Governance & Politics
March 2, 2018

An historic Trump hotel in Vancouver

The one that helped bring bring down Ivanka and Jared?

From CNN:

The FBI has been looking closely at the international business entanglements of both Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, to determine whether any of those deals could leave them vulnerable to pressure from foreign agents, including China, according to a US official.   . The development — a 616-foot beacon dotting the Vancouver skyline and featuring a trademarked Ivanka Trump spa — opened in February 2017, just after Trump took office.  . The Trump Organization does not own the building. Instead, like other Trump projects, it receives licensing and marketing fees from the developer, Joo Kim Tiah. A scion of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest families, Tiah runs his family’s Canada-based development company Holborn Group. President Trump’s June financial disclosure form said the Trump Organization made more than $5 million in royalties and $21,500 in management fees from the Vancouver property.  . The $360 million project, which features 147 guest rooms and 217 luxury residences, quickly became a magnet for foreign buyers.  . In the case of Vancouver, it’s not clear why investigators are examining this particular deal. The timing of the deal — as one of the few Trump-branded properties to open since Trump took office — could be of interest. The flow of foreign money, either from the developer or international condo buyers, could also be sparking scrutiny. …  . Another addition to our ‘Vancouver Model’ reputation?


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From City Nation Place via Herb Auerbach:

Richard Florida on Trump and Cities

A new book by city expert Richard Florida, The New Urban Crisis, explores the forces that propelled Trump to the presidency, and offers plenty of analysis about what’s in store for large urban centers around the globe. 

You mention in your new book, The New Urban Crisis, that Trumpism is a backlash against an urban-powered growth model. How so?

I saw it first with Rob Ford in Toronto and I said if it could happen in as progressive and diverse a city as that, more and worse would follow. And it did. First Brexit, then Trump, now the surge in populist sentiment across Europe. This is a direct byproduct of the New Urban Crisis. In fact, you can’t understand Trump and the populist backlash if you don’t understand the New Urban Crisis. That backlash is the political reaction to winner-take-all urbanism—the growing gap between superstar cities and their advantaged residents, and everywhere and everyone else.

How did that work in U.S. voting patterns in November?

You can see it in the vote, which the book breaks down. Clinton took the dense, affluent, knowledge-based cities and close-in suburbs that are the epicenters of new economy. She won the popular vote by a substantial margin. But Trump took everywhere else. In the primaries, his support was concentrated in counties with larger white populations, more blue-collar jobs, larger shares of people who didn’t graduate high school, and also, according to an analysis in The New York Times, with greater shares of people living in mobile homes. In the general election, he took 61% of the vote in rural places compared to 33% for Clinton. He won 57% of the vote in metros with less than 250,000 people, compared to 38% for Clinton. He carried 52% of the vote in metros with between 250,000 and 500,000 people, compared to 34% for Clinton. All told, he won 260 metros, compared to Clinton’s 120. But the average Trump metro was home to just 420,000 people compared to 1.4 million for Clinton.

Why do some Trump supporters see our major cities as centers of corruption and violence?

While Trump poses our great cities as centers of pathology and violence, the reality is that they have become our premier platform for innovation and economic growth. Fifteen of America’s top 20 metro areas are sanctuary cities—and they account for roughly 45% of U.S. GDP. The Bay Area, Greater Los Angeles and the Boston-NY-Washington DC corridor generate two-thirds of all high-tech start-up companies in the United States. Trumpism or populism is not just about economics or inequality. It’s about geography and race. It’s a backlash against women, immigrants, minorities, globalism, and it’s a fundamental check on this urban-powered growth model and on the rising living standards of all Americans.

So Trump is a backlash against falling behind by non-city residents?

