This week in What's Ruining Our Cities: Racist mascots! Illegal apartments! Hedge fund slumlords! Basically everything you'd expect from some Sin City bargain bin fan fiction, except in Calfornia, China, and beyond.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is asking the school district in Southern California's Coachella Valley to change the depiction of its Arab mascot. Right now, they say, it's stereotypical, portraying the Arab as a "snarling, hook-nosed, bearded man wearing a headscarf, sometimes pictured with a single tooth." The Arab mascot was selected back in the 1920s due to the prevalence of date farming in the region, but has grown increasingly menacing over the years. [The Desert Sun]
It's one of the more intriguing real estate scams: You buy a great apartment—only to find that it was built illegally by shady developers. But it gets much worse. Homeowners who try to get out of the deal become mired in legal limbo because they can't get a certificate of ownership to sell it. These so-called "dead projects" are becoming widespread in Chinese cities, and are leading to some bizarrely inventive architecture. [Gizmodo]
To many, Florent Morellet became the poster boy for Manhattan's gentrification when his beloved bistro in the shadow of the High Line was ousted by stratospherically rising rents. But he has moved on... to Bushwick, where he's not bitter. "Cities change. Young people are going to be pioneers in neighborhoods and make them livable. Wealthy people are going to move in and young people are going to move to the next neighborhood, and the next neighborhood. We have tons of neighborhoods to rebuild. Yes, the prices are going up. That's great," he says. "I'm so sick of everyone in Manhattan complaining about the way things used to be." [New York Times]
Hedge fund slumlords are ruining Phoenix, Atlanta, Tampa, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Riverside, California
Okay, this is scary. Private equity companies and hedge funds have bought over 200,000 foreclosed properties in the cities most devastated by the housing crisis, renovated them, and are now offering up these properties to rent—sometimes to the very same homeowners they displaced. Investors are being brought on get rich quick on these scheme, leading to poor living conditions with absentee Wall Street landlords, and, perhaps, a new housing bubble backed by rentals. [Salon]
New York has a new mayor and the National Review is very worried about this. So much so, they've created an idiotic slideshow depicting "nightmare scenarios" that just might play out under de Blasio's future leadership. Like Planet of the Apes. Get ready New Yorkers, for a real-life I Am Legend in the form of Bill de Blasio, and don't say we didn't warn you when vampires and cannibals start running City Hall. [National Review]
The Arab mascot's evolution over the years, via Coachella Valley High School Alumni Association