Michael F. Logan, Fighting Sprawl and City Hall: Resistance to Urban Growth in the Southwest, 1995

Many urban renewal studies record the history of traditional urban areas in the West (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland), Mid-West (Chicago, Detroit) and East Coast (New York, Boston, Philadelphia) but few have taken notice of “newer” Sunbelt cities like Tucson, Arizona and Albuquerque and their own experiences with growth and urban renewal. In general, Southwestern or Sun Belt cities like Tucson have elicited less attention than traditional metropolises such as New York. Michael Logan’s Fighting Sprawl and City Hall: Resistance to Urban Growth in the Southwest addresses this gap in historical knowledge, providing a comparative model for analyzing the two cities’ experiences. In general, though significant differences between the two emerge, each city’s development comes under fire from environmentalists (though not really until the 1970s), conservative residents (who linked such battles with general government expansion and a “liberty vs. tyranny” ethos), and Mexican/Mexican American communities. Logan cautions historians to consider that community resistance always existed in such locals despite the tendency to portray communities as consensus driven. Rather Logan argues that in each city early protests mounted against development over various concerns from the expansion of city services, higher taxes, loss of cultural/personal lifestyle, and damage to nature/environment, these eruptions altered plans and final outcomes [this is a similar argument of Yerba Buena by Chester Hartman though that focused more on the neighborhood being redeveloped rather than the entire city]. Along the way, Logan notes the tendency to treat all growth the same or business as one monolithic block. Growth meant different things to different people depending on their economic interests. Likewise, Industry officials and tourism agencies viewed growth from different perspectives. [similar to Sanjek who noted the tendency to lump all business into one category even though businesses sometimes have unifying interests but in others dividing]

Tucson’s experience supports Logan’s argument that “growth” and resistance to it was multifaceted. For example, boosters tended to promote growth but in three different directions: tourism, industry, and retirees/new residents. Rather than a unified coherent growth plan or idea, three distinctly variant plans floated between growth proponents. Resistance to development illustrated a similar complexity, rather than a unified whole, protest grew generally from three sources: conservative/libertarian residents who resented government growth or viewed it as a liberty/tyranny thing, environmentalist/naturalists (Joseph Wood Krutch – Tucson – constantly advocating for preserving Tucson the way it was, natural etc … came up with “partial solutions” – “the reservation of some sections of public land explicitly reserved in Parks, Monuments, and Wilderness Areas. It is far more rewarding to be able to live in the desert than merely visit it. But that is at least better than nothing.” (82) example – Saguaro National Monument), and Mexican/Mexican American communities (though initially their concerns were voiced by Anglos who shared fears over loss of lifestyle/culture in the 1930s and 1940s, later the Mexican American community became very vocal). Business and city government lacked the cohesiveness that typified Albuquerque’s experience. Annexation raised as many hackles as renewal. The issues of “fringe residents” often provided a large pocket of resistance. Concerns about the city’s ability to provide basic services (the government’s centralization and Tucson’s physical expansion also raised opposition) and higher taxes often dominated. 1950s residents voiced these reservations openly, undermining the general notion of conformity and consensus often used when depicting the era. Moreover, the city even encircled some areas such as South Tucson in an effort to force annexation. Fears over overexpansion and growth led developers to employ deeds and covenants dictating certain architectural features, painting and the like in order to maintain regional styles and culture (no mention of whether or not race was also an aspect of such). Booster’s themselves used naturalistic/environmentalist promotions as a tool to draw residents and tourists, so when environmentalists and naturalists began to push back in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, officials were forced to listen.

Albuquerque’s example exhibits very similar characteristics as to that of Tucson. However, several differences also emerge. First, Albuquerque’s boosters provided a more coherent unified growth message unlike the diffused nature of Tucson’s. Second, the city’s business class enjoyed closer ties and connections with the city government. Third, Latino resistance in Albuquerque surfaced much as in Tucson but earlier and more broadly. Fourth, no prominent naturalist, such as Tucson’s Joseph Wood Krutch, emerged to provide a voice in the public sphere opposing growth/development (though Albuquerque did seem to adopt his partial solutions tactic (Petroglyph National Monument, Rio Grande State Park, and the Rio Grand Nature Center). Like Tucson, “blight” was applied to areas for redevelopment which affected Mexican American and Mexican communities as they did in Tucson. Annexation drew resistance from “fringe suburbs” who articulated very similar themes regarding their opposition (pretty much the same as Tucson’s tax resistance, ideology [liberty vs. tyranny], lifestyle/preservation of culture, extension of city services, one addition being a rural v. city dynamic in part do the early decision that Albuquerque was to be a city whereas Tucson never seemed sure of such developments until they were upon them … federal funding drew opposition to greater extent than Tucson as well)

Albuquerque’s annexations drew so much ire that the New Mexico state legislature felt compelled to step in passing legislation limiting future actions. By the late 1960’s, the regime chastened by the state and voter opposition to a mid-1960s renewal project softened its urban renewal appeals. The 1970s introduced widespread environmental resistance which grew throughout the following decades. The explosion of associations in the 1980’s drew comparisons to similar events of the 1950’s. [ one interesting point Logan makes in the Tucson section but as well at the end of the Albuquerque segment regards the “elitist” nature of environmentalism/historic preservation, an issue that cities of this century are going to have to balance.”] Logan bemoans the continued degradation of Albuquerque’s environment, implying perhaps that the roughshod “growth machine” ignored citizen concerns since it held closer ties to municipal government – shared a more coherent booster message – and both govt and business agreed that Albuquerque was to be a city. In the end, both cities experienced earlier resistance to annexation and later redevelopment but both governments to varying degrees overruled opposition. The few concessions resistance made seem to Logan to have mattered.

Criticism –
— Logan’s work is good and fills a noticeable historical gap but much of the book is about the controversy of annexations so it’s not east to compare them to Midwestern and Eastern cities which failed to annex as recently as these examples

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