Transit-Based Environmental Injustices in San Gabriel Valley and Greater Los Angeles

Authors: Bailey Lai*, Pomona College
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Transportation Geography, United States
Keywords: environmental justice, urban planning, regional planning, transportation, urban studies
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The long, winding trajectory of transportation development around Greater Los Angeles has produced a cycle of environmental injustices and displacement. Development of Spanish missions and the Camino Real displaced indigenous societies in San Gabriel Valley (SGV), and its resulting farmland led to railroad and streetcar development around Los Angeles. The subsequent decline of transit and rise of automobile-oriented suburbia continues this pattern of displacement . This research attempts to disentangle such multilayered interactions in Greater Los Angeles’s history, focusing on how the inner city of Los Angeles developed in relation to transportation in surrounding suburban communities like El Monte in SGV. Rising from a former agricultural hub into a vibrant working-class suburb, the city’s racialized spatiality developed closely with its surrounding rail and freeway infrastructure. The history of the region’s built environment and its inequitable treatment of different peoples is explored in a case study of El Monte’s downtown district. A walkthrough of its ongoing downtown revitalization project and extensive review of public interactions between the City of El Monte and Greater Los Angeles’s transit agencies reveals a disconnected approach to transit-oriented development with mixed results for its working-class, majority minority populace. This work also highlights avenues in which the different levels of government and the public can cooperatively create more equitable transit-based communities for the future.

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