Samuel Stein: Capital City



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Ies are being served by which policies and which of your biases toward rban policy you want to maintain having read what Stein has to say In Capital City Sam Stein has produced an accessible and readable socialist account of real estate development and rban politics He explains in straight forward terms why real estate owners and developers are so much powerful than they sed to be why planners and city governments are forced to cater to their needs and the terrible things this does to cities and people s lives Unlike many introductory accounts of gentrification Stein does an excellent job recognizing the importance of cycles of disinvestment and re investment the role of impersonal market forces and the changing dynamics of global capitalism that facilitate and accelerate gentrification For those familiar with Marxist and left political economies of The Missing Heir urban real estate the book offers a fewnder documented insights such as how inclusionary zoning with affordable housing developments can actually work to drastically reduce the amount of affordable housing in a neighborhood Stein s critiue of planning is particularly insightful account of the limits of progressive state officials nder capitalism and the contradictions of progressive liberalism Stein closes out with some general policy recommendations working towards socialist decommodified housing which he recognizes as necessarily depending on popular tenant organizingI would have liked the material on planning reduced and replaced with some clear analysis about the class dynamics of tenant rebellions and the sorts of dynamics that could enable the consolidation and strengthening of tenant power Stein says little about the landscape of tenants rights organizations and what the contradictions and limits of what they are able to accomplish Nor does he provide even a brief historical sketch of the moments where tenant insurgency has won real gains It is clear he knows all this and references it but not with the clarity and precision I would have liked Stein dodges the contentious and nresolved Deanna Raybourn Lady Julia Grey Volume 2: Dark Road to Darjeeling\The Dark Enquiry\Silent Night bonus story (A Lady Julia Grey Mystery) uestions of Marxistrban political economy such as the extent to which landowners constitute a distinct class if financialization actually constitutes a distinct moment of capitalism with new laws of motion if there are limits to the current hyper gentrification of cities or or what produces the mass tenant rebellions of the past Stein provides an excellent summation for why industrial capital was a counter weight to real estate owning interests in cities when they were centers of manufacturing interests but is a lot less plausible in suggesting cities could become manufacturing centers again The book also has surprisingly little about the role of anti black racism in gentrification and landlord strategies and garnering white support for major development projects I imagine Stein will be grappling with some of these Not Our Kind uestions in his current dissertation which will hopefully soon become an academic bookIn New York City communists aresing Stein s book in a series of study groups trying to cohere a pole of the housing movement to the left of the many non profit organizations working on the issue This is an extremely exciting and positive development for the tenant movement and Stein s book is a good choice for collective study I highly recommend it Capital City Gentrification and the Real Estate State by Samuel Stein VERSO 2019 is an exceptionally interesting read on the origins of the real estate state and an Montana Reunion (Big Sky Centennial, urban geography of dispossession aka gentrificationA few key take aways the phenomenon of turning cities from places into commodities and associates dispossession must benderstood within the contrxt of the decline and literal retreat of manufacturing industrial capital and the outsized power of real estate and finance interests within the state I guess what you d call financialization of capitalism Urban real estate plays a central role in global capital growth real estate is now a 217 trillion dollar industry it forms sixty percent of global assetsThe book is written from the perspective of a city planner highlighting their very limited role to challenge the current state of an rban race to the bottom where towns and cities compete for real estate investment through tax incentives where public investments in poorer neighbourhoods almost always lead to a rise in land value and the rent gap and a new cycle of dispossessionOf course the large scale privatization of public land and housing is part and parcel of this commodification of citiesThe solutions are not too tricky democratization of town planning and decommodification of land and housing There are already some successful examples of people taking back their neighbourhoods and towns eg radical municipalities but this would also reuire a much bigger political shift within the bigger context of democratizing and decommodifying essential services such as health educationThere s also an interesting chapter on the sell out and commodification of this nightmarish and naffordable former work. Y percent of global assets and one of the most powerful people in the world the president of the United States made his name as a landlord and developerSamuel Stein shows that this explosive transformation of rban life and politics has been driven not only by the tastes of wealthy newcomers but by the state led process of rban pla.

