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West Tampa :
b economic development and community engagement within an urban neighborhood
h [electronic resource] /
by Jenna Holzberg.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: This thesis is a critical evaluation of the methods of community engagement used by the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission during the creation and implementation of the West Tampa Economic Development Plan. Data for this research was conducted in West Tampa, a neighborhood in Tampa, Florida. In the spring of 2005, the Planning Commission began working with the residents, business and property owners in West Tampa to develop the neighborhood's economic development plan. Using the community engagement methods of surveys, mailed and posted community announcements, community meetings, focus groups and interviews, the Planning Commission created an economic development plan which reflected the needs and concerns of the residents, business and property owners and worked to limit their displacement from the redevelopment of the neighborhood.^ ^Although these methods were designed to create avenues of participation for all segments of West Tampa's population, the neighborhood's new immigrant, Spanish speaking residents and business owners were not involved in the Planning Commission's community engagement efforts. By focusing specifically in West Tampa's Latino business district, known as "Boliche Boulevard," a long-time nickname given to the area by Tampa's Cuban immigrants, data from this research identifies the reasons for this population's absence in the creation and implementation of West Tampa's economic development plan. The use of the traditional anthropological methods of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and archival research revealed the history of Boliche Blvd.'s relationship with West Tampa, the neighborhood's civic institutions and Tampa city government and how these relationships impacted the business owners' willingness and ability to participate in West Tampa's economic development plan.^ ^The Planning Commission's limited understanding of the social relationships which exist between Boliche Blvd., West Tampa and the larger City of Tampa impaired their ability to successfully reach this population with their existing community engagement methods. This research stresses the need for city-county planning agencies to critically evaluate their community engagement efforts when conducting economic development projects in diverse, multi-lingual urban neighborhoods. Community engagement must be tailored to target different language and culture groups in order to achieve successful participation from the entire neighborhood population.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 102 pages.
Adviser: Susan Greenbaum, Ph.D.
Urban planning strategies.
Small business owners.
Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission.
x Applied Anthropology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
West Tampa: Economic Development and Community Engagement Within an Urban Neighborhood by Jenna Holzberg A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Science University of South Florida Major Professor: Susan Greenbaum, Ph.D. Brent Weisman, Ph.D. Kevin Yelvington, D.Phil Date of Approval: November 14, 2006 Keywords: urban revitalizati on, urban planning strategies, Latino immigrants, small business owners, Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission Copyright 2006, Jenna Holzberg
Acknowledgements I would like to thank all who made possible the success of this thesis research. Thank you to Dr. Susan Greenbaum, my academic adviso r in the USF Department of Anthropology, for her constant advice and guidance. To my committee members, Dr. Brent Weisman and Dr. Kevin Yelvington from the USF Department of Anthropology, for their helpful critiques and suggestions during the final thesis writing process. Thank you to the USF Florida Studies Center who provided funding for this re search. To Jim Hosler a nd the Hillsborough County CityCounty Planning Commission for a llowing me the opportunity to work with them during the creation and implementation of West TampaÂ’s ec onomic development plan and providing me the support to create an applied re search project for the neighbor hood of West Tamp and their planning agency. Thank you to Ma ura Barrios who first introduced me to the beauty and history of West Tampa, her commitment and passion for he r community is an inspiration. Thank you to Gaston Riera and Irma Wilcott who welcomed me into their optometry office and introduced me to many of Boliche Blvd.Â’s Latino small business owners. Thank you to Bo liche Blvd. and all its small business owners who were willing to take the time to sit down and talk to me about their opinions and concerns for the neighborhood.
i Table of Contents List of Maps ii Abstract iii Chapter One 1 Introduction 2 Relevant Theory and Literature 6 West Tampa History (1890Â’s to today) 22 Boliche Boulevard 29 Chapter Two 31 Internship Setting and Research Methods 33 Chapter Three 40 The Planning Commission 41 The West Tampa Economic Development Plan 44 Previous Redevelopment Projects 54 Chapter Four 61 Challenges to the West Tampa Economic Development Plan 62 Alienated Population: Boliche Blvd. and its Latino business owners 64 Reasons for Non-involvement from those Outside Boliche Blvd. 70 Meeting with Boliche Blvd. and the Pl anning Commission 76 Boliche Blvd. and the West Tampa Economic Development Plan: how it got to this point 79 Chapter Five 88 Next Step: Boliche Blvd.Â’s plac e in the West Tampa Economic Development Plan 89 Recommendations 90 Conclusion 94 References Cited 98
ii List of Maps Map 1. State of Florida 20 Map 2. Tampa/Hillsborough County Metropolitan Area 21 Map 3. West Tampa Study Area Boundaries 32
iii West Tampa: Economic Development and Community Engagement Within an Urban Neighborhood Jenna Holzberg ABSTRACT This thesis is a critical evaluation of the methods of community engagement used by the Hillsborough County City-County Pla nning Commission during the creation and implementation of the West Tampa Economic De velopment Plan. Data for this research was conducted in West Tampa, a neighborhood in Tampa, Florida. In the spring of 2005, the Planning Commi ssion began working with the residents, business and property owners in West Tampa to develop the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. Using the community e ngagement methods of surveys, mailed and posted community announcements, community meetings, focus groups and interviews, the Planning Commission crea ted an economic development plan which reflected the needs and concerns of the residents, busin ess and property owners and worked to limit their displacement from the redevelo pment of the neighborhood. Although these methods were designed to create avenues of participation for all segments of West TampaÂ’s population, the neighborhoodÂ’s new im migrant, Spanish speaking residents and business owners were not involved in the Planning CommissionÂ’s community engagement efforts. By focusing specifical ly in West TampaÂ’s Latino business district, known as Â“Boliche Boulevard,Â” a long-time ni ckname given to the area by TampaÂ’s
iv Cuban immigrants, data from this research identifies the reasons for this populationÂ’s absence in the creation and implementati on of West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. The use of the traditional anthropolog ical methods of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and archival resear ch revealed the history of Boliche Blvd.Â’s relationship with West Tampa, the neighbor hoodÂ’s civic institutions and Tampa city government and how these relationships imp acted the business ownersÂ’ willingness and ability to participate in West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. The Planning CommissionÂ’s limited understanding of the so cial relationships which exist between Boliche Blvd., West Tampa and the larger C ity of Tampa impaired their ability to successfully reach this population with th eir existing community engagement methods. This research stresses the need for ci ty-county planning agen cies to critically evaluate their community engagement efforts when conducting economic development projects in diverse, multi-lingual urban neighborhoods. Community engagement must be tailored to target different language and cu lture groups in order to achieve successful participation from the entire neighborhood population.
1 CHAPTER ONE
2 Introduction For many decades, across the United Stat es, urban locations have experienced a series of outward migrations of people movi ng from the densely populated cities to the comfortable sprawl of the suburbs. Recently there has been a shif t away from suburbia back to what is being perceived as the conve nience of the urban lifes tyle. In the 1960Â’s and 70Â’s, financially mobile middle and uppe r class individuals and families left the cities; now some of their contemporary count erparts are interested in moving from the suburbs back into urban areas. In order to respond to this social and economic shift, officials and developers in many cities are in search of urban land to develop in order to accommodate this growing populationÂ’s housing a nd entertainment needs. Consequently, they have turned towards neighborhoods that for decades have been neglected economically and politically abandoned. Now they have the task of redeveloping their once successful, now Â“blighted,Â” neighborhoods in an effort to attr act the new urbanists migrating from the suburbs. The City of Tampa, located along the mi d-western Gulf coast of the state of Florida, is currently undergoing such a change Historically a work ing class, industrial area, Tampa is striving to compete with other cities for the upper-middle class professionals who frequently get drawn to other metropolitan areas, such as Miami. In an effort to attract this population, the City of Tampa is working feveri shly to develop its neighborhoods by creating lofts, condos, shoppi ng and entertainmen t districts. Any Â“blightedÂ” neighborhood which can be re-dev eloped to produce taxable property more efficiently is being marked for redevelopment, such as the cityÂ’s Channel District or Central Park Village. Another example of th is is TampaÂ’s Riverwalk Project. This
3 development will provide the City of Tampa a 2.4 mile business, residential and entertainment area along the Hillsborough Rive r, beginning in the Channel District and running north to Tampa Heights (Gedalius 2006a). Although promising to bring much needed revenue into the City of Tampa, this development has cut through residential neighborhoods, taken private property and removed residents under eminent domain. Developments, such as these in the City of Tampa, are creating areas of economic and social affluence which have effectively pus hed out lower and middle income individuals and made it virtually impossible for them to a fford to live in thes e redeveloped areas. This is a common urban development tactic wh ich has been used in the redevelopment of inner-city housing projects. Dr. Susan Gree nbaumÂ’s research of the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development program, HOPE VI, in the City of Tampa reveals how redevelopment and relocation projects place an intrinsic value on different neighborhoods and its residents, disrupt and damage the ties and social support systems Â– often necessary for survival Â– among housing project residents and drasti cally decrease the number of affordable housing units (Gr eenbaum 2002b:9-10). The HOPE VI program effectively destroys unsightly housing projects and repla ces them with low-density Â“mixed incomeÂ” housing neighborhoods. Alt hough creating an aesth etically pleasing neighborhood for middle and upper-middle clas s professionals, the program does not solve the problems of inner-city poverty, afford able housing, access to social services or access to livable-wage paying j obs. HOPE VI is yet another example of how the City of Tampa is forcibly changing its landscape in order to accommodate a higher, more Â“respectableÂ” class of urban professionals.
4 The neighborhood of West Tampa is one example of TampaÂ’s many redevelopment projects. It is conveniently located a short distance from the cityÂ’s downtown and entertainment areas, such as shopping centers and the Raymond James stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers The neighborhood is a National Historic District, with many original late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings and homes which provide the area with a quaint, vintage appeal. Once a vibrant and active neighborhood, for the past three decades West Tampa has suffered from economic and infrastructural neglect. Founded in the late nineteenth century as a cigar-making city, West Tampa was a diverse immigrant commun ity with people from Spain, Italy, Cuba and other Caribbean countries. Many of the second and the third generation Latin immigrant descendants, known as Tampeos, s till live in West Tampa today. A gateway community for new immigrants since its f ounding, West Tampa has a large population of Spanish-speaking residents and workers fr om throughout the Cari bbean, Central and South America (see sections West Tampa History and Boliche Blvd .). In early 2005, TampaÂ’s mayor, Pam Iorio requested that the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission create an economic development plan for the neighborhood of West Tampa. Intending to capitalize on the ar eaÂ’s cultural and economic potential, the West Tampa Econom ic Development Plan would promote business and property development while main taining the culture and history of the community. The neighborhood of West Tampa is conveniently located a short distance from the cityÂ’s downtown and entertainmen t areas, such as shopping centers and the BuccaneerÂ’s Stadium. Interstate 275, which ru ns the length of the City of Tampa, cuts through West Tampa allowing for easy on and off traffic when traveling through the city.
5 The neighborhood is located ju st north of downtown Tampa, making it a very convenient commute for those who work in the downtown area. The Tampa International Airport is a short ten mile drive from West Tampa wh ich makes the old cigar-city neighborhood an easy stop for tourists as well as short commute for those who work at the airport. A portion of the Hillsborough River borders the east side of the neighborhood with a large park, an ideal place to de velop recreational activities. Since the MayorÂ’s initial request, th e Planning Commission has been working with residents, businesses and property owne rs in West Tampa to create an economic development plan which represents and targets the needs and concerns of the neighborhood residents and business owners. This participatory colla boration is intended to limit the possible negative effects of displ acement resulting from the redevelopment of the area. This collaboration has come in th e form of mail-out surveys, mailed and locally posted announcements, community meetings, focus groups and resident led committees which target the different goals of the econom ic development plan. Despite these various engagement methods, West TampaÂ’s large population of Spanish speaking residents, workers and business owners had little part icipation in the creation and implementation of the development plan In a diverse community like West Tampa, it is necessary to us e various outreach methods to reach the areaÂ’s entire popul ation. However, with these methods, an understanding of the dynamics of the neighbor hoodÂ’s diverse populatio n is imperative in order to ensure complete participation. How do the new immigrants of West Tampa interact with the larger, older Tampeo community? How do these populations view their community? Do they have similar co ncerns and goals for their neighborhood?
