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Median household income by Census tract, in quantiles 

Median household income by Census tract, in quantiles 

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Scholars have recommended various strategies to combat land vacancy in shrinking cities. Side yard programs, in which adjacent homeowners purchase vacant lots, represent one such solution. We use the case study city of St. Louis, Missouri to evaluate this approach's potential for reducing residential land vacancy. The analysis reveals that while de...

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“Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how.” -Edward T. McMahon

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... In another type of program, public agencies sell vacant lots to nearby property owners for a nominal price (Crauderueff et al., 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015;Stern & Lester, 2021). These "side yard" programs delegate greening and beautification responsibilities to private property owners, who can expand their yards, share community gardens, or build structures (Crauderueff et al., 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015). ...
... In another type of program, public agencies sell vacant lots to nearby property owners for a nominal price (Crauderueff et al., 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015;Stern & Lester, 2021). These "side yard" programs delegate greening and beautification responsibilities to private property owners, who can expand their yards, share community gardens, or build structures (Crauderueff et al., 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015). Although these programs can also increase property tax revenue (Ganning & Tighe, 2015) and lower crime (Stern & Lester, 2021), little is known about the array of benefits because most programmatic research on vacant lot greening has focused on initiatives where parcels remain publicly owned (e.g., Branas et al., 2018). ...
... These "side yard" programs delegate greening and beautification responsibilities to private property owners, who can expand their yards, share community gardens, or build structures (Crauderueff et al., 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015). Although these programs can also increase property tax revenue (Ganning & Tighe, 2015) and lower crime (Stern & Lester, 2021), little is known about the array of benefits because most programmatic research on vacant lot greening has focused on initiatives where parcels remain publicly owned (e.g., Branas et al., 2018). Of particular interest to planners is whether initiatives that rely on private owners to green vacant land in high-vacancy neighborhoods result in personal and community benefits for marginalized populations. ...
Article
Problem, research strategy, and findings. Several U.S. cities have implemented vacant lot greening programs as planning strategies to address decreased tax base, crime, and other issues associated with high land vacancy in marginalized neighborhoods, yet little is known about the benefits of programs that transfer city-owned lots to private owners. Using a mixed methods approach, we studied whether and how private ownership matters for vacant lot condition-care in Chicago’s (IL) Large Lot Program, which allows property owners to purchase vacant city lots on their block for $1. We compared visual changes in vacant lot condition-care between the purchased “treatment” lots and matched “control” lots through a difference-in-differences technique. Our findings demonstrate a causal effect of private ownership: Whereas condition-care of the control lots decreased between 2014 and 2018, it significantly increased for treatment lots in the year after sale (2015) and continued to rise through 2018. Also, increases in Large Lot condition-care did not vary based on whether owners lived on the block. Focus groups with Large Lot owners showed that ownership empowers residents by reducing illicit and dangerous behaviors, expressing an ethic of care through vacant lot improvement, and continuing a legacy of land tenure tied to family and neighborhood. Further research is needed to strengthen our understanding of spatial contagion effects from treatment to nearby control lots. Takeaway for practice. Our findings show that ownership-based vacant land greening initiatives like the Large Lot Program effectively improve condition-care regardless of whether lot owners live on the same block. Focus group findings suggest that such initiatives could be integrated into community-based safety programs and could be boosted by funding to create community amenities.
... With intentions to re-purpose vacant land (Ganning & Tighe, 2015), Chicago has worked with community partners to implement its Green Healthy Neighborhoods (GHN) plan. A cornerstone of the GHN is the Large Lot Program to sell off vacant lots for $1 in hopes residents will care for the lot and enhance the quality of life for their neighborhood. ...
Article
Research methods to access and engage historically oppressed communities have evolved dramatically. Leisure researchers once aspired to be objective and to remain detached from their participants, but developments in grounded and participatory epistemologies have enabled the development of various kinds of relationships between researchers and study participants. The purposes of this paper were (1) to characterize strategies to build trust and collaborative relationships with historically oppressed populations, and (2) to identify ethical tensions that arise. The paper features vignettes from the coauthors that center on the ways in which historically oppressed communities and researchers have built collaborative relationships that involve a degree of trust while navigating power differentials. The vignettes revealed several themes for effective partnerships and a messy bundle of ethical tensions related to researcher integrity. Ultimately, decisions in research need to be made in a deliberate and transparent manner as the consequences affect everyone involved in the research.
