Gentrify Your Own Self: We Got Our Work Cut Out For Us – Part 2

thIn Part 1 of We Got Our Work Cut Out For Us, I talked about how much I loved HGTV programs, particularly the shows where people are either buying or redesigning a house. I discussed how homebuyers who prefer downtown living want their cake and eat it too, which annoys me. However, that is nothing compared to how I feel when I watch buyers who are looking for a suburban homes. It’s these comments that really get to me because if the homebuyers who are looking to buy downtown want their cake and eat it too, these suburban searchers want the cake, the cookies, the candy, and the milk. But while we are on the subject of suburban living, please indulge my urban planning soapbox for just a moment. What we all don’t seem to realize is that the further away from the urban center we move, the more infrastructure is needed to accommodate the growth. The citizens of these edge cities and suburban areas demand new schools to be built way out to yonder in order to accommodate their children. Then there are the water and sewer wars between neighboring counties. The water issue is so bad that people are sneaking over the boundary lines with a bucket and a siphoning hose. Well, not really, but it is bad. Oh and how far do emergency services extend anyway? Are they blasting Public Enemy’s, 911 is a Joke out in the ‘burbs now? I don’t even want to mention the countless hours in traffic with the people traveling to work. Ever been stuck in Atlanta traffic?

“Sprawl” had been the buzzword when I was practicing planning. I’ve been out of the field for a while, so I don’t know if that continues to be a concern or has it ever been beyond those who practice urban planning and community development. So let’s get to the suburban comments that grate my nerves.

1) It’s dated – First of all, let me start by saying that there should be a clause in the HGTV contract that states that those two words have been used to death and to utter them again, will result in immediate cease filming. Second of all, if you purchase the house under your budget, you will have the money to update it. Third of all, in my opinion, older homes have the best bones. My favorites are the 70s split-level on streets with mature trees. if you insist on living in the ‘burbs, at least purchase a house that doesn’t blow over on a breezy day.

2) I can see my neighbors/no privacy – Oh the narcissism. Unless you come home from church to see a neighbor sitting square on your porch walk, I really don’t think this is a real issue. Normal people, emphasis on “normal,” are too involved with their own lives to care about what you are doing. And if they happen to wave, would that really be so terrible? Just wave back. So I suggest that you invest in some window treatments, shrubbery, and a fence if it bothers you that much. Because unless you move to the moon, chances are you are going to have neighbors. Sorry.

3) Not enough room to entertain – Translation: “If my house isn’t big enough, I can’t show it off to make my family and friends green with envy.” Anyway, I thought you wanted privacy…?

4) The yard is too small – Are you tilling the soil? Harvesting crops? How much land do you really need? I can certainly understand wanting a yard with enough room to throw the football around with the children (and the relator did show you one), but unless you’re raising Drew Brees, your yard really doesn’t need to be the size of the Superdome.

5) No character – Take thyself to the city. That is unless your definition of character is not my definition of character. To me, character is more than double-tray ceilings, ceiling fans, chair rails, and granite countertops with matching backsplash. While that’s a kind of character (Well, not the granite whatnot), but I am thinking more of carved detail in the wood, stain glass windows, archways, ceiling medallions – signatures in the home that tells me the era it was built.

I am sure there is more, but I can’t continue. I cannot help but to wonder if people come up with these statements on their own or is it society that says that resolving all of the issues mentioned in this post and the last post makes a dream home? Anyway, as long as people have these canned responses, it will be very difficult to convince people to return to their neighborhoods. Anyhow, that’s just me thinking out loud. Stay tuned for Part 3.

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Gentrify Your Own Self: We’ve Got Our Work Cut Out For Us – Part 1

thCAWM89Y5My husband and I love watching the HGTV channel. Our favorite programs are House Hunters, Property Brothers, Buying and Selling, and Property Virgins. I like Love It or List It as well, but my husband bailed on that one. In his defense, the fact that the designer never confers with a local planning department to bone up on home improvement regulations, neglects to seek variances before adding in-law suits, and tears down grandfathered garages that she cannot replace, is enough to make this urban planner couple’s teeth itch. I still watch because I am a glutton for punishment, as my sister tells me often. I love these HGTV shows because there is something about picking out the best home for your family or seeing an awesome design transformation that’s somewhat entertaining. Of course, with pleasure comes the flipside. It comes with the pain. And it is very painful. As both a viewer and an urban planner, there are comments made by homebuyers that make me cringe. Then I vent on Facebook. That’s the reason for my sister’s “glutton for punishment” comment.

A couple of posts ago, I challenged the masses to Gentrify Your Own Self! Since writing that blog post, I am seeing these HGTV shows in a different light and if these people on television are the representation of society, then we’ve got our work cut out for us. Oh I am still entertained by these shows, don’t get me wrong, but directing people to reclaim their neighborhoods may be easier said than done. What is picking up fervor instead, is claiming the subdivision! Ok, not all of the people have this mindset, but I am finding that the average HGTV homebuyer falls into one of three camps: 1)Those who want to be near the city center, 2) Those who want to live in the suburbs, and 3) The “I don’t care where, I just want a house big enough to entertain” folks. No matter the camp, there are some comments made by the home buyers that have me doing the constant Face Palm. Then I log onto Facebook to make my snide comments and you know how I hate being sarcastic.