6 What has been these populationsÂ’ historic re lationship with city-government development agencies in West Tampa and the City of Tamp a? My thesis research has examined these questions in order to underst and how the Planning Commissi on and other city planning agencies can increase community particip ation in neighborhood economic development plans. Relevant Theory and Literature Community participation and engagement The notion of community participation in urban development projects is a result of the devastating destruc tion of inner-city neighborhoods during the 1950Â’s and 1960Â’s through the federally mandated projects of ur ban renewal. Community activists fought against these urban renewal projects, que stioned how new urban development would benefit them and their neighbors and demande d their communityÂ’s involvement in such projects. The use of community participat ion in local, urban development is now a common practice however the methods of partic ipation vary in technique and success and can challenge or reinforce existing power hierarchies w ithin the neighborhood and the city. In his essay entitled Â“Culture and Ec onomic Development,Â” Conrad Phillip Kottak discusses the influence of cultur e on the success and failures of economic development projects. Although writing sp ecifically about economic development projects conducted by the World Bank in rural communities around the world, his commentary is applicable to economic devel opment projects within urban contexts. The people and communities involved in economic development projects are most likely to
7 participate, or cooperate, if the project doe s not Â“require major changes in their daily livesÂ” (Kottak 1990:724). However, in orde r to understand what a communityÂ’s Â“daily lifeÂ” entails, it is necessary to spend time there and talk with the community. Kottak chastised development experts as being more c ontent to speak Â“with officials rather than smallholdersÂ” (1990:725) and they being relu ctant to spend time in the community. Within development projects, there are three Â“levels of culture in developmentÂ” which the researcher/development expert must be aw are of: (1) the local level, which is the everyday lives of the community where the prop osed development proj ect is located; (2) the national culture, which for urban developm ent projects in the United States can be applied to the governmental cultu re of the city, such as the city-wide policies regarding property and/or business taxes and munici pal codes which can affect the proposed development project; and (3) th e culture of the planners wh ich include the organizational structure of the planning agency and how this affects the direction and implementation of a development plan. Regarding development projects in the United States, William Peterman argues that despite the fact that community pa rticipation has been used in neighborhood revitalization efforts for over twenty years, there is still a disproportionate number of neighborhoods that are failing as a result of Â‘grassrootsÂ’ part icipation efforts than those that are succeeding (Peterman 2000:3). He c ontends that those ne ighborhoods that do succeed tend to do so as a result of gentrifi cation, thus making the process of community participation obsolete because t hose who had participated are no longer able to live in the neighborhood. Peterman questions whether grassroots development efforts can
8 effectively Â“live up to the ch allenges given current social, political and environmental realitiesÂ” (2000:4). Despite these Â“realities,Â” Max KirschÂ’s res earch in the Florida Everglades reveals that grassroot communities continue to fight against these challenges. His research documents how communities in southern Florida have responded and resisted development plans initiated by outside indus tries and governmental agencies (Kirsch 2003:99-131). The Everglades Agricultural Ar ea (EAA) has profitable sugar farming and production, located within a successful real es tate and commercial development area. The EAA, once a wildlife wetland, was draine d in the 1940Â’s to produce adequate land for sugar and vegetable farming. Currently, a large number of the labor force are Mayan migrants from Guatemala. Responding to the population growth of th e state, the federal government has mandated an Everglades Restor ation Project which restores the original landscape of the wetlands while providing th e areaÂ’s growing developments with clean drinking water. These restora tion and development projects dr astically affect the workers of the sugar and vegetable farms through their displacement from jobs and housing as well as affecting the funding for agencies wh ich serve this population; thus disrupting many of the workersÂ’ support systems and a ffecting the community as a whole (Kirsch 2003:121). These development and restorative projects have been closely tied to the national, state and local politics of the area. Despite the federal requirement that all development and restorative projects in th e EAA include community-outreach programs, the politics of power and infl uence among the national, stat e and local government and private agencies have produced exclusiona ry practices which have severely limited community involvement and feedback on these projects. Kirsch states:
9 The contrast between the stated rhetoric of governmental agencies and the action they take are indicative of the cont rasts in values and viewpoints among community, environmental and governme ntal organizations Industry and government are linked in relationships of power that would, on the surface, seem to overshadow the concerns of other stakeholders (2003:120). Although development and restorative proj ects, such as those in the Florida Everglades, are presented as beneficial to the community and surrounding environment, the underlying goals of these projects are for th e capitalist profits of the developers and large industries, which greatly influence the politics behind the issue (Kirsch 2003:111114). Kirsch documents that despite thes e politics of power a nd control from the developers, industries and the national, state and local government agencies, the community-based organizations of the EAA have consistently asserted their presence and demands regarding these projects, which has he lped lead to changes in the proposed EAA development and restoration plans. His rese arch demonstrates that despite the intense political and economic influences of intern ational, national and state powers, local communities can still assert and effectivel y demand recognition of their concerns. When going up against the strength and influence of these larger hegemonic powers or the formal institutions of political, economic and social power and domination within society which the su ccess of a local comm unity and/or local organization often hinges upon its leadership. Rhonda Halperin has referred to these local leaders as Â“social banditsÂ” in her rese arch of CincinnatiÂ’s East End neighborhood and its economic development plan. Social bandits operate on the border of the neighborhood, power, ethical and class systems and work as culture brokers for their
10 community Â“with and against the cultures of power and wealthÂ” (Halperin 1999:51). Halperin discusses how the City and its gove rnment, or the Â“urban hegemonic system,Â” views working-class communities and their loca l leaders as part of the Third World; a place unknown, foreign and mysterious (Halpe rin 1999:51). Social bandits function as representatives for their comm unities, ensuring that their concerns are addressed in community and economic development projects. They must negotiate between the urban hegemonic system of the CityÂ’s endless pla nning meetings, changing of project tasks and their communityÂ’s impatient desire to see acti on and plans implemented. In an effort to get their concerns met, social bandits/com munity leaders run the risk of alienating themselves from their community through their association with outsiders in the wealth and power system while, at the same time, forcing those in power to recognize and understand the Â“strength, needs and talents of [their] communityÂ” (Halperin 1999:53). Economic and community development efforts, which focus on improving the quality-of-life in neighborhoods, often have th e negative consequence of gentrification and displacement of the original residents. R. Timothy Sieber analyzes the socio-cultural aspects of gentrification with his res earch in a New York City neighborhood by examining the ideologies of neighborhood newc omers, or urban pioneers, who actively bring about this gentrification and displacement (Sieber 1987). These newcomers, often young professionals, come into old, workingclass, underdeveloped neighborhoods with a vision of change closely tied to their middle and upper-middle class political, social and cultural values (Siebe r 1987:54). In his case-study, Sieb er discusses how the newcomers actively worked to change the neighborhoodÂ’ s working-class image according to their suburban neighborhood standards wi th a disregard to how such changes would affect the
11 original residents. Using their economic and professional influence, the newcomers advocated for neighborhood development projec ts which directly produced negative consequences for these original resident s. As a consequence of these neighborhood changes, the newcomers created a community exclusive to them and separate from the original residents of the nei ghborhood. In SieberÂ’s researc h, the old-timers of this New York City neighborhood, at times, did fi nancially benefit from these newcomer development efforts, those who owned rental pr operties were able to charge higher rents for their units; many others were able to se ll their properties at high prices due to the neighborhoodÂ’s rising real estate market (1987 :61). As the original residents slowly moved out of the neighborhood, many of the ar eaÂ’s historic commun ity centers and clubs had to close due to low enrollment and member ship. Within this case-study example, the neighborhood experienced a complete socioeconomic shift, from a working-class community of multi-generational families which had grown around the areaÂ’s now defunct industrial shipping yard, to an uppe r-middle class community of nuclear families and single professionals. SieberÂ’s research illustrates how urban revitalization and redevelopment efforts often originate from th e upper-middle class values of what makes a healthy community and the individualistic obj ectives of the newcomers. It is through these newcomers ideology of renewal and ch ange and their professional and economic strength that such community re-development efforts are successful. These successful redevelopment efforts, as defined by the ne wcomers, effectively eradicate neighborhoods of its original residents and create ex clusive neighborhoods of social and economic affluence.
12 Within the prospect of urban econom ic development, lies the inevitable consequence of resident disp lacement. Although economic deve lopment plans, like West TampaÂ’s, often include the stated goal of limiting the displacement of the original residents, by proposing reside ntial tax moritoriums or ot her tax credits to ease the financial burden on residents, the displacem ent of a neighborhoodÂ’s original residents is an unavoidable issue and concern. This i ssue of displacement can cause neighborhood residents to respond in different ways. The development, or economic Â“reinvestment,Â” of a neighborhood can be perceived as a welcomed change from many re sidents. Their own property values can increase and allow them to profit greatly from the sale of their home or business, while others can be concerned abou t their ability to affo rd to live in their neighborhood where generations of their families have been born and raised. This division among residents can be viewed as st emming from different values; defined by Paul Levy as Â“community-orientedÂ” versus Â“m arket-oriented values Â” (1980:305). This difference in values, related to the rede velopment of a neighborhood, affects residentdriven efforts to address neighborhood rei nvestment and displacement issues. This perspective on the influence of values can be viewed as simplistic because it assumes that individuals and families have the ability to ac t according to their values, without taking into consideration the economic or social issues which may prohibit them from acting according to these values. It is therefore im portant for community organizers or planning professionals, who are working with ne ighborhood residents on community redevelopment issues, to be aware of value diffe rences as well as the social, cultural and economic composition of a neighborhood, how re sidents are Â– or are not Â– associated with community and city civic inst itutions and at what point in the
13 redevelopment/reinvestment process is the neighborhood (Levy 1980:306-309). An understanding of these neighborhood dynamics will allow community organizers and planning professionals to work more su ccessfully with neighborhood residents at addressing the inevitable concerns a nd issues generated from neighborhood redevelopment. Many urban neighborhood redevelopment ef forts are often in itiated by local governmental efforts. Such is the case in West Tampa, with the Mayor of Tampa requesting the City-County Planning Commi ssion to create an economic development plan for the neighborhood. However, with this association of city-government in neighborhood redevelopment efforts, issues re lated to community pa rticipation in the local development efforts become apparent Carol MacLennan (1995) addresses these issues of institutional and ideological blocks which limit citizen participation in Â“Democratic Participation: A View from Anthropology.Â” MacLennan calls for greater anthropological understanding of the circumstances which impede citizen participation in the democratic process, whether it is in national or local elections, policy changes or economic development. Researching instit utions of power, such as local city governments, will help to understand how Â“citi zensÂ’ access to formal channels of power are controlledÂ” and if these Â“administrative ba rriers areÂ…intentional or notÂ” (MacLennan 1995:61-62). She argues that the ideology of the importance of the economic market within the U.S. value system strongly influen ces and controls how c itizens participate in the countryÂ’s democratic system. Just as Ca roline B. Brettell argued for anthropologists to understand the historical context of the urban environment (Bre ttell 2000), MacLennan
14 discusses the need to include a historical understanding of how institutional and ideological barriers have impacted individuals Â’ participation in the democratic process. Ethnography in the city Ethnographies of contemporary urban issues Â“lack explanatory analyses,Â” argues Leonard Plotnicov (1991a:103) Although many urban ethno graphies present vivid descriptions of topics in contempor ary urban development (such as poverty, homelessness, gentrification, drug use/trafficking), Plotni cov believes within these discussions are unclear conn ections among such issues which results in a lack of Â“middle-range analyses.Â” Pl otnicov stresses the need to connect these contemporary urban issues in order to illust rate the processes of urban de velopment. By combining the Â“abstract generalizationsÂ” that theory provides with ethnogra phic data and the processes which have created such contemporary urba n issues, would Â“accurately reflect the complexity of contemporary urban devel opments, yet also facilitate comparative analysisÂ” (Plotnicov 1991b:117) which will help to understand the processes which can produce urban gentrification a nd tourism along side poverty and homelessness (Plotnicov 1991a:170). Plotnicov demonstrates this with a middle-range an alysis of his research of the development and gentrification in the ci ty of Pittsburgh. He illustrates how the closing of the steel mills lead to the dec line of many working-class neighborhoods. As the city began developing its new white-col lar industries, such as information-based services, real estate and tourism, downtow n development began expanding into the old, once prosperous now impoverished, steel manufacturing neighborhoods Residents from these old neighborhoods were displaced by the new industrial-businesses emanating from the downtown and the residential deve lopment necessary for incoming urban
15 professionals. The old steel mill neighborhoods were considered ideal for development because of their proximity to PittsburghÂ’s dow ntown and their existing infrastructure of empty factories, warehouses and tenements whic h could be easily converted into pleasing lofts and businesses. Within this development are the local politi cs of creating a Â“livable city,Â” mostly constructed around the middle and upper-middle class values of the urban planners, developers and professionals, often to the detriment of services and programs for the urban poor and homeless. Local, city deve lopment is closely tied to the economic development of other cities nationally and abroad. Cities are in competition with each other to attract tourists, large businesses a nd corporations, therefore urban development and economic success are not only measured by the local business districts but also by a cityÂ’s national and in ternational relations. Economic development The term Â“economic developmentÂ” can be difficult to define because of its various meanings to the different constituenci es it affects. Traditionally, economists and city developers would use Â“economicÂ” in refe rence to Â“private, capital investment, [in the] business growth senseÂ” (R eese, et.al 2004:3). Â“Devel opmentÂ” can be termed as general economic growth and change, however this definition does not consider the concept of sustainability and the social deve lopment of community residents (Reese, et.al 2004:3). Reese and Fasenfest discuss th e methodologies of traditional economic development policies where development polic ies were defined by the identified goal of creating more jobs, which is how success of such traditional economic development polices are measured. They argue for a more critical view of economic development, one
16 which does not only measure the number of jobs created, but also insu res the stability of income growth within the population and provi de Â“increases [in th e] local control over market and government operations and incr eases [in the] economic and political empowerment of all sectors of the communityÂ” (Reese et.al 2004:4). These differences between traditional and critical economic de velopment inform how local development projects are evaluated. The mere presen ce of more jobs may determine success in traditional economic development. The eval uative perspective of critical economic development would consider the types of local jobs that have been generated. If the economic development of an area produced more part-time and low-paying jobs, then the effect will be an increase in the local popul ation of working poor (Reese et.al 2004:8) and would not contribute to the de velopment of the local populati on or their financial ability to remain in the developing neighborhood. Economic development design is heavily value laden and politi cal in terms of how development goals are delimited, implemen ted and evaluated; this is evident by whom and what in a local community is a ffected by the economic development of the area. Tao and Feiock (2004) analyze the methodologies behind tw o different economic development plans: the creation of a lo cal enterprise zone and a community redevelopment area. An Enterprise Zone (EZ) program relies on the investment of private businesses to come into the newly es tablished zone, often drawn in by enterprise zone tax credits, and which creates greater employment opportunities for the community. A Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) relie s heavily on the government to fund and implement local development projects whic h focus on local businesses as well as infrastructural development for the community. These two examples illustrate the
17 differences between private investment a nd government assistance in local economic development. Tao and FeiockÂ’s findings i ndicate that although EZ and CRA projects are methodologically different, the former being dr iven by private investment and the latter by the local city government, they often produce the similar result of lowering the number of welfare dependent residents within the re-development area (Tao and Feiock 2004:73). However, this research does not discuss how each economic development plan can affect community residents, such as whet her or not welfare recipients found full-time, sustainable employment or if they simply m oved out of the area. Nonetheless, Tao and Feiock discuss that the similar end results of these different development plans allow cities to Â“pursue their policy goals while shaping the [economic development] program design to the constraints of the local politic al environmentÂ” (Tao and Feiock 2004:75). Therefore, if a city governm ent is unable, or unwilling, to allocate city funds to neighborhood economic development projects, there are other development programs which can produce comparable results. A common characteristic of urban neighborhoods, which have been targeted for economic development, is their unequal economic balance of inflow and outflow. This concept of inflow/outflow is discussed by Jo rdan S. Yin in Â“Alternative Economic Base Study Methods for Community Economic Devel opmentÂ” (2004). Through a review of the previous research and literature, Yin illu strates of how the income produced in poor, underdeveloped neighborhoods often does not re -circulate back into the community. This situation is due primarily to the practi ce of rental payments to non-local landlords, resident and business consumer spe nding outside the neighborhood, non-resident employment at the few existing neighborhood bus inesses and resident and business credit
18 payments to financial institutions outside the neighborhood area. In order to improve a neighborhoodÂ’s unequal economic inflow/outfl ow, an economic development project must address these multiple and interconnected issues. Beyond the cr eation of greater job opportunities for local residents, a development plan must en courage the establishment of locally owned businesses and rental properties or a local bank or credit union which can provide loans for reinvestment projects with in the community. Before creating a multifaceted neighborhood economic development pl an, Yin stresses the importance of community participation in the economic deve lopment process, which will help to ensure that the plan will reflect the neighborhoodÂ’s needs and the planÂ’s acceptance and use by those within the neighborhood. He also urge d an understanding of the existing economy, how the different income generators within the area interact and how to improve those that do not. This will illustrate which comm unity institutions are to be involved and how they are to be connected in the econo mic development of the neighborhood (Yin 2004:111-112). The effects of local economic development, both positive and negative, are experienced across all socio-economic sector s within a neighborhood. The literature above offers a critical look at how and why the negative e ffects of economic development occur and what can be done to combat such effects. The discipline of anthropology offers a unique perspective into examin ing the practice of local, urban economic development in order to understand how economic social and political power structures can influence the direction of development projects. This thesis research, on West TampaÂ’s economic development plan, contribut es to this understanding by providing insight into the process of the design and implementation of an economic development
19 plan and how the economic, social and polit ical power dynamics which exist within the neighborhood of West Tampa its civic instit utions and Tampa city government can be utilized to limit the negative e ffects of neighborhood re-development.
