«Contesting the streets Volume 18, number 1 • 2016 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and Research ...»
A Journal of Policy
Development and Research
Contesting the streets
Volume 18, number 1 • 2016
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and Research
Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
The Reinvestment Fund
Richard K. Green
University of Southern California
Case Western Reserve University
Matthew E. Kahn
University of California, Los Angeles C. Theodore Koebel Virginia Tech Jens Ludwig University of Chicago Mary Pattillo Northwestern University Carolina Reid University of California Patrick Sharkey New York University Cityscape A Journal of Policy Development and Research Contesting the streets Volume 18, number 1 • 2016 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.
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Contents Symposium Contesting the Streets
Guest Editors: Raphael W. Bostic, Annette M. Kim, and Abel Valenzuela, Jr.
Guest Editors’ Introduction Contesting the Streets: Vending and Public Space in Global Cities
Designing Fair and Effective Street Vending Policy: It’s Time for a New Approach............. 11 by Renia Ehrenfeucht Informal Trade Meets Informal Governance: Street Vendors and Legal Reform in India, South Africa, and Peru
by Sally Roever The Critical Role of Street Vendor Organizations in Relocating Street Vendors Into Public Markets: The Case of Hsinchu City, Taiwan
by Chia Yang Weng and Annette M. Kim Return to the Streets
by John Taylor and Lily Song Fining the Hand That Feeds You: Situational and Violation-Specific Factors Influencing New York City Street Vendor Default in Payment
by Kathryn A. Carroll, Sean Basinski, and Alfonso Morales A Step Toward a Healthier South Los Angeles: Improving Student Food Options Through Healthy Sidewalk Vendor Legalization
by Robert Baird, David C. Sloane, Gabriel N. Stover, and Gwendolyn Flynn Point of Contention: Declining Homeownership
On the Plausibility of a 53-Percent Homeownership Rate by 2050
by Arthur C. Nelson Cohort Momentum and Future Homeownership: The Outlook to 2050
by Dowell Myers and Hyojung Lee A Renter or Homeowner Nation?
by Arthur Acolin, Laurie S. Goodman, and Susan M. Wachter The Future Course of U.S. Homeownership Rates
by Donald R. Haurin iii Cityscape Contents Refereed Papers
Coercive Sexual Environments: Exploring the Linkages to Mental Health in Public Housing
by Susan J. Popkin, Janine Zweig, Nan Astone, Reed Jordan, Chantal Hailey, Leah Gordon, and Jay Silverman Departments
Data Shop Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics To Analyze Housing Decisions, Dynamics, and Effects
by Katherine McGonagle and Narayan Sastry iv Volume 18, Number 1 Symposium Contesting the Streets Guest Editors: Raphael W. Bostic, Annette M. Kim, and Abel Valenzuela, Jr.
Contesting the Streets:
Vending and Public Space in Global Cities Raphael W. Bostic Annette M. Kim University of Southern California Abel Valenzuela, Jr.
University of California, Los Angeles Cities around the world increasingly offer their residents better opportunities for employment and income. As a result, we have witnessed a long-term trend of migration and immigration to urban centers, with the result now being that the majority of people live in cities for the first time in human history (UN-Habitat, 2010). This spatial demographic shift means that the number of people and the varieties of uses vying for urban spaces have multiplied; competition for urban space is more intense than ever before.
The growth in the size and complexity of urban areas has led to increased attention to the institutions, laws, and norms that govern the city. Academics and others have long observed that many of the recent human settlements and economic activities in rapidly urbanizing areas fall outside the prevailing formal economic and social arrangements. The questions of the viability, importance, and legitimacy of current informal social and economic arrangements have drawn the attention of many scholars. While earlier scholarship framed a dichotomy between formal and informal sectors (GuhaKhasnobis, Kanbur, and Ostrom, 2006; Portes, Castells, and Benton, 1989), subsequent scholarship has presented a more ambiguous gray zone, especially as various levels of government and state actors tacitly support degrees of informality and regulations (Kim, 2015; Valenzuela, 2014). Governance is now conceived of as institution-building continually in progress, evolving and reforming to changing conditions, with the emergent literature now seeking practical institutional reforms and municipal policies and programs that can incorporate these populations and settlements into a more functional and comprehensive urban system (Cross, 2000; Peñalver and Katyal, 2009; Roy, 2005).
Street vending in many ways epitomizes the challenges of contemporary urban governance and its evolving policy considerations. In many cities, existing formal businesses call on government to curb street vending because they view vendors as unfair competitors who are not paying the same
costs of doing business. At the same time, some advocates and practitioners in the international economic development community view vendors as legitimate informal sector microentrepreneurs who need support. Vending similarly can be seen as private capture of public space that involves significant costs. In addition to its representing a violation of municipal codes, vending’s presence in locations lacking an infrastructure meant for such commerce means it can be an impediment to traffic flow and contribute to congestion and other negative externalities, including pedestrian and consumer safety. Vending, however, can also contribute to civic vitality, economic development, employment, and services and product provision. To realize these benefits, some call for new models of public space that accommodate commercial activities such as vending into city plans.
