How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood

How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood

This book started with such promise but fizzled once it got to SF. Peter Moskowitz puts the spotlight on New Orleans, Detroit, SF, and NYC to show various stages of gentrification. The New Orleans and Detroit sections were good, but maybe I just don’t know enough about those cities to judge correctly? He falls flat in SF, making this the shortest section and padding it with a lot of Solnit quotes and facts from federal housing programs that mostly apply to NYC. He also makes some weird statements that don’t hold up, like the fact that the Mission is gentrifying faster b/c “it’s serviced by both of San Francisco’s train systems (Muni and BART),” not mentioning the main reason as close proximity to the highways leading south to Silicon Valley (in fact he barely mentions the Valley, and forgetting completely CalTrain but who can blame him). He redeems himself slightly by mentioning the infamous Dropbox soccer fiasco where they tried to kick neighborhood kids out and when asked how long they’d lived in the community, the techies said “Who gives a shit? Who cares about the neighborhood?”

Shocking quotes pulled together from various interviews, such as the Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco saying that they had M-16s locked and loaded, “I have one message for these hoodlums: These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.” A real estate developer let loose to a German newspaper saying “Most importantly, the hurricane drove poor people and criminals out of the city, and we hope they don’t come back.” And in Detroit, an official blatantly said “Bring on more gentrification. I’m sorry, but I mean, bring it on.”

He states some things repeatedly, begging for an editor, and sometimes contradicting points (like the amount that Twitter tax benefited was $56M or $34M depending on which page you were on).