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gentrification, how do I hate thee?

July 11, 2014

Gentrification, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

This is a development going up near SE 28th and Burnside. Aesthetically, most of these developments are eyesores. They tower above everything else, homes, apartments, and businesses, obscuring views and even the sun. This one, for example, dwarfs Chopsticks Express II and almost completely obscures their sign. I don’t hate all developments, but these kinds of money-hungry developers don’t care about the surrounding community at all, from their impact on rents and local businesses to ways they physically and aesthetically alter our communities. It’s ridiculous how little fucks they give, and how little we can legally do about it.

Even worse, however, was the apartment complex on the corner of SE 28th and Taylor that I walked by tonight, where I overheard two of the tenants talking. Apparently, the owner had recently evicted everyone in order to remodel and the deadline to GTFO was at hand. The one was asking the other whether he’d found somewhere to stay yet and he said no. He’s basically living out of his car. The lady who asked shook her head and said that a lot of the other people hadn’t either, some staying with friends, some in motels, etc., and then made a comment to the effect that, ‘There should be a law that the owners of these places have to wait until everyone has found somewhere else to live before they begin construction.’

I couldn’t agree more. That could be me again one day. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen within the context of a for-profit political-economic system centered around private property rights, which is why one of the main issues I have with the institution of private property in relation to our current setup is how it essentially links private property to liberty, and through private property rights, secures the liberty of the propertied (in this case, the liberty to evict all of their tenants from their homes regardless of whether they have anywhere else to go). Consequently, the greater one’s property, the greater one’s means of self-determination; while no access to property means a complete lack of self-determination whatsoever.

And these are just two of the many ways I hate gentrification.

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