San Leandro: A Case Study
"Faced with the great influx of colored population into the East Bay during the war years," as the city's newspaper put it in a frank page-one story, San Leandro residents scrambled to erect spatial barriers that would protect the "thousands of little property owners" ("all white Caucasians," according to the newspaper) from African American neighbors. The real estate industry and anxious homeowners produced a wave of racial housing restriction in San Leandro in the years immediately after the war. . . .
Between the late 1940s and the mid 1960s, two great rivers of public and private capital surged through the nation, enriching certain kinds of places, primarily suburban, and contributing to the impoverishment of others, primarily urban. San Leandro had positioned itself well in relation to these currents and stood to benefit enormously from them. The first was the extraordinary federal underwriting of private home construction through the mortgage guarantee programs of the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). . . . The second river had two forks. One was federal military contracts . . . but San Leandro and the East Bay were relatively minor recipients of this kind of largess. A second fork, however, did flow through San Leandro. This was medium- and small-scale manufacturing and distribution capital decentralizing from the nation’s older industrial heartland in the East and Midwest and seeking new, moderate-sized facilities to produce consumer products for California and West Coast markets. . . .
Having positioned itself to intercept these postwar capital flows, San Leandro enjoyed a two-decade boom envied by its East Bay civic rivals. Between 1948 and 1957 alone, the city added 15,000 industrial jobs and over $130 million in capital investment in property and facilities. Caterpillar Tractor, Chrysler and Dodge parts and assembly divisions, Frieden Calculators, General Foods, Pacific Can Co., Peterson Tractor and Equipment Co., California Packing Corporation, Kaiser-Frazer Aircraft, and Crown-Zellerbach all had new or expanded factories or processing plants in San Leandro by the end of the 1950s. In just five years, between 1951 and 1956, the city’s assessed property valuation nearly tripled, from $30 million to over $85 million. . . . The Wall Street Journal hailed San Leandro as a national model of small-scale industrial success in 1966, noting approvingly that the city “managed to get all the benefits of lavish public spending while putting a surprisingly small bite on the local taxpayers.”
Source: Self, Robert O. “California’s Industrial Garden: Post-World War II Metropolitan Development in the East Bay.” http://west.stanford.edu/events/edge_conference/papers/SELFpaper.DOC%202
1. Why do exclusionary housing policies make a house seem more valuable?
2. Explain why San Leandro residents would have been very pleased with their city in 1960.
3. What are some reasons that a company might choose to build a factory in a new city like San Leandro than in an established city like Oakland? How does that decision ultimately affect Oakland?