20 Map 1: State of Florida http://www.birding.co m/images/usfl-d.gif
21 Map 2. Tampa/Hillsborough County Metropolitan Area 2005 West Tampa Economic Development Plan. Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission
22 West Tampa History (1890Â’s to today) The history of West Tampa is closely tied to it relationship with Cuba and the success and ultimate demise of the handm ade cigar manufacturing industry. The relationship between cigar making and West Ta mpa begins in Key West, Florida, during the time of CubaÂ’s Ten Year War (1868-1878). At the beginning of the Ten Years War, Cuban cigar manufacturers began moving to th e island of Key West, just ninety miles north from Cuba. Many of these cigar ma nufacturers supported CubaÂ’s independence from Spain, so their move to Florida protec ted them from persecution and allowed them to support the revolution from a distance (Greenbaum 2002a:58). By using tobacco shipped from Cuba to their factories in Key West, the cigar manufact ures were able to produce their popular Cuban cigars without payi ng the expensive United States tariffs on imported cigars; thus greatly increasing th eir profits (Greenbaum 2002a:58). In 1885, Key West cigar manufactures began moving th eir factories northwar d to the City of Tampa in an effort to escape the union stri kes and labor unrest among their cigarmakers. One of the first cigar manufactures to successf ully make the move to Tampa was Vicente Martinez Ybor. Striking a deal with seve ral other cigar manufactures and the Tampa Board of Trade, Ybor began building the ciga r manufacturing city known as Ybor City (Greenbaum 2002a:60). As the cigar making industry was beginning to boom in Tampa, a lawyer named Hugh Macfarlane moved into the city and established a law practice. With all the growth and development occu rring within Tampa, Macfarlane became interested in real es tate, noticing that land values were doubling and tripling within short periods of time (Mendez 1994:2). Wanting to take advantage of this tremendous
23 investment potential, in 1886 M acfarlane purchased 120 acres of swampland west of the Hillsborough River, on the outskirts of the C ity of Tampa. After his land purchase, Macfarlane watched as, four m iles east of his swampland, Ybor City grew and prospered from the development of new cigar factories and homes. Realizing that his acres of swampland had the potential to produce the sa me kind of economic success as Ybor City, Macfarlane quickly had his la nd surveyed and divided into the lay out of a city, with streets, public areas, indivi dual lots and industrial sites (Mendez 1994:2), and so began the city of West Tampa. Macfarlane initially attracted cigar ma nufactures from Key West by offering them new factories, free rent, buildi ng lots and generous financial incentives; such as how the Ellinger Company received sixty building lo ts and $5,000 in cash from Macfarlane in 1893 to relocate into West Tampa (Mendez 199 4:28). He funded the construction of the Fortune Street Bridge over the Hillsbor ough River (completed in 1893), which opened up West Tampa to the cigar makers living in Ybor City and connected the area with the major railroads and ports of Tampa. Recrui ting workers from Key West and neighboring Ybor City, Macfarlane attracted laborers prim arily from Cuba as we ll as Spain, Italy and other countries in the Caribb ean. Although very generous to the cigar manufactures and the infrastructural development of West Tamp a, Macfarlane did ge t returns on his city investments through the Macfarlane Investme nt Company, which cons tructed, rented and sold shotgun homes to the city Â’s thousands of cigar workers. By the late of the 1890Â’s, the City of West Tampa had within its boundari es more than 200 cigar factories and over 5,000 cigar makers (Mendez 1994:25). At a speech in 1919 at the Tampa Board of Trade, Macfarlane was quoted as stating, Â“Within twenty years, the cigar industry
24 brought an industrial army of 20,000 peopl e who earn and spend in Tampa over $12 million every year, and her growth during that period was greater than any city in the SouthÂ” (Mendez 1994:6). Within the ethnic, immigrant diversity of West Tampa is the history of racial segregation. Although Afro-Cubans and othe r Afro-Caribbean immigrants in West Tampa lived and worked with the immigrant laborers from Spain, Italy and Cuba, they still lived under the Jim Crow segregation laws of the S outh. Many African-Americans lived in the northern part of Robert City, a community which boarded West Tampa to the east, along the Hillsborough River. In the 1960Â’s, this community was completely razed from the City of TampaÂ’s Urban Renewal proj ects, displacing thousands of people. In 1941, the North Boulevard Homes housing proj ect was erected along Main Street, just east of Howard Avenue. Over the years, North Boulevard Homes has received hundreds of African American families displaced from the Urban Renewal projects of the 1960Â’s to today. The oldest public hous ing project in the city, No rth Boulevard Homes is a testament to the history of segregation of African Americans and urban development in the United States. The racial segregation of old West Tampa is still present today, with Armenia Avenue separating the African-American families to the east from the old Latin immigrant families to the west. The early years of West Tampa were marked by revolutionary and progessive leaders. The first mayor of West Tampa, Fernando Figueredo, was a prominent leader in the Cuban independence movement. He served in the Cuban rebel army against Spain during the Ten Years War and became close friends with General Antonio Maceo. Unhappy with the Pacto del Zanjn, which ende d the Ten Years War, Figueredo left for
25 the Dominican Republic to plan with othe r revolutionaries anot her upraising against Spain (Mendez 1994:122). To avoid problem s with Spain, the Dominican government asked Figueredo and his exiled compatriots to leave the country. Figueredo moved on to Key West, were he found a large Cuban popul ation which carried strong support of CubaÂ’s independence from Spain. At his home in Key West he held meetings with his Cuban revolutionary compatriots, Jos Mart, Jos Lamadrid and Jos Dolores Poyo, and where the Cuban Revolutionary Party (CRP) was formed (Mendez 1994:122). Taking a job in the OÂ’Halloran Cigar Company, Figuere do moved north to West Tampa and thus brought the CRP with him. After the star t of the revolution in February 24, 1895, Figueredo worked tirelessly by speaking publicly to the areaÂ’s cigar workers to raise money and recruit troops. West Tampa and Y bor City cigar workers, avid supports of CubaÂ’s independence, flocked to hear him sp eak and joined the ranks of the CRP to be shipped off to the shores of Cuba to fight ag ainst Spain. From his revolutionary efforts, Figueredo was a highly respected man within We st Tampa. After the city was granted a charter by the state legislature on May 18th, 1895, Figueredo campaigned for the office of mayor and won, a position which he served for two years. Several years later in 1901, the radical ci gar factory lector, Francisco Milian, was elected as West TampaÂ’s mayor. During hi s eight years as mayor, he retained his position as cigar factory lector. After one year of being in office, Milian was charged by factory owners as being a la bor agitator because he read Â“Marxist and anti-capitalist viewpointsÂ” to the cigar makers, readings which the workers themselves requested (1994:93). The factory owners, who paid Milian by collecting m oney from the cigar makers, decided to punish him by changing his method of weekly payment. This insulted
26 Milian, as well the cigar makers, who walked out of the factory on strike. Shortly thereafter, Milian was taken by Tampa police, escorted out of town, stripped and beaten, put on a steam ship to Cuba and told to neve r return. As the ship docked in Key West, Milian found help among the ar eaÂ’s cigar workers. Through th em he was able to contact the Hillsborough County sheriff who guarant eed him protection upon his return to Tampa. After his return, he retained his j ob as lector and conti nued to serve as West TampaÂ’s mayor until 1909 (1994:94). Taking inspiration from the civic and soci al organizations back home in Cuba, cigar manufacturers and laborers began organizi ng mutual aid societies for their social and medical needs. By the early 1900Â’s, mu tual aid societies served the many different ethnic groups within the cigar industry cities of West Tamp and Ybor City; such as Centro Espaol, Centro Austor iano, Crculo Cubano, LÂ’Unione Italiana and Sociedad la Unin Mart-Maceo. A modest monthly me mbership fee provided members medical benefits, supplement wages lost during illness and burial costs. Some societies were able to fund their own hospitals, such as Cent ro Austoriano and Centro Espanol, where members could have access to unlimited hea lth care (Greenbaum 2002a:155). Besides providing Â“cradle to the graveÂ” he alth care, the societies were the social centers for the cigar workers and their families. Many society buildings housed cantinas, theaters and dance halls and held weekly events for thei r members, such as Saturday night dances (Mendez 1994:164). Baseball was another popula r activity in West Tampa. Most of the large cigar factories ha d their own teams and Sunday base ball games drew crowds in the thousands from the West Tamp a and Ybor City communities. Baseball has had very strong tradition in West Tampa and the ne ighborhood has produced famous players, such
27 as Baseball Hall of Fame catcher and Chi cago White Sox manager Al Lopez, Yankees player and ex-Devil Rays manager Lou Pini ella, and St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. Cigar makers in West Tampa were very active in union organizing in the various city factories. The cigar maker unions were powerful forces for the factory owners to reckon with and strikes often shut down ciga r production for months at a time. Unions were present in West Tampa since the ciga r industry began and st rikes were a common occurrence in the cigar industry since the cityÂ’s founding. Workers have struck for hiring/firing practices (1887), mandating cigar production rules su ch as the use of scales (1889) or cigar molds (1907) and factory owne rsÂ’ immigration concerns of their workers (1910) (www.cigarsoftampa/strikes ). By the 1920Â’s the power of West TampaÂ’s unions were beginning to fade. F actory owners began to lay o ff key union organizers, which caused the cigar workers to respond by st riking. Violence and intimidation was a common practice within the city and active union members we re arrested and forcibly deported (Mendez 1994:143). Unwilling to give into the striking unionÂ’s demands, owners of some of the large factories began implementing automated cigar making machines. Thus, when the strike was over, ma ny workers had no job to return to. This switch to automation and the st ock market crash of 1929, was th e beginning of the end to the cigar making legacy of West Tampa. Despite the impending demise of the West TampaÂ’s successful cigar industry, the city wa s incorporated into Tampa on January 1, 1925. World War II took more cigar makers away from the industry to fight overseas and factories struggled to keep workers at home by offering higher wages. However, the business economy of cigar factories was ch anging. Fewer new cigar factories were
28 opening and the ones that did, closed their doors after several years. Following the war, many of the young men who returned did not go b ack to work in the cigar factories that remained, having received employable training during the war and veteran subsidies for higher education and home purchases (Gree nbaum 2002a). The final blow to the cigar industry was the United States trade emba rgo placed against Cuba, which ended the production of Cuban tobacco cigars. In the 1960Â’s, West Tampa began to change drastically. With the closing of the cigar factories, many of the neighborhoodÂ’s long-term residents began moving away to suburban areas, like Carrollwood, north of Ta mpa. As people moved out, many of the local businesses closed down leaving empty store fronts throughout the area. In 1965, Urban Renewal brought devast ating effects to neighboring Ybor City where large sections of the neighborhoodÂ’s homes, businesse s and social clubs were torn down. All that remained from this historic area was th e business district and other structures deemed historically valuable, which were later re-devel oped into an entertainment district of bars, clubs and restaurants (Greenbaum 2002a:288). Many of the displaced residents from Ybor City began moving into West Tampa. Later that same year, the housing project of North Boulevard Homes expanded, contributing fu rther to the racial segregation in the neighborhood. In the 1970Â’s, th e construction of interstate 275 cut through West Tampa, taking down homes and businesses in its path. Although the interstate did not displace as many residents as the Urban Renewal projects in Ybor City and Robert City, it did physically divide the neighborhood in two and has contributed greatly to the current development and traffic issues affecting West Tampa today.
