Digital inclusion is a type of social inclusion that ensures individuals and disadvantaged groups have access to, and the skills to use, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) (Digital Inclusion definition, n.d.). This issue is particularly critical due to the impending 2020 Census which, for the first time, will include an online component. Through a mixed method approach, our team was able to gather critical baseline data on the digital divide in the City of Mountain View. Our research design consisted of a survey that was delivered electronically via the City of Mountain View’s website and social media channels. This survey was also converted into a one-page print-out and distributed in-person through on the ground surveying as well as at our focus group with the City of Mountain View Spanish Speaking Ambassadors. Not only were we able to collect survey responses during our focus group, but we were also able to collect rich qualitative data to supplement our survey results. In all, we were able to collect 191 survey responses in a little under four weeks. A few key findings from our research include the lack of public wifi use for lower income brackets, the exploitation of low-income individuals by telecom providers that claim to offer “affordable internet options,” and the inconvenient scheduling of digital literacy classes for seniors. These findings are explained further, condensed into an infographic, and visualized using a heat map in this report.
Minimum Wage Ordinance Impacts on Economic Development in Mountain View (2017) Project Report
Students: Holden Foreman, Denzel Franklin, Gabrielle Torrance, Sean Volavong
On November 1, 2015, Mountain View, California voters adopted a minimum wage ordinance to increase its minimum wage $2.00 per year until it reaches $15.00 on January 1, 2018. This project derives importance from the need to analyze the effectiveness of Mountain View’s minimum wage ordinance as a policy change aimed at increasing economic mobility and opportunity for the local communities affected. If proven effective, the ordinance could provide a model for other communities across the state and nation, following in the footsteps of model cities such as Seattle. If proven ineffective, the policy will require a reversal or alternate solutions. Although the evidence in this study does not provide enough incentive to reverse the minimum wage ordinance completely, the ordinance’s threats to businesses led the team to propose additional measures that will transition Mountain View’s minimum wage to be more sustainable for both local businesses and their employees. This study extends the term “sustainability” to include not just environmental but socio-economic considerations as well. In our Sustainable Cities class, housing and equity represented prominent issues, and this study aims to incorporate the four pillars of sustainable community development into feasible policy recommendations that will develop Mountain View into a city people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, talents, and ideas can continue to call home.
Tenderloin/Central Market Community serving Retail Analysis (2016) Project Report
Students: Sonja Lockhart, Jenai Longstaff, Casey Robbins, Paul Lai
Our project on Tenderloin/Central Market Community Serving Retail was carried out in conjunction with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC), a nonprofit organization based in the Tenderloin. As the housing prices and cost of living rises throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area, the Tenderloin is one of the last neighborhoods to seriously push back against gentrification. Despite this pushback, new development is a nearly inescapable reality. Opportunities for new development within the Tenderloin are on the rise and the TNDC is interested in assessing what types of services and retail might serve the community best. Feeding into this interest, our project aims to present an analysis of opportunities for commercial and retail businesses within these new developments in the Tenderloin. Furthermore, we have determined a set of criteria for identifying communityserving retail to allow stakeholders and policymakers to promote community stabilization policies and decrease the magnitude of displacement risk both physical and mental/cultural within the neighborhood.
Economic Development Strategy for the City of Los Altos (2016) Project Report
Students: Evan Bowechop, Sungmoon Lim, and Carolyn Morrice
Economic development is important for a city’s sustainability and resilience. By analyzing the economic framework and drivers of a city’s economy, officials can make informed policy and planning decisions. Likewise, by better understanding the demographic makeup and trends of an economy, a narrative can be told of who is living in the city and how well the city is serving the community. The purpose of this project was to look at the demographic makeup of Los Altos to understand key economic drivers and trends, so that we might be able to create a component of the city’s Economic Strategic Plan. Through the help of our community partner, the City of Los Altos Office of Economic Development, the team used a variety of data and research material to develop the economic narrative of the city. We were able to compare our findings to other cities to help us better understand how each city’s culture and characteristics shape its economy. We relied on many different data sources, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, to provide us with accurate and current demographic information for Los Altos. We also visited different locations within the city to help us address the social component of our data. We spoke with merchants, property owners, business owners, city officials, and residents to hear their perspectives on how Los Altos could be improved.
Students: Matt Hernandez, Madeleine Morales, Fidel Salgado
We spent the quarter cooperating with Urban Habitat to address the issue of small business displacement in San Mateo County. Although this dilemma pervades the entire Peninsula region, as has been documented by surveys collected from downtown San Mateo and Redwood City, most of our effort was focused on the unincorporated area of North Fair Oaks, situated along Middlefield Road and bordered by the municipalities of Atherton to the south and Redwood City to the northwest. Our primary goal was to identify, through fieldwork involving solicitation of written surveys and voice-recording personal testimonies, the principal causes of small business displacement, and suggest methods of relieving pressures associated with these causes. We made frequent visits to small businesses along the main strip of Middlefield and conducted interviews, primarily in Spanish, with owners and employees of taquerías, salons, joyerías, income tax and insurance services. Despite steadily increasing commercial rent, most owners felt that increasing rent in the residential areas was forcing the relocation of lower-income community members to more affordable cities, thereby decreasing clientele and constituting the major cause of small business displacement. We incorporated the survey and audio responses into our interactive GIS map, which is publicly available as an online resource for neighborhood residents, as well as visitors, to learn more about small businesses in their respective communities. By providing more personal information like photos and testimonies, we hoped to encourage patronage so that these ethnic, at-risk businesses continue to thrive and serve the ethnic, lower-income communities reliant upon such establishments.