... The processes to green vacant properties, including changes in land ownership, may influence the connections between gentrification and urban greening. In particular, several "side yard" programs in the U.S. rely on the sale of city-owned vacant lots to people who own property on the same block to address urban vacancy issues and enhance the greening of marginalized neighborhoods (Crauderueff, Margolis, & Tanikawa, 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015). Framed as privately-led greening initiatives (Hackworth & Nowakowski, 2015), the purchasers of city-owned vacant lots can enlarge their yards, create community gardens, and in some cases build new housing (Crauderueff et al., 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015). ...
... In particular, several "side yard" programs in the U.S. rely on the sale of city-owned vacant lots to people who own property on the same block to address urban vacancy issues and enhance the greening of marginalized neighborhoods (Crauderueff, Margolis, & Tanikawa, 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015). Framed as privately-led greening initiatives (Hackworth & Nowakowski, 2015), the purchasers of city-owned vacant lots can enlarge their yards, create community gardens, and in some cases build new housing (Crauderueff et al., 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2015). Many side yard programs sell vacant lots at an extremely low price, such as one dollar (City of Chicago, 2020; City of Louisville, 2017; City of Milwaukee, 2017; City of Muskegon, 2013) or less than $250 (City of Toledo, 2017;Cuyahoga Land Bank, 2017;Detroit Land Bank Authority, 2014). ...
... The 124 sampled tracts have significantly lower socioeconomic status and a much higher percentage of non-Hispanic Black residents than the City of Chicago as a whole (see Table 1). This is a common occurrence for high-vacancy neighborhoods across U.S. cities (Ehrenfeucht & Nelson, 2020;Ganning & Tighe, 2015), and thus the results of our analyses shown below can only be extended to other marginalized, high-vacancy neighborhoods. ...
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Many post-industrial U.S. cities have developed programs to promote the greening of publicly-owned vacant lots, including initiatives in which homeowners can purchase nearby lots and turn them into yards or community gardens. These initiatives can result in greener landscapes in marginalized communities, but we know little about the spatial patterns of vacant land disposition and whether demand for and sale of publicly-owned lots are stronger in gentrifying neighborhoods. We examined the Chicago Large Lot Program and used neighborhood sociodemographic, environmental, and safety factors to predict the demand and sale of vacant lots. We found that the demand for Large Lots was significantly higher in tracts showing early signs of gentrification between 2000 and 2015 (those with higher increases of college graduates and White residents) and for tracts located closer to downtown. Also, the percentage of Large Lots sold was significantly larger in areas closer to downtown and farther from Lake Michigan but not associated with gentrification, which might be due to neighborhood political forces seeking to retain public control of vacant lots in gentrifying neighborhoods. Although other studies show that urban greening precedes gentrification, our findings suggest that the demand for urban greening might also follow early gentrification.
... As for generalizability, our application was limited to the five community areas of residential parcels purchased under the Chicago Large Lot Program, and further work is needed to test how the scale might serve other locations and issues facing urban greening program managers. Among the many vacant lot leasing and resale programs in the United States and globally, most aim at improving the condition and care of lots (Ganning & Tighe, 2015;Nassauer & Raskin, 2014). If applied to other programs, some revision of criteria for different levels of the scale may be needed, as well as adjustment of the deployment approach in order to measure changes. ...
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Condition and care are key expressions of landscape stewardship and are especially important in managing vacant urban lands. In this context, visible signs of stewardship have been associated with increased neighborhood sense of place whereas signs of physical disorder reflect perceived and actual crime. To date, assessments of condition/care and disorder using neighborhood audits have shown good reliability in field and virtual assessments but are often labor-intensive, particularly when repeated over time or applied across multiple study areas. Integrating the research traditions of neighborhood audits and visual landscape quality assessment, we propose an alternative approach, the "condition-care scale," and pilot test this seven-point rating scale to assess longitudinal and cross-sectional patterns of stewardship in response to a vacant land reuse program. Lots purchased by nearby residents through the Chicago Large Lot Program were rated on the scale using Google Street View imagery, field photography, and field visits in 2014 (before purchase), 2015, 2016, and 2018 (1-4 years after purchase). Lab and field assessments showed strong intra-and inter-rater scale reliability, and independent measures of lot condition and care from parallel visual and social assessments support the scale's validity. Longitudinal analyses showed that the greatest improvements were made in the first year after purchase but that improvement levels increased steadily over five years. Cross-sectional comparisons showed significant differences between some community areas. We discuss the utility of our approach for evaluating progress in vacant land reuse programs and its generalizability to other needs of urban greening professionals.
