ACCESSIBLE FOR ALL? AN EXAMINATION OF RACIALIZED DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS AND ACCESS TO HIGH QUALITY URBAN PARKS IN PORTLAND, OREGON, USA USING GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS
By Geneva Aren Faulkner
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduation in Sociology—Environmental Studies
Whitman College 2011 1
Table of Contents Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………..….5 Review of Literature……………………………………………………………………………..6 History of Portland, Oregon…………………………………………………………………….8 Racialized History of Portland……………………………………………………………9 Extensive Parks and Progressive Politics………………………………………………..11 Using Geographic Information Systems to Determine Park Accessibility………………….11 Methods………………………………………………………………………………….11 Limitations……………………………………………………………………………….15 Results……………………………………………………………………………………16 Discussion………………………………………………………………………………..25 Conclusions………………………………………………………………………………….…..29 Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………………..…29 References………………………………………………………………………………………30
List of Tables and Figures Table 1. Park Quality Index Score…………………………………………………………….…13 Figure 1. Springwater Corridor………………….………………………………………………15 Figure 2. Google Map of Portland…..……………….…………………………………………..16 Table 2. Average Median Household Income and Park Access in Portland, Oregon……………17 Figure 3. Portland, Oregon Median Household Income Distribution………………………...…18 Table 3. Demographic Distribution and Park Access in Portland, Oregon…………………........19 Figure 4. Portland, Oregon White Population Distribution……………………………………...21 Figure 5. Portland, Oregon Black Population Distribution…………………………………...…22 Figure 6. Portland, Oregon Hispanic Population Distribution…………………………………..23 Figure 7. Portland, Oregon Asian Population Distribution…………………………………...…24 Figure 8. Portland, Oregon High Black Population…………………………………………..….25 Figure 9. Portland, Oregon High Hispanic Population…………………………………………..26 Figure 10. Portland, Oregon High Asian Population…………………………………………….27 Figure 11. Portland, Oregon High White Population……………………………………………28
INTRODUCTION Many American cities have suffered from debilitating sprawl and decentralization that have led to discriminatory housing practices and siting of toxic waste facilities in poor, minority neighborhoods. However, many urban planners and academics consider Portland, Oregon to be an exception to this trend. These groups have had an inexplicable fascination with Portland and the way it has morphed into a city at the forefront of environmental policy and regulation, as well as urban planning and social justice. Is Portland living up to its lofty reputation? I will use urban parks as an indicator of environmental benefits and will engage the question “Do minorities and low-income groups have unequal access to urban parks?” I hypothesize that remnants of racism and discrimination present in many American cities in the past have become embedded into the physical design of Portland's neighborhoods and metropolitan area, thus exhibiting patterns of racialized development. I constructed an index of park quality based on the amount of amenities in each of Portland’s parks and their contribution to social connections and contact with nature. This index will be the foundation of analysis of surrounding Census Bureau block groups and will help determine whether minorities have limited access to high quality urban parks in Portland. I use Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI)’s ArcGIS 9.3 software to visually represent the City of Portland's urban park systems, income, and racial demographics by U.S. Census Bureau block group to ascertain whether or not certain groups may have unequal access to high quality parks. Using the data obtained from my analysis, I explore park accessibility and quality using the environmental privilege (EP) framework. The concept of EP is a lesser-studied subset of the more dominant environmental justice (EJ) paradigm. The Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as: The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Fair treatment means that no population, due to policy or economic disempowerment, is forced to bear a disproportionate share of the negative human health or environmental impacts of pollution or environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations for the execution of federal, state, local and tribal programs and policies (Environmental Justice 2011). Environmental justice, then, is centered on unequal distribution of environmental burdens, while environmental privilege explores the unequal distribution of environmental benefits in society (Floyd and Johnson 2002; Mennis 2002; Downey 2003; Downey 2005; Frumkin 2005; Kelly et 4
al. 2007). In drawing attention to the inequitable distribution of environmental burdens in society, the traditional EJ framework often does not give much attention to the inequitable distribution of environmental amenities. The effects of environmental privilege are much more subtle than the more obvious outcomes of environmental injustice. While the immediate ill health effects of toxic waste sites may be easier to quantify, the health and social benefits from equitable distribution of environmental amenities are not as apparent. Despite the fact that environmental privilege is more impalpable, it is still a form of inequality based on race or class that, because it is not so obvious, may be even more important to study (Pulido 2000). Environmental privilege is also at the forefront of a shifting paradigm that is beginning to take into account structural forces and built environment factors that are significantly impacting human health (Frumkin 2005). Indeed, the environmental privilege framework is the basis from which I will examine the history of Portlandâ€™s development and minority settlement. I hope to determine if Portlandâ€™s spatial distribution of minorities and low-income residents exhibits systemic racism, or racialized development patterns. Existing literature discussed in the review of literature suggests that parks are vital components of healthy cities. Therefore, urban parks should be accessible to all, regardless of race or income. Yet, parks are not necessarily equally accessible for all social groups, and may not all have the same quality of amenities. This can be due to discriminatory housing policies, economic segregation, and other systemic factors that have had insidious effects on city settlement. I argue that it should be a significant goal of current urban planning and policy initiatives to minimize the potential inequality of such access to environmental amenities within cities and to strive to counter systemic forms of environmental injustice by using concrete planning policies. REVIEW OF LITERATURE Urban parks are examples of environmental amenities that have the potential to increase the quality of life for city dwellers, and thus they occupy a significant amount of planning literature (Olmsted 1914; Jacobs 1961; Kuo et al. 1998; Chiesura 2004; Bartlett 2005; Strife and Downey 2008; Byrne and Wolch 2009; Cutts et al. 2009). Not only do parks offer physical spaces within dense cities for social connection and physical activity, but they are also spaces that can help foster a connection to nature that many argue is being rapidly lost in the twenty-first century's rapid urbanization (Kuo 1998; Bedimo-Rung et al. 2005; Williams 2006; Strife and Downey 2008; Byrne and Wolch 2009). Parks and green spaces also greatly enhance quality of life in cities as havens for biodiversity, oases in the midst of urban heat islands, and serve as indicators of the presence of natural resources (Savard et al. 2000; Chiesura 2004; Bedimo-Rung et al. 2005; Perlman and Milder 2005; Wong and Chen 2010). Thus, the presence of urban parks in cities serves dual purposes: to enhance the cityscape at an ecological or biological level and to encourage social interaction (Hall 2001; Light 2009). These complementary purposes provide a bridge between the social and environmental aspects of city living and a way to understand the interactions between people that occur in parks and other green spaces, outside of parks, and creates an understanding of how they relate to the natural environment. However, they have historically been places for bourgeoisie to exert social control through policies that excluded minorities and low-income users (Taylor 1999; Taylor 2009). While such policies no longer technically exist, I 5
