Must see: Dr. Jovanna Rosen discussing her research on community development agreements

This is well worth your time. Dr. Rosen just completed her doctorate here at the Price School. Here’s the seminar:

And here’s an abstract:

Beginning in the early 2000s, community development agreements emerged as a land development innovation intended to foster equitable development and enhance community control. Under community development agreements, including community benefits agreements and project labor agreements with community workforce provisions, stakeholders leverage urban growth to promote community development and facilitate urban development. These agreements enter into a long history of land use exactions and bargaining for development, but introduce a new way of governing urban development, one that can either circumvent or supplement existing land use approval and policy formulation procedures, in favor of deliberation directly between stakeholders to create local benefits distribution policies through agreement.

However, early evidence indicates that many community development agreements are not producing all of their promised outcomes to community stakeholders, and little research has explored how implementation occurs. Existing theory on consensus building and deliberative governance overlooks implementation, but provides reason to believe that these agreements may systematically fail to deliver substantive change to marginalized groups, including community stakeholders, despite good faith deliberation and consensus. In this dissertation, I build four case studies to examine a) agreement, b) how, and the extent to which, community development agreements produce outcomes, and c) how stakeholder interests and incentives may shift during implementation and influence outcomes delivery.

I find that community stakeholders may have little direct control over outcomes delivery. They must rely on other stakeholders to realize their benefits. Community outcomes are among the last to materialize, after other stakeholders may have achieved their original goals and retain little incentive to produce community outcomes. In such cases, community stakeholders can use indirect tactics, including community monitoring and enforcement, to induce other stakeholders to produce community outcomes, but at a significant cost. This implies that community development agreements offer a fundamentally limited, though potentially net positive, strategy for generating lasting community change.

Karen Chapple on California’s Redevelopment Agencies

When Governor Brown first mentioned the plan to cut back on redevelopment agencies, our Op-Ed person asked me to write about it. I wrote about how an optimal gas tax would eliminate the need for so much cutting, and the Op-Ed guy snuffed it, saying basically that “taxes are dead.”

I rejoined that I didn’t know anything about redevelopment agencies other than I don’t like them very much–which isn’t much of a rationale for an Op-Ed, let alone policy recommendations.

Why don’t I like? In LA’s case, I don’t understand why redevelopment money got put into LA Live, and I don’t understand why, when there is public money in a project, we don’t even get a bench at the bus stop outside LA Live out of the deal. LA Live turned out to be a cash machine. Couldn’t that have happened without taxpayer money? Couldn’t public money have gone to improving the transit environment around the development?

Perhaps I am mistaken about that deal.

And why is there no joint development with the Blue Line light rail after 20 years? Are we only interested in large-scale, super neoliberal corporate festival marketplaces rather than small businesses in actually depressed areas?

Karen Chapple, professor at Berkeley, summarizes the policy and planning argument against redevelopment here. I particularly appreciate the emphasis on affordable housing, which I might have put as my first point simply because I think that’s turning out to be one of the biggest barriers to growth in California.

Telling the story of places and people

PhilaPlace – Sharing Stories from the City of Neighborhoods is a joint project with one of the key faculty members, Amy Hillier, being at the City and Regional Planning department at the University of Pennsylvania’s excellent School of Design.

I particularly like the sites documenting W.E.B DuBois and the fact that the site is interactive–you can add a story. You can also create a family socio-spatial family history to save under your login to share with your friends and family.