... Many cities and counties in the U.S. with high vacancy rates have established land banks or other sales programs that align with this strategy (Tappendorf & Denzin, 2011). The specific conditions of these programs vary: Some "side yard" programs limit purchase to residents adjacent to a vacant property, while others are open to anyone, usually for a higher price (Ganning & Tighe, 2015). These programs can alleviate municipal maintenance burdens, return property to the tax rolls, and put land to productive use as private or shared green space, or for built uses ranging from parking to new housing when market demand increases. ...
... These programs can alleviate municipal maintenance burdens, return property to the tax rolls, and put land to productive use as private or shared green space, or for built uses ranging from parking to new housing when market demand increases. Conversely, high purchase costs may be a deterrent to transfer, limiting purchase to nearby property owners may be seen as overly restrictive, and opening sales to anyone may invite speculators to simply hold land without improvement until it can be resold for profit (Ganning & Tighe, 2015). ...
... Our lot-level measures of condition and care also show promise for evaluating vacant land policy interventions such as the Large Lot Program. Many cities in the U.S. and globally have developed vacant land re-use strategies (e.g., Németh & Langhorst, 2014), but there is little evidence reported on the success of their programs beyond how many lots were enrolled (Ganning & Tighe, 2015). Our individual measures and aggregate condition-care index, when assessed before and after a policy intervention, provide useful metrics to planners and policy makers for evaluating the types and extent of changes. ...
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Urban vacancy is a persistent problem in many cities across the U.S. and globally. Vacant land greening helps improve neighborhood conditions and initiatives that transfer vacant lots to neighborhood residents can return benefits to where they are most needed. We examined one such initiative, the Chicago Large Lot Program, which allows property owners in high-vacancy areas to purchase 1-2 city-owned vacant lots on their block for $1 each. We developed a fine-scale landscape change analysis based on a visual assessment of aerial and street-level imagery. Our assessment, which included 20 different aspects of land/tree cover and condition/care, was applied to 424 lots purchased in two areas of the city one year before and after purchase. Among the significant changes we observed was an 8% increase of lots with gardens, and while there was a 16% reduction of lots with mature trees, it was accompanied by a similar increase in the proportion of mature trees in "good condition." Also, nearly a third of the lots showed signs of appropriation for use and/or stewardship prior to purchase, a process known as "blotting." We found that transfer of ownership to residents through the Large Lot Program was followed by improved condition and care regardless of prior blotting, but the non-blotted lots had bigger improvements in condition and care after purchase than the blotted lots. Changes associated with vacant land greening have both social and ecological implications, and we discuss our findings with respect to urban greening strategies and future research.
... While that analysis provided the temporal and directional evidence to support a causal relationship between ownership and improvements in condition and care, the particular requirements of the Large Lot Program also provide a natural experiment of sorts to test the effects of proximity on lot improvements. Unlike most vacant lot "side yard" programs in the US (Ganning & Tighe, 2015), the Large Lot Program does not stipulate that residents share a common property boundary with a vacant lot in order to purchase it; they only need to own property on the block or adjacent block. In practice, this distance spans the range identified by the studies mentioned above, and thus we anticipated that improvements in the condition and care of large lots would increase with greater proximity between the large lots and the purchaser's original property (H1: "Proximity"). ...
... This requirement assumes that owner-occupancy carries a heightened level of responsibility, tenure and fiscal stability, and commitment to neighborhood improvement over absentee owners or renters. Each of these reasons may be generally true (e.g., McCabe, 2013); however, they can limit the scope of programs, particularly in areas where there is a high percentage of rental units (Ganning & Tighe, 2015). Other programs stipulate that the owned property need only be an occupied residence (e.g., City of St. Louis, MO, n.d.; Detroit Land Bank Authority, n.d.; New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, n.d.), and although there is some evidence that absentee owners and renters may be less likely to maintain their residences than owner-occupants (Garvin, Branas, Keddem, Sellman, & Cannuscio, 2013;Goldstein, Jensen, & Reiskin, 2001), it is unknown whether this also applies to vacant lot greening. ...
