I was at a planning and transportation conference recently where a speaker made the following bold (but true) statement about combating gentrification – amid jeers and snickers (cause we were in Boston, and what city is more racist racial than beantown?):
In a neighborhood like Chinatown in Oakland, in order to keep folks from outside moving in and gentrifying the neighborhood, the City should make the amenities that attract outsiders more inaccessible. For example, making sure all the public signage around the parks are written in Cantonese.
My thoughts? Brilliant! I realize the use of public money to benefit a few and not all is a strange concept. But how is this different than having stringent design guidelines in historic neighborhoods? Am I crazy to think that its NORMAL to see Canto signs in a Ctown!? Would I be upset if Little Italy had Italian signs? NO! Keeping the character of a neighborhood is waaay more important than having folks from the Berkeley hills rolling down in their Priuses and using Chinatown parks and deciding to buy a summer apartment near Lake Merritt BART to use as an office for their online zines.