Monday, September 01, 2008



I've just learned what "blight" means when talking about neighborhoods. If the buildings in a neighborhood can be torn down, after purchasing them from their owners, and new buildings put up, and the new buildings and the lots under them sold at a handsome profit to the developer, then the neighborhood is "blighted."

I learned this in listening to a news item about San Francisco. Fifty or more years ago the city acquired and tore down (bulldozed) buildings in a part of the city occupied principally by Negroes and Japanese. The city expected that developers would snap up the leveled lots and build some pricey apartments and condos on them. The city would profit from the increased real estate tax revenue and the developers would profit from the wealthy buyers and renters of the new housing units.

It didn't happen that way. The lots stood vacant for years. The displaced residents were given certificates to entitle them to first chances on new housing built by the city, but most of them were not able to exercise the certificates. Now, fifty years later, the city plans to remedy the harm to the residents. New housing is to be built and the former residents with certificates will be able to use them. Of course, some of them have died and others have left the city.

At any rate, if any of you are wondering what constitutes a blighted neighborhood, now you know. It's a neighborhood in which a developer can make a lot of money by destroying existing housing and building new - and selling the new units to prosperous customers.
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