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Google Street View Maps Gentrification

by gentrification Monday, Dec. 10, 2007 at 4:57 PM

Google's new Street View feature maps the territory of gentrification.

Google Street View M...
screenshot.png, image/png, 600x478

Google's street view is a feature on their maps tool that allows you to view a street as if you're riding in a car. It's similar to video games like "Doom", that allow you to see reality in "3-D".

The economics of Street Views is such that each view of the street consumes several magnitudes more resources than the information of the street itself. So, Google has to be selective about the streets it maps.

One of the likely reasons for Google putting this feature out, is to get a jump on real estate websites. With this street view feature, real estate agents and buyers can "visit" a neighborhood via the internet, and view the property for sale, before visiting it in person.

The first streets mapped tended to be in affluent areas and along major streets. Lately, however, it's also been mapping working class and poor neighborhoods adjacent and to the west of the rapidly gentrifying downtown area.

The effect of this digitization of these streets could be to create a kind of "virtual market" out of these neighborhoods. Much as ebay has transformed millions of dusty garages, attics, and closets filled with virtual cast-offs into a well-ordered, online marketplace of quality goods, Google's online mapping transforms working class neighborhoods into a well ordered marketplace of "quaint" houses.

Google, it should be noted, is a company that makes its profit from advertising.

The saleability of the homes depends on whether the owners wish to sell. This will correlate with how able the owners are to sell -- that is, whether the owner can move to a different home after selling. The high cost of selling, then buying a house, tends to discourage owner-occupants from moving. The area west of downtown is mostly renters. Landlords can sell at will, because they don't have to find a new home, just a different investment vehicle.

According to a map at datplace.org, the home ownership rate in the area west of downtown is less than 35%. Unfortunately, the data map doesn't go into more detail about owner-occupancy. Rates in surrounding areas, including South Central LA and East LA, are slightly higher (with some areas going into the 35-50% range).
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Home Ownership Rate < 35%

by gentrification Monday, Dec. 10, 2007 at 4:57 PM

Home Ownership Rate ...
screenshot-dataplace__map_of_homeownership_rate_in_2000_in_los_angeles__ca_-_mozilla_firefox.png, image/png, 600x301

Dataplace.org map shows low rate of home ownership in key gentrification zone.
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