• The Economic, Environmental, and Social Justice Impacts of Greening Vacant Lots: An Integrated Spatial Assessment of Urban Revitalization and Sustainability Outcomes

      Mennis, Jeremy; Branas, Charles; Adams, Carolyn Teich; Rosan, Christina; Mandarano, Lynn (Temple University. Libraries, 2012)
      Many cities in the US and around the world are facing a dual challenge of promoting both urban revitalization and urban sustainability. Increasingly, cities are exploring greening initiatives - through which vegetation is planted and maintained - targeting vacant land as a potential means of addressing both of these challenges. This research is a sustainability-based assessment of the impacts of a Philadelphia, PA-based program that uses greening as an interim management strategy for vacant land. I use quantitative spatial analysis techniques to measure economic, environmental, and social justice impacts of the Philadelphia Land Care (PLC) program, which `treats' vacant land by removing debris, bringing in topsoil, planting grass and trees, putting up a split-rail fence and providing regular maintenance during the growing season. The analysis is shaped by the concept of sustainability which posits that to be sustainable, development must incorporate and balance economic development, environmental preservation and social justice. This research seeks to answer a series of questions about the economic, environmental, and social justice impacts of the PLC program, ultimately assessing not only the extent to which it exhibits impacts along these three dimensions of sustainability but also whether or not the impacts vary for different locations, and also questions the extent to which there may be tradeoffs between the different potential impacts of the program. This dissertation addresses several gaps in the urban greenspace literature including an assessment of the effect of location on the impacts of greenspaces and an assessment of the extent to which temporary greenspaces have the same impacts of more permanent greenspaces. It also addresses questions in urban revitalization and sustainability about the potential role of greening programs in meeting these challenges. Ultimately, the PLC program is shown to increase surrounding property values, improve environmental conditions, and increase equity in access to greenspace in Philadelphia. These benefits are not uniform, however, and differ for neighborhoods across the city. The research indicates the potential for greening programs such as PLC to help cities address pressing economic, environmental, and social concerns, but highlights the need to understand the tensions and tradeoffs between different forms of program impacts.