Gentrification, the urban and social transformation of cities
Last week I wrote about the visitors known as “snowbirds”, who are mainly Canadian and American tourists and residents, who begin to arrive in this region of the Pacific in search of a more benevolent climate than in their countries. In the previous column I mentioned positive aspects of this immigration, but today I want to talk to you about the “other side of the coin”, about a phenomenon that should begin to worry us, but above all to “occupy us”, which is known as gentrification.
According to the research Gentrification and Resistance in Latin American Cities, by academics Antoine Casgrain and Michael Janoschka, the term gentrification appeared approximately 50 years ago, although the concept as such was coined in London in 1964. Until now we have heard very little about it. this, despite the fact that it not only affects economically, but it has been shown that there are direct consequences on people’s health.
According to the same specialists, this term is already affecting a large number of cities around the world; by involving the urban and social transformation of spaces that are deteriorated or in the process of decline that are rehabilitated or rebuilt, resulting in an increase in both rents and housing costs, as well as services such as water, electricity and internet.
However, gentrification goes further, and has to do with the replacement of the local population by the “temporary-population”, that is, international or foreign tourists (and in the last two years, digital nomads) who come to live at certain areas and cause the displacement of the original inhabitants to the outskirts or to other more economical areas. European cities such as London, Madrid, Berlin or Rome are some of those that have suffered the most from this process, and in the case of Mexico City we are seeing it in areas such as Polanco, La Condesa and La Roma.
In Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit, this phenomenon has been developing in the last decade as a result of the real estate boom, devoting a good part of the residential offer to the tourist market. This has given rise to the creation of exclusive developments for foreign residents and the so-called “expulsion effect” of the original inhabitants of residential areas. Proof of this is that in Puerto Vallarta neighborhoods such as Versalles, Emiliano Zapata and 5 de Diciembre are undergoing great changes and have become the favorite places to live for foreigners. The same thing happens in Riviera Nayarit towns such as San Pancho, Sayulita, Bucerías and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, where in recent years rents have skyrocketed, as people prefer to sell or rent to tourists or temporary residents who pay with Dollars.
Obviously, there are positive aspects to highlight, such as the recovery of declining areas, the architectural transformation and the beautification of urban areas that give way to a new environment. However, for sociology specialists, the positive aspects do not compensate for the negative aspects of this phenomenon, and they warn that the new temporary inhabitants create bubbles of expatriates that could even raise inflation, something that, although it now seems exaggerated, could be a reality in a short time.
What do you think? What would be a possible solution for this phenomenon? Send me your comments.