believe that parks today are still more accessible for White and upper-class residents. While the focus of this thesis is on the social capital gained from the use of public parks as well as the potential of parks to provide respite and reconnection with nature in urban settings, it is impossible to apply an environmental privilege framework to issues of access, race, and income without discussing human health. While personal agency has some role in leading a healthy lifestyle, structural forces beyond individual control—hazardous chemicals, street networks that impede access to green spaces, etc.—can greatly affect health (Brulle and Pellow 2006; Bedimo-Rung et al. 2005). Other studies show a strong link between physical and social health (Kuo et al. 1998; Kuo 2000; Frank and Engelke 2001; Giles-Corti and Donovan 2002; Panza and Cipriano 2004; Bedimo-Rung et al. 2005; Maller et al. 2005; Bedimo-Rung et al. 2006). Neighborhood cohesion is a crucial part of social well-being. Kuo et al. (1998) make connections between the presence of parks (and green spaces in general) and the social strength of communities. Specifically, they found that the amount of time spent in common spaces with neighbors significantly increases in the presence of trees and grass. Likewise, they make connections between exposure to nature and sound mental health. Those who maintain their mental health are more likely to exhibit high levels of social interaction (Kuo et al. 1998; Bedimo-Rung et al. 2005). Thus, green spaces can have several positive effects: they not only lead to respite from mental stress, but can significantly encourage social interaction in these areas. Thus, green spaces can strengthen neighborhood social ties by allowing residents to spend more time with their neighbors. As green spaces have the potential to attract the use of groups that otherwise may be less likely to spend time outside, residents’ knowledge of both the physical spaces in their neighborhoods and their neighborhoods increase, thus adding to these groups’ social capital (Kuo et al. 1998; BedimoRung et al. 2005). Park use depends greatly on the distance of residences from parks. About 80 percent of park users come from a radius of three blocks (Bedimo-Rung 2005:165). Likewise, studies have shown that physical activity decreases with increased distance from parks (Babey et al. 2008; Boone-Heinonen et al. 2010). Babey et al. (2008) and Boone-Heinonen (2010) both focus on adolescent park use in neighborhoods adjacent to parks, finding that distance is a determinant of park use and physical activity. Easy access to safe parks is positively associated with increased physical activity and use of such parks in urban areas, and adolescents who lived in unsafe areas, in apartment buildings, and lower-income families are less likely to be active on a regular basis (Babey et al. 2008). Many factors influence park use. Personal desire to visit parks, street connectivity, ease of access, and transportation systems are some of the determinants of park use in cities. Several studies have shown decreased park access for low-income and minority city residents (BedimoRung 2005; Byrne and Wolch 2009) while others do not find statistically significant correlations between low-income and minority distance to parks (Cutts et al. 2009; Maroko et al. 2009). Byrne and Wolch’s previous research suggests that African-Americans and Latinos have a significantly more difficult time accessing parks in Los Angeles’ low-income neighborhoods than do Whites (2009). This difficulty is due to the fact that the areas surrounding parks consist of predominantly White neighborhoods, which act as a social barrier. While many of the factors contributing to park inaccessibility are systemic social deterrents—meaning there aren’t official policies excluding racial minorities or low-income groups—these deterrents, such as parks being surrounded by predominantly White neighborhoods, can have an adverse effect on the 6
accessibility of parks for minorities, even it if it is only perceived inaccessibility (Byrne and Wolch 2009). Larger and higher quality parks are often found in White neighborhoods, which reflect patterns of racialized development (Byrne and Wolch 2009:752). Both Cutts et al. (2009) and Maroko et al. (2009) hypothesize that health and the built environment are linked and that minorities and low-income residents would have decreased park access. The Maroko et al. study demonstrates the complexity of sociological variables, given that the authors did not find any evidence suggesting minorities and low-income residents have limited park access in New York City (2009). Likewise, the Cutts et al. study found that Hispanics were more likely to live in areas of easy access to parks in Phoenix, AZ, but these parks were smaller and the surrounding areas had higher crime rates (2009). Neither of these studies examines the distance of minorities and low-income residents from high or low quality parks. Therefore, my study enhances knowledge of distance-related environmental privilege concerns by examining whether minorities and low-income residents have limited access to highquality parks. Park quality is subjective. While I have provided a park quality index that focuses solely on park amenities, Gobster (2002) developed a study that aims to determine park user preferences while Byrne and Wolch (2009) discuss the implications of adding a racial component to leisure activity preferences. Gobster (2002) analyzes recreation use patterns in Chicago's Lincoln Park. Developed in a passive use style common of Frederick Law Olmsted, the park now accommodates about 20 million users annually. The goal of the study was to determine if different racial groups prefer and use differing recreation facilities. Researchers used on-site surveys and interviews to ascertain if diverse racial groups prefer distinct park amenities (Gobster 2002). While Gobster did find slight differences in user preferences that corresponded with varying races, there is a large overlap in park preferences for all groupsâ€”for example, all groups prefer parks for walking, sitting, relaxing, swimming, and several other activities. Therefore, though Gobster found slight differences in preferences that may correlate to race, there was much overlap and it is possible to conclude that most people regardless of race would prefer basic amenities and many of the same resources in parks. Indeed, while Byrne and Wolch (2009) also determine that certain races may prefer different amenities, they hesitate to use race as an explanation for these variations. Their critique lies in the way in which diverging minority preferences in park amenities are often pitted in opposition to white norms (Byrne and Wolch 2009). Still, park design has the potential to discourage different types of uses based on the physical layout of parks, which becomes an environmental justice issue worth noting when discussing facets of park accessibility. Both real incidents of park crime and perceived safety can determine park use patterns and overall perceptions of neighborhood safety (Westover 1985; Kuo et al. 1998; Bedimo-Rung et al. 2005; Byrne and Wolch 2009; Cutts et al. 2009). While crime statistics are important indicators of park quality, their incorporation is outside the scope of this thesis. Therefore, I am not able to sense how actual crime merges with perceptions of crime and how those ideas may influence the use of parks by individuals. This will be an area of further research. There is also very little literature that attempts to use an environmental privilege framework to critically examine racialized development in Portland, Oregon. It is my hope that by combining environmental privilege with a discussion of Portlandâ€™s development will help substantiate the environmental privilege and racialized development literature. 7
