Gerardo Francisco Sandoval: Protecting the Barrio: Gentrification, Neighborhood Resistance, and Cultural Identity

Protecting the Barrio: Gentrification, Neighborhood-Resistance and Cultural Identity

Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. photo / provided

Gerardo Francisco Sandoval is an associate professor in the Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on the roles of immigrants in community regeneration, the urban planning interventions of governments in low-income immigrant communities, and the transnational relationships that exist within immigrant neighborhoods. Sandoval's books include Immigrants and the Revitalization of Los Angeles: Development and Change in MacArthur Park, which received honorable mention for ACSP's Paul Davidoff Award; and Biking Justice and Urban Transformations: Biking for All? Sandoval has published in journals focused on urban planning and community development such as the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Urban Studies, Community Development, and the Journal of Urbanism. He received his Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of California–Berkeley.


Sandoval examines four Latino barrios resisting gentrification pressures as large-scale, transit–oriented redevelopment projects threaten their neighborhoods. This study is situated within debates of transportation justice and urban cultural identity politics. Sandoval argues that contemporary Latino neighborhood anti-gentrification movements are a form of continuity of cultural practices and political resistance to an emerging reorganization of struggles over forms of collective consumption. These social urban movements, influenced by cultural identity, represent a continuation of historical struggles within the Latino barrio to reassert control over their neighborhoods by creating spaces for meaningful participation in the development process and hence encourage opportunities for community investments and benefits. Sandoval situates this argument in a multiple-site case study in California where he examines the role that Latino ethnic community identity plays in unifying these barrios. The barrios include the Fruitvale in Oakland, Boyle Heights and MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, and Barrio Logan in San Diego. The stories of resistance and struggles that emerged from these threatened barrios provide a deeper understanding of the role cultural identity plays in shaping contemporary anti-gentrification social movements. This study demonstrates how barrio residents use Latino cultural identity as a tool for resistance, for political mobilization, and as symbolic territory to create spaces for meaningful participation in the urban planning and development process to sustain their barrios.

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