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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Redevelopment and the Politics of Place in Bayview-Hunters Point


Bayview-Hunters Point, a neighborhood in southeastern San Francisco, has played a central role in San Francisco’s urban growth and its tradition of progressive social movements, and it has occupied a key site within broader regional and global geographies of people and power. In the 1960s, as the area became a predominantly African-American neighborhood, dominant representations increasingly depicted Bayview-Hunters Point as separate and distinct from the rest of the city, usually articulated through cultural or racial differences. These representations emerged even as Bayview-Hunters Point residents began building strong political organizations that struggled with city agencies to improve the neighborhood. Today’s redevelopment discourse builds on these older racialized ideas of Bayview-Hunters Point through the notion that the area needs to be culturally or socially integrated with the rest of the city. This discourse affects the redevelopment process in terms of what kinds of development projects are prioritized and how they are constructed. Bringing the political history of Bayview-Hunters Point – both as a social landscape and as an idea and set of meanings – to bear on contemporary redevelopment debates supports the argument for greater justice and civic responsibility on the part of city agencies in this process.

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