HISTORY OF PORTLAND, OREGON My rationale for studying Portland's urban park system and its accessibility for racial and low-income residents stems from the planning professionals' and public fixation on Portland as an almost utopian manifestation of the ideal city (Abbott 2004; Bulman and Orloff 2004; Abbott and Margheim 2008). Situated on the mouth of the Willamette Valley in Northwestern Oregon, Portland has benefited from an advantageous geographic location since its meager beginnings as a trade post in the 1800s. Its proximity both next to land and water made it the ideal for commerce by land and sea, and the abundance of natural resources added greatly to its developing economic power (Scott 1890:66). Its geographic constraints of mountains and ocean, as well as a history of cutting-edge urban planning decisions spanning back to the 1950s have contributed to Portland being at the epicenter for debate and praise in the urban planning realm. Abbott (2004) approaches Portland's unique geographic setting and the resulting praise Portland has received from a qualitative standpoint. He identifies several indicators of a wellplanned city: prevalence of green space, physical barriers to limit outward expansion, geographic setting in the Pacific Northwest, and even the philosophy of citizens and planners. One of Abbott's findings is particularly significant: unlike cities like Las Vegas or even Seattle, Portland is not hell-bent on expanding and modernizing. That combined with the geographical constraints of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding mountains have resulted in what Abbott describes as â€œa paradoxical balancing of past and futureâ€? (Abbott 2004:122). Portland has managed to recreate and incorporate elements of cities of the 1950s that were less dependent on cars for the main mode of transportation. (Abbott 2004). In 2009, Multnomah County had a population of around 698,599, with 79 percent White, 6 percent Black, 6 percent Asian, 1 percent American Indian and Alaskan Native, 0.5 percent Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 3 percent Some Other Race, 4 percent Two or More Races, and 10 percent Hispanic.* The median household income was $49,171, compared to the national average of $51,425 (Fact Sheet:Multnomah County). These statistics reflect more current population totals and income levels and differ from the statistics used in the Methods section. I use Census Bureau 2000 data in my case study due to unavailability of Census 2010 data. Racialized History of Portland Minority settlement in Portland has a long, complicated history. Oregon, though it outlawed slavery, was one of only six states that refused to ratify the 15th amendment, the amendment that gave Black men the right to vote and that allowed them United States citizenship (Gibson 2007). Oregon citizens also decided by popular vote to insert an exclusion into the state constitution that made it illegal for Blacks to reside in Oregon. Though this exclusion was introduced in 1857, it was not removed until 1926, which shows the extent to which racism permeated a city that today works exceedingly hard to promote diversity and inclusion. Likewise, the Housing Authority of Portland (HAP) did not integrate low-income housing projects with other higher income housing, unlike Seattle's housing authority (Gibson 2007). Gibson (2007) also describes the settlement patterns of African Americans in Portland from 1940 to 2000. Albina, a company town situated on the east side of the Willamette River, had a primarily Black population due to the fact that many Blacks worked on the railroad and lived in 8
this area. Following World War II, many African Americans stayed in this area and Blacks located in a small community in northwest Portland were pushed to the east. Despite the fact that this *Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding
community was mainly middle-class and fairly well educated, with about half as homeowners, Blacks were contained in Albina through housing policies meant to keep them segregated. “The hostile racial attitude of White Oregonians manifested in Portland's built environment through real estate practices” (Gibson 2007:6). While overt racism in Portland may have lost its edge by the 1940s and 1950s, it was institutionalized in the way housing was designed. Despite there being very little literature detailing Japanese and Chinese settlement during the twentieth century, it is known that Chinese and Japanese immigrants faced discrimination based on fears of race wars and worries that they would compete for jobs, especially in the farming occupation (Toll 1997; Wong 2004). Yet racism was higher for Chinese immigrants than Japanese. Due to the fact that Chinese began immigrating to the United States slightly earlier than Japanese, Chinese faced more hostility. Wong (2004) describes the status of Chinese as “strangers” and outsiders as evolving through a complex array of public opinion, media portrayals of them as docile and landless (Wong 2004:7). Interestingly, white residents of the city of Portland did not exhibit the same level of racism compared to the rest of the United States (Toll 1997). Fear of encroachment and White racist sentiment was much more common in outlying areas than in Portland itself, though racism directed toward Japanese was much less than compared with Blacks living in Portland during this time. Thus, fear had a profound effect on Japanese settlement within Portland, because Japanese settlement was spread more evenly throughout neighborhoods in Portland (Toll 1997). Compared to the Chinese who had immigrated to the Portland area in the 1880s and mainly settled in the district now known as Chinatown, Japanese settlement was scattered due to the variety of Japanese occupations (Engeman 2005). Because of the great variety of occupation within the city, “What might be considered a Japanese residential neighborhood was really shared with the remnant of Chinese laborers and businessmen, African Americans—many of whom worked for the railroads and hotels—and a majority of white workers” (for a detailed description of settlement patterns in the 1920s see Toll 1997:34). The relative ease by which Japanese were able to become entrepreneurs and businesspeople in Portland and the lower levels of racism directed toward them contributed to their racialized settlement of Portland. While Japanese were certainly not the only Asian group immigrating to the Portland area and the West Coast in the twentieth century, their history has been documented in much greater detail than other Asian groups. The lack of literature detailing Asian immigration to Portland also presents more research opportunities in the environmental privilege and history fields. Unfortunately, there is also limited information about Mexican American settlement in Oregon. Therefore, it is difficult to make conclusive statements about Hispanic racialized development. Mexican Americans have been documented moving to Oregon by the midnineteenth century, mainly as a response to overcrowding, low wages, and difficulty finding jobs as farm laborers, which was the most common occupation for Mexicans in the United States during the nineteenth century (Slatta 1976:327). The first Mexicans in this area possessed expertise in shepherding and other pastoral knowledge, the Mexicans that began arriving later generally worked as low-wage farm workers and were thus often displaced to the outer edges of communities to live closer to the fields (Slatta 1975; Abbott 2001). More research in this field is 9
needed to make definite conclusions about the consequences of racism on Hispanic settlement patterns. This will be an area of my further research. While Portland may no longer explicitly uphold or condone policies that were enacted several decades ago, development tends to change very slowly (Pulido 2000; Park and Pellow 2004; Bolin et al. 2005). Therefore, racial development patterns may still be visible in landscapes today and will be explored in my case study of Portland. Extensive Parks and Progressive Politics Today, Portland is famous for its park system. Factors that have led to the abundance of well-used parks in Portland have included the willingness of taxpayers to support the creation and maintenance of urban parks (Bulman and Orloff 2004). Walljasper (1997) studies specific characteristics parks in Portland, Oregon, stating that it is also the urban scenery that attracts residents and visitors alike, not just the surrounding scenery. Consequently, as a city that has not experienced the same amount of urban sprawl as other cities in the West, Portland has been elevated to an almost mythic level, thanks to its prominent place in the eyes of urban planners around the nation as an example of “good” urban planning (Bolitzer and Netusil 2000; Abbott and Margheim 2008; Miles and Song 2009). “One reason it [Portland] has received so much attention is because Portland is a city where discussion of planning issues in general is a busy industry that employs local journalists and university professors and brings in extra money through a continuous stream of visiting experts and junketeers. Portland has become an icon for a particular approach to urban and regional planning” (Abbott and Margheim 2008:198). The inordinate amount of focus on and discussion of Portland's growth management plans has spurred much literature surrounding the effectiveness of one Portland's most notable and controversial urban growth management policies, its urban growth boundary (UGB). Instated by Governor Tom McCall in 1979 to limit outward growth, Portland's urban growth boundary has been a source of debate ever since it was first instated (Walljasper 1997; Abbott 2004). Combined with the geographic constraints of Portland's Pacific Northwest setting, the UGB has been able to contain sprawl better than many other American cities. However, it has been at the center of controversy over its actual effect on development, especially in the last ten to fifteen years. While some believe that the UGB has been successful in increasing density inside the boundary (Abbott 2004), others argue that it is not effective in creating higher population density in the city core (Jun 2004). Some claim that the UGB increases land values (Knaap 1985) and housing prices (Phillips and Goodstein 2007), while others argue that housing prices are not affected by the UGB (Jun 2006). Though Portland is considered to be at the forefront of social acceptance and urban planning, a more in-depth look at the history of development in Portland may illuminate systemic forms of discrimination that have been in place for decades. Thus, two factors that have led to the current geography of Portland include the way in which minorities have settled, as well as the development of urban parks. USING GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS TO DETERMINE PARK ACCESSIBILITY Methods 10
Geographic information systems (GIS) are sets of computer tools used to store, create, manipulate, and model spatial and aspatial data (Leslie et al. 2007; Price 2010). Using a GIS is ideal to map social inequalities, because these tools allow for spatial analysis of several variables. I assess the accessibility of urban parks of varying quality for four racial groups in Portland: Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. These racial categories correspond with the racial histories I provided in the section of Portland’s history. Park accessibility is defined in terms of distance between points. Merriam-Webster defines accessibility as “capable of being reached” or “being within reach” (Definition of Accessibility). Many studies have attempted to define accessibility, looking at both distance from environmental amenities (see Scott 1994; Aultman-Hall et al. 1997; Gobster 2002; Bedimo-Rung et al. 2005; Babey et al. 2008; Byrne and Wolch 2009; Boon-Heinonen et al. 2010; Maroko et al. 2009); the quality of sidewalks and roads (see Kelly et al. 2007; Sallis et al. 2009) or a combination of both (see Cutts et al. 2009). I only use distance as a measure of accessibility, though quality of roads and sidewalks could be an area of future research. My hypotheses are as follows: 1) If institutionalized racism is present in Portland, Whites will be more likely to live in the vicinity of high-quality parks, and 2) If institutionalized racism is present in Portland, high-income residents will be more likely to live in the vicinity of highquality parks. I used Census 2000 data instead of Census 2010 demographic data because not all of the demographic information needed has been released yet. Also, Portland was redistricted in the 2010 Census, which may not give an accurate portrayal of many of the policies and development patterns that have arisen in the last ten years under the old districts. I obtained shapefiles (.shp) for Portland from the website Civic Apps for Greater Portland (Datasets 2011). After unzipping them and importing them into ESRI ArcGis 9.3, I was able to create the geographic layers. I obtained the demographic information from the United States Census Bureau (TIGER). Park quality was determined by exporting the table of all of Portland’s parks from ArcCatalog to Excel. The list originally contained 320 parks, but I researched each one to determine whether not it fit my definition of park. A “park” in this case study is any officially designated area that provides space for recreation, social connections, and exposure to nature. I do not include open lots, school yards, sports complexes, or informal gathering spaces as part of this definition of parks. While many of these areas could be considered “open space” along with many parks, these areas either have no formal social guidelines that direct certain actions (in the case of empty lots) or have very formal, rigid social rules that inhibit certain activities (school yards, sports complexes, soccer/baseball fields, etc.) Therefore, for this case study of Portland, I removed natural areas*, private or developer property, theaters, community centers, schools, squares, arts centers, and intersections. I also removed any park established after the year 2000, since I am using Census 2000 data and these parks would not have existed yet. I devised an index for park quality based on the number and quality of amenities each park contains. Park amenity information was collected from the Portland Parks and Recreation website (“Find A Park”). Each amenity was assigned a value from 0 to 3 based on the extent to which it can provide visitors with both social opportunities and contact with nature. Amenities that provide both were given a score of 3, while amenities that did not provide either contact with nature or social benefits were given a score of 0. The scores of 1 and 2 were assigned to amenities that provide either social benefits or contact with nature based on the overall context 11
* I chose not to include designated â€œnatural areasâ€? in Portland, because these are generally undeveloped areas that may only have trails. These areas have great value for encouraging social contact and contact with nature, but if ranked on the basis of amount of amenities, they would score artificially low. Therefore, I decided to take them out. Further studies could involve creating an index for natural areas to determine their quality.
