By meeting city planners from the city of Salinas and engaging in a detailed intro of the task at hand, our team has taken a confident first step towards constructing a housing inventory methodology for the re-vibrancy of the Alisal neighborhood in Salinas. We now understand with more specificity the composition of the Alisal, both internally in terms of the socioeconomic, spacial, environmental, and developmental status of regions in the neighborhood and externally in comparison to the other neighborhoods in Salinas. We discussed the tools we will use (GIS, HUDD) and the various approaches to a walk audit we can take.
We solidified the following action steps:
1) Fully complete all readings, both on Piazza and what was sent to us by planner Jonathan Moore on various walk-audit methodologies and previous housing analysis in Salina.
2) Visit the Housing Authority development arm in Salinas next week. Using whatever time permits, we will meet other relevant organizations/departments and we will explore key areas of the Alisal. Getting a feel for the city and discussing those feelings will be important for both group dynamic and personal reflection.
2) Discuss and finalize overarching goals of developing a walk-audit methodology for the Alisal.
The real enthusiasm and passion of the planners for The Vibrancy plan was certainly contagious. Through observation of the current housing structures and understanding their implications, we hope to help build a better standard for recognizing human dignity.
What We Observed and Learned
Our community partners, Jonathan, Lisa, and Carol, brought to life the importance of tackling issues of inequality in Alisal- issues we had only just read about before speaking to them. The huge discrepancy in wealth and services between Alisal and the rest of Salinas is very deep-rooted and institutionalized- as Lisa articulated, “It did not happen on accident”, which largely explains why it is such a complex problem to fix. The idea of “fixing” a problem is an interesting concept to explore because we are not going to go into Alisal and conjure up a plan to upheave poverty. We need to understand the marginalization in order to understand how to change policy and we need to engage residents in order to follow through with what they believe should happen in their neighborhood. Jonathan provided us with data illustrating how Flint took inventory on 2013 Housing and 2013 Commercial Property Conditions, using rankings such as, “good”, “fair”, “poor”, “structurally deficient”, “multi-family residential”, “commercial”, and “institutional.” We are going to use this scheme as a basis for our housing inventory of Alisal. Lisa emphasized that the “Alisal Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area 2015” is an important document to become familiar with, especially before spending time in the field. As we closed up our class session with discussion of future dates to meet, we also learned the logistic difficulty of managing so many different schedules. We need to remain flexible, open-minded, and empathetic, centered on the focus of supporting our community partners as a cohesive team force. This unity is extremely attainable; everyone shared their passion in engaging with a community outside of our respective bubbles and working to combat institutionalized inequality. Though there will be difficulties, a positive and energetic mindset will optimize everyone’s experience.
Critical Analysis/ Moving Forward
Tying our project to the class discussions and reading, our community partners have informed us of the ways in which the Alisal neighborhood of Salinas has been neglected and currently struggles in markers of social equity, sustainability, and economic vitality. Alisal is one of the poorest areas of Salinas as a product of historic and systemic segregation; this level of inequity has led to poor housing conditions the city is trying to tackle right now. Not only is the housing old and now low-quality, the unaffordable prices have forced overcrowding as residents’ only means of affording it. Alisal is also inadequately sustained, “almost a food desert” according to Lisa. Moving forward we want to not only further understand the situation from the Housing Authority and partners trying to alleviate the situation, but also from the residents who are bearing the brunt of the housing conditions themselves. It will be crucial for us to take their perspective especially when developing the housing inventory methodology. We have to anticipate the many barriers that may impede civilian participation in this survey method. Some barriers could include: language (97% of residents in Alisal are Hispanic/Latinx), access to the survey (paper printed vs. technology assisted), physical transportation (do they have the means/access to move about areas of the community?). We’re looking forward to visiting Salinas next week and learning more about how we can help the city develop this housing survey in the most effective ways.