29 Despite its losses, West Tampa still retains much its original qualities and charm. Many of the homes in the neighborhood are of original housing stock, such as the cigar makersÂ’ wood frame homes from the early 1900 Â’s to the 1940Â’s. In October of 1983, areas within West Tampa were designated as a national historic distri ct. This designation was initiated by the Tampa/Hillsborough Count y Preservation Board of Trustees (Hunt 1985:45) and brought a small victory to West TampaÂ’s community activists working to address the decline of th eir neighborhood. Although this national designation does not protect West Tampa and its buildings from de molition or infrastructural development not in keeping with the original architecture of the area, it does allow for residents and business owners within the district boundaries to qualify for tax incentiv es to help restore, preserve or maintain their buildings. The population of West Tamp a has declined since the closing of the cigar factories, but many of its current residents have lived in the neighborhood for most, if not all, of their lives These residents assert to be second or third generation West Tampans; whose families have lived and worked in West Tampa for several generations. Of a ll the change that has occurred in West Tampa since its founding, its diversity is s till present today, with 34.7 percent of the neighborhood population African American and 4 2.3 percent Latino (Hosler 2005: 19). Boliche Boulevard Fidel CastroÂ’s rise to power (1959) in Cuba signaled a new wave of Cuban immigrants and exiles into Tampa. A lthough there were well established Cuban communities in both Ybor City and West Tampa, the new Cubans did not relate well with these first and second generation Cuban immi grants. The new Cuban immigrants were
30 highly unified in their opposition to the new C uba government, this contrasted sharply to the old Cubans, many of whom supported soci alist ideals and were sympathetic to the goals of CubaÂ’s revolution (Greenbaum 2002a:277). These differences in political ideologies caused separatism between the two Cuban populations and, at times, violent confrontations. Coinciding w ith the arrival of the new C ubans was the expansion of West Tampa along Columbus Drive. The orig inal western boundary of West Tampa was Habana Avenue but, due to business a nd population growth, the neighborhood slowly grew past that boundary. West of Haba na, along Columbus Drive, a new business community was emerging with stores and re staurants opened by the new Cuban exiled population. This portion of West Tampa, along Columbus Avenue between Habana and Himes, became affectionately termed Â“Bolic he BoulevardÂ” after the popular Cuban dish boliche .1 West Tampa traditionally has been a gateway community for new immigrants, especially from Spanish-speaking countries Over time, Boliche Blvd. became an enclave for new immigrants coming into Tamp a to do their daily s hopping as well as a popular location for new immigrants to open small businesses. Today Boliche Blvd. has grown into a thriving business district compri sed of several small strip malls with many family-run businesses such as bogedas2, botnicas3, cafes, restaurants, pharmacies, bakeries and jewelry/pawn shops. Although many of the business owners along Boliche Blvd. are Cuban, the area has many Latino bus iness owners from the Caribbean, Central and South America. 1 A Cuban pot roast with a chorizo (s picy Spanish sausage) filled center. 2 Small grocery store. 3 Shop which sells herbs, charms and other religious an d spiritual items typically associated with Santera.
31 CHAPTER TWO
32 Map 3. West Tampa Study Area Boundaries 2005 West Tampa Economic Development Plan. Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission.
33 Internship Setting and Research Methods I originally learned about the West Tampa Economic Development Plan through Maura Barrios, a historian, activist and l eader in the West Tampa community. Jim Hosler, from the City-County Planning Co mmission, had been in contact with her regarding the neighborhoodÂ’s redevelopment pl an, because of the support and influence she carries within the community. She suggest ed that Hosler may be interested in my help and expertise with this project and sh e arranged for us to meet at one of the economic development planÂ’s community mee tings. Hosler agreed to create an internship for me within West TampaÂ’s de velopment plan. In August of 2005, I began assisting at the Planning Co mmissionÂ’s community meetings, performing small clerical tasks and figuring out my thesis research focu s. I chose to focus my research on how the Planning Commission can improve its engage ment methods to ensure successful participation and inclusion from all sections of West TampaÂ’s diverse population. After attending several community meetings, I became aware that few if any individuals from West TampaÂ’s recent immigrant, Span ish-speaking population were attending the community meetings. Despite the fact that Hosler, and others i nvolved in the economic development plan, frequently commented on th e unique diversity within West Tampa and how the neighborhood has been a receiving ar ea for new immigrants since its founding, there were no representatives from this new immigrant population participating in the community meetings or in the creation of the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. Looking specifically at the new immi grant Latino community in West Tampa, I began to investigate why this population was not actively part icipating in the neighborhood economic development plan and what could be done to recruit their
34 participation in this and future neighborhood development projects. Several months after I started working with the Planning Commi ssion, the Latino business owners on Boliche Blvd. contacted Jim Hosler about their conc ern as to why they had not received information about the economic development plan and expressed interest in getting involved. This opened the door for me to ga in access to this population and my research narrowed down from West TampaÂ’s recent im migrant Spanish-speaking population to the small business owners on Boliche Bl vd within this immigrant population. Research Methods I used traditional anthropological met hods to conduct my thesis research: participant observation, interv iews and archival research. Participant observation is Â“useful in identifying important behaviors, ev ents and people for fu rther investigationÂ” (Schensul et.al. 1999:97). This method was crit ical to my thesis research and allowed me to create a specific focus to the research plan. Through my attendance and participation at the economic development plan community meetings, I noticed the absence of West TampaÂ’s new immigrant residents. The We st Tampa Economic Development Plan was to be drafted through resident and busine ss owner participation at these community meetings. Using criterion sampling, Â“esta blish[ing a] criteri a for studying select individuals,Â” I began observing which population within West Tampa was underrepresented at the economic development planÂ’s community meetings (Creswell 1998:120). It became strikingly apparent that the absence of the new immigrant Spanishspeaking population at these community meetin gs meant an absence of their needs and concerns to be incorporated into the deve lopment plan. This observation led me to
35 narrow my research focus from all residents and business owners within West Tampa to the neighborhoodÂ’s population of recent immigr ant, monolingual Spanish-speakers. Through participant observation, I spent many hours at meetings related to West TampaÂ’s economic development plan in the West Tampa community, Tampa City Council and the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners. These meetings provided insight into the process of how a neighborhood economic development plan is created and implemented, as well as provide d opportunities to meet individuals, both from the community and city government, involved in West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. The community meetings offered important insi ght into the creation of the neighborhood economic development plan because it identified which individuals and organizations from West Tampa were involved in the plan, and which goals and strategies from the original plan were being targeted over others. The West Tampa meetings which I most frequently attended were the initial community meetings and the subsequent comm ittee meetings which were meant to help initiate the economic development planÂ’s implementation. In March 2005, I began attending the West Tampa community meeti ngs arranged by the Planning Commission for the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development pl an. Most meetings were held in the evenings during the week and lasted from one and one-half to three hours. There were usually around thirty to fifty people at each meeting. These meetings functioned as one of the principal methods of community enga gement used by the Planning Commission in the drafting of the WTEDP. It was at thes e meetings where Jim Hosler presented and discussed with the community possible goals and strategies for th e development plan. After the final plan was drafted, th e Planning Commission asked West Tampa
36 community members to volunteer to become part of the sub-committees within the economic development plan. These subcommittees would be involved in the implementation of the different goals and stra tegies within the WTEDP. I attended many of these sub-committee meetings, which gave insight into how th e Planning Commission maintained contact with the West Tampa community during the implementation stage of the economic development plan. Interviews were conducted with repr esentatives of local West Tampa organizations involved in the creation and implementation of the development plan, Latino small business owners along Boliche Bl vd. and individuals from Tampa city and Hillsborough County government, such as C ity Council members and employees from the Planning Commission. As a USF graduate student a nd intern with the Planning Commission, gaining access to these city and county government workers for interviews was an easy task. Many had worked with intern s from the university in the past and were very accommodating at scheduling one-on-one or telephone interviews. However, gaining access to the Boliche Blvd. business owners was more difficult. Being an outsider to this community, I had to rely on the Planning Commission to provide me with entre into Boliche Blvd. Several months after the Boliche Blvd. business owners had contacted the Planning Commi ssion to question them about the their absence in the neighborhoodÂ’s development plan, I finally se cured a contact name and phone number to one of the areaÂ’s community leaders. This community leader was the gatekeeper to Boliche Blvd., Â“an individual who is a member of or has insider status with cultural groupÂ” and was my Â“initial contactÂ” in th e area who was able to lead me to other informants (Creswell 1998:117). Through his informant referrals I utilized reputational
37 case selection, or network sampling, by using the gatekeeperÂ’s community knowledge Â“to identify suitable peopleÂ…to [include in the research] studyÂ” (S chensul1999:240). After explaining the topic of my res earch to the gatekeeper, he in troduced me to other business owners along Boliche Blvd. who would be in terested in being interviewed for my research. From interviews I was able to determine the role, or lack thereof, that each organization and individual had within West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. The interviews with Boliche Blvd.Â’s small busine ss owners revealed th e variety of issues which have limited their participation in West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. Information obtained from these interviews and those from the local organizations, illustrated the social and economic relationshi ps that exist among the different ethnic and linguistic groups within West Tampa and how these relationships influence their communication with each other and their abil ity and willingness to participate in the economic development plan. During this rese arch, there were a to tal of 14 interviews conducted: two with Planning Commission em ployees, two with Tampa City Council members, one with a West Tampa Chamber of Commerce representative, one with a West Tampa business owner outside of the Boliche Blvd. business district and eight interviews with Boliche Blvd. business owners. The majority of these interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Two intervie ws were not recorded because one of the participants did not want an audio record er used during the in terview and the other because, due to scheduling conflicts, the interview had to be conducted over the telephone. In both of these cases, notes we re taken during the in terview in lieu of recording and transcribing.
38 Archival research was conducted by re viewing local news paper articles and previous West Tampa neighborhood development plans. Newspaper articles about West Tampa and its economic development plan provided the descriptive image of West Tampa that was being marketed to the public by local media sources. This image, presented by the newspapers, helped to inform my analysis of the data. A review of previous neighborhood development plans demonstrated how community development efforts have progressed and ch anged over the past twenty-fiv e years to thirty years in West Tampa. IRB process and research ethics This thesis research was conducted acco rding to the Code of Ethics from the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology, which guided my ethical obligations to the people a nd organizations with whom I worked with in the Planning Commission and the neighborhood of West Tampa. It was necessary to obtain Institutiona l Review Board (IRB) approval prior to beginning my thesis research in West Tampa. The University of South FloridaÂ’s IRB office oversees all university rese arch which involves human subjects in order to ensure the ethical treatment of partic ipants involved in the research process. The process of receiving IRB approval consiste d of securing a faculty adviso r for the research, Dr. Susan Greenbaum from the Department of Anthr opology, completing the IRB form of initial review, which detailed how the recruitment a nd participation of th e research subjects would be managed so as to maintain pa rticipantsÂ’ anonymity, and created informed consent forms, which detailed to the part icipants why and how they were asked to participate in the research and how their a nonymity would be maintained. The informed
39 consent documents were presented to research participants before their interviews were conducted. In order to include monolingua l Spanish-speaking West Tampa business owners in the research study, the informed c onsent document was translated from English to Spanish and a bilingual English-Spanis h translator was provided during such interviews. All documents were sent to the IRB office for approval before research could begin.
40 CHAPTER THREE
41 The Planning Commission The Hillsborough County City-County Pl anning Commission is the only planning agency which serves the Hillsborough Count y area. Enacted by the Florida State Legislature, the City-County Planning Commission functi ons as a recommendation body to government organizations (Laws of Florid a, Ch. 97-351). The Pl anning CommissionÂ’s recommendations help to monitor the progress of the countyÂ’s comprehensive development plan however, the real decision making power is within the hands of the Board of County Commissione rs and TampaÂ’s City Council. Requests for economic development plans are brought to the Pla nning Commission by powerful city or county government offices; such as West TampaÂ’s economic development plan being requested by the Mayor of Tampa. Development pl ans which the Planning Commission creates must be approved by the Board of County Co mmissioners and the City Council where the development plan is located. Once approved, funding for the various projects within the plan are subject to more approvals by th e County Commissioners and City Council. Although these projects ar e part of a comprehensive ec onomic development plan, they are often approached as standalone, independent projects. City and county funding for neighborhood de velopment projects is frequently contingent on the neighborhoodÂ’s political influence, lobbying success with the commissioners and council members and at tendance at County Commission and City Council meetings. Kristina DunmanÂ’s resear ch in TampaÂ’s Southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood illustrates how residents were able to persuade City Council, through vocal attendance at meetings and influence with council members, to fund two traffic calming studies in their neighborhood within a six-month period during 2005 (Dunman N.d).