... Likewise, large lots that were blotted before purchase showed bigger improvements in condition and care if they were purchased by owner-occupants than if they were in absentee ownership or vacant (see post-hoc tests for H4.1). Further knowledge of these synergistic relationships could have important implications for vacant lot resale programs, helping to ensure broad participation that maximizes the equitable transfer of properties to residents and minimizes the risk that the lots will become poorly managed (Armborst et al., 2008;Ganning & Tighe, 2015). The condition and care of the owner's previously owned lot turned out to be an important predictor of large lot condition and care (H3.1: prior care), surpassing proximity in significance in our main effects model and maintaining a high level of significance across all interaction models. ...
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Research increasingly shows that greening activity can spur contagious or imitative behavior among nearby neighbors within residential landscapes. Krusky et al. (2015) examined this phenomenon in the context of vacant lots and found support for a "greening hypothesis" that residential yards near vacant lots that were converted to community gardens exhibited higher levels of care than yards near untended vacant lots. Although such activity implies a temporal, causal relationship, research to date has only tested the spatial dimension of greening through correlational measures of proximity assessed at one point in time. We extend this work by analyzing vacant lot greening as a function of time, space, scale of analysis, and other factors. We studied residential property owners (N = 321) who purchased nearby city-owned vacant lots through the Chicago Large Lot Program. Improvements made in the condition and care of large lots in the year after purchase were positively related to the proximity, condition and care of the individual's previously owned property, and signs of use and care of the lot before purchase (blotting). We also examined whether block-level indicators of care and disorder were associated with improvements made to lots purchased on the block. We found few associations but discovered these same block-level indicators of care and disorder more strongly predicted the percent of large lots sold on that block, suggesting that greening activity may be bidirectional. These findings expand understanding of the dynamics of vacant lot stewardship and have implications for building more robust theories of urban greening.
... Municipal policies to address land vacancy have experienced various degrees of success. Ganning and Tighe (2015) identified several barriers that often prevent municipal policies from being effective in transferring ownership, including inconsistent or unpredictable pricing, clouded title, lack of government capacity due to staffing or recordingkeeping, and pricing including title and closing expenses placed on the buyer. Although Chicago had a small number of instances with cloudy title and confusion over property records, most barriers were resolved prior to offering any lot for sale. ...
Article
Urban vacancy is a pressing issue in many cities across the U.S. and globally. A variety of greening strategies have been proposed and implemented for repurposing vacant lots, and their success depends upon the extent to which greening goals address the social needs of residents. The primary contribution of this paper is to explore the relationship between place and community within the context of resident-led beautification of vacant lots. We queried new owners of vacant lots purchased in disenfranchised neighborhoods through the Chicago Large Lot Program in 2015. We used a mixed-methods design that included three focus groups (n = 25) and a mail/ online survey (n = 197). Our work builds upon a relational place-making framework that casts the greening of vacant lots as acts of beautification with both physical and social expressions. Focus group findings indicated that resident-initiated beautification activities of cleaning, planting, and engaging with neighbors fulfilled personal goals in ownership while strengthening interpersonal relationships, which participants hoped could transform the community of their block. We examined these results in a path analysis of constructs developed from the survey. Results showed participants' interest in beautifying their lot positively influenced social interaction with neighbors and individual investments in caring for a new lot. Social interaction was positively correlated with place attachment, which in turn predicted sense of community. Individual investments and neighborhood change did not influence place attachment or sense of community. Our work suggests that resident led beautification of vacant lots can be an empowering way for communities to work for positive change. "What a powerful difference the lot has made on the block. It's about beautification where people know that good things are possible. We're not just bottom-feeders who live here. [These gardens that were once vacant lots] change culture.
... Markets and house values in extremely abandoned places, for example, have collapsed so completely that currently popular measures like demolishing vacant housing units would not yield a net benefit (Griswold et al., 2014). Other popular measures, like side-lot programs (which work very well in marginally abandoned neighborhoods) do not work in EHLNs because there are not enough adjacent owner-occupiers to absorb them (Ganning and Tighe, 2015). Larger 9 ...
Article
Extreme land abandonment is one of the most visible expressions of urban decline. Conventional theory emphasizes housing lifecycle processes, municipal fiscal challenges and deindustrialization to explain its prevalence. Empirically however, these factors are not strongly associated with the most extreme instances of land abandonment in the American Rust Belt. Race, by contrast, is strongly associated with these patterns, yet there is little mention of it in conventional theory. This article draws on group threat theory to explain how the construction of Blackness as a threat to white property, power and political influence, has propelled the production of extreme land abandonment. The constructed threat has translated into a sustained suppression of demand and capital for overwhelmingly black neighborhoods. These forces operate both independently and as an accelerant for other abandonment drivers.
