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Here are some notes from the race & class in urban planning panel. They are completely unedited, and thus riddled with typos and spelling errors, but I'm not sure I'll have the spoons to clean them up. Feel free to edit, redistribute, etc.

Panel description:

How does centralized planning divide our cities along lines of race and class? Subsidized housing, elevated freeways, new condos, zoning regulations: who decides where these are placed, and for what purposes? From Tyrion Lannister scouring King’s Landing during war to Ariane Emory programming the populations of Cyteen and Gehenna, these issues affect our fictional worlds too. Let’s talk about how power and urban planning interact.

M: Steven Schwartz, Ian K. Hagemann, Katharine Kerr, Vylar Kaftan





Panel description:

How does centralized planning divide our cities along lines of race and class? Subsidized housing, elevated freeways, new condos, zoning regulations: who decides where these are placed, and for what purposes? From Tyrion Lannister scouring King’s Landing during war to Ariane Emory programming the populations of Cyteen and Gehenna, these issues affect our fictional worlds too. Let’s talk about how power and urban planning interact.

M: Steven Schwartz, Ian K. Hagemann, Katharine Kerr, Vylar Kaftan



Steven: I'm your moderator for today. I'm on this panel b/c I volunteered to moderate. I'm primarilay a utopian urbanist with an interest in how those cities are created and the many and nemureous ways in which they have faile dmiserably in the past.

Ian: I'm on the panel b/c I signed up for it and someone thought it was a good idea to have me on it. Among the mmany things I bring to this panel (in addition to being the obly POC on the panel) is that I'm really interested in transportaiton in particular and social justice isues.

Katherine: primariy fantasy author but also wrote SF. In my youth I was involed in the civil right smovement. Two of my book sare very much concerned with ghettoization and who gets shoved into ghettos by race, or class, or gender or in sf, by magical ability or humanity.

Vylar: My interest in the panel -- first of al as con chair, during panel signedups this was the most popular panel that almost everyone was interested in. I have a background in gender studies and studied feminism, but really, about all the isms. Urban planning I did have to do some work before the con but i've learned some interesting things and have real life examples of how egregious it can get. Have personal experience with living in Atlanta during hte Olympics and seeing poor black neighborhoods get bulldozed.

Steve: If you have personal expereince with this sor to fthing what was that experinece?

In his case he moved to Baltimore when he was 12 years olg but until then had always lived in places where being Jeweish was almost neutral, sort of like being a boy or girl. Looked at the paperwork on the house his parents ere buying and it had a codicil that said that hte house could not be sold to: laundry list of races including Jews. In Baltimore 1982. It was there in hte paperwork and unenforeable. Was his first runin with "who you are" vs how much money you have determined where you could live.

Katherine: Gender -- went to college in 1962 at Stanford where women had to live in dorms and had restrictive hours. Libraries were open past women's curfew so men could use library without women. CIvil rights movement was just beginning. Black young professor of history and his wife a nurse were not allowed to rent an apartment. She was the only woman who picketed on behalf of the prof and was only one who got arrested and picture was in the paper.

In classes, had professors who said "women never get an A in my class; I grade on a curve and only give one or two As to men"

Civil right sand feminsit movements overlapped

Ian: don't have a lot ot say about city -- grew up in what now would be called a suburb. Was only black kid on playbground -- odd experience because he wasn't supposed to be there but he was. Now lives in a building that is an affordable housing building that fifteen years ago, he protested the building being torn down for a park. His interset is the question is "where do the people who provide the lower income gnerationg social service live?" -- one example is martha's vineyard. There is no place on thatisland where the people who work in the grocery stores can afford to live.

Steve: This connects to the SFnal aspec tof it. How many have read about hte luxury space station? (whole audience raises hand). Who has though "Okay, where do the people who work here live? Do they commute in from the moon?" (audience laughs nervously)

Katherine: REfugees in story get shoved in quarantine; no one wants to deal with them; they get radicalized "Down Below Station"

Ian: Couple examples: Eros in Orbit by Mike Resnick has a barbell shaped space station -- one is for the brothel and other fun stuff and the other is where the workers live -- Malworld similarly had a workers section.

Steve: Malworld has worldbuilding about traffic jams for commuting in from asteroids

Katherine: Same situation in cities like SF> When she was young she had a nice shared falt that was affordable. Now, the bourgeous has taken over teh city.

Stever: historical ex from Bay Area. Steve lives in Oakland in 1908 four story house, beautiful house, because back then it was where the rich merchants lived who had business interests in the "slums" in SF. As the bridge was build the economics reversed.

