Culture

The Pros and Cons of Gentrification

In our last post, we provided a definition for gentrification. What are its impacts?
 
“The hipster-hating mob ignores evidence that gentrification helps eradicate gang violence, strengthens the local economy, and encourages diversity in neighborhoods separated by racial lines. These positives far outweigh the only logical advantage to opposing progress: cheaper rents and Spanish colonial architecture that will crumble like Jenga pieces in the next big earthquake,” according to an opinion article by Art Tavana in LA Weekly (“Just Say Yes to Gentrification,” January 2015.)

However, Isaac Simpson, in the companion article, “Gentrification Is a Form of Oppression,” points out that gentrification can also lead to displacement, eviction, forced homelessness, police violence, and destroyed communities. He adds that though it may be done with good intentions, the result can be devastating to the residents who are pushed out of the path of development. Gentrification can also cause clashes between classes instead of bringing people together as a community.

While gentrification can benefit an area by decreasing crime, improving the economy, and increasing property values and taxes, it can have the negative consequences of pricing out former residents, changing the culture of the community, and causing resentment. Are the benefits and costs unevenly distributed? If so, are there tools available to mitigate this phenomenon? We will explore this question in our next post.

Written by Brett Poirier, a Research Assistant at RSG

Renewing Our Core Values

Core values guide a company’s actions. Inherent and distinctive, they differentiate an agency from its competitors. At RSG, we continue to increase our credibility as consultants through an explicit set of values.

Because RSG is committed to authenticity and an unparalleled work product, we recently updated our core values to better reflect our current organizational culture. We started this process with a company meeting, in which we devoted time to discussing new values. The result represents how we do business with our values integrated into all of our work.

At RSG we:
•    Craft Sincere Relationships
•    Only See Opportunities
•    Are Driven by Determination
•    Make Investments in Ourselves
•    Value the Wisdom of Our Clients

Value initiatives are important to organizations, because they contribute to organizational and individual culture. They need to be constantly defined and reinforced, especially as a company grows. Essential to creating a sustainable, high-growth company, core values must translate into every action the company takes and be ingrained into every employee.

Written by Evanne Holloway, a Research Assistant at RSG

The Economics of Valentine’s Day

In 2016 Valentine’s Day was estimated to add $19.7 billion to the economy. According to Kimberly Amadeo, US economy expert, people were going to spend much more than last year’s record of $18.9 billion. 

Consumer spending contributes to 70 percent of economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The spike in purchasing helps the economy in a year where business spending has been on the downswing. Because the strong dollar has hurt exporters, higher consumer spending helps to keep the economy on track.

Statistics show that men spend nearly twice as much as women on Valentine’s Day: $196.39 per man vs. $99.87 per woman, partly because men are usually higher earners. Younger people are more likely to celebrate than older people. The top five Valentine’s Day purchases are candy, greeting cards, an evening out, flowers and jewelry.

Maybe we need more holidays to keep the economy healthy.

Written by Brett Poirier, a Research Assistant at RSG

Homebuilders Giving Back to the Community

Every Wednesday night Granville Homes, located in the Central Valley, provides free meals to the community of Firebaugh. Working in conjunction with the Salvation Army, the company welcomes anyone to come and enjoy a hot meal from 5 to 7 p.m. Typically 200 to 500 (!) people come for delicious meals such as beef stew. This is part of the Granville Foundation’s focus on programs that provide access to food, shelter, healthcare, and education for people in need.  

The Granville Foundation was created to help improve the wellbeing of people in the Central Valley, the United States, and the world. According to the Granville Homes website, “Our passion drives our involvement in programs that provide access to food, shelter, healthcare, and education for people in need.”

Kudos to the company for recognizing the needs of the communities it serves. Companies can make a profit by developing communities while contributing to disadvantaged people. The free community dinners create a sense of place, bring the community together, and help those in need. More businesses should consider giving back in a direct and meaningful way. 

Written by Tara Matthews, a Principal at RSG

Making Me a Priority

As a mom of two children under 4 years old, with a wonderful, supportive husband, four chickens, a dog, a gecko, fish, and a business, it is easy to overlook taking care of myself. This year I have started heated yoga, clean eating, and meal prepping. 

Making time for ourselves and getting back to our roots makes us more effective. Taking care of ourselves physically and mentally avoids stress and health problems.

I want to teach my kids to respect the earth, enjoy its bounty, and focus less on material things. Too much of society is focused on living life through electronics and social media, destroying our planet, and not being kind to our neighbor. 

RSG strives to build communities that represent everyone while creating a sustainable planet. Let's focus on making our communities better with less emphasis on the material things and more on the real needs of people. 

Written by Tara Matthews, a Principal at RSG

How Health Can Contribute to Economic Wealth

For many people, a new year means new commitments and resolutions, such as getting in shape and being healthy. While eating better and losing weight may be great for your waistline, having a healthy lifestyle can also benefit your community!

