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'Greedy Developer' Trope: Tired and Counterproductive

Opponents of development often cast themselves as opponents of developers, whom they see as greedy and exploitative. But demonization does no good when developers—profit and all—are a crucial part of city-building.
April 19, 2017, 12pm PDT | Josh Stephens | @jrstephens310
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Skyscraper at 1 Madison Park, Manhattan

"Are developers aggressive? Many are. Do they come off as slick rather than earnest? Sometimes. Are they trying to make money? Of course. What I don’t get is why their efforts are so much more nefarious than anyone else’s."

"And yet, if we’re going to get all huffy about capitalists, I’d submit that real estate developers are the least of our worries. Sure, you might hate the Hollywood Palladium towers. But at least you see what you’re getting. The very quality that makes real estate threatening is the same quality that limits the damage it can do. I’m far more concerned about, say, greedy drug companies, greedy food companies, greedy financiers, and greedy defense contractors than I am about greedy developers." 

"From a purely psychological standpoint, do we really expect developers to do good work and to want to cooperate with the city if we’re berating them all the time? If you call people “evil” and “greedy” often enough, they’re either going to get really uncooperative, or they’re just going to say to hell with it and conform to the labels they’re given." 

"Developers, like the grocery store and the doctor and plenty of other capitalists, serve crucial functions in society. In fact, planning and development — the very name of this publication — are inextricably and symbiotically linked. Plans mean nothing without someone to build them."

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Published on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 in California Planning & Development Report
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