42 Council member Rose Ferlita, who was up for council re-electi on in 2006, owns a pharmacy business in the Seminole Height s neighborhood and quickly responded to the residentÂ’s requests and helped to insure the funding and execution of both traffic studies. In West Tampa, requests for a traffic calming study on Howard and Armenia Avenues had fallen on deaf ears despite the presen ce of long-term neighborhood resident, Mary Alvarez, on TampaÂ’s City Council. When this issue had been discussed at City Council and County Commission meeti ngs, there was little or no presence from West Tampa residents or business owners. Although Al varez has advocated for a neighborhood traffic calming study, the absence of a neighborhood pres ence at these meetings had been a detriment to the project; perhaps as well as Al varezÂ’s lack of politic al aggression due to her not seeking re-electio n to City Council in 2006. The Hillsborough County City-County Pl anning Commission is located in downtown Tampa. Its mission to provide a Â“v ision for improving th e quality of life of the communityÂ…its staff serve as agents within the community to promote and coordinate the involvement of all ci tizens in comprehensive planning, public participation, growth management and e nvironmental protection.Â” The Commission works to develop long-range plans involving Â“land use, z oning requests and development of regional impact (DRI) propos als, provide citizen land us e counseling and monitor and evaluate comprehensive plans and capital improvement programsÂ” (http://www.theplanningcommi ssion.org/index.htm). It has developed and implemented economic development plans throughout the Ci ty of Tampa, in the neighborhoods of Tampa Heights, Seminole Heights and Sulphur Springs. It has helped develop the city comprehensive plans of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace and the county
43 comprehensive plan of Hillsborough County. On the board of the Planning Commission are ten citizen commissioners appoint ed by the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners, Tampa City Council and th e governing bodies from Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City and Hillsborough County (Laws of Florida, Ch. 97-351). These commissioners oversee the Pl anning Commission and all pr ojects are conducted by the agencyÂ’s executive director and planning staff. Economic development plans, initiated by the Planning Commission in TampaÂ’s neighborhoods, have used the development be nefits of Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA) and tax increment finance plans. Fo r a neighborhood to be designated as a CRA, it must be labeled Â“slum and blighted.Â” Florida Statutes, Chapter 163.340, delineate the characteristics that a neighborhood must possess in order to be declared such a label. Once designated as a CRA, the Â“slum a nd blightedÂ” neighborhood qualifies for tax increment finance (TIF), which a neighborhood can utilize for no more than thirty years. A TIF allows neighborhood tax monies to be levied specifically toward redevelopment efforts, thus providing guaran teed project funds. This le vied money comes out of the neighborhood taxes which would typically go to city and county agencies. As the property values within the redeveloping ne ighborhood increase, this increase in tax revenues is not received by the city and the county. If the city council or the county commissioners do not consider a neighborhood to be Â“slum and blighted,Â” then a CRA or a TIF cannot be established, thus ensuring the city and countyÂ’s receipt of future neighborhood tax revenue dollars. In the ec onomic development plan of West Tampa, the Planning Commission did not approach Tampa City Council or the Board of County Commissioners for a CRA designation. Although West Tampa did not receive the
44 negative label of Â“slum and blight,Â” it must now appeal to the city council and county commissioners for individual development project funding, or generate the funds internally within the neighborhood. The West Tampa Economic Development Plan Goals of the economic development plan In the past ten years, outside property de velopers and real es tate investors have increased their interest in West Tampa. Th e historic nature of the community, with its towering old cigar factories, architectur ally dramatic social clubs, early 20th century wood frame houses and its convenient central lo cation close to downtown, shopping and other entertainment areas, have all made West Tampa a logical place for urban redevelopment to occur. This is evident in the other development projects which have occurred along side the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development pl an; such as the proposal to re-develop West TampaÂ’s historic Fort Homer Hesterly Armory into a farmers market, residential and entertainment area and the bi d to restore and convert the historic social club, Centro Espaol, into a social servi ce and community center. Intending to capitalize on the potential for neighbor hood redevelopment, as well as following the request from the West Tampa Community Development Corporation, the mayor of Tampa, Pam Iorio, asked th e Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission to create an economic devel opment plan for the neighborhood of West Tampa. The Planning Commission designed a pa rticipatory planning process which was intended to include West Tampa residents and business owners in the creation and implementation of the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan.
45 Working with the West Tampa Community Development Corporation, the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the West Tampa Cultural Society, the Planning Commission drew up an economic development plan for West Tampa, based largely on public input from West Tampa community me mbers. The main goals of the economic development plan are to: Increase business growth within the community. Effectively manage property development. Maintain historic structures. Maintain the availability of affordable housing. Increase business growth Many businesses within West Tampa are small, privately owned Â“mom and popÂ” stores. The steady increase in neighborhood pr operty values has had a serious effect on the livelihood of such businesses. Unlike re sidential properties, business properties do not have a 3 percent property tax increase cap per year. Therefore, if the value of a business ownerÂ’s property doubles in one year, their property taxes will double as well. This makes it difficult for many small busines ses to remain open. Rising real estate values permeate business costs fo r all kinds of small establishm ents. The fate of the West Tampa business NoHo Bistro illustrates this problem. Only about two years old, this neighborhood restaurant serves lunch and caters to the su rrounding community. As of summer 2005, their monthly rent for the 1,000 square foot establishment was $935. When their lease expired at the end of the year, their monthly rent increased to $2,000. The original owner of the property where NoHo rents purchased the building for $53,000 in 1990. In 2004, the new building owner pur chased the property for $200,000 (Thurston
46 2005). For a small restaurant like NoHo, wh ich makes roughly $85 per day during lunch and $150 per day in catering, such an increase in rental cost will make it virtually impossible to remain open. The consequence of this increase is that NoHo Bistro has been forced to relocate to a more affordable location. Effectively manage property development Residential properties have been experiencing similar difficulties. Property values have increased, making it difficult for th ose in the lower income bracket to afford to purchase a home within West Tampa. Rent al costs have also risen as a response to these property value increases. Reflecti ng the growing interest from outside property developers and real estate i nvestors, West Tampa has experi enced a steady increase in property values. This increase in property va lues can be perceived as an asset to the neighborhood because current residents can sell their property for higher values. With higher property values, new residents moving into the neighborhood will have larger incomes which new businesses in the nei ghborhood can capitalize upon and help develop existing business districts. However, this in crease in values can and has affected the community negatively. Many homeowners in We st TampaÂ’s national historic district have complained that they cannot afford the ri sing property taxes. This situation makes it difficult for many residents to afford their homes. Although residents have the option of selling their property for increa sed values, the affect is that moderate income individuals and families can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood. For a neighborhood which has historically had a high rate of home ownership for working class and moderate income families, the increased property va lues has changed the demographics of the neighborhood, created a community of economi c affluence and had displaced residents
47 who cannot afford the neighborhoodÂ’s new cost -of-living. The purpose of the economic development plan is to capitalize on the st rengths and assets in the community while working to minimize the negative effects of urban development and gentrification. Maintain historic structures The historic charac ter of West Tampa has been ci ted frequently as one of the strengths of the community. West Tampa ha s a very dynamic and rich history, which is reflected in the historic structures of the old cigar factories, st ore fronts and wood-frame Â“shotgunÂ” homes that are throughout the commun ity. Maintaining these structures for both residential and business use is important in the re-development of the community. Although maintenance is specific to historic buildings, the structur al maintenance and development of new buildings must be in keepin g with the historic nature of the buildings within the community. This is particularly relevant for the national historic district within the neighborhood. Homeowners and busine ss owners within this historic district qualify for a number of federal, state, county and city tax credits and loans to be used towards the maintenance and/or restor ation of their historic buildings. Although West Tampa has a designated natio nal historic district, there are many advocates within the neighborhood petitioning fo r the establishment of a local historic district. Unlike the national historic district, a local historic designa tion provides greater protection against the alteration or destruction of properties w ithin the historic district. However, this protection also limits the abil ity of home and business owners to make any structural changes both inside and outside their building. TampaÂ’s Architectural Review Board has very stringent building guidelines in the cityÂ’s local historic districts, such as the use of specific materials which can be very costly for moderate income families living
48 in the historic district. Although the devel opment of West Tampa is contingent on the maintenance and preservation of the neighborhoo dÂ’s historic buildings this effort is a costly financial obstacle for many residents and business owners and has been met with vocal resistance from the community. Maintain the availability of affordable housing The maintenance of affordable hous ing within West Tampa is a very important component of the re-developm ent of the neighborhood. Roughl y 25 percent of residents in West Tampa live at or below the poverty lin e. The development of West Tampa has a strong negative effect on this population becau se the increase in property values makes it virtually impossible for this population to have access to affordable housing. This is an issue that is affecting all ne ighborhoods within the City of Tampa as well as the state of Florida. The statewide increase in housing pric es has more than surpassed the increase in family income; median home prices w ithin the state between 2002 and 2005 increased by over 70 percent, while median family inco me increased a mere 1.4 percent (Gedalius 2006b). Within Tampa, the average single family home price in 2005 was $201,700 while the median income for a family of four was $54,400, causing a challenge for families with other expenses, credit card debt and student loan payments (Gedalius 2006b). One in four families in Hillsborough C ounty spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. These numbers illust rate the importance for the City of Tampa to insure affordable housing within its ne ighborhoods, especially during this period of rapid growth and development. This is a housing issue which not only affects low and moderate income residents, but families which make up to $100,000 a year. West Tampa has been experiencing this es calation of home values in recent years but individual
49 developers within the neighborhood have take n strides to ensure the availability of affordable homes. Ed Turanchik of InTown Homes is in the process of building 80 units of affordable housing within the neig hborhood. Although the InTown Homes project does not solve the problem of escalating proper ty values, it does ensure the presence of affordable housing within the neighborhood of West Tampa. Methods of Community Engagement These goals (increase business grow th within the community, effectively manage property development, maintain historic structures and maintain the availability of affordable housing) cover issues which were identified as priorities by the residents, business and property owners of West Tamp a. The Planning Comm issionÂ’s methods of involving the community in the development a nd implementation of the plan consisted of mail-out surveys, mailed and locally posted announcements, community meetings, focus groups and resident led committees. The Pl anning CommissionÂ’s initial contact with West Tampa was through the neighborhoodÂ’s civic organizations of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the West Tampa Co mmunity Development Corporation and the West Tampa Cultural Society. These organi zationsÂ’ work and connections in West Tampa helped the Planning Commission coordinate the initial outreach in the neighborhood regarding the areaÂ’s economic development plan. Surveys mailed to all West Tampa residents and business owners asked questions related to their concerns about the neighborhood, what they would like to see changed and what they considered to be the areaÂ’ strengths and weaknesses. Interviews with business owners and focus groups with West Tampa neighborhood representatives; City and County government agencies, non-prof it organizations and state and federal
50 legislative aides; West Tampa developers, architects and business owners; West Tampa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; West Tampa developers, architects and business owners; and City of Tampa staff (Consensus Builders, Inc. WTEDP Public Involvement 2005) were conducted in order to discuss these topics at greater length, with one Spanish-language focus group for the m onolingual Spanish-speaking residents in West Tampa. The results from the surveys, interviews and focus groups were then compiled and presented to the neighborhood at community meetings where people were able to vote on which concerns and goals they considered most relevant to incorporate into the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. The drafting of the economic development plan was done by Jim Hosler from the Planning Commission. Using the concerns a nd goals identified by the community and the historical and demographic research conducted by the Planning Commission staff and interns, Hosler wrote up West TampaÂ’s econom ic development plan. After a series of meetings in the community, Tampa City Council and the Board of Hillsborough County Commissioners, the plan was o fficially approved for implementation in October of 2005. To begin the implementation process, sub-committees were established which targeted the various tasks of the development plan. These sub-committees were the: Transportation and Land Use Committee Arts, Culture and Histor ic Preservation Committee Workforce, Economic and Community Development Committee. These committees were run by individuals fr om West Tampa; small business owners, residents and staff from the local civic organizations. On these committees were also key city government employees, such as the City of Tampa neighborhood liaisons and
51 community redevelopment area managers. These sub-committees, staffed with volunteers from the West Tampa neighborhood an d city staff personnel, known as the West Tampa Volunteers, have been in char ge of implementing and monitoring the goals of the West Tampa Economic Development Plan. Within each sub-committee of the economic development plan are different projects and goals to be targeted for the im plementation of the plan, some of which would be implemented and funded locally within West Tampa with the remainder to be funded and implemented by the city, county or state government. The goals of the Land Use and Transportation Committee were defined as: Use the comprehensive plan and the land development code to vigorously encourage urban redevelopment in West Tampa. ** Establish an affordable local historic district that includes cash and other incentives for compliance. ** Investigate options to limit the fina ncial burden on existing residents and businesses of increases in costs th at result from redevelopment. ** Re-examine the West Tampa Overlay District. ** Capitalize on the resources of the Hillsborough River Fund the maintenance of existing infrast ructure and public education programs designed to help preserve existing infrastructure. ** Make the Howard and Armenia [business] Corridor support the redevelopment of West Tampa. ** Complete an analysis and implement the results for improving all the business corridors identified in the West Tampa Economic Development Plan. **
52 Fund and implement a transit plan that al lows West Tampa to develop as a middensity residential and commercial alternative to Tampa Bay. (West Tampa Volunteers 2005b) (** items are projects and goals which the We st Tampa Volunteers identified as to be funded and implemented by the cit y, county or state government.) The projects and goals of the Workfo rce/Community and Economic Development Committee were defined as: Identify workforce development needs in West Tampa and work to address those needs. Establish and reinforce community a nd faith-based neighborhood development and assistance efforts. Develop a coordinated and cooperative gr ant-writing talent pool Â– improve the share of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. ** Develop and produce the entire range of marketing materials and information possible from the West Tampa Economic Development Plan and other relevant data sources. Investigate options to limit the fina ncial burden on existing businesses of increased costs that result from redevelopment. ** Work to encourage governments and institut ions to use available land to foster investment. ** Work with the City to apply to the De partment of Community Affaires for a Â“MainstreetÂ” designation for the Howard, Armenia, Main Street business core. **
53 Work with all business support groups, in cluding the Small Business Information Center, to provide assistance to ex isting and prospective West Tampa businesses.** Develop merchantÂ’s associations wher e appropriate along business corridors. Investigate the feasibility/need for a hispanice-language based merchant association in West Tampa. (West Tampa Volunteer 2005c) (** items are projects and goals which the We st Tampa Volunteers identified as to be funded and implemented by the cit y, county or state government.) The projects and goals of the Arts & Culture Committee were defined as: Work through local groups to create fre quent periodic festivals and events that market West TampaÂ’s arts, culture and sports resources. Work through the appropriate institutions to help the redevelopment of the Centro Espaol Building as a West Tampa Cultural Center. ** Work to support the redevelopment of the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory site as a wealth-creating, international center for creative industries. Encourage local groups that work to de velop and preserve West TampaÂ’s arts, cultural and sports resources. Find and develop a physical space for the di splay and discussion of West TampaÂ’s historical and emerging creative industries. ** Market West TampaÂ’s potential as a regional training center for creative industries of all types. (West Tampa Volunteer 2005a)
