Friday, April 27, 2007


In the urban planning field, "economic development" is all about place-based rehabilitation policies. There is even a small debate about the merits of people-based vs. place-based interventions. But just as there are reasons to take static income distribution data with a a lump of salt, the same applies to place-based analysis.

It is people that matter. And they move in and out of income quintiles just as they move in and out of neighborhoods. In fact, if some place-based policy were to have a positive effect, we might never know it because the positively impacted indivivudals woudl be likely to have left the area.

This morning's LA Times includes "South L.A.'s growing pain ... Plans to revive the area after the 1992 riots have been largely unfulfilled." (Yes, they used the r-word. Lefty KPCC-FM referred to "economic referendum" in their coverage, this morning. "Insurrection", "rebellion" and other colorful descriptors have been used over the years.)

The Times piece does note that many immigrants have moved into the area. Well, most of these are poor when they arrive so that tell us little. The thrust of the piece and much of the discussion taking place on this anniversary is all about "neglect" and all sorts of other unfairness. Many will pick sides in a debate that boils down to more vs. improved socialism.

There is little about high crime and low skills. Occidental College Prof. Robert Gottlieb is quoted as saying, "We need to have a much more aggressive role in developing jobs, including public-private partnerships and new industry incubators."

The only job development idea that works is better skills. But that would be people-based, probably in the form of school vouchers and an end to monopoly government schools. But that is still too exotic for the concerned and the high-minded.