Vy: In 1906 was giant earthquake and fire. The SoMa district had mansions that were destroyed. When the city burned, people rebuilt where they wanted to be. THey wither abandoned the area to the poor and there was a lot of change and flux and chaos.

Katheraine: The Knob Hill mansions were refuges, were built quickly, considered summer cottages by the robber barons.

In a fantasy context, who gets ghettoized? What helps someone who is writing a fantasy novel.

Vylar: example that comes to mind is dwarves live in this part of the land. Can't think of race or class

Audience member: Pratchett!
Audience and panel: general murmers of agreement

Steve: Any early questions?

Audience member: example today is digiterati. Ppl who are not digitally literate will be marginalized.

Katharine: Will they be marginalized physically?

Audience: Yes -- will lost out on money making opportunities

Steve: where telecom decides to put high speed lines. Partially business, and partially funded by public funding. Some communities have insisted ATT for example has to put high speed over the whole city, not just the rich neighborhoods. If the government doesn't mandate that you have a physical representation fo digital divide.

Audience member: is happening currently. ie, worked for a company that is providing cell towers for the first time to fishing cities in Alaska. No roads -- have to dogsled to adjacent towns. Have cell phone for the first time.

Steve: We use the word ghetto alot. Ugly denotgations and connotations. Went to UChicago which has practically free fire zone on one side. Want to bring up possibility that peopole do this urban planning and division thinking they were doing the right thing. Ie, "dodgy" neighborhoods being bulldozed and shiny new apartmen buildings built.

Katherine: White City to the west of london. Everyone who lived there ahd lived there for sometimes several hundred years. After the way it had been bombed, so they bulldozed it and built modern wonderful apartments. Destroyed family ocnnections. It has nothing to do with race, since they were all white. The family connectiosn were destroyed and turned into jungle.

Vylar: Kelo vs City of New London -- who knows this case? (no one) Fairly recent decision in the 2005 in CT. New London wanted to eminent domain houses to build Pfizer pharm. factory. Went to SCOTUS -- what is emininent domain, 5th and 14th rights. City kept winning appeals on grounds that economic benefits of factory outweighed costs of relocating. SCOTUS opened up eminent domain as much broader proposition, gave cities more power. The ironic thing is the court proceedings took so long that by the time the space was cleared Pfizer ahd moved on and the neighborhood is now an empty lot.

Katherine: same happened to SF in the 60s on embarcadero freeway. Was busy commercial port. City wanted freeway to GGB. City Council refused to put in cranes for container ship -- oakland port got benefit from that. The free was supposed to go through marina where wealthy people lived, and the project stopped. Not even threat of lawsuit, bjust rich people complaining to councillors. Now that hte freeway is gone it is again a bustling important area.

Ian: Couple fo things.

First of allThere was deliberate planning by the dept of housing and urband development to disperse black folks -- came out of civil rights riots. As a deliberate response to voting adct of 1964 and concern about what happens when blacks have right to vote. It's importnat to remember there are real political things that happen as a result of urban planning. it is not random motion. Some of it is really intentional.

Steve: audience questions

Audience: Jane Jacobs wrote classic works about this, primarily about NY. Have flaws but are good over all. Death and Life of the American City.

Audience: Oakland -- where the bart tracks went through and divided neighborhood. BGerkeley said you can't put bart above ground and b/c of that there is an amazing difference.

Ian: exact thing happened in Seattle.

Katherine: same happened in SFO also

Audience: genetrification is a loaded word and everyone is talking about the negatives of urban planning. But sometimes there are good things, like in Manhattan, which has become a safer city b/c of urban planning.

Steve: we are talking aobut hte dark side. There are some good examples ie Madison WI. Who'se been there? (much audience laughter). Pedestrianizing really worked made state street wonderful. Danger of urban planning is when you build palaces that require cars.

Kateherine: if everyone has a car, where do people park? Pedestrianizing is good to solve that

Vylar: zoning -- euclidean zoning is the original kind of zoning, modeled after Euclid Ohio zoning. Euclidian is what you think of when usually when you think of zoning. Performant and incentie zoning are more modern. Used to establish how new development will make money or improve area. Incentive zoning says "If you can do X then you get thiese rewards" v. general overvie

Ian: positive exmaples of zoning. 1) Urban garden projects when they work work really well. In Seattle also there has been a loosening of some of the areas zoned for single family residental to allow infilling, ie, turnin basement into apartment.

Audience: boston exmaple

Steve: Corollary is Chicago. Transit is split being in-city, and suburb to city. Ther e are huge gaps b/c those lines service people who livein suburbs and work in th eloop.

Katherine: Yes, also In SF. Counties were able to vote on having BART bitd, and some said no, but now that bart is such a success they are bit by their former prejudice.

