Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ezra Klein: How to build your condos (in China)

This nice little suburb, it turned out, had been built in 2006. And like a lot of things in China, it was built all at once, on top of a village that already existed.

Photo and story by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, click here to read the rest of How to build your condos (in China)

I would say terrible, horrible, things about China if I did not see the exact same thing right here in Seattle. Converting unused manufacturing space (upzones) into "mixed use, walking communities" is usually a good idea. But often enough it is little more than a crass execise in capitalism, displacing low income housing for pretty condos.

In China a "walkable" community that is bicycle "friendly" isn't urban chic, but a way of life. But, they are not coming down from a century-long automobile high.

Here in Seattle there are new patches of vacant land that should be reclaimed, that do not displace poor people in favor of less-poor people, empty car lots.
When the economy went into the ditch, dragging the car companies with it over their tipping point, I was left with urban blight. Go to the corner of 130th St and Aurora Avenue North there are two vacant car dealerships on the NW and SE corners. I do not expect the car dealership "industry" to return anytime soon. Parts of Seattle, and likely parts of most American cities of any meaningful size, have an "auto row" or some other shorthand for land zoned for car dealerships. That land should be rezoned, and reclaimed as living space.

It doesn't take a village idiot to point that out.