Green Development Zones and Graffiti

Emily Curtis

September 28th 2015

Reaction Paper 1

Green Development Zones and Graffiti

We have talked about Growth Machines in just about every class so far this semester. In the two articles that we read for the last class, we discussed growth machines in New York City, and in Buffalo, NY. In the case regarding Buffalo, The Green Development Zone article by Aaron Bartley talks about PUSH, which known as People United for Sustainable Housing, came up with the GDZ, the Green Development Zone. “Green Development Zones can serve to expand employment in a range of green jobs sectors while producing high-quality affordable housing; reducing housing vacancy; insulating homes and upgrading their heating systems; eliminating health hazards such as mold, asbestos and lead; increasing access to healthy food; and cleaning-up neighborhood brownfields. Buffalo’s GDZ leverages the power of community organizing to win commitments of public and private capital for needed improvements to the physical infrastructure of low-income neighborhoods.” (Bartley) The growth machine in Buffalo benefited everybody because it benefited the lower class by helping with housing and employment which in turn, benefits the businesses and business owners by giving them business. So everyone wins.

But, in the case of New York, City, it revolves around the Graffiti around the city. People were concerned that the graffiti being done all around the city was going to push people away from the city. Businesses would be less popular and people wouldn’t want to go shopping or eat or promote any type of business in a place that had graffiti everywhere. And, people wouldn’t want to live in a place that had graffiti everywhere. [Graffiti] hurts business because it turns the street into a frightening place. (Probation Commissioner Raul Russi, quoted in Bertrand 1997) The consequences of graffiti include businesses relocating to other cities or states and tourists foregoing trips to NYC. When this occurs, New Yorkers lose jobs and economic opportunities, and the city loses revenue. (Giuliani Brochure 1996) The graffiti affects everyone’s quality of life. It’s ugly and it brings down property values. (Coordinator of the 106th police precinct Sal Petrozzino, quoted in Lemire 2002) Graffiti poses a direct threat to the quality of life of all New Yorkers. (Mayor Bloomberg, quoted in Saul 2002)

The article talks about how individual business owners had to take care of removing the graffiti if that was something that they were concerned with. But Kramer argues that this wasn’t true and that the growth machine is benefiting only the machine itself and not the collective good. “It is reasonable to conclude that the panic in question ultimately serves the interests of the city’s growth machines. While it might seem to be the case that the ideological shift from privatism to broken windows and/or anti- graffiti rhetoric is trivial, I would suggest otherwise. Broken windows and anti-graffiti rhetoric are politically popular frameworks insofar as they offer elites a powerful device that generates widespread public support for a set of economic pursuits that do not necessarily improve the lives of that very public.” (Kramer) So we can see that the machine exists here because of everyone overreacting and putting a huge emphasis on the graffiti issue when in reality it wasn’t as big of an issue as it was made to look like. No one really benefited from the machine in New York City other than the business owners and the government officials. These two articles both show how growth machines exist in both these cities in New York, so while they are similar in that aspect they are different in the end goals of the machines. The Buffalo machine demonstrates what a good example of a growth machine would be.

Kramer, R. (2010). Moral Panics and Urban Growth Machines: Official. Qual Sociol, 297-311.

Bartley, A. (2011). Building a “Community Growth Machine”. Social Policy, pp. 9-20.




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