List / Archive

Can Quito Prove That Infrastructure Development Doesn’t Have to Mean Displacement?

As part of a folder of internal government memos City Council Member Daniela Chacón gave to Next City, Samia Peñaherrera, the city’s secretary general of planning, sent a brief technical assessment of the Solución Vial Guayasamín road expansion plan to Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Movilidad y Obras Públicas, a state-owned mobility and public works company, on March 10. It argues that the Solución will “reduce the levels of vehicle congestion and saturation, which will lead to a reduction in contaminant emissions and noise levels.”

But the concept of making room for more cars in order to reduce emission levels immediately struck Arias, who received the documents earlier this year, as odd. And there’s still nothing in these contracts that guarantees a new public transportation line, meaning Arias and other opponents are taking the Mayor’s public transit system proposal with a grain of salt.

“I couldn’t believe what I was reading,” she says. Her office is still pressuring Rodas to illuminate the project’s many vague elements, but she says the mayor’s approach “has just been to ignore these requests … and other requests for [additional] financial, legal or technical studies.”

Read the rest over at Next City.

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Tijuana’s Getting a $61 Million Transit Makeover

Tijuana’s poorest communities have used garbage from the United States for decades. Neighborhoods in Los Laureles, for example, are quilts of refuse: houses made out of garage doors from San Diego, propped up on hillsides by retainer walls built from discarded tires also from San Diego. Post-World War II bungalows from that Southern Californian city, facing demolition, are bought up by Mexican contractors and installed on steel frames in outskirt neighborhoods with just enough space beneath to host taco stands, car service centers and other stores.

But it’s not just migrant communities that have relied on the United States’ junk to make ends meet. The city’s public transport companies have built an entire system from it. Many of the city’s 3,600 buses were once U.S. school buses. Forty percent are more than 11 years old, mechanically unsound and have emissions rates that are off the charts. They’re loud, slow and prone to breakdowns, and if you stand too close to one as it takes off from a stop, you’ll get a blast of exhaust and a 10-second coughing fit.

Read the rest over at Next City.

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Chargers Make Unofficial Promises to Barrio Logan, Logan Heights

In an Aug. 9 letter obtained by Voice of San Diego, Chargers owner Dean Spanos told the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council that the team would help establish a community land trust for Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, Logan Heights and other neighborhoods that would most likely see increased property values that could displace current residents if the stadium was built.

The unofficial gesture – it is not mentioned anywhere in the Chargers’ 119-page master description of their initiative – comes after local residents bristled at their lack of involvement in the Chargers’ plans.

“The community was saying, ‘Why haven’t we been part of the conversation? Why have you not engaged with us?’” said David Alvarez, a City Council member whose district includes Barrio Logan and Sherman Heights. “There’s a lot of skepticism by San Diegans, period.”

Read the rest over at Voice of San Diego.

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The Rio Concert Hall Where Olympic Dissidents Rage On

On the surface, Occupy Ministry of Culture, which started this summer, is calling for the resignation of Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, a right-leaning politician standing in for elected President Dilma Rousseff until the Senate decides whether or not to impeach her over corruption charges. The movement also condemns the massive infrastructure projects that have displaced nearly 20,000 families in the run up to the 2016 Olympics and also the 2014 World Cup.

At the core of this unrest, however, is a pervasive fear that Brazil is losing some of its most prized public spaces and institutions to a grandiose, and far from inclusive, vision of the future. Federal and state governments, struggling to pull out of what’s being called the country’s worst recession since the 1980s, have begun disinvesting in public schools and government institutions; the militarization of favelas and public beaches, by groups like the Police Pacification Units, or Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora (UPPs), continues beneath the banner of an investment in public safety.

Read the rest over at Next City.

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Salinas Police Officers Association issues response to VICE News article

“Twenty-three murders in 2016. Five so far in August. City Leaders won’t act, but we will. The Salinas Police Officers Association has created a political action committee to raise the necessary funds to support candidates running for Mayor and City Council who put public safety first in words and deeds. The committee will also vigorously oppose candidates that play lip service to public safety.”

Curious to see how that PAC turns out. Is “public safety first” code for more police? Or more community-based policing programs like Ceasefire, which has impacted gang violence in other U.S. cities?

Read the SPOA statement here.

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Selected to be 2016-2017 Equitable Cities fellow at Next City

Thrilled to join Next City as their 2016-2017 Equitable Cities fellow. The fellowship is reserved for journalists of color, and runs from August 2016 to March 2017. Publishing three pieces a week on what organizations and governments are doing in U.S. cities to create economic opportunities for poor and disadvantaged communities.

Instead of updating my website with every piece I churn out, I’ll post some of my favorites once the fellowship wraps up. In the meantime, you can follow my work — and find out how to support Next City’s award-winning journalism (hint! hint!) — directly at the website.

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Welcome to the youth murder capital of California

Teresa Hernandez’s 14-year-old son, Alonso, was shot and killed while walking home from school in 2010. A few years later, a woman approached Hernandez at a grocery store and said she knew who pulled the trigger but had been too afraid to contact police, fearing gangs would attack her family.

“I can understand, in a way,” Hernandez says now. “They all grew up in the same circle…. But your fear holds you back, and nothing gets better.”

Her son’s murder remains unsolved.

Read the rest over at VICE News.

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San Diego’s Controversial Push to Hide Its Homeless Before the All-Star Game

More revelations came last month that added to the All-Star Game ire when Pastor James Merino, the head of local non-profit the San Diego Dream Center, claimed he was threatened by cops and the city’s Clean & Safe organization to halt his free weekly meals in the city during the month of July.

During a February 12 meeting with the San Diego Police Department and Clean & Safe, police officers allegedly threatened to “bring the hammer down” on Merino if his non-profit hosted one of their meals during the week of the All-Star Game.

At least two other organizations that do street feeds were asked by the San Diego Police Department not to conduct feedings during the month of July, according to McConnell and Sullivan. Police did not respond to requests to verify this information.

Read the rest over at The Atlantic’s CityLab. Republished in Spanish by Univision and CityLab Latino.

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In Mexico, voter frustration gives rise to the ‘alternative’ candidate

Gastón Luken Garza steps on stage in Tijuana on a recent evening, surrounded by purple spot lights, a fog machine, the glow of recording smartphones and a cheering crowd of admirers.

One of the city’s leading contenders for mayor, an independent not affiliated with any of Mexico’s established parties, he is part of a growing trend of “alternative” candidates in Mexican politics.

“He’s getting people excited, which is insane for Mexico,” says Matthew Suárez, a local writer here in the state of Baja California, which typically has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in all of Mexico. “When I talk to a lot of my … friends, they’re all about him – the idea that he truly is independent,” and what that will allow him to accomplish.

Read the rest over at the Christian Science Monitor.

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