Monday, May 8, 2017

"Gadabout Urbanist Richard Florida Has a New Book..."

"It advises cities on what to do about problems that result from advice he gave them in his previous books..."
I take it the writer is not a fan.
From Canada's National Post:
Gadabout urbanist Richard Florida has a new book: The New Urban Crisis. It advises cities on what to do about problems that result from advice he gave them in his previous books, notably The Rise of the Creative Class. Stuff your downtown core full of creative types and you shall prosper, the University of Toronto professor advised, and many cities listened. Now some face a “crisis of their own success,” he told a Toronto breakfast crowd at the Urban Land Institute’s Electric Cities Symposium: the blue-collar types who make the creative class’s artisanal baked goods and mind their children have been “pushed” ever further into the suburbs. Economic and geographic inequality results, and Rob Ford/Donald Tump/Brexit-style resentment can build.
Florida’s many critics have long warned this was a flaw in his vision. But now Florida says he finds it “terrifying,” so he’s off on another book tour.

If I sound a bit peevish, it’s because I find him rather insufferable. Critics have poked holes in much of his research, but much more of it strikes me as overly complex analysis and measurement of fairly basic, intuitive phenomena that are common to dynamic and not-so-dynamic cities. While the remarkable urban revivals in recent decades in New York and Pittsburgh, and nascent ones in Detroit and Newark, are all very interesting, I’ve never understood what they have to teach us about Canadian cities. Their cores never “hollowed out” in the first place, necessitating wholesale renewal. When I listen to Florida talk, I hear Lyle Lanley trying to sell Springfield a monorail.

In any event, his prescriptions for the GTA are not exactly visionary: more transit, more affordable housing, densification over NIMBYism and more decision-making autonomy for cities. “The key today is shifting power from provinces to cities,” Florida writes in a Canadian-focused paper linked to the new book. That made it all the more galling to watch his post-speech “fireside chat” with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, whose tires he pumped well beyond their recommended PSI.
“You know this. It’s in your blood,” Florida gushed of her urbanist bona fides.

Well, let’s see. Wynne can certainly claim to have committed many billions in taxpayer money to transit projects. But if there were awards for NIMBYism, Wynne would have one for the nine-figure cancellation of two unpopular gas-fired power plants, during an election campaign of which she was co-chair; and perhaps another for her party’s shameless politicking on transit in Scarborough.

Municipal autonomy? It is to laugh. It was only three months ago that Wynne kneecapped Toronto mayor John Tory on his plan to toll the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway. (To her credit, she waded through the Floridian flattery and pointed this out herself.) She fed Florida the line about a “regional conversation” about how to pay for these roads that Toronto owns — as if 905 mayors have any incentive to say anything but no.

Housing? Wynne’s housing strategy is “really fascinatingly important,” Florida effused. “There’s so many dimensions,” he marvelled. (There are 16 dimensions.)

“So … you’re talking about our fair housing plan?” asked Wynne, understandably confused at this crimson description of rent control, which goes against the plan’s stated goal of boosting housing supply; a tax on “foreign speculators,” which makes very little sense except as a politically anodyne ice cube dropped into the housing market; and a host of other ideas that have mostly been around forever. Wynne dutifully explained how excellent the plan is.

Florida claimed the basic income pilot project unveiled Monday in Hamilton, Lindsay and Thunder Bay “blew me away” — which is some feat, considering it isn’t really “basic income” as most people understand it at all: instead of a no-strings-attached payment replacing other social benefits, it keeps most other supports in place....MORE
The Washington Post's headline is "This guy convinced cities to cater to tech-savvy millennials. Now he’s reconsidering" while Slate says:
"Richard Florida is back with another theory about how to fix American cities. It’s a pipe dream—and even he knows it."
In Seattle we see "‘Creative class’ rises, creating new maladies".