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The Double Edged Sword of Columbus Gentrification — A 614now Discussion

614now Staff

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It’s not a debate to say to that parts of Columbus have been gentrified and are currently being gentrified. It is a debate to talk about gentrification at all, a subject that makes anyone at least twinge with discomfort. The very word has very real negative connotations that are not only commonly talked about but often empirical.

Gentrification has been proven to displace many disadvantaged residents, denying them affordable and decent housing in the face of development. Many cities attempt to gentrify while avoiding these consequences, but it rarely works furthering discontent between a city’s lower income and higher income classes.

Here at 614now, we hope to encourage dialogue about issues that directly affect Columbus, so we found an article whose author and a random wayward commenter present two interesting viewpoints on the topic of gentrification. We want to emphasize that these are not the only views on this subject but we found this particular exchange between two informed people engaging, and thought it best to bring to light their thoughts to the greater Columbus audience.

MarketUrbanism’s article on fighting gentrification states that there are only two ways of eliminating gentrification and the negative connotations it holds: the liberalization of zoning and “eradicating rich people.” Only one of those options is in anyway favorable, since eradicating a group of people is generally frowned upon by most, if not all, of the world.

Liberalization of zoning on the other hand, is doable, but in no way easy. According to MarketUrbanism, development of affordable housing in desirable neighborhoods is typically not allowed by the state due to zoning laws. These zoning laws are built the way they are because of residents living in desirable neighborhoods who have the resources and political clout to keep the neighborhood the way they want it. This doesn’t mean rich and politically savvy people hate poor people, it usually means that they want to restrict the city from upzoning a neighborhood (upzoning means to take it from a residential area to a more commercial area, increasing the congestion of the neighborhood which would affect the way of life for current resident.)

With that being said, once politicians have appeased the wealthy residents and restricted development in their area, they then have to appease developers by funneling them towards less desirable areas. Politicians then upzone these areas at the request of developers, since the residents usually will not have enough political and financial resources to fight back, according to MarketUrbanism. But developers must develop, it is their career, and since they have been blocked from developing in wealthy areas, less affluent neighborhoods get the brunt of their blow.

Since wealthy areas are down-zoned and therefore a plateau of housing development, housing needs rise and wealthy people look for housing elsewhere, usually those less desirable areas we were talking about earlier. Since they have the financial capabilities to do so, wealthy people outbid current residents or less wealthier residents in the race for housing in newly developed areas, therefore gentrifying the neighborhood and effectively kicking residents out who can’t afford to live there anymore, according to Market Urbanism.

Hence, the liberalization of zoning; permitting neighborhoods to develop as far as they can and allowing more affordable housing to exist everywhere, including desirable neighborhoods.

The other side of this particular argument rests in the comment of on MTBinDurham who states that the liberalists view of zoning laws is essentially ineffective. This commenter states that the essence of the problem lies not with the government or with “evil rich people,” but with the “fundamental balance between the rich and the poor.” In this argument, wealth inequality is a form of power inequality.

MTBinDurham recounts the tale of the 19th century’s public housing solution, that after it was implemented it all went to hell due to lack of maintenance and corrupt operations of the policy. Theoretical responses were then much like Market Urbanism’s article, that by removing the state or zoning laws that prohibited the free market from development, the free market would keep itself upright and fix housing inequality.

“However, the “free market” will never, ever, of its own device, provision sufficient housing for everyone. It doesn’t now, it never has, and it never will, because it acknowledges no inherent “right” to housing beyond ability to pay, and ability to pay not universal. To reiterate one more time, we won’t solve the housing issue without violating “free market principles” — it can’t be done.” He says near the end of his post.

The commenter does give credit to Market Urbanism for correctly identifying unfair zoning laws and regulations as perpetuating the problem of gentrification, but still said that to the free market, no matter how much people deserve fair and decent housing no matter their paycheck, developers still work to make money.

So, what do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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Govt & Politics

Op-Ed: We won battle with Heartbeat Bill block, war continues

Caitlin Horwatt

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Ohio’s controversial “Heartbeat Bill” has been ​blocked by a federal court​, just days before it was slated to go into enforcement on July 11. The ruling is a temporary win for pro-reproductive rights activists and Planned Parenthood, ensuring that abortion clinics in the state of Ohio can stay open. But, the war over a woman’s right to her bodily autonomy is only ramping up.

The law would have banned abortions in the state of Ohio after six weeks, the earliest time in a pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat may be detected and well before many women know they are pregnant. There were to be no exceptions for rape or incest, although there would be exceptions when the life of the mother was in danger. The law would have classified violations as fifth-degree felonies, carrying up to one year in jail time and up to $2,500 in fines as a sentence.

The ​halt was ordered ​by Judge Michael Barrett of the Southern District of Ohio U.S. District Court. Barrett pointed out that the bill placed an “undue burden” on a woman seeking to terminate a pre-viability pregnancy. The law was on its face unconstitutional, a blatant attempt to overturn the federal government’s long standing decision to give women the right to the decisions regarding their bodies. Conservatives have tried to limit bodily autonomy well before women had the right to abortions; however, they fail to attack problems like infant poverty and child hunger with the same veracity.

