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Urban Governance and Politics

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  1. Urban Governance and Politics Geg309 Urban Geography Instructor: Jun Yan Geography Department SUNY at Buffalo

  2. Last Class • City As Growth Machines and Services Providers (1945-1973) • Urban renewal & growth machines • Grassroots protest: black politics • Struggles for social and territorial justice

  3. Outline • Fiscal Crisis & Entrepreneurial Politics • Fiscal crisis • Fiscal retrenchment • Privatized city • Entrepreneurial politics • Models of Local Governance

  4. Background of Fiscal Crisis • Started at 1970s • Long last economic crisis in 1970s • After the crisis and economic restructuring: • Deindustrialization and decentralization: to sunbelt cities, to third world • Advanced capitalism: flexible production system • Postsuburban development: suburbs (e.g. edge cities) begin to overshadow central cities; informational mode of city

  5. Background of Fiscal Crisis • Scale of impact is so huge: self-propelling process in reverse

  6. Fiscal Crisis • Symptoms: started at 1970s • infrastructure deteriorates • rising crime & enforcement costs • increased need for specialized inner city services for elderly, unemployed, single parent families & immigrants • federal government passes along cost of federal programs: “revenue-sharing system” • simultaneous reduction in federal aid • bankruptcy or at the edge of bankruptcy

  7. Sources of Fiscal Crisis i. Costs of Growth Machine Restructuring of Urban Space ii. Cutbacks in Federal Grants iii. Inflationary Pay Raises vi. Welfare Spending Driven by Racial Tension v. Rollover of Operating Budget Deficits Downgraded Credit Ratings Banks Sell off City Bonds Fiscal Crisis Fiscal Squeeze + = = • Root I: • Long standing and intensified “Fiscal Squeeze” caused by suburbanization and political fragmentation

  8. Sources of Fiscal Crisis • Root II: • Somehow conflict roles played by cities: • Service providers: equity/social wage • Infrastructures for private economic growth: efficiency/social capital

  9. New Urban Politics? • Neo-Conservatism--as a response: • tax payer revolts: ‘failure’ of social welfare; middle and upper class; e.g. California’s Proposition 13 (1978) and Massachusetts’s Proposition 2&1/2 • changed perception of governments: “New Federalism”, initiated by Richard Nixon; small size • political devolution: alliance formed • weakened labor union: deindustralization/decentralization

  10. Strategy I • Fiscal retrenchment: • reduction in service bundle • increased efficiency • decreased payroll

  11. Strategy II • Privatized City: • private sectors to provide certain services and infrastructures: roads, bridges, sewage, drinking water, street lighting? … • advantages: • decreased costs & increased efficiency • risks sharing • new markets

  12. Strategy II (Cont.) • Privatized City: • problems include: • low balling • accountability/measurement • trading high pay jobs for low pay jobs • corruption • narrow define of public interest as low cost

  13. Entrepreneurial Politics • After economic restructuring, increased municipal expenditures • Difference: • stimulate more involvement of private sectors • through tax subsiding

  14. Entrepreneurial Politics • Creating new public-private partnerships: • capital investment through image creation • open new urban spaces for redevelopment: e.g. gentrification • capitalize the new federal government expenditures: e.g. military, aerospace in sunbelt cities (San Diego) • creation of positive & entrepreneurial industrial ethos: risk taking high tech start-ups

  15. Entrepreneurial Politics (Cont.) • Creating new public-private partnerships: • creation of new “quality of life”or consumption districts: e.g. Disney’s Time Square; Baltimore’s Inner Harbor; • create a complete & marketable urban package: offices, hotels, theaters, major-league sports franchise, mall complex, festival markets

  16. Buffalo Theater Historic Preservation District

  17. Models of Local Governance • Elitist • stable pyramid, general public accepted leadership • Neo-Elitist • consensus driven pyramid, general public opposed leadership • Pluralist • competition between groups: • multiple elite clusters • emerging elite clusters

  18. Models of Local Governance (Cont.) • Corporatist • Interests clearly represented in local government: creation of symbiotic hierarchies between government & business/labor/community • Hyperpluralistic • unstable political coalitions • contemporary US cities • political regimes

  19. Next Class • Urban Planning and Policy • Reading: chp 14. pp 377~403