Handbook for the Responsible D.C. Gentrifier
In moving into Washington at this juncture of history, you’ve joined a long, proud tradition. New Deal liberals, Great Society dreamers, and Clinton-era wonks all helped transform the various District neighborhoods they called home.
But here in the Obama era, your generation of gentrifiers has become a force far stronger than any prior class of arriviste. In the most recent 18-month period cited by the U.S. Census Bureau, pokey old D.C. has grown more than any state, adding 2.7 percent to a population that not so long ago was shrinking reliably. That population bump is equal to half of the total growth in the previous ten years.
And, according to Uncle Sam, some three-quarters of the newcomers were in what vendors of up-market dessert products, vintage furniture, and digitally-enabled transportation services know as the demographically attractive 18-to-34 year old range.
Or, as the crankier of your new neighbors might put it: myopic little twits.
Perhaps you didn’t know this before you plunked down some actuarially unsound multiple of your household income on that gorgeous-but-tattered rowhouse in the middle of some forlorn-but-improving block, but in buying into Washington, you’ve bought into the single greatest divide in local politics.
On one side: enthusiastic residents who know that an influx of comparatively affluent newbies adds up to the critical mass required to support the kinds of commercial amenities—little restaurants in Petworth, big Whole Foods stores in Logan Circle—for which they used to have to travel to the suburbs, or entirely different cities. On the other: wary residents who worry that you’ll either price them out of their homes or reshape D.C. around a lifestyle they never signed up for.