Is D.C.'s Height Limit Keeping Virginia Blue? Best #Cityreads of the Week

A round-up of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the last seven days.

Image
Reuters

A round-up of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the last seven days.

"Black Girl Walking," Hope Wabuke, Gawker

Most of the black women I know have assumed we'd be more likely to receive help in those situations than our black brothers would, even if that help came with tons of sexual harassment. We know far too well the depth of those bruises that never heal from sexual assault, sexual abuse, menacing, and rape by men close to us. But most of us had not conceived that for white men like Ted Wafer, blackness is inherently criminal and violent, even when written on the body of a black woman.

In the aftermath of Renisha McBride's death, I have heard people say it is reverse racist to draw attention to white on black crime when there is black on black crime and black on white crime. These people claim that Theodore Wafer had a right to shoot Renisha McBride because she knocked on his door an hour after her car accident. I'd love for these inquisitive souls to ask themselves why black perpetrators, regardless of the crime, regardless of gender, are disproportionately arrested and tried more that their white counterparts.

"The Latest Plan to Save Detroit: Build a Gay Neighborhood," Ross Benes, Slate

Speaking at a forum about Detroit’s future in May, an economic-development official told the audience, “When I look at this city’s tax base, I say bring on more gentrification.” George Jackson, CEO and president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. continued, “I’m sorry, but, I mean, bring it on. We can’t just be a poor city and prosper.” That’s an undeniable economic fact, but given the city’s declining population and tax base, not to mention its high crime rate, what practical steps can the city take to revive itself?
 

After Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July, some suggested that the city should sell off assets like the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection or Belle Isle, an island park on the Detroit River the city has owned since 1879, to help meet its $18 billion debt. (Although the proposal to buy Belle Isle didn’t go through, on Nov. 12 a state panel approved a 30-year lease to make the island a state park, a move that is expected to save Detroit $4 million to $6 million a year in operating costs.) Just about every method of boosting local business and reviving blighted neighborhoods has been examined, except one: Scant attention has been paid to the LGBTQ community’s role in Detroit’s economic comeback.
 
 
Evans, who represents Ward 2 on the D.C. Council, has put in more than dues than anyone else in the race. After being on the job for 22 years, he’s the longest-serving councilmember. He’s even run for mayor before, trying to pull off this same thing 15 years ago. It didn’t work then. This time is different, but not always in ways that work in his favor. And it might be Evans’ last chance to convince the city that it deserves him.
 

"In New York, RVs Are One Answer to Soaring Rents," Andrew Tangel, Los Angeles Times

Cintron's roughly 200-square-foot pad isn't just any tiny apartment in the Big Apple. It's an RV — meant more for roaming American highways than wedging into parallel parking spots.

As the most expensive city in the country gets even pricier, Cintron and other New Yorkers are taking drastic steps to survive the most brutal real estate market in the United States. They are ditching sky-high rents and buying secondhand recreational vehicles.

"Would Repealing D.C.’s Height Limit Help Republicans Win Back Virginia?" Marc Tracy, The New Republic

The height limit, which may already have driven some poorer residents out of D.C., will eventually drive precisely the sort of people who otherwise would want to live in the most obvious urban, walkable neighborhoods—which are in and on the periphery of L’Enfant’s original city—to the suburbs, particularly in Virginia, where there are already several urban-type neighborhoods. And such moderate young professionals are the very people who have contributed to one of the most striking stories in national politics today: The slow but sure turn of Virginia, with its two Senate seats and 13 electoral votes, from a red to a blue state.

The commonwealth that once housed the capital of the Confederacy and that, before Barack Obama, had not gone for the Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 is now solidly trending blue. Obama won it in the last two elections. The Democrat won the last three Senate elections. And last week, Terry McAuliffe—a onetime Democratic Party chair—was elected to the Executive Mansion in Richmond. There are a number of important and big reasons for this, including the black and women votes. But perhaps most importantly, northern Virginia’s booming, knowledge-based economy—driven by a mini Silicon Valley originally anchored around AOL’s former headquarters in Dulles, Virginia; biomedical research; and, of course, two big wars—has led to disproportionate population growth peopled by disproportionately upwardly mobile, highly educated, racially diverse, blue-leaning people.

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.