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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Community Organizing in Los Angeles Chinatown: Historical Case Study of the Cornfields

  • Author(s): Cheng, Sophia
  • Advisor(s): Cheung, King-Kok
  • et al.

This thesis uses a case study to analyze community organizing for grassroots decision-making in urban redevelopment, with a focus on land use struggles in multi-ethnic, immigrant communities. Using historical methods, I trace the evolution of "the Cornfields," 32 acres of land located between Los Angeles Chinatown and Lincoln Heights from neglected property to state park and redevelopment centerpiece. I draw and analyze three lessons for community organizing to influence land use in Chinatown and surrounding areas. Community organizing groups should 1) ally with environmentalists to mitigate residential and commercial tenant displacement; 2) forestall misrepresentation of community interests by ethnic elites; and 3) focus on governance and implementation, not only representation.

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