Neighborhoods getting new parks could prevent displacement with targeted policies

UCLA researcher Jon Christensen with University of Utah professor Alessandro Rigolon found policies that might help reduce “green gentrification,” that is, the displacement of residents and small businesses when parks are built or revitalized in low-income communities. In a new report, they identified 26 beneficial parks-related anti-displacement strategies. They recommend that park agencies and park advocates implement these strategies early in the process and work in tandem with other sectors, such as developers, public housing agencies and nonprofits.

Recommended policies include rent control, anti-eviction protections, renter-education workshops, property-tax freezes, permitting of accessory dwelling units, developer incentives to build low-income family housing, or local job-training programs for jobs operating the new park.

BACKGROUND

When large parks are built or improved in historically marginalized urban areas, ostensibly to serve the local residents, the surrounding neighborhood may see higher housing prices and rent increases that can push out longtime community members.

METHOD

Christensen and Rigolon used a nationwide search to identify 27 large park-development projects in low-income neighborhoods, spread across 19 cities. They reviewed policy documents and media reports, and also conducted interviews with stakeholders. They found 13 projects taking concrete actions to prevent displacement and gentrification.

IMPACT

The policy report provides a guide to park agencies and park advocates with ideas that they can implement to protect renters, homeowners, local businesses and jobs, and to engage with developers, nonprofits, public housing organizations, and public park funding agencies.

AUTHORS

The report was written by Christensen, adjunct assistant professor in the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and Rigolon, assistant professor in the department of city & metropolitan planning at the University of Utah.

PUBLICATION

The policy report, “Greening without Gentrification: Learning from Parks-Related Anti-Displacement Strategies Nationwide,” is available online at ioes.ucla.edu/projects/prads.

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