The ‘entrepreneurial city’ vs. the ‘right to the city’: land use decisions in the context of sustainable urbanism

Authors: Ryan Ehrhart*,
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography, Environment
Keywords: green cities, sustainable urbanism, right to the city, entrepreneurial city
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Washington 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


When does a city’s pursuit of economic growth come into conflict with the drive toward social and environmental sustainability? Under two successive mayoral administrations, those of Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio, New York City has officially promoted sustainability concerns, yet the projects prioritized by the city’s Economic Development Corporation have not necessarily fully embodied the city’s progressive and green ambitions. Redevelopment projects have often reflected what David Harvey called the ‘entrepreneurial city’ where the emphasis is on neoliberal strategies of accumulation. In the meantime, it is an uphill battle for citizens to influence the urban planning process to include concerns over what has been termed the ‘right to the city’ (e.g. affordable housing, neighborhood stability, social justice, and community participation). Environmental amenities such as parks, greenspaces, and redeveloped brownfields or abandoned spaces can fulfill the promise of the right to the city, but they can also be at least partially co-opted by the ‘growth coalition’ that sees land primarily for its exchange value. By analyzing the positions of various stakeholders in the debate over what to do with an abandoned section of the Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Railroad in central Queens (NYC), we can see how green city initiatives can genuinely move an area toward both social and environmental sustainability or they can be a cover for business-as-usual forms of economic development.

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