Urban Renewal and Cities

What role does the government play in  facilitating displacement through transit-led development?

We often hear about the role of the private sector, private landlords, and the purchasing power of individual real estate buyers in urban renewal, gentrification and displacement debates. The planning of new transit systems and overheating housing markets has renewed interest in understanding the role of government in neighbourhood change, specifically in the context of gentrification and displacement.

“Many people conflate gentrification and displacement.”

Professor Karen Chapple

Karen Chapple and her team developed an online “neighbourhood early warning system;” a set of interactive maps that shows the current and future transformations that are underway in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the United States.

“The city is always undergoing a process of renewal in some form.”

Associate Professor Kristian Ruming

The neighbourhood early warning system is a part of The Urban Displacement Project, which characterises Bay Area neighbourhoods (via census tracts) according to their experience of gentrification and risk of displacement.  The early warning system – which is used by tens of thousands of unique visitors each year – develops a gentrification index that characterises places that historically housed vulnerable populations but have since experienced significant demographic shifts alongside real estate investment.

“I think we should look at world’s best practice, which is almost the opposite of what we do in Australia”

Professor Peter Phibbs

We’re talking to Professor Karen Chapple, Associate Professor Kristian Ruming and Professor Peter Phibbs about what urban renewal, gentrification and displacement look like in San Francisco with rent control and Sydney without it.


Karen Chapple, Ph.D., is a Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Chapple, who holds the Carmel P. Friesen Chair in Urban Studies, studies the governance, planning, and development of regions in the U.S. and Latin America, with a focus on housing and economic development. Her recent book (Routledge, 2015) is entitled Planning Sustainable Cities and Regions: Towards More Equitable Development. She is currently finishing two books: Transit-Oriented Displacement? The Effects of Smarter Growth on Communities (with Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, MIT Press, 2018), and Fragile Governance and Local Economic Development: Evidence from Peripheral Regions in Latin America (with Sergio Montero, Routledge, 2018). She has most recently published on job creation on industrial land (in Economic Development Quarterly), regional governance in rural Peru (in the Journal of Rural Studies), and accessory dwelling units as a smart growth policy (in the Journal of Urbanism).

In Fall 2015, she launched the Urban Displacement Project, a research portal examining patterns of residential, commercial, and industrial displacement, as well as policy and planning solutions. In 2015, Chapple’s work on climate change and tax policy won the UC-wide competition for the Bacon Public Lectureship, which promotes evidence-based public policy and creative thinking for the public good. Chapple also received the 2017 UC-Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Research in the Public Interest. She received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award for 2017-2018 to explore expanding the Urban Displacement Project to cities in Europe and Latin America. For 2017-2018, she is a Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, University College London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analytics, Polytechnic University of Madrid, the University of Sydney, the University of Buenos Aires, and the Universidad de los Andes.


Associate Professor Kristian Ruming is an urban and economic geographer. His research interests centre on issues of housing and urban planning. Kristian’s research has explored social housing provision in New South Wales, in particular residents’ experience of their neighbourhood and the evaluation of policies tied to urban renewal and community regeneration. Kristian has been involved in a number of projects conducted by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and authored numerous planning and housing studies for state government departments and local councils. Before moving to Macquarie University Kristian worked as a Research Fellow at the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW, and the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, The University of Newcastle.

Kristian is the editor of the book, Urban regeneration in Australia: policies, processes and projects of contemporary urban change. (London ; New York: Routledge). The book puts forward a unique and innovative ‘scaled’ analysis of urban regeneration, which positions urban regeneration as more than just large-scale redevelopment projects. It examines the processes of urban change which occur outside inner suburbs, which contribute to regenerating the city as a whole. The book moves beyond the planning and economic considerations of the regeneration process to describe the social and cultural aspects of regeneration. In doing so, it focuses on the management of higher-density environments, culture as a trigger for regeneration, and community opposition to the regeneration process.


Professor Peter Phibbs  is a geographer, planner and social economist with extensive experience in program evaluation, financial analysis and cost benefit analysis. He has over twenty years’ experience undertaking housing research. Currently he is the Head of Urban and Regional Planning and Policy at the University of Sydney and also Director of the Henry Halloran Trust at the same University. His recent housing research has been on the development of the affordable housing sector in Australia and the impact of housing on a range of other well-being issues including health and educational outcomes. He is currently a member of the World Health Organisation’s working group which is preparing a set of guidelines on the connections between housing and health. He is also on the NSW Ministerial taskforce on Affordable Housing. He is also undertaking research on the performance of planning systems and the relationship between planning systems and housing supply.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: