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Contribution to Book
Planning in the Face of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment: Latino Immigrants and Land-Use Conflict in Orange County, California
Diálogos: Placemaking in Latinos Communities (2012)
  • Stacy A Harwood, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Even after immigrants enter the U.S. they continue to negotiate the border through local policy practices. I argue that these internal and local border crossings constitute much more than local efforts to regulate immigrants. Rather, these local practices amount to a long standing effort to regulate, control and exclude those perceived as different based on race, class and citizenship. Such practices become obscured as the focus of land-use legislation no longer targets specific populations based on race or ethnicity but rather target specific practices and uses of space, in effect singling out low-income, communities of color and immigrant populations.

This chapter examines three cases of land-use controversy in Orange County, California: Anaheim, Laguna Beach, and La Habra. For each of the three cases, the following data sources were gathered and analyzed: published media sources about controversial land-use decisions; structured, open-ended interviews with planners, city council members, community leaders, and/or others close to a specific land-use issue; visual examination and comparison of controversial land uses and physical spaces; and public records, particularly staff reports, ordinances, and minutes of city council and planning commission meetings. Twenty-nine people were interviewed, including fourteen city staff in planning, code enforcement or community development, as well as prominent community leaders from local non-profits, service agencies and human relations commissions. All interviews occurred between March 2003 and March 2004.

This chapter shows how people involved draw on deeply embedded fears, concerns, and resentments about different social and cultural groups. Tensions arise as regulations perceived by their supporters as mitigating nuisances and maintaining property values meet claims of anti-immigrant sentiment, unfair treatment and discriminatory behavior. While urban planners may not be directly involved in anti-immigrant urban policy choices, anti-immigrant sentiments find their way into land-use decision making. Local land-use policy decisions intensify when residents conflate concerns about property values, safety, aesthetics and quality of life with fears and uncertainty about the community’s changing ethnic and racial makeup.

  • immigration,
  • immigrants,
  • local policy,
  • California,
  • Orange County,
  • land-use,
  • anti-immigrant
Publication Date
January 31, 2012
Michael Rios, Leonardo Vazquez
Citation Information
Stacy A Harwood. "Planning in the Face of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment: Latino Immigrants and Land-Use Conflict in Orange County, California" LondonDiálogos: Placemaking in Latinos Communities (2012)
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