54 (** items are projects and goals which the We st Tampa Volunteers identified as to be funded and implemented by the cit y, county or state government.) Previous redevelopment projects The economic development plan for West Tampa is the first of its kind in the neighborhood. In previous years, West Ta mpa has experienced other redevelopment efforts which had modest successes and failures. The West Tampa Community Revitalization Planning Project (1979) was a neighborhood developmen t project initiated through the Tampa Community Design Center (TCDC), a non-profit organization of architects, planners and design professionals whose mission was to Â“upgrade the quality of the built environmentÂ” for Â“communities wh ich cannot otherwise obtain such servicesÂ” (Pardee 1981:8). At the onset of the project, research was conducted by TCDC staff and volunteers about West TampaÂ’s retail and consumer economics, social and health services, identification of arch itecturally and historically si gnificant buildi ngs and a study of commercial business facades (Pardee 1981:13). This information helped to inform the direction of development within the neighbor hoodÂ’s Community Revitalization Project. Many staff and volunteers within the TCDC were architects, which influenced this project to be focused on the physical and environmental development over the neighborhoodÂ’s social or economic developmen t. The TCDC began working with the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce in order to target the resident s and business owners within West TampaÂ’s Â“physically deteriorated area.Â” However, businesses associated with the West Tampa Chamber were not locate d within TCDCÂ’s target area, which made
55 it difficult for the TCDC to gain knowle dge and understanding of the revitalization projectÂ’s target benefici aries (Pardee 1981:29). One of the difficulties encountered by this revitalization project was how the various and different communities which existe d, and still do exist, within West Tampa do or do not work together to help implement the project. Michael Pardee describes this concept in his thesis research of West Tampa. Using Marcis Pelly EffratÂ’s five criteria to define community he states that Â“West Tamp a can be said to comprise one geographic community, five or more communities of shared values, and even larger number of independent personal support networks [and] fo ur or five communities of shared social statusÂ” (Pardee 1981:30). PardeeÂ’s Â“multidim ensional definition of communityÂ” in West Tampa lead to an understanding of the various factors which influe nce how the residents and business owners in the neighborhood Â“act together as a communityÂ” (1981:31) and influence the success or failure of a revitaliz ation project. A result of the West Tampa Community Revitalization Planning Projec t was a comprehensive final planning document which discussed the TCDCÂ’s resear ch findings and recommended development projects for the revitalization of the ne ighborhood. The inability of the TCDCÂ’s interdisciplinary team to share and unders tand the collected nei ghborhood research data and the general lack of broad-based enga gement and participation from community residents and businesses, produced a lack of coherence amon g the revitalization recommendations and did not adequately re flect the needs of the community (Pardee 1981:81-88). The collaboration between West Tampa and the TCDC continued with the establishment of the West Tampa Revitaliz ation Corporation (1980), whose mission was
56 to Â“improve service delivery in the We st Tampa community and to promote decent housing and economic developmentÂ” without re sident displacement (Hunt 1985:44). In 1983, the West Tampa Revitalization Corporat ion (WTRC) began a community exterior paint project which was intended to imp rove the physical appearance of the neighborhood, thus utilizing the similar goals of Â“physical and environmental developmentÂ” in West TampaÂ’s previous Co mmunity Revitalization Planning Project. However, unlike the previous planning project, the exterior paint project incorporated neighborhood social development by promo ting cooperation and involvement by West Tampa residents in the project through the WT RC. Difficulties encountered during this project was lack of resident involvement due to a weak pres ence of WTRC in the neighborhood (Hunt 1985:71), contentious re lationships between TCDC staff and residents (Hunt 1985:69), strained relati onships among the diffe rent neighborhood and city organizations involved in the project (Hunt 1985:70) and unilateral project decisions made by members and staff of the WTRC a nd TCDC (Hunt 1985:72). As a result of these challenges, the WTRC was only able to complete a pilot of the exterior paint project on one neighborhood block of West Tampa. Almost a decade later (1991) junior city council me mber Linda Saul-Sena came into West Tampa with an offer to assist the neighborhood in addressing the problems and concerns of residents and business owners. Pr ior to this, Saul-Sena was a member of the TCDC and involved in the West TampaÂ’s exte rior paint project. In 1991, she began by organizing a meeting with West TampaÂ’s various soci al service and religious organizations, local businesses and the Tamp a Police Department to ask how she could help work with them in th e redevelopment of the neighbor hood. Research was organized
57 and conducted by students from the University of South FloridaÂ’s business school, which was used to determine the needs of the neighborhood residents. Her redevelopment efforts achieved some success, with the estab lishment of a local bank in West Tampa to serve residents and provide start up loans for small businesses. After working for four years as the chair on these projects, Saul -Sena stepped down but there were no local residents, businesses or organizations inte rested in taking her place. Although she had worked with many people w ithin the neighborhood on coor dinating and implementing the revitalization project, no one was interested in chairing future projects. This apparent disinterest from the community could have been related to their lack of ownership of the projects; Saul-Sena was an outsi der who originally initiated the redevelopment efforts. Residents were also skeptical of involvement from city government in development projects because there had been many unreal ized promises and failed projects by local government in West Tampa in the past. Saul-Sen a stated Â“I think that people had felt that the city goes out and makes promises and doesnÂ’t really deliver. I think they see the city as more regulatory than really helpful.Â” The presence of a city council member chairing neighborhood redevelopment projects did not endear trust and participation. As discussed previously by Pardee (1981), th e issue of multiple communities in West Tampa, each with different experiences a nd opinions about their neighborhood, affected Saul-SenaÂ’s West Tampa projects. There wa s a general lack of cohesion among residents and business owners in their ability to wo rk together on the neighborhood redevelopment projects. Despite the problems with these previ ous development plans, the plans did provide a good starting point for the Pla nning Commission in their community outreach
58 and drafting of the economic development plan for West Tampa. Many of the neighborhood issues and project goals whic h were identified from the neighborhood development plans from the 1970s through the 1990s were still prev alent and important to the neighborhood of West Tampa when the Planning Commission began working there in 2005. Unlike these previous development pr ojects, the West Tampa Economic Development Plan has been more successful at accomplis hing its goals. At a City Council meeting, a member of the council congratulated Jim Hosler and the Planning Commission on West TampaÂ’s development plan stating, Â“I participat ed in previous efforts. But, but we never made the strides that you have made now. A nd I feel like, the, you know, it's all aligning and this area is getting attention and the re sources and the support that it needs. And you are weaving together those energies.Â” In co mparison to previous plans, the West Tampa Economic Development Plan has created a working alliance between community residents, business owners, local organizations and the city government to accomplish its goals and projects. Previous plans did not establish these kinds of connections. These relationships allow for greater communicat ion among the different levels of the community and the city staff involved in the plan This is important for the success of the plan because it insures that the concerns a nd goals defined by the West Tampa residents and business owners are maintained by the different levels involved. As described previously, the neighb orhood of West Tampa was founded around handmade cigar production. Its history, as a ci gar city, has been commonly marketed to the public for both tourism and historic preservation purposes and many community members involved in the plan are very remini scent and nostalgic of the West Tampa of
59 the past (such as Â“A Ride with E.J.Â” in Cigar City Magazine July/August 2006). Elderly residents involved in the plan often remini sce about the old cigar city days and their desire to have this re-developm ent plan bring back those times; one resident has reflected on the West Tampa of the past as a Â“true neighborhood.Â” This sentiment of the Â“true neighborhoodÂ” with Â“mom and pop storesÂ” where everything one need was located within walking distance, was very influe ntial in the creation of the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. The majority of the initial projects from the plan have focused on West TampaÂ’s history and past by concentrating the current business and residential re-development effort in West TampaÂ’s historic dist rict; the original cigar city area. This is also reflected in the planÂ’s goa ls to restore and adapt the old, vacant social club of Centro Espaol into a community center and encourage the establishment of small, family run stores. This vision of West Tampa being the Â“o ldÂ” Latin cigar city is not necessarily shared by all members of the neighborhood. West Tampa has a longstanding AfricanAmerican community, with residents and local business owners who have been influential community leaders during Jim Crow segregation and the Civil Rights movement in Tampa. This communityÂ’s histor ic business area of Main Street is located within the historic district of West Tampa, which will receive the in itial push of business redevelopment for the neighborhood. However, because of the historic segregation of West TampaÂ’s Latin and African-American comm unity, this vision of the Latin old cigar city does not strongly resonate with many members of West TampaÂ’s African-American residents and business owners. Consequentl y, many of the African American residents within this area of West Ta mpa are often vocal opponents to local historic preservation
60 efforts, such as the designation of a local hi storic district, because of the lack of their communityÂ’s presence in West TampaÂ’s local history. Although not a historic community, like West TampaÂ’s African Americans and Tampeos, the Latin American new immigran t community of West Tampa has had a presence in the area since the 1960Â’s. This recent immigrant population is affected by the neighborhoodÂ’s re-development plan because their businesses reside outside the communityÂ’s historic district. Consequentl y, much of the proposed projects of West TampaÂ’s economic development plan did not in clude this new immigrant business area. Although the neighborhood redevelopment ma y offer the Boliche Blvd. community benefits, such as an increase in property va lues or an increase in potential customers due to more people moving into the neighborhood, ma ny of the business owners believed that their exclusion from the redevelopment plan wo uld not offer them any benefits. The plan had been drafted without their input so thei r neighborhood concerns were not explicitly addressed.
61 CHAPTER FOUR
62 Challenges to the West Tamp a Economic Development Plan The Planning Commission was well aware of the ethnic and li nguistic diversity within West Tampa and they constructed thei r methods of community engagement so as to target the entire divers e population of the neighborhood. As Jim Hosler, team leader and research of West TampaÂ’ s economic development plan, st ated, Â“I found that itÂ’s best to use multiple meansÂ” in the methods of engaging the West Tampa community. As described previously, the Planning Commission mailed out surveys, conducted interviews, focus groups and meetings with West Tampa community members to ensure their concerns and goals for the neig hborhood were reflected in the economic development plan. Despite this variety of methods, the new immigrant Spanish-speaking population had little if any presence in the planning of the development plan. Although the Planning Commission appeared to make a conscious effort to involve the entire West Tampa community, their part icipation methods succeeded in alienating this new immigrant population. As far as I have seen, all meeting announcements posted and mailed throughout the community were written in English, with a small line at the bottom in Spanish asking them to call a phone number if they had any questions. This Englishonly method of engaging the West Tampa comm unity did not reach a large portion of the neighborhoodÂ’s Spanish-speaking population. According to U.S. Census records, 35 percent of Spanish-speaking households in West Tampa are linguistically isolated, meaning all family members speak English Â“l ess than very wellÂ” and Â“have difficulty with EnglishÂ” (2000 Census of Popula tion and Housing 2003:35). The Planning Commission did make a one time effort to r each this population when they mailed out a Spanish meeting announcement advertising a Spanish language focus group. This
63 particular focus group had a similar attendan ce rate as the other English-language focus groups, of about seven or eight residents and business owners. However, after the Spanish-language focus group, there was no follow up with those individuals who participated or future Spanish-language meetings. For the creation and implementation of West TampaÂ’s development plan, the Planning Commission worked directly with the local civic organizations the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce (WTCC), the West Ta mpa Community Development Corporation (WTCDC) and the West Tampa Cultural Societ y (WTCS). These orga nizations assisted the Planning Commission with outreach into the neighborhood in an effort to generate local participation and support. These orga nizations also provided support in the implementation of the economic development pl an, with the WTCS applying for city and county grants for neighborhood developm ent projects and the WTCDC organizing neighborhood workshops on topics related to affordable housing and job-skill training. The WTCC functioned as a li aison for the Planning Commission to the areaÂ’s local businesses. In many cases the Chamber repr esented the local businesses and spoke on their behalf during community and sub-co mmittee meetings. However, the WTCCÂ’s association with the Boliche Blvd. businesse s was minimal at best. This lack of association can be related to the limited communication and understand which exists between Â“oldÂ” West Tampa (the historic area ) and Â“newÂ” West Tampa (Boliche Blvd). As one Tampeo had commented during an in terview, Boliche Blvd. Â“seems to be a community in its own,Â” another Tampao comm ented during an interview that Â“for the older generation of immigrant residents, Bo liche Blvd. is the new West Tampa and we [Tampaos] donÂ’t know much about them.Â” This sentiment of differentiation and
64 exclusion affects the businesses on Boliche Bl vd. because the civic institutions in West Tampa have not made an effort to target or recruit members from this new immigrant business community. Without representation from the local civic institutions involved in the creation and implementation of the econom ic development plan, the Boliche Blvd. businesses had limited knowledge of the pl an and were exclude from the proposed benefits of West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. Alienated population: Boliche Boule vard and its Latino business owners History of Boliche Boulevard: th e gateway community in West Tampa The area of Boliche Blvd. is much younger than historic West Tampa. In the 1940Â’s, Columbus Avenue (previously know n as Michigan Avenue) was extended beyond MacDill; the former offici al western edge of West Tampa. Stretching beyond this original boundary, the pa ved road of Columbus Ave nue developed into West TampaÂ’s second economic center; second to the Howard/Armenia and Main Street business district. Businesses expanded slowl y, lining the street and were soon replaced with small, one and two story strip malls wh ich contained various small businesses. In the early 1960Â’s, many Cuban asylum seeker s and refugees came into Florida leaving CastroÂ’s dictatorship. West Tampa, and particularly Boliche Blvd., became an area where many of these Cubans settled. As described previously, th e older area of West Tampa contained many first and second generation Cuban immigrant families. Although from the same country, the older generation immigrant families did not have the same political, social and economic experiences as the recent immigrants who left Cuba under CastroÂ’s dictatorship. Consequently, as these recent immigrants began living and
65 working in the Â“newÂ” West Tampa, the area bega n to develop into a hotbed of anti-Castro sentiment. Some of these newly arrived Cubans began opening businesses, such as restaurants and bodegas, which catered to th e new Cuban population. La Teresita, one of TampaÂ’s most famous restaurants, was founded during this time and is still serving some of the cityÂ’s best Cuban food today. Shortly after the rush of Cuban arrivals in the 1960Â’s, Columbian immigrants began coming in to West Tampa and were drawn to the Latino businesses along Boliche Blvd. At this point in time, Boliche Blvd. had established itself as a strong Latino business district and has, over the years, attracted immigrants from all over Latin America to shop and open new businesses. The area has frequently been compared to MiamiÂ’s famous Calle Ocho in Little Habana, a place where you can buy whatever you need and never hear a word of English. A Columbian-born Boliche Blvd. business owne r described the area as: To me I think this [Boliche Blvd.] is like Calle Ocho in Miami. Calle Ocho have the more Hispanic speaking businesses thereÂ…If you walk along this Boliche Blvd. you are going to find everything you want. You are going to find wireless phones, La Teresita which is a supermar ket Â… that sells the food that every different ethnic group eatsÂ…You are going to find insurances, you just name it, lawyer, bakeries, banks, everything. Description of Boliche Boulevard today Today the area of Boliche Blvd. is comprise d of several small strip malls with a total of about 60 businesses. There are re staurants, bodegas, pawn/jewelry shops, party stores, botnicas, travel agencies, cafs, clot hing stores, bakeries, pharmacies and a small cigar factory and store. A lthough this area is considered the Â“newÂ” West Tampa, its
