Ann Arbor blogger Homeless Dave recently posted this interview with University of Michigan professor Matt Lassiter. The interview notes he recently made tenure. Here’s a taste:
ML: Yeah. So you’re against sprawl, right? And you can think of that in terms of being a good environmentalist, and you’re against big developers coming in and messing up your neighborhood, and you’re against pollution and all that. But then you can also be against sprawl and it’s about protecting your property values and about freezing things like they are, which has an element of class exclusion. Same thing about historical districts. It’s a great idea in a lot of ways, but as a public policy it’s really very flexible. Not just in Ann Arbor but around the country, historical districts have often been used as a way to protect property values, as a way to prevent multi-family housing or more density, which is about keeping people out of your neighborhood, not just keeping it the way it is. And it’s not that either one is all bad. NIMBY-ism has become a bad word. There’s progressive and reactionary elements to what we call NIMBY-ism, I think. And probably the same thing about historical districts and zoning itself. Zoning can be a really progressive policy tool, and it often has been in this country one that has preserved racial segregation and class segregation.