This book is a short polemic against city developers it s an important critiue but there isn t enough substance here It s a jumbled mess of ideas and theories neoliberalism capitalism labor that the writer does not connect with the subject An extremely helpful crash course on the rise of the real estate state a political formation in which real estate capital has inordinate influence over the shape of our cities the parameters of our politics and the lives we lead As an aspiring practicing planner who has only ever lived and worked in the real estate state it is helpful to read a book that is able to adeuately assess these conditions and the challenges they pose for planners without resigning to them The main challenge in our current capitalist system nearly every public investment that planners can make can be leveraged into private gain due to increased land values thanks to these investments This of course is key to gentrification which Stein calls a spatial fix to cities capital crisis and the third stage in a long term process of capital flow in and out of space This is a really helpful reorientation for me as I am learning to articulate my concerns with the way my job does planning Many times I and many of my left leaning colleagues are working through reservations that our bosses are telling Quebrando Regras (Os Westmorelands us tose the same strategies that led to ineuitable outcomes in one city while expecting they ll work differently in secondary markets Sam Stein s work is helpful because it provides alternative strategies reordered regionalism socialized land public stewardship that planners could se to actually break the wheel altogether Without these alternatives even well meaning euitable initiatives like neighborhood reinvestment owner occupied rehab euitable code enforcement geared to punish slumlords and other strategies geared to help build self sustaining housing markets in disinvested neighborhoods that are not gentrifying are not enough and are in fact continuing the speculative development cycle by promoting what Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor would call predatory inclusion Moving away from predatory inclusion and towards community control aka the pivot towards socialized planning is exactly what I m hoping to learn While this book provides a lot of aspirational policy objectives many of which planners don t have the authority to control it also proposes the role of planners in supporting peoples movements through our work and gives s tangible steps to get there such as through securing funding and implementation support for demonstration projects that help people see the benefits of socialized planning I am excited to keep learning about and begin practicing socialized planning from community members and organizers practitioner role models in the field and academics like Sam Stein As someone who is ite ninformed about the intricacies of real estate and Moon Over Water (Deliverance Company, urban planning I found this book tremendously eye opening The book is broadly divided into what isrban planning how is real estate measuredvalued how The Reunion Mission \ Tall Dark Defender urban planners areltimately beholden to the fluctuations and dictatorship of real estate values the latter having evolved into a financial instrument speculated pon by a transnational capitalist class a history of the displacement of working class demographics by planners largely at the intersection of class and race through the process of gentrification the ascendance of a real estate president and how this signifies the coalescence of real estate interests in the political sphere alternatives to the current system which can provide public socialized land for rban workers and create thriving communities Highly informative and provides the reader with a framework informed by socialism to analyze the toxicity of the real estate state and what communities could potentially be Great first book for someone who wants to The Venetians Mistress understand the driving factors of gentrification This book is excellent I was far too sanguine aboutrban liberal things like city planning BIDs TIFs etc the helpmeets of the young technocrat who thinks that cities are the apotheosis of mankind What I didn t realize is how ineluctably these things lead to displacement and gentrification the continuous erosion of the city as pastiche and into a play land for the elite rich While I enjoyed having my assumptions and beliefs challenged I didn t find the author s solutions very compelling When you re told that investment in communities is bad because it leads to gentrification and that disinvestment is bad because it starves communities of resources you feel like you re being set Two Steps Forward up for some comprehensive achievable solution But the solutions he posits community home ownership Havana style seem at best impossible and at worst just naive Havana is not a place I would describe as one where people are happy with housing allocations and I say that having interviewed dozens of Habaneros a few years back Regardless this book is pithy and extremely smart I d recommend it to anyone trying tonderstand how cities work which euities and constituenc. “This superbly succinct and incisive book couldn’t be timely or rgent” Michael Sorkin author of All Over the MapOur cities are changing Around the world and money is being invested in buildings and land Real estate is now a 217 trillion dollar industry worth thirty six times the value of all the gold ever mined It forms sixt.