66 business owners have many of the same concerns as the rest of the Â“oldÂ” West Tampa community. The roads and sidewalks are badl y in need of re-paving and store fronts have broken or missing business signs. There is a perceived high crime rate in the area and poor night lighting in the streets compounds the residentsÂ’ and business ownersÂ’ fear of crime, causing many of the business owners interviewed to state that the area needs more street lighting and better police securi ty; with one business owner describing how robberies in the area happen Â“at the end of the day when the shops are empty.Â” Business owners on Boliche Blvd. frequently mentioned the need to beautify the area because it is located very close to the Raymond James Stad ium, the airport and large shopping malls. One business owner stated, during an intervie w, that for Boliche Blvd. being Â“a central place in West Tampa, and a main artery to go to places like the stadium and other places, people are not giving it the importance that it de serves.Â” This is echoed in the sentiment of another business owner, Â“Boliche Blvd is close to very impor tant places, like the Buccaneers Stadium. So there are many pe ople going through the area but need higher class businesses to attract more people...for ex ample, if you want to go to a nice place to eat, you have to go outside the area.Â” Tra ffic frequently speeds through Columbus Avenue, making it dangerous for pedestrian s shopping and doing busin ess in the area. Interestingly, these concerns from Boliche Blvd. are the same concerns of business owners and residents in Â“oldÂ” West Tampa alon g the historic business district of Howard, Armenia and Main Street. Although Â“oldÂ” and Â“newÂ” West Tampa are considered two separate and distinct communities, they are afflicted by the same problems and their residents and business owners have similar c oncerns. Despite these similar problems and concerns, these two areas have had a histor y of disassociation which has marginalized
67 Boliche BlvdÂ’s involvement, influence and benefit from West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. Differences between Boliche Blvd. and West Tampa: language, location and connection to local history Over the years, as new immigrants be gan coming into Boliche Blvd. to open businesses, the areaÂ’s Cuban business owne rs from the 1960Â’s provided assistance to these new immigrants in establishing small businesses, helping them secure retail locations on the boulevard and negotiate business licenses wi th the city. This support among the business owners still exists today w ith many of the older, established business owners providing Spanish/Eng lish translation with landlo rds and for other issues. Although often argued within th e City of Tampa that there are no language barriers, due to the bilingual staff within all sections of city government, there is still a noticeable language difference between Boliche Blvd. and the rest of West Tampa. It has often been described that someone can walk through Boliche Blvd. and never hear a word of English. Spanish is the language of this area and consequently many of the business owners and their employees do not speak English. Although there are many bilingual services offered within the City of Tampa, the business ownersÂ’ and residentsÂ’ monolingual Spanish becomes an issue when virtually all community meetings and communications regarding the areaÂ’s econom ic development plan are in English. Boliche Blvd. is located outside the national historic district of West Tampa. In order for an area to be considered a national historic district, 75 percent of the areaÂ’s original housing stock must st ill be standing and that housing stock must be over 50 years old. Because of Boliche Blvd.Â’s young history, it does not qualify for a historic district
68 status. The neighborhoodÂ’s othe r business district, the Howard /Armenia and Main Street corridor, is located within this national hist oric district. Consequently, much of the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan is in the historic area, specifically along this old business corridor. The fact that Boliche Blvd. is located outside the national historic district boundaries is not the reason why there has been a gene ral exclusion of this area. Rather, it is the fact that the historic Â“old Â” West Tampa area and its business district are well integrated into many of the established local institutions, such as the West Tampa Community Development Corporation and th e West Tampa Chamber of Commerce. These local civic institutions have served West Tampa for roughly 20 years and came about during much of the or iginal community development efforts during the 1970Â’s and 1980Â’s and during the establishment of the natio nal historic district Since these local institutions have been around, ther e has been little effort made to reach out to the Boliche Blvd. business area. A representative from the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, during an interview, reflected upon the sma ll businesses on Boliche Blvd. as businesses which cannot afford or do not have the interest in joining the Chamber, Now as you go down the street, you see thes e small businesses. Some of them, youÂ’re experiencing a scenario at a privat e residences where they donÂ’t talk to you. In some cases, I look at the bu siness and our yearly dues are a $150 a yearÂ…There are many [businesses] that I pass because I donÂ’t know if they would qualify, which is in a sense my fault, maybe I should stop. But hey, I could be going all dayÂ…
69 A consequence of this is that the bus iness owners on Boliche Blvd. do not have representation within these established local in stitutions, which have played pivotal roles in the creation and implementation of We st TampaÂ’s economic development plan. A large portion of the West Tampa Economic Development Plan is devoted to the recognition and preservation of the neighbor hoodÂ’s history. One of the three subcommittees for the plan is focused exclusively on this topic Â– the Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation Committee. Much of West TampaÂ’s do cumented history is related to cigar manufacturing and the neighborhoodÂ’s La tin immigrant roots. Residents of West Tampa have worked hard to document a nd preserve their ne ighborhoodÂ’s history in books, documentaries and websites. As descri bed previously, many of the first, second and third generation residents in West Tamp a often speak with nostalgia about the old days of West Tampa. It is this concept of community which is dr iving the direction of West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. Th is strong connection wi th the past and the importance it plays in the future direction of West Tampa does not resonate with many people along Boliche Blvd. An obvious reason fo r this is the fact that many of these business owners do not have the same historic al ties that the generational residents of West Tampa have with the neighborhood. A lthough many, if not all, business owners along Boliche Blvd. want to see positive development and change brought to their neighborhood, this vision of development is not based within the discourse of West TampaÂ’s past. Many of these business owne rs have mentioned that Boliche Blvd. has historically been neglected and in need of in frastructural development, their experience of Â“the pastÂ” is not an image which should set the standard for the future.
70 Reasons for Non-involvement from those outside Boliche Blvd. In the fall of 2005, six months after the Planning Commission came into West Tampa, the economic development plan, they received news that a group of business owners on Columbus Avenue felt that they ha d been excluded from the development that was beginning to take place in their nei ghborhood. At this point, West TampaÂ’s economic development plan had been fully drafted, about to be approved by TampaÂ’s City Council and the sub-committees were begi nning to be assigned to the planÂ’s various tasks and goals. When the Planning Comm ission received the message about these business owners, they scheduled a commun ity meeting in October of 2005 for the business owners to discuss the plan, answer their questions and try to get them involved in the implementation of the planÂ’s goals. Although the Planni ng Commission responded to this populationÂ’s concerns by holdi ng a community meeting, the outcome was unsuccessful in soliciting participation from the Boliche Blvd. business owners in the neighborhood economic development plan. The Planning Commission facilitated thei r community outreach through a variety of methods but despite these various met hods there has been very little, if any involvement from the Boliche Blvd. business owne rs. It has been asserted repeatedly by the Planning Commission and the local civic institutions involved in the plan that there has always been communication with th is population regardi ng the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan but they have chos en not to participate for one reason or the other. Those outside the Boliche Blvd. ar ea, such as the Planning Commission and the local neighborhood civic institut ions, have offered various reasons for this populationÂ’s lack of involvement.
71 Language Within the government offices of the City of Tampa, it has been argued that there are no language barriers for city residents to get involved in neighborhood projects. One city council member discussed how there ar e many Spanish speakers in all parts of the city government and monolingua l Spanish speakers can and should come out to city government meetings and speak up. Alt hough there are many bi-lingual Spanish speakers working within Tamp aÂ’s city government, all public city government meetings are conducted in English, ma king it difficult for Spanish-sp eaking city residents to understand and participate in the meetings publ ic comment. This exclusive English only method of conducting meetings was also prac ticed during the community meetings for West TampaÂ’s economic development plan, which distanced the already strained interactions and relations between Boliche Blvd. and the rest of West Tampa. The Planning Commission and others recognize that the monolingua l Spanish of many of the business owners was an obstacle in engaging pa rticipation. Despite this recognition of a potential language barrier, very little was done on their part to address the barrier. Only one Spanish-speaking focus group meeting was held for West TampaÂ’s Spanish-speaking population and no follow up was done with thos e participants to ensure that their comments and concerns were adequately incorp orated into the plan. This is unlike the English-speaking focus groups and meetings, where residents and business owners could continually participate and attend meetings in order to stay informed about the progress of the plan and provide feedback on the pl anÂ’s development. This limited, one-time offering of a Spanish-speaking meeting helped to ensure the non-part icipating from West TampaÂ’s Spanish-speaking community.
72 From home countries with pol itically repressive regimes Planning Commission representatives and others involved in West TampaÂ’s economic development plan, it has been a lluded that many of Boliche Blvd. business owners come from countries with political ly repressive regimes and that these experiences from their home countries have tainted their perception of government involvement in community development project s. During a conversation with a Planning Commission representative working in West Tampa, he mentioned that some of the Boliche Blvd. business owners come from countries where being involved with government is Â“not considered to be a good thingÂ” due to the hi story of political repression in these countries. A lawyer i nvolved in the neighbor hoodÂ’s development plan during an interview commented that many of these business owners Â“come from countries where the government isnÂ’t always your friend and isnÂ’t always responsive to you Â– in fact brings you trouble.Â” This reas oning is interesting because it illustrates an overall lack of knowledge about the business owners on Bolich e Blvd. It is correct that some of these business owners come from countries where association with government can be dangerous, such as Cuba, Colombia or even Mexico. However there are also business owners from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, countries which do no qualify as being politically dangerous or repr essive, although it can be argued that the United StatesÂ’ territorial hold of Puerto Rico is itself politically re pressive. It has also been postulated from the Planning Commission th at the practice of citizen involvement in local development in these business ownersÂ’ home countri es is not practiced. The Planning CommissionÂ’s team lead er for West TampaÂ’s economic development plan, has stated during an interview:
73 I donÂ’t know where those busines ses come from, their countri es. If the concept of planning, if the concept of where you can sit down as a community and work through a process in a public forum wh ere everybody is inclusive and come up with ideas and present it to government and the governme nt reacts, which is what happens here. I donÂ’t think a lot of th em come from countries where that happens. Regardless of the business ownersÂ’ country of origin, many of them have had years of experience living, working and owning businesses in the United States. Some of these business owners have been on Boliche Blv d. for as little as two years, while others have been there for as many thirty years. Those who have been on Boliche for only a few years have owned other businesses for as long as twenty years in other cities in the United States before moving to the area. It is through this expe rience, as a business owner in the United States, which has influen ced their desire or lack thereof to participate in community development e fforts with Tampa city government. Many business owners have complained about th e general neglect and history of broken promises they believe their neighborhood has experienced from Tampa city government. It has been through this experience as a bus iness owner in Tampa and their frustration working with the cityÂ’s government which has influenced their desire to participate in West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. Maintain Â“comfyÂ” envir onment of home country Boliche Blvd. has been repeatedly de scribed as the TampaÂ’s equivalent of MiamiÂ’s Calle Ocho and an area which caters to TampaÂ’s Latino population. Because of this, it has been contended that the busine ss owners on Boliche Blvd. do not want to get
74 involved in the re-development of the area because they want to maintain its appeal to the areaÂ’s Latino population. During an inte rview, the same Planning Commission team leader stated: The people on Boliche Blvd. today are simp ly filling a niche that someone else filled the last generation and someone else will fill the next generation. Hopefully, there will always be a place for Boliche Blvd in West Tampa because it houses the niche of first generation restaurants, clothing stores music stores, etc. that serve the new immigrant populationÂ…it isn't a problem that they are distant, it just is because it is necessary for them to keep the distance in order to make their clientele feel comfy. Some of the businesses on Boliche do cater specifically to Latinos, such as La TeresitaÂ’s bodega which has gr ocery and toiletry products fr om all over Latin America. However, there are many businesses which do not, such as the restaurants, bakeries, cafes, banks, an optometry office and cigar shop. The cigar shop owner described his clientele as Â“95 percent of my business [is] not with Hispanics,Â” the optometry office has a bilingual staff which serves both Latino a nd non-Latino clients and one of the local Cuban restaurants is a favorite lunch spot for a diversity of people. To offer this assumption that business owners do not want to be involved in the possible development of the area in order to maintain its rustic, Â“ homeyÂ” feel is racist in its assumption that Latino business owners and customers would prefer to have a run-down, aging business district because this environment apparently reminds them nostalgically of home. On the contrary, all business owners in terviewed repeatedly stated that they want and need the area re-developed. As one business owner descri bed to me, Boliche Blvd. is an area that
75 has been forgotten; it is like development has stopped. Another business owner offered a similar description of the ar ea as Â“West Tampa is a place that was forgotten. Even thought itÂ’s important, people are not paying enough attenti on to it. It just needs revitalization.Â” Skepticism Since the late 1970Â’s, West Tampa has experienced various community development projects; all of which had simila r and rarely realized goals. Tampa city council member, Linda Saul-Sena, recalled how her work in West Tampa during the 1980Â’s was received with reluctance and skepti cism from many of the residents, she believed that, Â“the people in West Tampa had been disappointed by government so many times in the past, they were deeply skeptic al of what I [a city council member] would do.Â” After many years of failed promises fr om city government officials, many West Tampa residents at first did not believe her participation in their neighborhood was genuine. This skepticism of city governme ntÂ’s honest cooperation, which plagued much of West TampaÂ’s early community developmen t projects, is present within the Boliche Blvd. business community. This city council member has described how over the past ten years, TampaÂ’s city government has worked hard to enforce its building and business codes and new business licenses. Whereas in previous years this city council member described business licensing and code enfo rcement as Â“always kind of a good olÂ’ boy, slap on the back, Â‘Oh thatÂ’s just fine!Â’ And now we [city government] are seriousÂ…And some of the, particularly older folk, are ju st aghast that we are actually making them do this stuff.Â” TampaÂ’s city government is getting more serious with TampaÂ’s small businesses, which is reflected in the comp laints by many of Boliche Blvd.Â’s business
76 owners about increases in various business co de violations. This heightened negative presence of city government workers within the Boliche Blvd. area has, what some believe, produced a distrustful and resentful feeling by the businesses owners to the city government. Meeting with Boliche Blvd. and the Planning Commission In October of 2005, the West Tampa Ch amber of Commerce was approached by two lawyers from Boliche Blvd. stating that the business owners from that area were concerned that they had not been notified or involved in the economic development plan for West Tampa. A representative from th e West Tampa Chamber of Commerce spoke with the Planning Commission and immediatel y arranged a community meeting for the Boliche Blvd. business owners with various city employ ees, such as city council members, city neighborhood lia isons and West TampaÂ’s loca l police representatives. A few weeks earlier, Gaston Riera, co-owner of IrmaÂ’s Optical, had read a newspaper article and learned of the proposed economic development plan of West Tampa for the first time. Having worked in the same business on Boliche Blvd. for over 15 years and having provided assistance to many other sma ll businesses in the area during that time, Riera was very concerned that Boliche Blvd. w ould be neglected in the final design of the economic development plan. He spoke to business owners along Bo liche and sent out letters announcing the upcoming community me eting with the Pla nning Commission. On the night of the meeting, 20 to 30 Boliche Blvd. business owners showed up at La Teresita Restaurant to voice their concer ns about their secti on of West Tampa.
