Title

Exposing the Legal and Bureaucratic Underpinnings of Gentrification: Municipal Property Transfers Through Alley Closures in Washington, DC

Published In

Environment and Planning C-Politics and Space

Document Type

Citation

Publication Date

11-13-2020

Abstract

Scholars acknowledge that property ownership is fundamental to gentrification and that the privatization of public property can exacerbate market-based speculation on urban land. However, few have closely examined how the transfer of municipal property occurs. This article examines the political, legal, and bureaucratic preconditions for the acquisition of municipal land, which underpins gentrification. Drawing on the example of municipal alley closures in Washington, D.C. during the 1970s, this article traces how private developers acquired public land in downtown neighborhoods like the West End. It also traces how residents tried to oppose this acquisition of public property. In following West End residents’ failed attempts to retain control over the use and value of land in their neighborhood, this article exposes the legal and bureaucratic barriers that ordinary urban citizens face in interrupting the processes that contribute to gentrification.

Rights

Copyright (2020) Sage

DOI

10.1177/2399654420970952

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/35627

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