These types of competing narratives have made street vendors the focus of intense scrutiny, with governments and even administrations within the same government, reaching different conclusions on their legitimacy and the appropriate level and manner of regulatory oversight.
The issues about the legitimate use of public space, the right to the city, and local ordinance enforcement or dereliction are further complicated by class conflict, the street vendors’ diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, and their migrant or immigrant status. As a result, recent street vendors’ challenges and protests have been important catalysts with far-reaching political implications about the future of our urban societies. One only needs to be reminded that the Arab Spring began as a street vendor’s protest to his constricted livelihood and poor relations with local police.1 These issues were the topical focus of Contesting the Streets II: Vending and Public Space in Global Cities, a conference held at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California on October 2 and 3, 2015. The conference was jointly sponsored by the Price School’s Spatial Analysis Lab and Judith and John Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise and by the César E. Chávez Department for Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. The conference was a sequel to the first Contesting the Streets conference held in 2010.2 It was particularly poignant to be holding the conference in Los Angeles, a few miles from the city council that was in the midst of debating whether to lift its ban on vending, a way of livelihood for a reported 50,000 people in the city. Far beyond the United States, however, vending is a hotly debated issue in major cities around the world. So, to gain comparative insights, we extended the geographic focus of this second conference’s inquiry beyond (while still including) the Americas to a global perspective. From this work, we should better see the scalar forces at play and a clearer view of our historic moment of urbanization. We also hoped to learn from a larger pool of policy developments and experiments from other countries. The intention was that consideration of vending worldwide would illuminate ways in which varied urban societies have sought solutions that serve a broad range of interests.
The Arab Spring democratic uprisings originated in Tunisia in December 2010 and arose independently throughout several countries in the Arab world in 2011.
Similar to this conference, the earlier conference explored the intolerance to and restrictions on vendors and also examined the various policies and promising practices that different states, municipalities, local nongovernmental organizations, and others were promoting to stem some of the conflict and to make vending more expansive, efficient, and fruitful for vendors, consumers, and other stakeholders such as merchants, residents, and passersby. Still pressing are issues regarding the use of public space, the right to the city, and local ordinance enforcement and dereliction.
Therefore, a particular focus of this conference was to promote empirical research about vending both in the United States and abroad. This focus was chosen because, even though vending controversies are occurring in places with widely differing political institutions, legal and urban planning systems, economic situations, and cultural histories, the way in which the controversies are framed are surprisingly homogenous. Most often, such controversies are framed as being primarily between street vendors and storeowners who might feel threatened by unfair competition from those vendors who do not pay rent, taxes, and so on, and who, therefore, can undercut their prices.
Other times, vending is purportedly an obstacle to the modern, world-class smart city that needs the sidewalk cleared for public safety, public health, and traffic flow. These claims are in need of evidentiary support. Is total sidewalk clearance really needed to achieve these good ends? Some have argued that vending creates a more vibrant street life that attracts customers to stores and eateries that complement the vendors. Because in our largest, densest cities, local governments, urban planners, and citizens must find new ways to plan, design, and govern the precious urban public space of the sidewalk and street, this conference particularly sought to shed light on these and other grounded questions, with the goal of pointing to possible futures and narratives that will supplant the old ones.
The conference’s first day included keynote orientations from three leading scholars who view the city from different disciplinary perspectives and scales to offer some broad theoretical frameworks for the meeting. Each spoke to the contestations of public space and how claims and access to spaces varied across demographic, economic, and social strata. Presenting new research on the south side of Chicago, Ananya Roy placed a spotlight on how legal institutions around property rights often work to further disenfranchise the poor from space in the city, leaving them vulnerable to informal placemaking in a tenuous cycle. Her analysis pointed to the importance of local activism in the tradition of community organizing in the United States to claim rights that the formal structures are unwilling to impart. Her critique noted that institutions often do not acknowledge the imbalances in access and power that exist in their practices and processes.
Margaret Crawford focused her remarks on the question of who decides what public space is and who has primary claim to that space. She incisively critiqued the way our urban planning and design institutions have sought to implement aesthetic urban design visions that reflect the values of segments of society, even when these values implicitly result in the exclusion of other groups.
Crawford noted that this effect is particularly acute regarding race and ethnicity; in some contexts, minorities and immigrants are assumed to “not belong” and can be subject to harassment and less freedom in public spaces. She reminded us of how the Black Lives Matter movement has brought to the American consciousness the intricate relationship between race and urban public space.
Finally, Saskia Sassen argued forcefully that indeterminacy and informality are essential qualities driving urban vibrancy and innovation that have consistently made cities a locus of growth. She challenged the audience to not define cities as places of density, as is done in many fields and contexts, but rather to see the city’s essence as the complexity and chaos of less formal arrangements.