Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gentrification and the Davis/Bishop Study

The Davis St. Land Use Study, which aims to encourage several development projects along the north Oak Cliff street, is the kind of thing this area has needed for years. The study has united several development efforts in the area into one movement that the city can get behind. It also gives the developers an easier time to move forward with the city, as each is given legitimacy with a "big picture" focus instead of isolated projects.

The study has been criticized by some as an attempt to turn the area into a mini-Uptown and drive out the large Latino population that is there. The idea that north Oak Cliff is being "gentrified" is ridiculous, and unfairly characterizes the study as some sort of ethnic cleansing.

During the recent election, one Latino candidate actually had the nerve to complain in a campaign mailing about the bulldozing of all of those trashy apartments across the street from St. Cecilia's Church. Instead of being glad that better homes would be built, he argued that somehow these people wanted to live in that rat's nest. Yes, the homes being built were probably out of their price range, but there is no shortage of decent, affordable apartments in the area. Sometimes hard decisions must be made to make a community safer.

Latinos can afford better housing. They deserve better housing. This is not a movement to chase them away. This community will benefit from this development. Don't buy into this argument that Latinos will be shut out under this plan. It's just a wedge tactic being used by some to unfairly characterize development.

The real issue here is some folks don't want to be bothered. They think this development will affect their quality of life. It's the same argument that has been used ever since the Bishop Arts area began to expand. They argued that there would be more traffic, the area would lose its identity, and some nice old buildings would be lost. It didn't happen in Bishop Arts. It won't happen under the Davis study. Thankfully, the city council seems ready to get behind the thing and not try to micromanage each phase of the plan like some are trying to do.

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