of the amenity. For example, soccer fields were given a score of 2 because they can offer opportunities for social contact in a generally grassy environment that could potentially be used in several ways. Although tennis courts also provide the possibility for similar social contact, this contact occurs within strict parameters whereas the soccer field can also be used for other activities. Potential problems with this subjective method of amenity assessment are presented in the Limitations section. Park Quality Index Score Amenity Picnic area Disabled access restroom Paths-paved Paths-unpaved Picnic tables Trail Disabled access picnic area Arboretum Trails-biking Natural area Public garden Trails-hiking Soccer field Softball field Tennis court-lighted Disabled access play area Vista point Baseball field Stage Football field Disc golf Tours-guided Track Spray feature Picnic site-reservable Volleyball court Playground Basketball court Dog off-leash area Tennis court Horseshoe pit Skate park Trails-equestrian
Score 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Bocce court Statues Public art Boat dock Boat ramp Fountain Meeting room Historical site Wedding site Museum Party room Visitor attraction Gift shop KEY: 3 2 1 0
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Amenities that provide opportunity for social contact AND contact with nature Amenities that provide opportunity for social contact OR access to nature Amenities that provide opportunity for social contact OR access to nature Amenities that provide no opportunity for social contact or contact with nature
Table 1: Park Quality Index Scoring
After ranking each amenity, totals were added for each park. The highest-ranked parks had scores of 33 and the lowest parks were ranked 0. I created four categories from this index: Excellent for parks with a score of 26-33, Good for parks with a score of 18-25, Fair for parks with a score of 9-17, and Poor for parks with a score of 0-8. I added columns to the Excel spreadsheet that list the nominal and ordinal values. Once the parks were assigned a nominal and ordinal rank, I imported the excel spreadsheet back into ESRI ArcCatalog and ArcMap where I was able to create a layer of parks that excluded all of the ones that did not fit my definition of parks. I then assigned each park quality category a different color to differentiate between Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor parks. This layer was placed on top of the demographic and income data. I then determined the park distance from Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor parks to population percentages by using the “Select by Attribute” feature in ArcMap. I selected each park group and then used the “Select by Location” feature to choose Census Block Groups that were within 400 meters of each park group. I calculated the percentages of racial groups in the block groups within 400 meters. I picked one nominal category of park quality and all of the block groups within 400m of all the parks that fit within that nominal category. I then opened the attribute table for each block group and requested the statistics for the sum of the population of all the selected block groups in 2000. I then requested the statistics for the sum of each racial category for all the selected block groups and divided the sum of each racial category by the total population of the selected block groups within 400m of a park. This gave a percentage of different races that live near different quality parks. For example, to determine if more Whites live in the vicinity of high quality parks, I first selected “Excellent” park quality from the select by attributes feature. I then opened the attribute table for park quality and elected to “Show Selected” parks. This showed a list of 10 parks that 13
were categorized as “Excellent.” I then chose “are within a distance of” and “400 meters” from the “Select by Location” feature. I then opened the attribute table for Whites and recorded the sum of the entire population of all the block groups from the column that listed the population for each of the 508 block groups in Multnomah County. I divided this number by the sum of the White population living in the 85 block groups within 400m to get a percentage (83 percent) of Whites that live in block groups within 400 meters of “Excellent” parks. I then compared this to the overall White population percentage in Multnomah County (79 percent) to determine whether Whites have disproportionate access to high quality parks. I repeated this process for each nominal category of parks as well as for each race to produce the table in the Results section. I used a similar process to determine the distance of high- and low-income residents from parks. Instead of choosing a specific race and dividing the sum by the sum of the total population, I merely looked at the statistics for Median Household Income in the attribute table and found the mean for each of the nominal park values. This gave me an average of the Median Household Income for the block groups surrounding Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor parks. I used 400 meters as a measure of accessibility based on Aultman-Hall, Roorda and Baetz’s (1997) study of accessibility. 400m is considered the maximum distance that most people will choose to walk instead of drive, if given the choice. I determined the income brackets used in the income map by using the American FactFinder Quck Tables for the United States. There were 10 income classes in 1999, and I doubled them to create five income classes. The income brackets are: $8,179-11-869, $11,87024,999, $25,000-49,000, $50,000-99,999, and $100,000-199,999. $11,869 is the federal household poverty threshold for a family of four, so all households under $11,869 are considered in poverty (Poverty Thresholds 2000). Limitations I selected the parks to be included based on the definition of “park” I provided earlier, but parks are not the only places where social activity and contact with nature takes place. Indeed, empty lots, natural areas, schoolyards, and other places may foster great amounts of social connections and contact with nature, but simply do not fit within my parameters of what I consider to be a park for the purposes of this study. The main limitation with the method for determining park distance is that I was only able to select block groups that were within 400 meters. This means that houses on the edges of block groups may actually be farther than 400m away from a park. The problem of block group distance is magnified in larger block groups that cover more distance. One particular limitation with the 400m method of park distance is apparent when analyzing the block groups within 400m of “Good” parks. The Springwater Corridor is 20 mile long trail. This trail crosses many block groups that would otherwise not be within 400m of a Good park. Thus, the amount of block groups in the Good category may be inflated by Fig 1: Springwater Corridor Trail with block groups highlighted the presence of the trail. 14
