Update on Project Activities
As per the needs of Faith In Action and Urban Habitat, our focus area has shifted from San Mateo’s B Street Corridor to North Fair Oaks, a small, unincorporated census-designated area sandwiched between Redwood City and Atherton along Middlefield Road. Small ethnic, family-owned businesses line the street, similar to San Mateo, and its population is primarily Hispanic/Latino. All three of us plan to return to North Fair Oaks next Tuesday morning to try to get written survey responses from the business owners we’d interviewed last week as well as interview and record responses from a few more businesses. Tony suggested that we take a more systematic approach and go through the surveys question by question rather than have conversational interviews. He said Faith in Action would be pleased if we could get at least 5 responses from North Fair Oaks to add to their database. Regarding the interactive map, Tony thought it might be more beneficial to local business owners if we figured out a way to make the website bilingual. That way they would be informed of fellow proprietors’ grievances and realize that they are not alone in the concern of small business displacement. We were able to translate and digitize the most recent round of surveys we got from Faith in Action and are working on adding them to the website. We also plan on making the website more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, which we hope to do in class on Wednesday when we are in Branner library and have access to the Geospatial Center.
What We Observed/Learned
An underlying cause of the affordable housing crisis is that politicians have too much authority over regional urban planners. This also makes it hard to plan much of anything more than 4 years in advance, as it may be vetoed by the politician’s successor. The power to control public land use and transportation rests with jurisdictions that don’t want the density increase associated with affordable housing. Metropolitan transportation agencies in both Europe and Latin America don’t have to overstep political boundaries in order to facilitate a transportation network spanning multiple municipalities.
Additionally, in talking to one of the small business owners, we found that a common problem is lack of communication with other neighboring owners. We hope that our map will be a tool that community organizations can continue to develop in order to connect small business owners with their neighbors. Our hope is that this additional networking will allow communication and enable collaboration that will ultimately strengthen the entire community.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Having almost completed the Literature Review, we are proceeding to start work on the project’s final deliverable. We plan to do a lot of work on the website this weekend, both updating its content and design. We plan to change our website’s language to Spanish since most of our targeted businesses are Spanish Speaking, and we want our website to foster a cohesive community by creating neighborhood awareness. Moreover, we plan to implement these new features by Wednesday since we want to take advantage of the Geospatial Center on Wednesday. We will also be adding the new surveys to our website and learn different ways on how we can render the information so that we can meet our goal of creating a tool that will help small businesses learn about their neighbors.