Audience: Concentrated huge housing project. Have unemployed or underemployed all concentrated in projec tin the city, with no support structure. Your neighbors were int eh same terrible boat as you. Now in Oakland they are turning down big houses projects and are building smaller ones.

Steve: St Louis is doing that too. Residents cheered as the huge public housing units were blown up. Large chunks of south side of chicago that were built up as public housing where you now go past these 20 story apartment buildings that are boarded up. No one wants to live there, no one even wants to squat there because they were a concentrated mass of hopelessness.

Ian: One thing some urban planners do -- seen in Seattle -- is build mixed income planned communities where there is intentionally people living next door to each other where one person pays market rate and another is renting in ap ublic housing scheme. I don't agree that there wasn't social support going on in poor communities. IN gneeral poor communities do a better job of supporting themselves within the community. Support doesn't always have to look like what we think of it looking like.

Audience: following up: having minorities or people in a certain class being able to start their own busness is helpful for uplift, but in these huge public housing you can'[t start a business b;/c no one can afford to patronize business

audience: I have long story I can tell offline about why zoning on State Street in Madison fails in interesting way.s Would like to see this conversation veer back towards SFnal cities. Ex: brown sector on B5 -- always wondered how di dhte poor people get there in the first place? Ex: Bujold's Barryar -- can map wehre BART runs to nexuses in Vorkosiverse

(general audience laughter)

Steve: come to "lets build a city" and we'll be making stuff up

A city that has gotten less credit than it deserves is Trenton -- "trouble on triton" this might have been inspiration for Brown Sector. Had a devlieberate area void of law enforcement b/c it was deteremined by the people who vuilt that city that something like tha tneeded to exist. Bob Heinlein the cath who walked through walls -- has a very fancy luxury orbital habitat and no mention at all of where the workers come from, because they certainly couldn't live there. He mentions people who live off

nthe grid but not poor people who live within it.

Katherine: I can talk about my own stuff! --- City Blues (couldn't hear her) deals with who gets shoved to the margins? Whoever is miniorty gets shoved to the margins. In her book white people got marginalized b/c at the time was annoyed that SF was so lily white. In Palace collaboration with Mark --- Civilization ahve been cut off from parent civilization. Has nothing to do with skin color -- but other gene patterns. People who genes don't match up get shoved to quarter where there is nothing to do but prostitution and drugs. Had been reading about eugenicists of 1920 and thought something like that could happen in the age of being able to map DNA.

Something I kind of missed about evelotionary psychology and family groups and how we redefine tribe in the modern age

Vylar: to play off of that, not specific example, but when yo0u extr apolate in the future how people who mean well but aren't bery bright can segregate their cities, you can do things like, air quality "you get to live in the dome athat only has 50% O2" -- so many more options for making living areas really even more miserable than in real life on earth

Katherine: short story where someone has gotten the rights to sell oxygen

Steve: want to put in a word for benighted urban planners b/c of what audeicne said about state st. To most of the people in the room State St was a success but for some peaople it was not, and it's really hard to judge ahead of time what will be successful and what will not. Christopher Alexander's A APattern Language -- set of patterns for how to build a pleasant place to live. First time he read it he thought it was brilliant until he started driving in Berkeley. It's a derivation fo aEuropean village culture, and if tthat's not how you want to live, his stuff becomes rapidly massively inconvenient. In any discussion of cities in general, one persons "I'd love to lvie there" is another persons "Dear god no"

Katherine: That happened to great big city blocks and huge buildings of the 50s

Steve: to be fair, original city like that is loved by their inhabits.

K: One reason it is looved now is that it has gotten better with age.

Audience: Chaining off the idea of poverty: one of the things that happens in real worls poverty is that everything is harder and snowballs. Everything takes more effort an dmoney proportionally than someone who has more. In space that could be true of needing more support equipment if you live in marginalized area, having to spend for that stuff where rich people don't have to spend.

K: And time. Poor people spend more time standing in lines.

Audience: interested in where private intersets an dpublic planning intersect. Ie private reil lines in London. or clacklines in PTerry's discworld.

Steve: Taxi business in London loves the way london's rail stations are laid out. Changing lines is a pain, no centralized dvelopement at all.

K: SF's municipal rail used to be privately owned.

Audience: Where do the people live who support luxury station -- good ex is Ethan of Athos. Station as a whole -- ppl live there and are aware of where their economy is centered. Have luxury areas and stationer areas. PPl have love hate relationship with luxury area. Like SFO an dtourists.