Distance itself is not a completely reliable measure of accessibility, since a multitude of factors can contribute to whether or not a park is truly accessible for any given social group or individual: personal desire to visit parks, transportation options, perceptions of safety, road connectivity and ease of pedestrian access, park amenities, and many other variables that I have not studied in this particular thesis. Park quality is also a very complex variable to measure. It is subjective, and while I may have ranked paths and picnic tables and restrooms as important indicators of park quality and statues and boat ramps as not as important, others may disagree. Since this ranking of amenities is based on online research and not field research, a better indicator of park quality would be personally assessing the quality of each park amenity and constructing an index based on observed features of parks. Also, the amount of park amenities does not necessarily correlate with a park that is well-used. There are many social variables too complex to measure using statistical measures and thus, the indicators (amenities) used to study park quality do not provide a complete picture. I also did not include park size into my index of park quality. Park size could be a limitation due to the fact that certain parks are not big enough to accommodate the same amount of amenities that larger parks are able to contain. Results The research question I sought to answer through analysis of Portlandâ€™s urban parks was: Do minorities and lowincome groups have unequal access to urban parks? I had two hypotheses: 1) If institutionalized racism is present in Portland, Whites will be more likely to live in the vicinity of high-quality parks, and 2) If institutionalized racism is present in Portland, high-income residents will be more likely to live in the vicinity of highquality parks. I produced a total of five maps: Portlandâ€™s income distribution, as well as Portlandâ€™s White population, Black population, Hispanic population, and Asian population. I mapped these demographics using U.S. Census block groups and included State, City, Race or Income, and park layers to show the relationship between demographic variables and park distribution in Portland. I have also included a Google Map of Portland that has street names and more identifying markers. This map is current and may not fully represent the geographic and development features of Portland in 2000. I purposefully left street names and Fig 2: Map of Portland in 2011 Source: Google Maps natural feature names off of my GIS maps to provide clarity to the variables I studying. Income 15
Portlandâ€™s Median Household Income table shows the statistical analysis results for Portland parks described in the Methods. This table supports my hypothesis that higher-income households live in closer to proximity to parks in Portland. Specifically, this table shows that the average median household income of block groups surrounding Excellent parks is $49,065, whereas the average median household income of block groups surrounding Poor parks is $43,035. Average Median Household Income and Park Access in Portland, Oregon Parks
Average Median Household Income* in Multnomah County
(parks=10**, pop 2000=99,861)
(pa=31, pop 2000=99,861)
(pa=60, pop 2000=99,861)
(pa=64, pop 2000=99,861)
*In U.S. Dollars, **U.S. Census Bureau 2000 Census Block Groups used were within 400m of a park
Table 2: Average Median Household Income and Park Access
The results for Good and Fair parks also follow this trend of increasing park quality coupled with increasing income. The average median household income in block groups with Good parks is $46,245, which is less than the income of block groups in the vicinity of Excellent parks, but is more than the income for block groups in the vicinity of Fair parks. The average median household income for block groups 400 meters from Fair parks is $44,524. The Income GIS map shows State, City, Income, and Park Quality layers. The Park Quality layer excludes all the parks that do not fit the definition of parks that I provide earlier in the thesis. The Income map is presented on the next page.
Fig 3: Map of Portlandâ€™s Median Household Income Distribution
Race I produced four maps that show White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian population distribution. Using the 400m method of block group analysis outlined in the Methods section, I was able to determine if certain racial groups have unequal access to high quality parks based on block group distance from parks of varying quality. The results are presented in the table below. Demographic Distribution and Park Access in Portland, Oregon
(parks=10, pop 2000= 99,861)
Good Parks (pa=31, pop 2000= 99,861)
Fair Parks (pa=60, pop 2000=99,861)
Poor Parks (pa=64, pop 2000=99,861)
Multnomah County Total Population
(pop 2000=660,486) *All numbers are percentages
Table 3: Demographic Distribution and Park Access
Whites The table above combined with the visual representation of Portlandâ€™s metropolitan area through GIS supports my hypothesis that Whites are more likely to live in vicinity of Excellent parks. Using the percentage of Whites living in Portland obtained from Census Bureau 2000 (79 percent), it is possible to compare how the overall percentage of Whites is 4 percent lower than the percentage of Whites living in the vicinity of Excellent parks. This suggests that Whites have more access to higher quality parks. 79 percent of Whites live in block groups 400m from Good parks and 79 percent also live in block groups 400m from Fair parks. These numbers show no decrease from the total population of Whites living in the Portland area. However, only 77 percent of Whites live in block groups within 400m of Poor parks, which means that Whites are slightly less likely to live in areas near Poor parks. See the map of White population distribution. Blacks Blacks comprise about 6 percent of Multnomah County in the 2000 Census. About 5 percent of Blacks live in block groups within 400 meters of Excellent parks, which indicates slightly less accessibility to Excellent parks. 6 percent of Blacks live in block groups within 400 meters of Good and Fair parks, which aligns with their overall population. However, 7 percent of 18
Blacks reside near Poor parks, which shows a 1 percent increase from their total population. See provided Black population map. Hispanics Hispanics comprise about 7.5 percent of Multnomah County in 2000. However, only about 5 percent live in block groups 400m from Excellent parks. Also, 7 percent live within the set parameters of Good and Fair parks, which is very close to their total population percentage. Interestingly, 6 percent live in block groups within 400m. This result is somewhat unexpected and will be addressed in the Discussion. Also, the highest percentages of Hispanics live on the edges of the metropolitan area, which may have historic roots based in the discussion of Hispanic development patterns that I explored in Chapter Six. See Hispanic population map. Asians Containing about 6 percent of the total population of Portland in 2000, 6 percent of Asians are also likely to live in block groups within 400m of Excellent parks. Asians are the only racial group that is as likely to live in Excellent parks as their total population suggests. Whites are more likely and Blacks and Hispanics are less likely to live in these areas. 6 percent of Asians also reside in block groups within 400m of Good and Fair parks, which also matches their total population. Yet, Asians are slightly more likely to live in block groups within 400m of Poor parks, with 7 percent residing in these areas. See provided Asian population map for reference.
