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Urban Governance and Politics. Geg309 Urban Geography. Instructor: Jun Yan Geography Department SUNY at Buffalo. Last Class. City As Growth Machines and Services Providers (1945-1973) Urban renewal & growth machines Grassroots protest: black politics

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urban governance and politics
Urban Governance and Politics

Geg309 Urban Geography

Instructor: Jun Yan

Geography Department

SUNY at Buffalo

last class
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
  • Fiscal Crisis & Entrepreneurial Politics
    • Fiscal crisis
    • Fiscal retrenchment
    • Privatized city
    • Entrepreneurial politics
  • Models of Local Governance
background of fiscal crisis
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
background of fiscal crisis1
Background of Fiscal Crisis
  • Scale of impact is so huge: self-propelling process in reverse
fiscal crisis
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
sources of fiscal crisis
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
sources of fiscal crisis1
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
new urban politics
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
strategy i
Strategy I
  • Fiscal retrenchment:
    • reduction in service bundle
    • increased efficiency
    • decreased payroll
strategy ii
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
strategy ii cont
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
entrepreneurial politics
Entrepreneurial Politics
  • After economic restructuring, increased municipal expenditures
  • Difference:
    • stimulate more involvement of private sectors
    • through tax subsiding
entrepreneurial politics1
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
entrepreneurial politics cont
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
models of local governance
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
models of local governance cont
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
next class
Next Class
  • Urban Planning and Policy
  • Reading: chp 14. pp 377~403