Managing Gentrification

Gentrification is a concern for policy makers in successful and diverse cities. Gentrification can improve neighborhoods that suffer from underinvestment, but it can also cause the displacement of long-term residents, cherished landmarks and long-standing businesses and it can make neighborhoods homogenous, sterile and less able to meet the day-to-day needs of their residents. A gentrifying city can be a city in the process of losing the variety and dynamism that made it attractive to investors and successful people in the first place. And of course, gentrifying cities are unaffordable to low-income residents. Because of rising rents, many neighborhoods in San Francisco are already unable to sustain such businesses as dry cleaners, laundry services, drug stores and affordable restaurants. A neighborhood with nothing but fancy wine bars, chic clothing shops, gourmet restaurants and trendy coffee houses selling $5 drip coffee is not in crisis, but a city with only such neighborhoods arguably is. We will work with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development on various issues related to the challenges of gentrification in San Francisco. Issues include researching policy responses to the displacement of legacy businesses and non-profit enterprises and analyzing the effects of rising property values and rents on the diversity of businesses in San Francisco neighborhoods.

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