Fig 4: Map of Portlandâ€™s White Population Distribution and Urban Park Access
Fig 5: Map of Portlandâ€™s Black Population Distribution and Urban Park Access
Fig 6: Map of Portlandâ€™s Hispanic Population Distribution and Urban Park Access
Fig 7: Map of Portlandâ€™s Asian Population Distribution and Access to Urban Parks.
Discussion Portland, Oregon is widely regarded as the American city at the forefront of progressive urban planning and social justice policies. Given the data presented in the Results section and Portlandâ€™s outstanding reputation, how well is Portland actually living up to its accolades? Are racialized development patterns still visible in Portlandâ€™s urban landscape? The data presented in the Results section indicates increased access for Whites and high-income residents and lower accessibility for minority and low-income residents. These results show that access to environmental amenities may not be equal for all racial and income groups, especially considering that about 80 percent of park users come from within a three block radius (Bedimo-Rung et al. 2005). Furthermore, this spatial representation of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians connects to a long history of racial development patterns in Portland. Discriminatory housing policies that relocated African Americans to the Albina district during the early and middle 20th century may have influenced the current African American population. Blacks could also still inhabit this area in greater numbers for a variety of other reasons: to maintain familial ties, because of historical associations with the area, or social connections provided by living in racially homogenous areas. Yet, it is easy to see how the historical actions taken by the Portland Realty Board that concentrated the African Fig 8: Enlarged Map of the Albina Neighborhood American population in the Albina neighborhood are still represented on the map from 2000. This spatial discrepancy would not necessarily be problematic if the same percentage of Blacks were living in block groups within 400 meters of Excellent parks, thus indicating equality. Yet, as the statistics show, this is not the case. The enlarged map on the previous page allows closer examination of the Albina neighborhood in 2000, which allows easier examination of how small these parks are in relation to block group size. While I did not specifically study the size of parks, the GIS maps I produced show that the Albina neighborhood has smaller parks and only three that were ranked as Excellent.
The current patterns of Hispanic settlement also reflect institutionalized forms of racism. Despite the lack of literature on Hispanic settlement in Portland, the sources I used emphasized the association between White racism that delegated Hispanics to field laborers and Hispanicsâ€™ outward settlement. Because of the influx of Hispanics looking for laborer jobs, Hispanics tended to settle near the edges of Portland, thus having easier access to the farms in the surrounding area. This trend is easier to see on the large map of Hispanic population in Portland provided in the Results section, but I have included a close-up of one of the areas that have an especially high Hispanic population. Even from this map, it is possible to see how racial movement in cities takes years to change, given that the highest population of Hispanics lives near the border of the city. This may have resulted in the decreased access to parks in general for Hispanics. While Hispanics constituted about 7.5 of the population in 2000, 5 percent lived in block groups 400m from Excellent parks, which shows a marked decrease in access to high quality parks. Hispanics were slightly more likely to live near parks of Good and Fair quality (7 percent), and 6 percent lived near Poor parks. All of these numbers are lower than the total Fig 9: Enlarged map of highest Hispanic Population Hispanic population, and could be explained by the fact that Hispanics tend to live on the edges of the city in larger block groups and that many Portland parks are centered in the middle of the metropolitan area. Likewise, Asians have a long history of experiencing racism that extends back to when the first Chinese immigrants began to arrive in the Pacific Northwest in the 1870s. The racist policies of the Portland Realty Board that made it unethical for real estate agents to sell property to minorities also affected the Chinese and Japanese settlers. Combined with the fear of race wars and cultural conceptions of farming, many Japanese did not settle in specific neighborhoods the way Black residents did. Like the Hispanic population, it is easier to see how scattered the Asian population is on the larger map, but I have provided a closer view of the block groups with the highest population of Asians. The enlarged image provides easier examination of the parks in this area and shows a concentration of Poor parks. There is also a grouping of two census blocks with 15â€”27.5 percent Asian population near Chinatown, which also makes sense in accordance with the history of Chinese settlement. Asian access to high quality parks is very representative of their total population in 2000. Equal representation could be due to the dispersed nature of Asian settlement in Portland. Asians represented about 6 percent of the population and 6 percent also lived within 400 m of Excellent, Good, and Fair parks. However, 7 percent of Asians lived 25
in block groups within 400m of Poor parks, which is slightly higher than their total population. The difference between all other parks and Poor parks could be accounted for by the slight concentration of Asians in East Portland. Otherwise, the fairly equal dispersal of Asians could be representative of the wide variety of occupations of Chinese and Japanese at the end of the 19th century and throughout the twentieth century. Although many Japanese were farmers in the outlying areas, they do not tend to occupy the outer edges of the city in the way that Hispanics do. This could partially be explained by looking at the history of farming in the Portland area, for Japanese were more likely to own their own farms whereas Hispanics were employed as farm workers and tended to commute from the edges of the city to the farms. Japanese would have been more likely to live on their farms, whereas Japanese who were business owners would be more likely to live in the metropolitan area. While environmental privilege concerns are more evident for Blacks and Hispanics, Asians are the only racial group that has almost equal park access compared with their total population. Fig 10: Enlarged Map of Highest Asian Population Like I mentioned above, this could be due to the diffusion of Asians across the city and because they occupied so many niches in the city. Some authors have suggested that Japanese experienced less discrimination (Stearns 1938), which could explain why they were able to successfully inhabit so many occupational positions in Portland during the twentieth century. Whites are the largest racial group in Portland (79 percent). While I have focused on minority settlement in Portland because those histories can explain racism and settlement patterns still visible today, it is imperative not to ignore the fact that Portland is overwhelmingly White. Yet, the total population of Whites is still less than the population of Whites who live within 400m of an Excellent park. There is a 4 percent increase between the total population of Whites and Whites who live near Excellent parks. This is, in fact, the largest disparity between all racial groups, and also directly supports my hypothesis that Whites are more likely to live near high quality parks. Also, despite Whites comprising 79 percent of the population, only 77 percent of Whites live within 400m of Poor parks. This gap is also the largest between population groups.
