Housing developers compete with manufacturers for urban land
You know the story: developers target a tract of land for condos and are met with outraged protests from … manufacturers? Progressive urban planners envision dense cities where housing and clean industry (think solar-panel manufacturing, not smokestacks) co-exist peacefully, with the latter providing jobs for those who live in the former. But such plans face two obstacles: First, much of the actually existing industry in cities like Oakland, Calif., dates back to the early 20th century, and won’t be making any eyes glisten with visions of a green future. But the jobs it provides are real nonetheless. The second problem is that, in popular cities, “housing developers can outbid just about anybody for any land,” as one city planner puts it. In many cases, blue-collar jobs are sacrificed for housing out of reach for anyone but the affluent. Different cities are tackling these issues in different ways, from offering manufacturing incentives to creating “industrial protection zones,” as they try to solve a riddle that’s only going to get trickier in coming years.