Our nation has sorted itself along class and racial lines. Trumpism is a backlash against the urban cosmopolitan creative class and its values of diversity, tolerance, multiculturalism, meritocracy and globalism. It comes from parts of the country that are falling behind economically, that are whiter, less diverse, and which feel threatened by the rise of diverse, global urban places and the people who live in them. And this is the case in the U.S. and around the world. So, the populist mind sets sees cities not as centers of innovation and growth but as the places that are undermining traditional family values. Trump gives this a unique spin. Even though he lives in New York, he is unable to see the changes that have happened there. He still sees it as the same kind of distressed city it was back in the 1970s and 1980s when he was cavorting at Studio 54.

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From MTV News:

In 1984, Donald Trump wanted to build a castle in Manhattan. Not a metaphorical castle, a literal 60-story building on the Upper East Side, complete with battlements, a water-filled moat, and a working drawbridge with guards. …. The proposal made clear that the medieval accoutrements were not whimsical, but functional, touting the increased security the moat and drawbridge would offer. It also gave the fortress a name. It was to be called, of course, Trump Castle. …
In the ’70s, just as crime began to rise more sharply in New York, corruption scandals roiled the NYPD. Nationwide economic stagnation hit New York particularly hard, driving it into a fiscal crisis that almost led to bankruptcy in 1975. In 1977, a citywide blackout plunged much of the city into almost 24 hours of looting, riots, and arson. That year, Democrat Ed Koch swept into office on a pro–death penalty and law and order platform, pledging to clean up the city and restore it to its former glory. The homicide rate jumped drastically in his second year in office. The mayor of Boston, visiting East Brooklyn in 1978, said, “I have now seen the beginning of the end of civilization.” And Donald Trump finished the negotiations to build Trump Tower, the luxury high-rise that would become his home and headquarters, in midtown Manhattan….
Walter Hill’s 1979 film The Warriors is a postapocalyptic movie. The old order of things has been swept away and a new order has risen. But there is no apocalyptic trigger, no cleansing fire or natural disaster. The fall is ushered in simply by the steady march of social decline, the trends of the ’70s projected into the future. The Warriors‘ New York is a balkanized city, each gang leader ruling his fiefdom like a warlord. Crossing into the wrong territory without a pass or parley is an act of war. The police are reduced to just another gang — and not even the most numerous or powerful one. …
In this way, the movie anticipates the animating anxiety of the coming decade: not just crime, but disorder, and the contested border between the two New Yorks. In one New York, the one that Donald Trump occupied, a Wall Street boom was restoring the fiscal health of the city, the real estate market was recovering, and unemployment was dropping. But in the other New York, homelessness and crime were both rising. …If you listen to Donald Trump, it’s the late ’80s again. “The murder rate,” Trump declared at his campaign rallies, “it’s the worst, the highest it’s been in 45 years. Nobody talks about that — nobody talks about that.” Nobody talks about this mostly because it isn’t true.  …
Trump is evoking this fever dream of a disintegrating city because his policy solutions thrive on fear of crime and fear of terrorism. The hellscape of Escape From New York, which is itself Carpenter’s conscious extension of the urban “jungle” of Death Wish, is inhabited by characters from the nightmares of Trump’s rural and suburban base — drug-addled vagrants, violent thugs, hardened convicts, mindless mobs. And the world that those people would create is one so depraved and anarchic that fear of it would drive people to accept state repression.
It is that fear that justifies the travel ban, the draconian deportation of undocumented immigrants, the promise to spend millions of dollars on a southern border wall, the crackdown on “sanctuary cities.”  It is that fear that justifies squashing attempts to reform civil forfeiture laws and the retreat, at the federal level, from trying to hold local police departments accountable for their abuses.
Full article here.

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Turncoats is a series of debates will rugby tackle fundamental issues facing contemporary architectural practice with a playful and combative format designed to foment open and critical discussion, turning conventional consensus on its head. .

Say what you will about a Trump presidency, it will be good for business. When the leader of the free world is a real estate developer, architects will still just be service providers, and that’s okay. Architects shouldn’t be political. Some of history’s most celebrated buildings were built under regimes with stomach-churning track records. Getting upset about policy is a distraction from doing great work. Spare us your hysteria! Buildings outlast politicians.

