Making Planning 'Just Green Enough' to Balance Environmental Justice and Gentrification

A growing body of research examines the question of how to make places more attractive and healthy, without then making them more expensive.
July 24, 2014, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Allison Meier

Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow provides access into an ongoing debate about "environmental gentrification": "Low-income communities tend to suffer from various kinds of environmental injustice, including shortage of green space. But when these concerns are addressed — the power plant closes, a park opens — the neighborhood becomes more desirable, often kickstarting a process of so-called 'environmental gentrification.'"

Researchers and advocates have proposed a "just green enough" model that "seeks to remedy injustices without introducing the fancy amenities that can radically transform a neighborhood," according to Tuhus-Dubrow.

The approach is the subject of a new paper in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, by University of California, Berkeley professor Jennifer Wolch and coauthors.

The paper concludes with recommendations for pulling off the “careful balancing act” of improving conditions without inducing environmental gentrification, including:

  • "Planners must be willing to design projects determined by specific community needs and preferences."
  • "…prioritize small and scattered parks and community gardens, which can distribute access throughout a neighborhood, rather than flashy, large-scale projects of the type that tend to attract attention and real estate speculation."
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Published on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in Next City
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