October 12, 2018

Making the Case for the Neighborhood: Equity, Transit and the Missing Unit of Analysis

Time

1:40pm - 3:00pm

Location

1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village

Speaker(s)

Jesus (Jesse) Hernandez, Consultant at JCH Research

Abstract

Over the last ten years, the California state legislature has issued several mandates aimed at reducing the environmental effects of climate change. An abundance of policies and programs now direct state, regional, and local governments to shape land use, housing, transportation, and public infrastructure around environmental stewardship and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. How government responds to these mandates will profoundly influence how well the state can address climate change, protect open space and arable land, manage water resources, and support public health.

Acknowledging a legacy of uneven public infrastructure investment linked to race and class, these state mandates also call for equitable investment by reserving a portion of public climate change funding for “disadvantaged communities.” However, there is no practical guidance or monitoring of how this legislative call for equitable investment actually unfolds at the neighborhood scale. This presentation introduces the neighborhood as a unit of analysis that is key to understanding inequitable public infrastructure investment patterns in our cities and regions. By changing the unit of analysis to the neighborhood, urban planning practitioners can move beyond traditional top/down regional analytical approaches to gain a more complete understanding of how smart growth and sustainable community strategies can intervene in ways that avoid repeating institutional practices of divestment in segregated neighborhoods.

Biographical Sketch

The research of urban sociologist Dr. Jesus Hernandez is dedicated to understanding social problems that affect community cohesion, neighborhood development, and quality of life. His research places a priority on the dynamics between urban governance, private enterprise and the practice of community economic development, focusing on how these associations can either create safe, sustainable communities or produce disparate impact and uneven economic growth that interrupts local efforts towards neighborhood stabilization. Emphasizing the use of case study methods that merge elements of economic sociology, urban geography, and social history, his evaluation-oriented forensic approach to studying neighborhood stabilization and market performance brings a more complete understanding of how the racial and spatial concentration of poverty can impact implementing sustainable community strategies in neighborhoods experiencing long-term disinvestment and poverty.

The urgency to connect neighborhoods to policy, planning, and funding resources resulted in JCH Research, a consulting firm he created to provide flexibility in meshing academic research and macro-scale urban policy to the on-the-ground practice of sustainability and climate change at the neighborhood scale. His research approach prioritizes the neighborhood as an important unit of analysis and emphasizes neighborhood-scale economic development and revitalization in ways that directly address racial/spatial wealth gaps and disparate public investment patterns.