9 November 2013
The Effects of Public Policy
Public policies have played a large role in creating the suburbs and contributing to segregation in Los Angeles. The 1956 Interstate Defense Highway Act helped create and sustain suburbs but the process maintained segregation against those of low income. After the streetcar system government organizations built freeways in areas of low income, leaving residents with no choice but to evacuate. In addition, the 1949 Housing Act allowed the city of Los Angeles to evict residents of the Chavez Ravine in order to “redevelop” the area. Equally important Restrictive Covenants played significant role in creating suburbs but definitely maintain segregation. Although public policies have indeed helped to create and sustain suburbs, many policies promoted segregation.
The Federal level postwar highway construction was reinforced through the 1956 Interstate and Defense Highway Act (IDHA).The 1956 Interstate and Defense Highway Act is a primary public policy that sustained the suburbs yet caused segregation amongst those who lived in the slums. Eric Avila the author of “Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight” examines the reconfiguration of the Los Angeles city after the implementation of freeways. Long before freeways people traveled using the streetcar. Several cities around the North Eastern portion and Midwest provided public transportation through streetcars. Streetcars were essential because it was citizen’s form of public transportation. The streetcars were very popular, effective, and well developed only until the 20th century. After several years of operations the business began to die down. The owners and operators of the streetcars began to lose money. As result, the city went Gevelekian 2
through drastic changes and brought the idea of privatization of the post war life. Society began to sustain different mindset were state operations turned into private organizations. The streetcar systems soon went out of business and therefore lead to the implementation of highways. FDK’s New Deal administration supported highway construction and saw road construction as an opportunity for the war effort and employment opportunity for the unemployed. Around the year of 1920 agencies, organizations, and groups began to call for freeways. The city established possible routes for the highways which followed interurban streetcar lines. Although the freeway implementation successfully provides transportation till this day, many innocent low income communities were forced out of their homes. The Interstate and Defense Highway Act allowed the city to directed highway construction in areas in which they felts needed “redevelopment”. Planners saw the act as means to renew urban areas. Professor Clement Lai mentioned in his lecture on October 28, 2013 at California State University Northridge, “The Urban Land Institute argued means of urban renewal and slum clearance. Authorized construction of 41,000 miles in interstate highways, 8,000 of which were in urban areas”. A few residents evacuated and made it to the suburbs while others found housing in inner city neighborhoods. Many people lost their spirit of community because of this devastation. The implementation did eliminate areas that were considered “slums”, therefore, the result of the public policy sustain the suburb but proved the existence of segregation against those who were low income.
Similarly, working class Chicano and Chicana residents of the Chavez Ravine community were forced to move out of their homes. The city of Los Angeles considered Chavez Ravine one of the most blighted cities. Therefore, Myan Fletcher Bowron and the city of Los Angeles and City Housing Authority (CHA) targeted the Chavez Ravine as a site to build public housing under the 1949 Housing Act. The City Housing Authority and the city collaborated and established diagrams and sketches of...
Cited: Lai, Clement. "LA 's Redcar System." Week 10. California State University Northridge, Northridge. 28 Oct. 2013. Lecture.
Li, Wei. "Building Ethnoburbia: The Emergence and Manifestation of the Chinese Ethnoburb in Los Angeles ' San Gabriel Valley." (1999): 1-21. Web.
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