Part 1 of the We’ve Got our Work Cut Out for Us Series will address the homebuyers who want to live near the city center. When these people come onto the shows, I’m like, “All right! They really get it” I can get these buyers to understand where I am trying to go with self-gentrification. They can pave the way. These buyers understand that when you live in the city, you’re near jobs and transportation. They would be utilizing the infrastructure already in place so that we tax payers aren’t paying an arm and leg to have them built. If we would have more like these thoughtful people, there will be fewer cars on our interstate, which will decrease traffic jams, accidents, and harmful auto emissions. These homebuyers really get it and I can appeal to them with my “Gentrify Your Own Self!” movement. Oh…but wait for it. These folks have just finished touring their first house and immediately show me that they do not have one clue about city living.

1) The bedrooms/closets are too small – Um folks, if you’re moving closer to the urban core, chances are the housing stock are turn-of-the-century homes or older. Bedrooms were for sleeping. Plus people who lived during that era didn’t have endless amounts of clothes and shoes, therefore, they didn’t need large closets. Please, if you’re truly serious about city living, buy an armoire or a closet organizer and call it a day. The other alternative is to look for an infill, which are designed actually to accommodate modern-day living, while maintaining the historical integrity of the neighborhood.

2) The yard is too small – You’re kidding me, right? Are you serious right now? City living means more homes to the acre. If you ask me, this is an efficient use of land. Also, if you are moving into an up and coming neighborhood, chances are there is a park nearby. Lastly, smaller yard means less to mow. I’m just saying.

3) This kitchen/bathroom is awful – Older homes, remember? If the home has never been updated or if it has been a couple of decades since an update, please just plan on having a renovation budget.

4) I was hoping for a garage – Dude…You just better hope there’s on-street parking. Moving on.

5) This is all you get for the price?! – Location, location, location. The closer you live to downtown and all of its conveniences, the higher the housing costs. Also, as an urban neighborhood transitions economically towards becoming more affluent, the property values rise. So go ahead and thank your perspective neighbors for the high asking price.

So this is why we’ve got our work cut out for us. I think most of us – me included – have been spoiled in terms of what constitutes the ideal home in which to raise a family. The ones who claim they want city living want their cake and to eat it too. They want the conveniences with none of the sacrifices and it only gets worse. Hold on to your hats, next post, I will be addressing the suburbanites and their wants.

Gentrify Your Own Self: We Got Our Work Cut Out for Us – Part 3

tnd-collageAs I have discussed in my last few posts, I think in order to maintain culture and a sense of community, we all need to consider returning to our neighborhoods to rebuild them. It is not a secret that I have expressed concern that convincing people to Gentrify Your Own Self! is easier said than done. I don’t know if the people from the HGTV programs are the true face of homebuyers in this country, as they could be putting on for entertainment value. However, if these attitudes are for real, then we have got our work cut out for us in getting people to understand what is truly important in terms of where to live and if it is feasible to have everything. Part 1 of the We’ve Got Our Work Cut Out for Us Series addressed HGTV Homebuyers who wanted the urban living. Part 2, discussed those who prefer the suburbs. And now the Part 3 comments regardless of city or suburb. Here we go.

1) I want stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, hardwood floors, four bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, a big master bedroom with luxurious ensuite, double sinks, a large yard, and turn key in this exclusive neighborhood for $105,000 – Assuming that you are not moving to suburban Atlanta, you’ll need to make some serious compromises with your “must haves.” I would rather that you not show your ignorance by you’re not yielding on the requirements that you must have a gargantuan-sized master bedroom with an elephantine-sided walk-in closet. Please save it for your next house.

2) I don’t like the appliances – Does the stove cook the food? Does the oven bake? Does the dishwasher dish wash? Please don’t ignore a home with good bones because the appliances are white and not stainless steel. Save your money and get your H.H. Gregg top-of-the-line appliances further down the line. Meanwhile, it will not kill you that the kitchen has all white appliances.

3) I hate the wall color – Guess what? I heard that Lowes, Home Depot, and even Walmart sells paint now. Go on and pick you out a color.

4) I hate the alley out back – I need you to go to your computer and Google “TND – Traditional Neighborhood Development.” While you are doing that, I’ll be over here with the other urban planners as we do a collective roll over.

5) I want “Open Concept” – I’m not sure blowing out walls works with every floor plan, but to each his own.

6) This room is too small for our furniture – Or…Your furniture is too big for the room. What is more important? The house you love, which is an investment of a lifetime, or your couch?

7) Low-ballers – Let’s have some real talk right here. I understand wanting to save a buck or two, but if you ever in your life, offer to buy my house way below market value, low-balling, not only will I reject your offer, I will not even consider a counter from you. At all. I don’t care how long my house has been sitting on the market. I will go on Buying and Selling and get Drew and Jonathan Smith to fix my house, and let them get me a good deal. See, just like you are trying to fulfill your American dream and buy a nice house, so am I. Don’t you dare mess with my dream trying to get yours for less than what it is worth. So stop low balling!

That is all. This is the end of my HGTV rant and the reason why as far as Gentrifying Your Own Self! goes, we’ve got a lot of work to do in convincing the masses. Unless we can get that huge yard, three car garage, six bedrooms, and on-going list of over the top must-haves in the ‘hoods, most people aren’t trying to move there. But…I could be wrong. I sure hope I am.