On Monday we met with Jonathan Moore, Associate Planner and our community partner from the City of Salinas. We discussed some of the cultural and historical influences in Alisal that contribute to the economic and housing disparities residents face today. Since none of us are from Salinas or have visited the city before, we are mostly unfamiliar with the city, its infrastructure, its districting, its land use, and its people.
Jonathan showed us a map and explained to us where Alisal is within the city and where agricultural fields are, which are actually not surrounding the Alisal area even though many Alisal residents work there. He also gave us insight on existing land use in Alisal. Most of the land is used for residences, which are mainly single-family units. One of the prevalent issues is that although these residences are meant for single families, the reality is that multiple families or extensions of nuclear families occupy single-family homes out of necessity due to financial and social circumstances. We discussed the issue of public housing options and private housing, which is usually operated by employers of migrant farm workers. In these private housing options, laborers are subjected to poor conditions such as overcrowding, no rent protection, and poor health and wellbeing.
We want to look into the issues presented by various housing options and situations in Alisal to address the overall issue of affordable and accessible housing, and how transitioning from common housing types such as single-family units to multi-family units may relieve many of the issues Alisal residents face. We are also aware that development can be a major aggressor of displacement and gentrification in communities such as this one, so we want to discuss this issue with the Alisal advocacy groups and with residents to understand their needs and desires for their community and home.
What We Learned:
The City of Salinas is commonly known as the capital of agriculture in the Central Valley of California. Our community partners refer to it as the “Salad Bowl of the World” as it’s the biggest producer of lettuce, artichokes, broccoli, and other major vegetable crops. Salinas has a rich history in California as not only a major site of agriculture and economy but as a site for migration, becoming home to immigrants from Mexico, the Philippines and Southeast Asia who sought jobs working as laborers in fields and farms.
About the Project
The Alisal Vibrancy Plan was created in response to advocacy from residents of Alisal, in the east side of Salinas, encouraging a “shift to more equitable investments” in the city. In 2014, the City of Salinas drafted an Economic Development Element (EDE) as a planning document for economic policies and conditions in the city, but for many residents of Alisal, the document did not sufficiently address economic disparities within Alisal. The project is in partnership with the City of Salinas, institutional stakeholders, Alisal advocacy groups, Working Groups and a Steering Committee. Our role as a team is to read the Alisal/East Salinas Housing Target Market Analysis (HTMA), and synthesize and translate this information to Spanish, and create an infographic that is easily understandable and accessible to the residents of Alisal.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Community Partner Relations
An interesting find from Monday, was that both of the liaisons for the partnership, Jonathan and his partner, did not speak Spanish. Being that over three-quarters of the population of the City of Salinas is Hispanic, we are interested in exploring how the dynamics will look like in terms of implementation and community input.
We were told we would meet some of the residents during our first meeting which is a bit worrisome because they are the real experts on the issues facing Alisal. We may have to explore ways to ensure and perhaps encourage resident participation to ensure we are addressing their concerns and using their input.
Questions to research and explore:
- How involved have residents from Alisal been in these policies decisions? What is the makeup of Alisal residents on the board for the Alisal Vibrancy Plan?
- How successful has the City of Salinas been in engaging residents from Alisal?
- What are the community members doing to encourage engagement?
- Who are the residents being engaged? Do they only make up a small portion of the demographic makeup of Alisal?
- How do we encourage participation to get viewpoints of all different Alisal residents (age, language ability, race, income level)?
- In what ways is the City making information accessible to monolingual Spanish speakers from Alisal?
- How can the City address housing policy for Alisal residents who are migrant farm laborers, specifically those who live in private housing by their employer and are subject to poor conditions?
- How can the City address food insecurity in Alisal, whose residents are largely responsible for the major production of food in the Central Valley?
- How has redlining affected the districting of Alisal and the unequal distribution of resources in Alisal compared to other districts in Salinas?
- How has the transition been from Alisal being apart of the county to Alisal being incorporated into the City of Salinas?
- Our team is planning on meeting in this coming week to share out what we’ve learned from some preliminary research on these issues, and create an outline for our project for the quarter--specifically curating an interview schedule with advocacy groups to understand the current situation of Alisal from a historical perspective, and with residents to see what issues/solutions look like for their community.
Meeting with Community Partners
- Week of October 16-- Date and Time TBD
- This is a meeting to get to know the stakeholders and partners, and maybe some residents. This meeting will likely be a Skype call, due to the fact that it falls on midterm week.
- Objective: provides context and insight on how to prepare for the Visioning Session.
- Between the three of us, we will decide which date and time is optimal, and that will be shared with our community partners.
- Week of October 30-- Visioning session in City of Salinas on October 26
- Session will begin at 6pm -- projected arrival would be 5pm, just so we can get settled and hopefully talk with a few residents beforehand.
- This meeting will go over the plans with the committees and workgroups, and there will be residents in attendance. Our partners suggested that we do some interviews with residents before the session.
- Week of November 13-- Housing Work Group meeting on November 16
- Session will begin at 6pm
- For this meeting, our partners want a draft of the deliverables. As a reminder, this will be a synthesis of the HTMA document translated into Spanish in simple language so it is easily understandable and accessible to the community we are working with.