  • Thursday, January 26
  • 5 pm
  • $10
  • Inform Interiors – 50 Water St

Get a ticket here.

The Panel
  • AnnaLisa Meyboom is an Associate Professor at the School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture at UBC and Director of the Transportation Infrastructure and Public Space Lab at UBC, and owner of the design practice, InfrastructureStudio.
  • Jennifer Cutbill is a project Architect at Local Practice Architecture. She is also a Regional Director of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada, and acting Chair of its national Environmental Committee.
  • Alicia Breck is an adjunct professor at the School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture at UBC and a project manager at Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency.
  • May So is an Associate at Henriquez Partners Architects whose work is driven by social justice.
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By Gord Price
I’ve been wondering how Trumpism will manifest itself when it comes to ‘urbanism’ – especially the values with which we use to plan and develop cities and urban regions. My guess: regardless of their merits and successes, there will be a rejection of contemporary urban ideas – notably mixed-use, transit-oriented communities with an emphasis on safe and beautiful public realms not dependent on the car.  More particularly, there will be a defunding of those transportation choices that move us away from Motordom, especially cycling infrastructure.  Oh yeah, especially bike lanes.
Why?  Because those are the ideas and choices of the ‘urban elites.’  It matters not whether such urban environments can benefit all parts of the community, and actually enhance affordability for those squeezed out of the 20th-century version of the American Dream.  It certainly doesn’t matter whether they help make our environments more sustainable. Those people lost; their ideas and actions must be rejected – indeed, reversed.
One of the ways, for instance, that those who deny climate change can express their confident disbelief is to double down on the production and use of carbon-based fuels, and to promote consumption of the urban forms and lifestyles that are dependent on them.  Or better yet, in the win-lose game of polarized politics, actually discourage, even prevent, those alternatives to the way of life glamorized in the extreme by those places branded with garish gold signs of the name of the President to be.

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From The Upshot in the NY Times:

Two weeks before the election, Donald J. Trump delivered a speech in Charlotte, N.C., sketching his “New Deal for Black America.” It was a set of ideas promising greater school choice, safer communities, lower taxes and better infrastructure.

The four-page outline posted to his campaign website that summarizes it — a document subtitled “A Plan for Urban Renewal” — is today the closest thing the president-elect has to a proposal for America’s cities. …

The term “urban renewal” dates to the Housing Act of 1954; its 1949 predecessor called the same policy “urban redevelopment.” Under these laws, the federal government gave cities the power and money to condemn “slum” neighborhoods, clear them through eminent domain, then turn over the land to private developers at cheap rates for projects that included higher-end housing, hospitals, hotels, shopping centers and college expansions.

After the 1956 Highway Act, the same process displaced communities to make way for the construction of urban thruways.

Urban renewal was meant to wipe clean poor, deteriorating neighborhoods, while boosting tax coffers, stimulating private investment and luring middle-class residents and shoppers back into the city. It was one-half of what Ms. Pattillo calls the federal government’s schizophrenic policy at the time: As the government was incentivizing middle-class whites to move to the suburbs, it also invested heavily in trying to rebuild central cities to draw them back in.

A view of part of West Side Urban Renewal in Manhattan in 1980. Credit Fred Conrad/The New York Times

It was billed as progress. “A lot of the emphasis in urban renewal was on the ‘new’ part of renewal — that this was a way of moving forward,” said Lawrence Vale, a professor of urban design and planning at M.I.T.

But that progress came at the expense of communities as they were bulldozed. Ultimately, those middle-class families and shoppers did not move back in — at least not for many decades. The entire program, the sociologist Herbert Gans wrote in 1965, was “a method for eliminating the slums in order to ‘renew’ the city, rather than a program for properly rehousing slum-dwellers.”

