here destabilize the notion that material improvement in the built environment largely determines increases in property values. While urban scholars generally recognize today that abandonment and disinvestment were socially produced and politically organized racial projects of midcentury capitalism, we owe the same critical assessment to gentrification – the major urban racial project of the present day. Read More

April 14, 2022 // 0 Comments

Does an Increased Share of Black Police Officers Decrease Racial Discrimination in Law Enforcement?

By Sunyoung Pyo (Catholic University of Korea) | The police force’s discriminatory treatment toward Black residents has long been a significant social issue in the U.S. (Gaston 2019; Homes, Painter II and Smith 2019). There is substantial empirical evidence showing that Black people are more likely than White people to be stopped-and-frisked and to be arrested for minor offenses (Cooley et al. 2020; Gelman, Fagan and Kiss 2007). The issue of discriminatory policing has become more publicly salient over the last few years following several high-profile police-involved deaths of Black residents. Read More

April 11, 2022 // 0 Comments

UAR Seeks Proposals for the Editorship of UAR Term beginning July 1, 2022

Urban Affairs Review (UAR) has been a leading scholarly journal focused on urban politics, policy, and governance for fifty years. Submissions reflecting different scholarly disciplines and methodological perspectives are welcome when the research advances theory and improves our understanding of political processes, policy impacts, and approaches to governance in urban, regional, and metropolitan settings. The Urban Affairs Review is affiliated with American Political Science Association’s section on Urban Politics. Read More

April 4, 2022 // 0 Comments

Neighborhood Economic Change in an Era of Metropolitan Divergence

By Jared N. Schachner (University of Chicago) | Why do some neighborhoods change rapidly in race and class composition, while others do not? Despite a growing consensus among scholars that neighborhood sociodemographics shape residents’ life chances and societal inequities, the key drivers of neighborhood change – especially gentrification – remain hotly contested. Most research examines salient neighborhood characteristics rather than metropolitan area characteristics, precluding a complete picture of neighborhood change from emerging. Read More

March 7, 2022 // 0 Comments

The End of the Right to the City: A Radical-Cooperative View

By Caleb Althorpe (Western University) and Martin Horak (Western University) | Social and material conditions in cities around the world are deeply unjust. Increasing material inequalities, social exclusion, hierarchy and domination face urban inhabitants in many settings. In response to these realities, the ‘right to the city’ (RTTC) has become a concept that is widely used by those who seek to build more just and inclusive cities. The RTTC frames the goals of urban advocacy groups around the world, the policy objectives of international organizations, and even makes an appearance in a piece of national legislation in Brazil. Read More

December 22, 2021 // 0 Comments

You Won’t be My Neighbor: Opposition to High Density Development

By Jessica Trounstine (University of California, Merced) | The 1926 Supreme Court decision Euclid v. Ambler upheld the right of cities to use their police powers to regulate how and where development would occur within their borders. In his opinion, Justice Sutherland famously described the apartment house as, “often a mere parasite, constructed in order to take advantage of the open spaces and attractive surroundings created by the residential character of the district.” Today, many communities throughout the United States appear to agree with Justice Sutherland’s assessment. Virtually every city in the United States bans multifamily homes in at least some neighborhoods, and in many cities most residential land is restricted to single family homes (Badger and Bui 2019). This is the case even though many metropolitan areas are facing skyrocketing housing costs and increased environmental degradation that could be alleviated by denser housing supply. Some scholars have argued that an unrepresentative set of vocal development opponents are the culprits behind this collective action failure. Yet, recent work suggests that opposition to density may be widespread. In this research note, I provide evidence that preferences for single-family development are ubiquitous. I provide evidence that communities seek to block apartment buildings as a way to prevent a host of perceived negative outcomes from befalling their community.   Read More

December 10, 2021 // 0 Comments

Understanding Urban Retail Vacancy

By Jein Park (Urban Institute) | In many cities across the United States, the retail sector has been in long decline and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated permanent store and mall closures, bankruptcies, and job losses. Although commercial corridors have been recovering at non-generalizable rates, the disruption to small business activity caused many more storefront vacancies than cities know what to do with. The issue of focus in our paper, storefront retail, is highly valuable as it contributes to the quality of street life, pedestrian-oriented urban design, and active frontage that promotes social exchange. Commercial corridors with high presence of retail vacancies often report declining quality of sidewalks, increase in crime, and a viscous cycle of economic disinvestment. In our UAR paper, we provide some insight about storefront vacancies in urban neighborhoods from the perspective of business organizations. We interviewed business organizational leaders about the causes, impact, and mitigation of retail vacancies and summarize our findings in our paper. Read More

October 27, 2021 // 0 Comments