New Report: Nation's Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization

by Chris Sturr | March 31, 2008

This new report reminds us yet again why it is so important to follow the independent press. You never get ground truth like this in the mainstream media.

WASHINGTON—According to a report released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, the recent influx of exceedingly affluent powder-wigged aristocrats into the nation’s gentrified urban areas is pushing out young white professionals, some of whom have lived in these neighborhoods for as many as seven years.

Maureen Kennedy, a housing policy expert and lead author of the report, said that the enormous treasure-based wealth of the aristocracy makes it impossible for those living on modest trust funds to hold onto their co-ops and converted factory loft spaces.

“When you have a bejeweled, buckle-shoed duke willing to pay 11 or 12 times the asking price for a block of renovated brownstones—and usually up front with satchels of solid gold guineas—hardworking white-collar people who only make a few hundred thousand dollars a year simply cannot compete,” Kennedy said. “If this trend continues, these exclusive, vibrant communities with their sidewalk cafés and faux dive bars will soon be a thing of the past.”

Read the whole thing at The Onion.

Photo credit: © Copyright 2008, Onion, Inc.

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  1. With the publication of this week’s front-page The Onion story covering her Brookings Institution article on “aristocratization,” Her Three Sons caught up with Piedmont REALTOR® Maureen Kennedy to discuss the story, and her reaction to it. See the article at http://www.theonion.com/content/news/report_nations_gentrified .Wyatt Alt: So exactly what’s your thesis here, Mom? It’s just the next stage of my moonlighting work on gentrification at the turn of the century—that truly was on the Brookings bestseller list for most of the last eight years. Now, the gentrifiers of six to eight years ago are facing the influx of the monarchy and its accoutrements. It’s like a tidal wave of artisans, slow foodists, and video content providers. After withstanding years of rage from “original residents,” the gentrifiers now are feeling unwanted and politically overwhelmed. It’s the pace of change that’s problematic, not the change itself. Corey Alt: So give us your reaction to The Onion coverage, Mom. Well, you guys always tell me that I have no sense of humor, so I guess my only option is to sue.No, seriously, it brings a lot of attention to this compelling issue of equity. The piece gets the message to a whole new class of people—Oaklandish blog readers, for instance—that the significant economic burdens of aristocratization shouldn’t be borne by those who could bear them seven years ago, but with the declining housing market and the high prices at Whole Foods by the Lake, now can’t. I mean, when you combine rising latte prices, and the closure of the sweatshop on College Avenue to make way for the yogaware shop and Rockridge Home, we’ve really lost a lot of the diversity and grit for which we all moved to the East Bay. And if Hillary gets the presidency, the monarchy angle will only amplify. I did buy out this week’s The Onion issue at Dr. Comics and Mr. Games—I figured I’d give them to clients as housewarming gifts. Corey Alt: So anyone you’d like to thank? Well, every morning I thank the lord for my family, my research partner, and my colleagues at Pacific Union for giving me the access and insight to do this important work. Jasper Alt: So really, Mom, who do you think wrote the piece? I’d look to my competition for the HUD assistant secretary job in the Obama Administration—I guess this story sinks my chances of Senate confirmation. In fact . . . you know, my research partner is my competition for the HUD assistant secretary job in the Obama Administration….Wyatt Alt: No, really, Mom. Well, I just don’t know. Some Piedmonter who works for a local rag and thinks my name has a nice ring to it . . . . some high school student developing writing samples for the Harvard Lampoon . . . . or some Berkeley PhD student who got confused and thinks The Onion is the peer-reviewed journal of urban social dynamics at the University of Wisconsin. You know, I’m really puzzled. I don’t even drink coffee, so why do they think I pay attention to latte? But, as you know from the surprise t-shirts that show up in your laundry piles, I do frequent resale shops and Dress Best for Less. I’ve had Bakesale Bette’s treats at an open house or two. And I have an axe to grind about the royals: I can’t stand the Point Reyes Farmer’s Market—the one Prince Charles went to. I mean, they don’t even open for business until 9 am on Saturdays.

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