Ian: THere is undue optimism in SF about what robots can do. ie, work being done in china to build iPhones and IPads -- it's possible to make a machien that does X but people are doing it for ppoor wages. In one of those factory they had to put nets on the roof b/c workers were jumping off.

Vy: Industrial revolutions all have that problem. Causes alcoholism in those industrial environemnts

Audience: If you were dsinging a city how would you decide who gets to live where. If you had a utopian vision, how would you decide

Vy: Whoever brings best compononents for evil overlord lazer weapon (audience laughter "He did say Utopia")

Steve: Peter Cook and archagraph (sp?) English utopian architects. Created notion of "plug in city" which was essentially a mass transit layout. A part of his anarchist soul loves notion of neighborhoods being designed about common interestsw and outlooks.

Vy: my serious answer is : can you start people on equal footing? or can people bring their three hundred years of inherited money? Would value more highly those who contribute more to the city.

Katherine: there have been utpian planned cities in the real world, ie palm shaped island in dubai, or canberra, and they all turn out really bleak and horrible. Doesn't know if utopian cities can actually exist.

Ian: Not sure he thinks there is a utopian city. Existence of a city is evidence of breakdown of social contract. Humans are evolved to dea with much much smaller groups. If he were to design a better city, he likes what Vylar said. Who contributes? The thing that I would think woudl be most useful would be infrastructure that is not physical. ie, how much of a pain in the nect would it be to switch apaprtments with someone? That infrastructure would be more interesting and make a better city than things like slidewalks. Want people to live and play and work in much closer proximity than what is possible right now.

K: one reason work and location became seperated was the industrial revolution & pollution.

Audience: atlantic monthly had discussion about cities and density and pointed out that 50% of the world population lives in cities. cities that work best are not in US -- ie tokyo.

Audience: Want to ask a quuestion in the writing direction. In this converation there have been patterns that keep recurring: ghettoization, other mechanisms ie forced dispersal of poor people or POC. Can we put together short list of common patterns that happen over and over that lead to the physical segregation of social classes

K: there's money and race (and in SF race takes on a whole new meaning). Who gets devalued? IF we all start out equal, what happens to make some people sink to the bottom. One example is slavery, and jhim crow, which prevents you from accumulating wealth.

Vy: General trends are, for if you are developing your own city, if you are human (not talking about aliens) -- family structures have a big influence on where you end up. Language is another big issue -- people cluster in language groups. Will always be some series of ppl who do the scutwork. Someone has to clean the toilets. Will always be places for those workers to live.
s that
Steve: Look for th efixed points -- the things that can't move b/c of their nature. ie, harbors. Look for people who can't move as a result or because they are too poor to get out of where they are. That's where you get perpetual problems -- areas that have been bad ever since forever. Example of Garbles neighborhood in glasgow that was a disaster for years and years. THen someof the businesse that had been employing the people there closed. Workers there moved out, and now the area is fashionable b/c all the 'scary' people have moved out.

Vy: Look for geography. Hills and high points used to be favored b/c they are defensible. When you make your map think of your city *over time* Her home town is between MS river and bluffs. Workers used to live on the water for shipping, rich people lived further in. As time went on, rich houses fell into disrepair as rich people moved further out. Former fancy houses became middle class neighborhoods. Now with better roads you can get *on* the bluffs which is where the very rich live.

Ian: Looking at physial space of city isn't as interesting as social stratifications. If you buy the argument hat income always follows a power law, what's the slope of the derivative? How much more do the really rich have than the really poor? How much mobility is there? How long does it take to go from bien gan immigrant to being presiden tof the US, for example? What are the social safety nets? What is the level below which you can't fall? How does the exconomic engine of the social safety net work? Prisons are part of the social safety net in the US right now b/c it's part of "when you start falling what does it look like?"

Steve: out of time so last words from panelists

Vy: I wish I had times to talk about Van Port City Oregon -- 1948 katrina basically

K: Natrual disasters, we should have talked aobut that. There's a lot that can happne. In Down Below Station a disaster changes the whole structure. 1906 eathquake

Ian: I don't think he's made any science fiction, but JOhn Sayos (sp?) is a film director that really has place in his stories. Two real world exmaples: Celebration, FL created as ideal place by Walt Disney and Rosewood FL -- community of black people that was burned to the ground in the 1920s.

Vy: I fyou liked this discussion feel free to continue in the consuite

Steve: Have 3 more minutes so I will be cruel to the audience and give book recs

Forty Nine Cities -- book about 49 utopian city plans from Romans to now -- what societal problems they trie dto solve what their failures were, etc

SFnal books about environments that aren't conducive to human life: Illicit Passages by Alice Nunn deals with some of the problems of what happens when the underclasws gets really really tired.
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