Urban renewal was fundamentally about places, not people — and the people in the way of redeveloping those places were often scattered to other slums or housing they could not afford. Seldom were they welcomed back to what was built in place of their homes. …

During that era, four units of low-income housing were destroyed for every one new unit that was built. And more than two-thirds of the displaced were black or Hispanic, a pattern that was clear by 1963 when the author James Baldwin observed that urban renewal “means Negro removal.” …

This era of federal urban renewal ran through the early 1970s, after which a series of other redevelopment ideas followed: Community Development Block Grants, “enterprise zones,” “promise neighborhoods.”

What has lingered since then is abiding suspicion — regardless of the name of the program — of public and private-developer intentions in lower-income, minority communities.

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From a comment on a column by Roger Cohen in the New York Times:

El Jamon

I will keep raising this issue until it is addressed. What happens when some crazy nut job attacks a Trump property, somewhere in the world? Who is on the hook to secure those properties? The Trump Organization? How will they afford such security measures?
Will the tax payers subsidize Mr. Trump’s risks, again? Will the nations where the “brand” appears be called upon to provide security, and to what cost to American interests and diplomacy? Or will American forces and treasure be called upon to protect Trump’s assets? What will the self-professed “counter-puncher” do when some psychopath jihadi attacks his global properties?
He is the most vulnerable President in American history. Will foreign nations twist his arm, holding the security of his buildings and golf courses over his head? Will this man-child commit our children to a war over a tantrum or a golf course? This is the most frightening and sobering question surrounding Trump’s many many conflicts of interest.
A group of ill-informed suckers elected a fool. I am a Veteran. When recalled for Desert Storm, I dropped out of college and returned to service. I offer that fact as a qualification to my concerns.
I make this promise, right here and now, that my children will not fight to protect the mark of Trump.

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By Gord Price
… and not just Vancouver.

A building branded with the name of an American president — any president, but perhaps especially Mr. Trump — would be a tempting target for terrorists and other enemies of the United States.
Who is going to protect the buildings? Will the Trump organization hire a security firm to do the job, or will the American taxpayer be on the line for the bill? Will foreign governments offer to pay to secure the properties — a subsidy of the Trump organization that would probably violate the Emoluments Clause? – NY Times

Will Vancouver be expected to pay for that security, not to mention deal with the disruption of protests in front of the big gold ‘Trump’ sign on Georgia Street?  Well, of course.
But it will only take one significant terrorist attack at any Trump-branded hotel for the loss of business to be felt at every related franchise.
If I were Holburn, the company with the contractual obligations, I’d be more than a little anxious.

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Trump’s victory was an empire-strikes-back moment for all the places and voters that feel left behind in an increasingly diverse, post-industrial, and urbanized America.

Walter Lippmann, the 1920s preeminent newspaper columnist, recognized that at their core these disparate disputes represented “the older American village civilization making its last stand against what to it looks like an alien invasion,” as he wrote in The Atlantic in 1927Lippmann had no doubt about which side would ultimately prevail: “The evil” that rural America believed it was resisting, he wrote, “is simply the new urban civilization with its irresistible economic and scientific and mass power.” Before long, the polyglot “urban civilization” established unquestioned dominance over the nation’s direction in culture, the economy, and ultimately politics, when it emerged as the cornerstone of Franklin Roosevelt’s lasting New Deal coalition. … . Bill Clinton was the last Democratic nominee to demonstrate wide appeal across that divide: In both 1992 and 1996, he carried nearly half of America’s 3,100 counties. But since then, Democrats have retreated into the nation’s urban centers. …Reeling from Clinton’s defeat, many Democrats have declared economic populism the key to restoring competitiveness beyond the party’s urban strongholds. But, as Bonier notes, the Democrats may have permanently reduced their ceiling of support in non-urban areas by unifying behind liberal positions on almost all social issues. … . The converse is that several big city mayors are already promising to fight Trump’s plan to accelerate deportations of undocumented immigrants, while other collisions with urban attitudes loom over his pledges to loosen gun laws and tighten surveillance of Muslim communities. The chasm between town and country that this election exposed will only widen as the already tumultuous Trump presidency unfolds. . Full essay here.   Read more »