Almost all research on our Communities of Interest cites infrastructure and service deficits as consistent challenges for colonias or unincorporated communities. [As Mukhija and Monkkonen wrote about the border colonias, “another key, and easily apparent, deficiency in almost all the colonias is the lack of or shortage of paved roads, sidewalks, gutters, storm drains, and streetlights.”9] Anecdotally, one can find articles about specific roads, “blighted” neighborhoods, sewage overflows, garbage collection, etc., but systematically, no data is available. We can infer trends from anecdotes, but real work needs to be done to methodically collect and synthesize conditions information.
In the absence of a lot of place-specific government data or independent research that pertained to all kinds of Communities of Interest, we began with a search of the press and other public sources of news and information. A preliminary literature review of local news papers and research focused on key social and economic challenges for the San Joaquin Valley has led to a sizeable collection of anecdotal evidence that the Communities of Interest suffer major gaps in basic infrastructure supports (e.g., water, sewage, solid waste disposal, housing, roads, and emergency response services, etc.). These are summarized in the sections that follow, beginning with a few extended quotations about three places.
“As the sun rose over the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range, the radiant light illuminated a long forgotten subdivision in southeast Porterville surrounded by decaying buildings, rotting infrastructure, and a deep-seated poverty. The subdivision, located within the Porterville Redevelopment Project Area is at the physical core and economic fringe of the city, which had become a place known for drugs, crime, and vagrants. Property values continued to plummet as the area surrounding the subdivision, which is bounded on the south by the Tule River, had become a dumping ground for refuse, drug paraphernalia, and a habitat for the homeless. 10”
“Today, halfway between Hollywood and the Golden Gate Bridge, in the shadow of America's richest farms, their tarpaper shacks rise out of fields of salt and tumbleweed. The old migrants and their children, a lost tribe of Black Okies, pass their last days in some of the worst poverty in the nation. Their broken piece of the promised land sits in exile from the rest of the state, a scattering of country churches and crooked huts that seem lifted straight out of the plantation South.11”
“The gangs and the garbage heaped in yards persist, despite a decade-long campaign by Martinez (resident) to better the neighborhood. The troublemakers are still around, as are vicious-looking dogs. 12”
“The tiny, run-down downtown Salida house Carla Morgan inherited from her mother put a roof over her head, but not much more. “We haven't had any heat for three years”… “We turn on burners on top of the stove to heat up the house.” The 1945-vintage two- bedroom, one-bath home is too dilapidated to repair, and it's considered a fire hazard.