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Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

  • 1.  Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 02-24-2020 02:42 PM
    Hi Everyone,

    I just did a quick search on this forum for the word "gentrification" and did not find a single result. I've noticed that, as engineers, we tend not to participate in the discussions around social equity and affordable housing. However, our role in the implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in urban redevelopment projects cannot be denied, and these projects are often linked to gentrification. So, I wanted to get a conversation started on how we can bring these considerations into our projects to make sure that the people whose lives we are trying to improve can still afford their houses when we're done. We recently published an open-access article looking at what was available in the research literature on this subject (https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/12/2/522/htm), but I am interested in hearing from those of you who have first-hand experience.

    Thanks,
    Vini

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    Vinicius Taguchi S.M.ASCE
    Ph.D. Candidate
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 2.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 02-25-2020 10:09 AM

    There is a lot of data on how green infrastructure improves real estate value. check out:

    https://www.nrdc.org/resources/green-edge-how-commercial-property-investment-green-infrastructure-creates-value
    .
    https://www.landscapeperformance.org/case-study-briefs/uptown-normal-circle-and-streetscape

    https://www.arborday.org/trees/benefits.cfm

    I think you can make the assumption that higher rents, and higher prices correlate with gentrification. I'm  certain there is research on that as well



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    Albert Key Aff.M.ASCE
    Vice President
    Deeproot
    New York NY
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  • 3.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 02-28-2020 10:50 AM
    Vini,

    You bring up a good point and, to be honest, I have no answer for you. But, I came across the article linked below today. There are downsides to every design so the question persists about how to responsibly use our designs. Do the benefits of reduced crime outweigh the risks of a higher cost of living? There's a myriad of benefits that could come with GI, not least of which is employment for maintenance of the systems (which is crucial) and education on why it is valuable. It would be interesting to hear from communities and individuals who have been directly impacted in this way, for better or for worse. I will say, I'd hate to see the benefits of GI be withheld when there are probably ways around the increased property prices, it just takes some investigation.

    Perhaps the more GI is used, the risk of increased property prices will dwindle, but I'm no sociologist or economist.

    https://news.virginia.edu/content/study-examines-how-green-space-can-reduce-violent-crime
    Study Examines How Green Space Can Reduce Violent Crime

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    Gail Hayes EIT, S.M.ASCE

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  • 4.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 02-28-2020 12:27 PM
    Chattanooga did a GI project in a socio-economically depressed area of town & experienced that effect.  ...but given that the area no longer floods & now has a beautiful streetscape, no wonder values went up.

    Street prior to GI project
    Street after the GI project (flip pic upside down to directly compare)


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    Maria Price P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineering Manager
    City of Chattanooga
    Chattanooga TN
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  • 5.  RE: Social Impacts of Green Stormwater Infrastructure

    Posted 04-02-2020 12:11 PM
    Vini,

    I think one of the aspects one must consider when it comes to the issue of "gentrification" is what has been referred to as the trickle vs. the fire hose. Too often in our neighbourhoods -- especially those deemed "disadvantaged" -- we see two responses: Either a) a starvation of investment that leads to further decline (i.e. the trickle), or b) a massive infusion of spending that blows away nearly everything that previously existed in the neighbourhood all at once (i.e. the fire hose). Both approaches ultimately wind-up harming the people who live in the neighbourhood as they must deal with either a) diminished amenities, services, and quality of life from lack of investment; or b) massive disruption to their way of life from huge money and extreme changes that ultimately displace them completely.

    The answer, of course, is to strike the balance by seeking a middle path: We must incrementally invest in our neighbourhoods in such a way that they can adapt and evolve without complete neglect nor harmfully large infusions of capital. I've linked to an article below that does a much better job of explaining the concept. I'd encourage you to explore the website further to get a feel for some ideas and strategies that can help us mitigate the downsides associated with "gentrification;" it's a great resource!

    https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/6/19/the-trickle-or-the-fire-hose

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    Joel Dixon P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Manager
    Oklahoma City OK
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