The bill was part of a larger strategy that’s occurred nationwide at the hands of Republican lawmakers. The right to an abortion will stand nationally as long as Supreme Court rulings, including ​Roe v. Wade,​ remain in effect. By hammering out heartbeat bills nationwide, conservatives increase their chances of getting a ruling appealed up to the Supreme Court and from there the conservative-leaning court overturning ​Roe​.

Abortions are not only justified in the case of rape or incest, which has been a clickbait-inducing theme around this controversy. Abortion is a part of reproductive healthcare, a procedure nearly one in four women​ have before the age of 45. If lawmakers are so concerned about decreasing abortion rates, presumably because of a concern for the lives of the fetuses, they should fund comprehensize sex education ​and support for impoverished children already in this country.

The right to an abortion goes further than an outright ban. Strict regulations are a backdoor way to limit abortions, claiming to regulate the abortion providers for safety purposes. The state of Missouri​ famously has just one embattled abortion clinic ​still open and providing procedures, with the fight to keep the clinic licensed and running regularly boiling down to the wire in the past several months.

It is easy to move on from this debate when a new shocking headline runs about the state of politics or the crisis at the border. Wins like this, though important, cannot be accepted as permanent. As long as conservative lawmakers are proposing bills and regulations that limit abortion care, there is a battle to be fought, because we won’t go back.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: Heartbeat Bill will likely affect 11yo Ohio rape victim

Caitlin Horwatt

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The passage of Ohio’s recent “heartbeat bill,” signed by Governor DeWine, marks a massive and distressing win in the conservative quest to outright ban abortion. All parties supporting the bill—from DeWine to legislators and lobbyists—are well aware that the action will be blocked by courts as they uphold Roe v. Wade, which protects the right to abortion until 24 weeks gestation. We should be frightened as we explore whether their big picture goal is to get Roe v. Wade overturned by the decidedly conservative Court.

By banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected, the law prohibits abortion as early as eight weeks, well before many women know they are pregnant. Add in the already mandatory twenty-four hour waiting period between first appointment and procedure, and the likelihood of legal abortion for even a pregnancy detected early seems slim. The law is an blatant attempt to ban women’s right to choose.

The Guttmacher Institute found that ​1 in 4 women​ has had an abortion before age 45. The Pew Research Center found that ​58% of Americans support legal abortion ​in all or most cases, with polarizing views against abortion coming mostly from Republican and religious Americans. These statistics fail to depict, though, how traumatic the impact can be for women forced to carry a child to term when she does not have the means or support to do so. The law is meant to protect the fetus at a term that is far earlier than the 22 to 24 weeks at which it is viable, all at the cost of the mother.

The bill notably does not give exceptions for cases of rape and incest, only allowing exceptions for medical necessity to save the mother’s life. This means an ​11 year-old rape victim from Massillon​ will likely have to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

Heartbeat bills do not ban abortion; they ban legal abortion. I think of a sign I saw during the 2017 Women’s March: a metal coat hanger with the words “WE WON’T GO BACK” scrawled below. The passage of this recent law achingly raises questions of whether or not we will go back.

Women who now find themselves pregnant could have their lives forever changed. Even if they choose to surrender the baby after birth, the cost of a pregnancy is astronomical and healthcare is far from a certainty in this country. If the pregnancy was caused by rape, the potential for trauma only escalates. Women will have few places to turn, with the most vulnerable unable to seek safe healthcare and the potential high for maternal deaths as part of botched abortions.

The ACLU and other organizations are already moving to challenge the ban in court. I can’t shake the looming feeling that these challenges will only play into the hands of those anti-abortion supporters, and that we may be entering the most important fight of our generation in this fight for a woman’s right to choose.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: ‘Red flag’ is far cry from where Ohio gun law should be

Joanne Strasser

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Last weekend, a man entered a synagogue in Poway, California armed with a rifle. The Washington Post reports that prior to him entering the place of worship, the accused shooter wrote a 7-page letter about his hatred for Jewish people. He believed killing them would "glorify God." Below is an op-ed from one Columbus mother who believes Ohio should be taking a stronger stance against guns following of the Poway tragedy.

Even in light of this past weekend’s synagogue shooting, DeWine is still unwilling to change Ohio’s gun laws. He is, however, advocating for Ohio to pass a red flag law, which would allow law enforcement to seize guns from individuals deemed a societal risk.

This isn’t the first time the red flag law was floated in the Ohio Legislature.  In the wake of last year’s Parkland High School shooting in Florida, former Gov. Kasich backed the proposed law, which ultimately failed to gain support.

Opposition to the legislation stems from Republican lawmakers’ belief that it infringes on the constitution rights to bear arms and proper due process of law. However, 14 other states have already implemented the red flag law.

Moms Demand Action, a national gun control organization, notes that 42% of attackers exhibit warning signs before shootings occur. And although this legislation would only be a small step in the right direction, it could help save lives.

But ultimately, statistics don’t matter to politicians, who are dependent on dollars from the gun lobby.  And until our elected officials decide that Ohioans‘ safety comes first, any measure, regardless of how small and sensible, will fail. 

Ohio Republicans need to take a long hard look at their agenda and ask themselves if it truly serves our needs. Which is more important: our children feeling safe at school or campaign contributions? 

The red flag law is a common-sense measure, and while it’s a far cry from where Ohio gun restriction needs to be, it’s certainly a start.

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