Catering to Oakland's Enclaves

A one-size-fits-all urban landscape doesn't mean that different ethnic neighborhoods don't find ways to personalize them. A UC Berkeley graduate student investigates how cultures perceive space.
March 18, 2009, 2pm PDT | Judy Chang
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"Preliminary results show that people - especially in Oakland's ethnic neighborhoods - want bustling neighborhoods with services that remind them of their native land.

Residents in the heavily Latino Fruitvale district enjoy the pedestrian-friendly International Boulevard, where sidewalk vendors sell everything from tacos to toys. In Chinatown, residents say they like the elbow-to-elbow crush of people on the sidewalks shopping at produce stores and other shops, and they like the cacophony of cars and bicycles because it reminds them of big-city life in China.

The bottom line, Lemon said, is that Oakland and other cities need to get beyond one-size-fits-all city planning and architecture and pay heed to individual neighborhood needs.

'I wanted to find out if Hispanics, Chinese, African Americans or Caucasians prefer different types of space,' Lemon said. 'Would a city's resources be better used designing a picturesque park or put into a better streetscape or fields for soccer or football? It's more than an academic exercise.'"

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Published on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 in San Francisco Chronicle
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