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land use, zoning, property law, architecture, city planning, social justice, reform


This article first situates itself within the example of Toronto as one of UNESCO’s newly minted global “Cities of Culture.” This network of “creative cities” is intended to facilitate a framework for these cities to work together in “placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.” As one of Toronto’s culture-oriented redevelopment strategies, its “Music City” initiative is an example of how music and sound can be used in city marketing and place branding, and how these redevelopment strategies must be more effectively deployed to protect the same cultural elements that are being marketed so that the diversities of “culture” and “music” in a city are better represented. To this end, this article then turns to the recent deadly fire that decimated Oakland’s Ghost Ship DIY community and live/work artist-run space as a prominent and applicable warning for the local governance and municipal legal frameworks of many other cities with similar artistically potent, but precarious and vulnerable, spaces of independent and grassroots art and culture. Tracing the nuanced interactions of mixed virtual/physical affinity spaces engaging groups and individuals that find a home in DIY spaces with those who would seek to have these spaces and individuals displaced reveals a growing trend of what can be termed: building code vigilantism. While Toronto is but one example where independent grassroots arts and culture spaces have been affected by building code vigilantism, similar communities in cities across North America have been targeted with the same processes and to the same displacing effect. As such, a micro examination that narrows in on the experience of a local DIY community—such as the one found in Toronto—is relevant to any other urban center interested in sustainable redevelopment strategies, legislation, and policies that rely on “culture.”

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Alb Gov't L Rev