Tag Archives: California

(458) LA’s commuter gang

Los Angeles City HallGentrification is a dirty word to many observers of North America’s urban dynamics.
It is often seen as an unfair force, as change that benefits a few investors while putting the poor under additional pressure.  Echo Park in Los Angeles, California hosts something of an extra twist to the effects of gentrification in that criminals once living and operating there who cannot afford the cost of housing now must travel to and fro to to ply their trade.

With gentrification, Echo Park gang members move outside their turf. Displaced by trendy coffee shops and rising rents, many gang members have been forced out of Echo Park, returning to their old turf on weekends. A new injunction targets those who are left.  LA Times

image: Los Angeles City Hall in 1931 via Wikimedia Commons

(389) Gimme shelter: on the night bus

City bus becomes rolling hostelAdaptation is expected of the poor at all times.  An example thereof was examined by a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News recently.  Lacking income and shelter people in social difficulty are hopping on the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s #22 bus for cover after hours.  It’s the only 24-hour route in the system and this double life as a rolling, diesel-engined night hostel has earned it the nickname Hotel 22.  Submitted by a suburban-poverty.com reader this item illustrates too well the housing and transportation issues of those in difficulty in Silicon Valley.

Homeless turn overnight bus route into Hotel 22

image: AEMoreira042281 via Wikimedia Commons

(384) Wiring up the future

EV charging station symbolPalo Alto, California will require all new homes constructed there to be pre-wired for electric vehicle chargers from now on.  The affluent, brainy suburb-city is home to Tesla Motors and has come to see the electric vehicle as something to be supported in municipal codes.  A buyer can be expected to encounter about two hundred dollars in costs to meet the requirement: not much against the price tag of a new home in Palo Alto or the Model S to go with it.  To rejig the suburbs into something sustainable requires bold and highly visible changes to technology and economics and in our ways of thinking which are in turn expressed by such unremarkable things as a civil servant typing a couple of lines into your town’s building code.

Palo Alto looks to require electric vehicle circuitry in new homes
San Jose Mercury News

image: US DOT via Wikimedia Commons

(347) Rent-to-own automobile tires

1911_Reeves_OctoautoThe idea that poverty is an industry, a large and very profitable one, shouldn’t require a whole lot of argument.  From the Los Angeles Times comes word on the rise of yet another franchise of social difficulty and economic dysfunction turned into an entrepreneurial opportunity: rent-to-own tires.  Scrambling to survive, driving everywhere, wages and home equity not quite what it used to be, many working people find themselves in financial trouble – but are not able to do without motor vehicles.  The ones that can’t afford tire replacement are now finding their way to retailers who will set them up with four tires and a payment plan.

A prison guard and a nurse are mentioned in the piece.  Strapped for cash even though they are working people, the couple end up paying over nine hundred dollars for tires that would cost maybe one third that amount when purchased elsewhere.  While a good set of tires at a moderate monthly payment can keep a person mobile and employed there is also apparently a growth in tales of excessive interest and aggressive repossession policies directed at tire renters who miss payments.  Not a surprising development really when you consider the strapped demographic turning to the rent-to-own industry.  You have to remember, too, a car tire is a poor object for which to attach yourself to debt.  They begin wearing out when you drive off with them and they can be damaged or destroyed in use.

In the past, tires and wheels were often purchased on installments as upgrades by the go-fast crowd, usually young guys.  It must be a sign of how raggedy the lifestyle based on automobiles, fossil fuels and real estate has become that ordinary people patch up their ordinary participation in the work force with resort to high-interest unpleasantness just to keep the family wheels moving.

Good thing the Reeves Octoauto is a thing of the past.

High prices are driving more motorists to rent tires

See also: (236) Broke USA

image: Wikimedia Commons

(215) California poverty at 23.5 percent [Census data report]

New data finds California at the top of the US poverty chart by quite a margin.  All kinds of things from the Democratic party to the high cost of living to Proposition 13 to illegal immigration get the blame.  At this blog we want to argue that if one of the largest, earliest outdoor laboratories of suburban living is on stormy seas then surely it must be the suburbs themselves are the cause.  All that industrial-era living based on commuting, real-estate development, air conditioning, shopping, road building, the whole material complex of suburbia, is now officially asking for too much from our pocketbooks and too much from the environment.  It is simply contracting.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California the rate was 12 percent in 2006.  The new number is near double that.

Here is the Census Bureau report in .pdf format with methodology and numbers for all states.  Florida is next after California.
Supplemental Poverty Measure 2011

California poverty rate rises in 2010 for fourth year in a row
LA Times – see interactive map

Dan Walters Daily: California has highest poverty rate, biggest income gap
Capitol Alert blog

image: suburban-poverty.com

(210) San Francisco, CA [Report]

From climate to culture and scenery, San Francisco remains one of North America’s best regarded cities.  It has, however, gotten expensive to live in over the last couple of decades.  It is difficult to see the attractiveness of a place amp up its economy only for that to jeopardize the qualities that made it attractive to start with.  Suburban poverty has been one of the by products of this process in many places.  For the San Francisco Bay area documentation was published in January by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in a Community Development Research Brief on the suburbanization of poverty.  It seems the region is somewhat ahead of the national trend.

FRBSF Suburbanization of Poverty In the Bay Area

photo: DaNascat via Wikimedia Commons

(104) Fresno & North Bergen

Here are links to two mainstream internet video journalism pieces on suburban poverty.  One is from Fresno, CA.  The other is from North Bergen, NJ.  The North Bergen piece is pretty shallow stuff, hit-and-run, low cost journalism.  A reporter talks to a food bank user who has seen her aspirations to be middle class evaporate over the last few years and, my goodness, it apparently sucks for that person.
The California piece is a little better, takes in the problem and goes for a bit of a walkabout with people capable of analysing the big picture and involved with activist responses.  Either way…
The New Poor of Fresno Time Video
America’s New Poor CNNMoney