Both my hypotheses of higher White access to parks and higher-income access to parks were supported by the GIS maps and statistical data. As we have discovered, Portland is not a perfect utopia. While racist policies have been overturned, the racialized development patterns that grew in these formative years are still visible in the current cityscape, which is a testament to the longevity of environmental privilege and institutionalized racism. Portland’s development also reflects larger urban sociology themes. Portland, like any other city, is merely a geographic location that is situated at the intersection of space and settlement. I have discussed elements of Portland’s geographic space in the Pacific Northwest, and my case study of Portland focused extensively on settlement patterns of this particular geographic setting. In reflecting upon Fischer’s (1975) analysis of space and settlement patterns as indicators of social health, my case study illuminates disparities in Portland’s cityscape that result in unequal access to environmental amenities. Reduced access to amenities can greatly decrease social well-being Fig 11: Enlarged Map of Area of Highest White Population (Kuo et al 1998; Kuo 2001; Strife and Downey 2008). The incorporation of the space and settlement theory into my thesis allowed a starting point from which to operationalize indicators of well-developed space. Uncovering how Portland’s space and settlement patterns highlight common institutionalized social problems, such as racism, allows us to contextualize individual cities within other cities. Portland’s space and settlement patterns also remind us that Portland is indeed a unique city and holds a special place in the discussion of urban planning. With extremely progressive urban planning policies and boundaries that limit its outward growth, Portland is a perfect example of a city that has maintained its autonomy in the midst of pervasive urban sprawl and decentralization of many American cities. Yet, the other facet of the discussion of institutional social phenomena and individualized cities is how cities can foster and uphold widespread social institutions. I have touched on one such social institution in the Review of Literature, crime. However, the focus of this thesis is examining institutionalized, or systemic, racism. Though Portland is a wonderfully planned, green city, access to high quality parks is skewed toward Whites and upper-class groups. The results of my investigation of racial histories and urban park access in Portland shows how Portland still upholds institutionalized social phenomena, racism in this case.
CONCLUSIONS Not all parks are created equal and not all histories are equal. Using a theoretical framework of environmental privilege provides a systematic method of examining the history and racial context of settlement and park development in Portland, Oregon. As many authors have suggested, it is erroneous to only look at development history without taking into consideration the way racism and discrimination have informed the spatial complexities of cities. It is altogether too easy to overlook the subtle ways in which racism and economic discrimination have led to the status quo the way we perceive it today. These forms of racism and discrimination are subtly expressed in the places in which minorities and lower income people live today, even if active forms of discrimination are generally discouraged nowadays. My use of GIS to examine park access allowed both statistical and visual analysis of systemic racism and discrimination in a cutting-edge city. My hypotheses were supported through the construction of a park quality index and the examination of racial composition in block groups surrounding parks in Portland. Combined with the historical narratives of racialized development, a clear picture of institutionalized racism emerges. Because there has not been much research tying elements of environmental privilege, racial history and development, and GIS together in Portland, there are many possibilities for future research. Crime statistics could be included in the park quality index and spatially mapped using GIS to diversify the quality index. Field research could be conducted to determine park use patterns, which could also be added to the quality index. Furthermore, in-depth qualitative interviews of neighborhood residents could also determine the effect to which distance from parks affects health and social well-being. Also, more research of Portlandâ€™s racial history would provide many more answers to the current demographic distribution in Portland. Similarly, 2010 data would provide a much more current assessment of Portlandâ€™s development trends. In all, this study applies the less common perspective of environmental privilege to determine if Whites have easier access to high quality parks in Portland, Oregon. While it appears that the hypothesis is supported, further research will need to be conducted to determine if this is really the case. Yet, the knowledge gained by awareness of persistent, systemic forms of racism can be vital in creating policies and sustaining efforts to combat almost-imperceptible forms of racism that still exist, even in one of the most forward-thinking cities in America. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge Bill Bogard, Gilbert Mireles, and Keith Farrington, Whitman College sociology faculty, for their expertise and help in developing the theoretical framework, structure, and sociological methods of this thesis. I am especially grateful to Amy Molitor, Whitman College environmental studies faculty member, for lending her knowledge and expertise in the field of geographic information systems. Finally, many thanks to Kari Norgaard, Whitman environmental sociology faculty member and advisor, for her help in finding sources and guiding this project as well as for all her guidance throughout my undergraduate years.
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Published on May 11, 2011
Published on May 11, 2011
This is a condensed version of my Whitman College senior comprehensive thesis. It demonstrates the extent of my research and study in the en...