... There has been tremendous urban sprawl during the last twenty years, mostly to the west and south of the city, and significant shrinking of the urban core population (Miamaitijiang et al., 2014). This shrinkage has led to significant abandonment of properties in the city, resulting in many vacant lots and decaying infrastructure, mostly between Interstate 44 to the south and Interstate 270 to the north ( Figure 1) (Miamaitijiang et al., 2014;Ganning and Tighe, 2015). ...
... The city of St. Louis, MO, rests on the western banks of the Mississippi river near the center of the river valley (Fig. 1). The city has an estimated population of 320,000 people in an area of 170 km 2 (Ganning and Tighe, 2015). The climate of the city is considered transitional between humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfa) and humid subtropical (Cfa). ...
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Concern over the declines of pollinator populations during the last decade has resulted in calls from governments and international agencies to better monitor these organisms. Recent studies of bee diversity in urban environments suggest that cities may contain significant amounts of bee species, even greater than surrounding agricultural areas, and in some occasions comparable to natural habitats. We conducted a three-year survey of bees in the city of St. Louis, MO. Like many other post-industrial cities in the United States, St. Louis is considered a shrinking city, with many vacant lots and unoccupied structures, mostly in the urban core. We sampled a broad range of habitats throughout the growing seasons of 2013 to 2016, e.g., vacant lots, city parks, community gardens, and urban farms, using aerial netting. This resulted in over 7,700 specimens. Data from other surveys, e.g., BioBlitz, and personal collections was also utilized in developing the species list. These data were supplemented with inspections of entomological collections from institutions in the state and the scientific literature. We identified a total of 198 species of bees from five different families that occur in the city. Only nine of the bee species present in the city are non-natives. The city of St. Louis currently hosts nearly 45% of the bee diversity of the state, likely making it one of most species-rich cities relative to its state's total bee fauna in the country. This represents a great natural resource that must be better understood, and has potential conservation implications.
... We argue that the differential experiences of Black and White during each of these periods represent two spatialized faces of development: one in the north of the city where all but two-and-a-half Census tracts had >80% non-White populations in 2010; another in the south of the city where all but one Census tract have <81% non-White population, and the entire southwest quadrant of the city has <25% non-White population. While North City experienced vacant land, high crime, and crumbling infrastructure, South City has enjoyed pockets of vibrant commercial development, larger homes, and stable real estate markets (Ganning & Tighe, 2014). We view each period through a framework of uneven and unequal development and displacement, which we call the Divergent City Theory. ...
... Even when race is explicitly discussed in the literature (Dewer & Thomas, 2013;Galster, 2012), only a small portion of the recommended actions incorporate planning approaches that would directly remedy racial inequality. Recent evidence suggests that cities are not losing population evenly, but that the heaviest tolls are occurring in majority-Black and poor neighborhoods while pockets of prosperity exist just blocks away (BBC, 2012;Ganning & Tighe, 2014). Furthermore, the analysis in this article shows that when resources are limited (as they are in shrinking cities), decision-makers will divert those resources from decaying areas toward more robust areas. ...
... However, recent studies show that such efforts are only productive when there is a sufficient market to purchase adjacent lots and local land banks work aggressively to pursue acquisition in neighborhoods with significant amounts of vacant land. A recent analysis determined that St. Louis has neither the market-strength nor the strong non-profit network that has enabled Cleveland's success (Ganning & Tighe, 2014). ...
Article
In St. Louis, as in many other cities, decline and displacement occurred when key policies, prejudices, and plans interacted with broad economic restructuring to devastate poor and minority communities, while leaving White and middle-class communities largely intact. Amidst overall population loss and neighborhood decline are pockets of prosperity and gentrification within the central city. In this article, we analyze three significant planning interventions in St. Louis, Missouri, that spurred displacement of populations - urban renewal, triage, and the foreclosure crisis. We argue that the differential experiences of Black and White during each of these periods represent two faces of development: one in the north of the city that is largely Black, experiencing vacant land, high crime, and crumbling infrastructure; another in the south of the city that is largely White, enjoying pockets of vibrant commercial development, larger homes, and stable real estate markets. We analyze each period through a framework of uneven and unequal development and displacement, which we call the Divergent City Theory. Based on this theory, planners face an ethical obligation to plan for the future of their cities in a way that seeks to reconcile the structured race and class inequalities of the divergent city.