Exercise makes your body release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that makes you feel at ease and happy. Endorphins, chemicals that fight stress, are released in your brain during exercise, minimizing discomfort, blocking the feeling of pain, and creating a feeling of euphoria.

A focus on individual health also provides benefits for the local community and workforce. Working out clears cortisol, the stress hormone, out of the body. Walking improves both convergent and divergent thinking, enhancing creativity. Exercise can help us to focus more through building stamina and productivity. Workplace health programs that combine individual and organizational strategies can produce benefits for individual employees, their families, and the organization as a whole by reducing sick days and enabling employees to be more productive.

Though not a typical part of economic development strategies, improving individuals’ health can provide local economic benefits. With a strategic approach and comprehensive vision, RSG helps clients develop solutions for their economic and fiscal health.

Written by Evanne Holloway, a Research Assistant at RSG

Consensus Building

Public involvement is more than just a process. It often determines the outcome.
 
Because a new development in a city can have a big impact on local residents and business owners, cities should understand the gravity of why public participation is important and also the risks involved with conducting second-rate outreach.

For example, Eric Jaffe of CityLab writes about a bridge project in Philadelphia that almost fell through because city planners were not aware of changing preferences and, more importantly, the social shift happening on the neighborhood level:

When talk of a new bridge had first surfaced, it was common for urban bridges to look and function just like highway bridges. Bike lanes, pedestrian access, and the concept of limiting travel lanes to slow down traffic hadn’t been part of the original design discussion; the goal was moving cars.
The people had also changed. Neighborhoods at both ends of the bridge had gentrified over that time period, and the stale highway design that former residents had approved — or, perhaps, felt resigned to accept — now received a chilly reception.

It’s important to engage in the public for several reasons: The public is a rich source of ideas. Community members understand their region's transportation issues and challenges. Outreach leads to representation from broad and varied segments of the communities. And federal law often requires projects to include public participation. 

Lack of funding is the top reason behind most lackluster attempts at public participation. Cities can solve this by budgeting more money upfront for community meetings. This can save money in the future in:

•    Legal fees spent in litigation
•    Staff time spent educating the public
•    Delays in development and construction

Communication is the key to success, and RSG can help with that communication.

Written by Jeff Khau, a Research Analyst at RSG.

Telecommuting with Improved Technology

Most working people have wished that they could clone themselves or be in two places at once. Now the idea is getting closer to reality. 

For instance, the Beam Store in Palo Alto is “manned” only by robots that move around and interact with customers at eye level. Actually, people in remote locations can see and communicate with customers in the store through the device, called the Beam. It is on wheels with an iPad-like screen showing the face of the person who is talking to the customer.

Made by Suitable Technologies, the Beam offers mobility and independence, high-level sound quality and ease of use. The user is in complete control and has a sense of being at the location where the communication is taking place.

This new technology may make it easier to telecommute, attend virtual meetings and follow up in what appears to be a more effective way than a telephone call. It can change workforce possibilities by giving people all over the world a chance to interact effectively without going anywhere, thus saving money while increasing productivity. How might such technology change your local community?

Written by Brett Poirier, a Research Assistant at RSG

RSG Hires Three

 

RSG ended last year hiring three new employees with diverse and interesting backgrounds. We are excited to welcome Evanne Holloway, Tiffany Kinslow, and Brett Poirier to the firm and introduce them to you!

Raised in Alabama, Evanne holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Auburn University and a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. She previously worked at law firms and has extensive experience with legal research and strategy related to the location, relocation, and expansion of the public and private sectors. Evanne has a rescued French bulldog named Nilla Wafer.

Tiffany has 15 years of experience in multi-family housing. She has broad knowledge of property management, affordable housing, tax credits, bonds, and Section 8 housing. Tiffany is a mother of four, and her twin boys play high school football at Mater Dei.

Before joining RSG, Brett worked in real estate finance. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Humboldt State University with cum laude honors. Brett used to be a guitarist in a rock band that toured throughout the Western United States.

Written by Dominique Clark, an Associate at RSG

Happy Holidays from RSG!

The RSG crew getting into the Holiday Spirit

The RSG crew getting into the Holiday Spirit

Decorating is a group effort!

Decorating is a group effort!

Caught Dima Galkin getting into the spirit-putting lights on our stairs...

Caught Dima Galkin getting into the spirit-putting lights on our stairs...

Wrapping presents for RSG's Adopt a Family.

Wrapping presents for RSG's Adopt a Family.

More wrapping for RSG's Adopt a Family

More wrapping for RSG's Adopt a Family

RSG wishes everyone peace, happiness and goodwill for 2016

RSG wishes everyone peace, happiness and goodwill for 2016

Please note that RSG will be closed from December 24th through January 3rd. We will resume normal business hours beginning on January 4th.