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Ing class city called NYC and of course the rise to political power of its developers and real estate tycoons personified in outgoing President TrumpPS there was a recent The Dig podcast interview with the author if you don t have the time to read the book Sam Stein clearly and articulately lays out how and why our cities are gentrifying because of real estate being the most powerful force in the world s economy With crazy rents rich people and developers taking over every major city it s nice to have an incredibly clear and specific description of the political and historical complexities of city planning and gentrification that pinpoints specific laws and moments in history when policies and programs where made that oppress working class folks Capital City is short and sweet frustrating and inspiring in eual measure and an absolute must read for anyone who cares about an euitable future for our cities This is a very left oriented critiue of the planning profession and as a planner I can t really argue against any of the points made I would say that the book reads a bit like a very long shit post about the planning profe I fucking hate hearing about New York City Most of the country doesn t live in these AAA rich as Crassus cities and NYC has a particular complex politicaleconomicsocial eco system A lot of the examples of the real estate state itself a clunky phrase I hate are pulled from the Big Apple and just aren t doable in your small town mid size regional citiesIt s a solid book overall tho The information is solid necessary and breaks down complex economic and political factors into an easy to read format It s second chapter is one of the best analyses and explainations of gentrification I ve seen in print The third chapter on the bi partisan support of gentrification policies between billionaire mayor who thinks he s a king Michael Bloomberg and current Mayor De Blasio is excellent The chapter on the Trump family is good in showing how rich families historically always exploit laws and loopholes for their personal gain These chapters aren t bad I find it rehashs a lot of insular circumstances that really only apply to the weird Lovecraftian hybrid that is New York CityI live outside the Providence metro area in Rhode Island for example I can pinpoint two or three big or well known real estate groups that defintely se some of the processes described in chapter two but probably not similar examples to those found in chapters three and fourAlong with the chapter on gentrification I especially enjoyed the final chapter detailing actual socialist solutions to de commodify the housing market I really wish the stuff on NYC was shortened or excised into a separate book entirely and the author focused on gentrification and socialist responses to it Stein details a number of interesting policies and ways to completely de center our current approach to private property I want to know about community land trusts first right of refusal laws and co operativesTwo complaints I find Samuel Stein overestimates the importance of planners and The Ranchers Surprise Marriage under emphasizesrban grassroots movements and secondly his citations are all over the place I was a history major in college so his overuse of ibid and his random citing of particular sentences comes off as bad Page 122 Chapter 4 has three ibids in a row two on the succeeding page and the last citation on page 121 is also an ibid Changing these to endnotes who remove this footer clutter and make the book look professional and less like a thesis paper Also an index would be helpful The citations are a minor issue and won t detract anyone from enjoying the workIf you haven t read anything about gentrification and The Ancient Central Andes urbanism before this book is a good start And to be fair this is the entire point of the JacobinVerso line of these books However if you want than just a baseline introduction or something firmly about socialism you re better off reading something else Most books onrban studies already disproportionately zero in on New York City and it would ve been nice if instead it focused on other cities and historical examples Succinct and well researched Capital City forcefully critiues neoliberal Lover Extraordinaire (Extraordinaire, urban planning in New York Writer and city planner Samuel Stein first takes a wide ranging look at the history of discriminatory housing policies and planning strategies in major US cities throughout the 20th century and then homes in on the gentrification of New York over the past three decades The author lucidly breaks down the complex mechanics of so calledrban renewal making clear how capitalist reinvestment in downtrodden working class neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color almost invariably leads to higher property values raised rents and massive displacement ie gentrification The government s refusal to ensure rent control adeuate public housing and robust social services Stein illustrates through his case study of New York has led to a nightmarish scenario in which life in cities has become hyper segregated costly and stressful Well worth checking out. Nning Planning agencies provide a Christmas With A Hero uniue window into the ways the stateses and is sed by capital and the means by which rban renovations are translated into rising real estate values and rising rentsCapital City explains the role of planners in the real estate state as well as the remarkable power of planning to reclaim rban lif.