77 At the meeting, the Planning Commission representatives discussed the proposed economic development plan and highlighted it s different projects and goals, what had been addressed and what had yet to be co mpleted. The business owners raised their concerns regarding the numerous code violations and subsequent fines they had received from the city. They were also concerned a bout the appearance of th e street and sidewalks and asked if and how the City of Tampa c ould address its deteriorating appearance. Leading the small business owners, Riera propos ed the possibility of establishing a West Tampa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce whic h would serve the Boliche Blvd. business owners. The West Tampa Chamber of Commer ce pushed for the business owners to join the Chamber, whether individually or as a la rge group. At the close of the meeting, many people from the Planning Comm ission and the City seemed satisfied and believed that they had opened the door for the Boliche Blvd. business owners to ac tively participate in West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. However, the same feeling about the meeting was not shared among the small business owners. Despite the apparent success of this meeting, many of the business owners who attended walked away very dissatisfied and frustrated. One business owner described to me his disappoint about the lack of any real outcome from the mee ting by stating how the one thing that he expect to happen was that future meetings would become more constant and regular, but apparently people have just forgotten about having more. He said that despite this meeting there was no follo w through of action. Although the Planning Commission did an excellent j ob at describing the areaÂ’s economic development plan, it was clear to the business owners that most if not all, of the described community development projects were being focused outside Boliche Blvd. If the plan was already
78 drafted, ready to be implemented and there wa s virtually no presence of Boliche Blvd. in the plan, why would the business owners want to participate? As one business owner said to me: DonÂ’t tell me to go to a meeting to let me know okay, this is what we got for the people is over there [old West Tamp a]Â…It is like you making a party and you telling me that we are going to have this and that and you arenÂ’t going to be invited. Why the heck are you going to be talking to me about something that I am not going to be part of? Since that meeting, there was little action taken by both the Planning Commission and the Boliche Blvd. business owners to get involved in West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. The Planning Commission c ontinued to send out mailings and emails about upcoming community meetings and s ub-committee events however no one from the Boliche Blvd. area attended. For many of th e business owners, they were waiting to hear from Riera as to what will happen ne xt, such as whether or not they will start a separate Latino arm of the West Tamp a Chamber of Commerce. The Planning Commission believed that they had opened the lines of communication for Boliche Blvd. to be involved, however Jim Hosler, the Co mmission representative who worked on West TampaÂ’s economic development plan commented to me in an email: At some point in time during the public involvement process, one needs to ask Â– Â“How many times do I have to ask these people to get i nvolved? Why is it that they don't want to get involved? Is it me, or is it them, both?Â”Â…How much time do I take from the people who want to help in order to engage those that may be
79 hanging back due to something as simple as grease traps in their restaurants that are out of code? Boliche Blvd. and the West Tampa Economic Development Plan: how it got to this point Despite the apparent attempts by the Pl anning Commission to put out their best efforts to involve all parts of the West Ta mpa community, there was an obvious lack of participation from the Latino community in the neighborhood. Even after the meeting at La Teresita with the Latino business owners on Boliche Bl vd., the Planning Commission and the West Tampa Volunteers were still unabl e to get this group of people to join into the implementation process of the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. Why, despite these attempts, were the Boliche Blvd. business owners reluctant, and some even unwilling, to participate in this economic deve lopment plan? For many of these business owners, it seems that their relationship and experience with Tampa city government and the local politics of West Tamp a had greatly influenced their decisions to not participate. City government and discrimination For many of the business owners, their skepticism about getting involved with Tampa city government has largely to do with their own personal e xperiences with the City. Many of the business owne rs discussed their confusion as to why this area of West Tampa has been neglected for so long. As one business owner commented Â“that for [Boliche Blvd.] being a central place in West Tampa, and a main artery to go to places like the stadium and other places, people are not giving it the importance that it deservesÂ…this area is forgotte n. It is like development has stopped. This piece is just
80 forgotten.Â” According to the business owners there has been very little, if any, work done by the city to address the various issues and concerns th ey have for the area; namely traffic, poorly paved and lit streets and unappea ling building facades. In regards to this issue of city government neglect, several business owners spoke specifically about the discrimination that they believe exists in Tampa city government. One business owner stated that the cityÂ’s govern ment views Â“we Hispanics, we [are] worth the penny. Even though we pay good taxes, but we are not consider ed in the privileged historic districtÂ… And that is why I say we are the bastards here We are the child ba stards in a big rich family where only the rich people, our rich br others on the other side [benefit].Â” Another business owner expressed his frustration with the lack of devel opment on Boliche Blvd. by discussing the business ownerÂ’s city tax payments. Â“You see, we the Spanish, we pay taxes, same with everybody else. And we ha ve the right... But many people believe we are indigentÂ…But you see, I believe our people deserve something bette r.Â” This issue of discrimination is a difficult topic to explore be cause it is not overtly practiced within the halls of Tampa city government. However it is a very real concer n and reason that many of Boliche Blvd.Â’s business owners use to e xplain the areaÂ’s lack of development. However, the previous quote from a re presentative from the Planning Commission explaining the business ownersÂ’ non-partici pation as a method to maintain the undeveloped quality of the neighborhood Â“to make their clientele feel comfyÂ” contains the racist assumption that all of Latin Amer ica and the Caribbean is infrastructurally underdeveloped and people from these countries prefer this look. It is this assumption which has helped guide the Pl anning Commission in its lack of engagement with West TampaÂ’s Spanish speaking population.
81 City government and broken promises Along with this issue of overall neglect by city government, many of the business owners along Boliche Blvd. have become exas perated by the constant broken promises offered to them by the local politicians. One business owner stated with exasperation that, Â“we are Hispanics. During the elections before the elections, all the politicians come. They say, Â‘You vote me, we going to he lp.Â’ And after they get elected, they donÂ’t do anythingÂ…many promise from many politicia ns, and we never get it.Â” Interestingly, this is the same issue which initially limite d the involvement by West Tampa residents in the 1990Â’s during the West Tampa Community Re vitalization ProgramÂ’s paint project. The city council member involved on that pr oject described that Â“the people in West Tampa had been disappointed by government so many times in the past, they were deeply skeptical of what I would do.Â” For many of these business owners, they view the West Tampa Economic Development Plan and th e Planning CommissionÂ’s meeting at La Teresita as all talk with no action, something which they have experienced countless times by numerous local city politicians. Confusion of Tampa city government Despite the fact that Bolich e Blvd. has been historically neglected by the City of Tampa, the business owners still must deal w ith the city on many issues related to their small business, such as code enforcement viol ations and business licenses. These forced interactions with city govern ment and its staff are often confusing and difficult for many of the business owners, especially if they are not proficient in English. Irma Wilcutt, who has owned a business on Boliche Blvd. for over fifteen years, stated that whenever the new business owners experience problems Â“they call us, they come here. Every time they
82 have a problem, they come here to see what we can do for them.Â” She blames the bureaucracy associated with TampaÂ’s city gove rnment for the confusion that many of the other business owners face. However, this confusion is not only felt by the business owners on Boliche Blvd. During the meeting at La Teresita, Wilcott approached on of the city council members present and questioned her about whether Boliche Blvd. was a city or a county road. She asked, Â“when we have businesses, if we have problems and we have inspectors that come. If I have a pr oblem who do I go to, the county or the city? Who do I go to?! She couldnÂ’t tell meÂ…So, if theyÂ’re [city-government employees] confused, and they run the city, can you image how the merchants are?Â” City government and language There are staff within Tampa city governme nt who have contended that there are no language barriers which block or limit the participation of mono-lingual Spanish speakers in getting involved or getting the help they need fr om TampaÂ’s city government. When the Planning Commission and the city staff held their community meeting with the Boliche Blvd. business owners at La Tere sita, the meeting was conducted in English, although a Spanish translator was provided a nd offered full translation of the meeting. However, one business owner pointed out that the majority of those present at the meeting were Spanish speakers, he said, Â“t hey had 99% Spanish speaking people and all the people in front there were speaking in English!Â” As descri bed in the section Reason for Non-involvement Â– Language (page 71), all of Tampa city governmentÂ’s public meetings are conducted in English which ma kes it difficult for non-English speakers to participate. Although a translator was provided during the Boliche Blvd. meeting, a language hierarchy was clearly established fo r those present. A lthough the majority of
83 the individuals who attended were Spanish speakers the meeting was conducted in English, the official language of Tampa c ity government; the language of power within the City of Tampa as well in the neighborhood of West Tampa. Local West Tampa politics and social relations The differences between the Â“newÂ” West Tampa of Boliche Blvd. and the Â“oldÂ” West Tampa has been discussed previously in the section Challenges to the West Tampa Economic Development Plan (page 62). These perspectives of difference have excluded many Boliche Blvd. businesses from the civic institutions which serve West Tampa and connect the neighborhood with Tampa city government, such as the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce. In regards to th e Planning Commission and the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan, the Chamber has served as a representative voice for West TampaÂ’s businesses. However, many of the businesses on Boliche Blvd. are not associated with the Chamber and have, over time, developed their own informal business support association among each other. Desp ite repeated statements by the Planning Commission and the Chamber that the Boliche Blvd. business owners would benefit from joining the West Tampa Chamber of Comm erce by getting their concerns properly represented within the implementation of the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan, the Chamber has made no attempt to go out into the neighborhood to speak with the Boliche Blvd. business owners and the busine ss owners are not joining the Chamber on their own. One community meeting will not re pair the historic disassociation between the Boliche Blvd. and the Â“oldÂ” West Tampa civic institutions. Especially when the meeting reinforced many of the business ow nersÂ’ perspectives a nd opinions about the Â“oldÂ” West Tampa, such as how Â“oldÂ” West Tampa is the area which is Â“niceÂ” and where
84 previous development projects have been c oncentrated while the Â“newÂ” West Tampa has always been Â“ignoredÂ” and is a place where development has stopped. This perception of neglected by the City of Tampa has only been reinforced by the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan, with the planÂ’s initial focus on the Â“oldÂ” West Tampa business district of Howard/Armenia and Main Street. Because the Boliche Blvd. business district does not have strong ties or associations with the Â“oldÂ” West Tampa civic institutions, the concerns and goals of West TampaÂ’s economic development plan were focused in Â“oldÂ” West Tampa where th ere was strong and active representation and participation. The community meeting at La Teresita Â‘opened the doorÂ’ for Boliche Blvd.Â’s participation in the neighborhoodÂ’s eco nomic development plan but the business owners do not want to join into the imple mentation efforts because their neighborhood concerns and goals have not been addre ssed in the planÂ’s current implementation projects. The relationship between Â“newÂ” and Â“oldÂ” West Tampa and the overall skepticism and distrust of Tampa city govern ment, has strongly influenced the Boliche Blvd. business ownersÂ’ desire to part icipate in the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. However, it is importa nt to clarify that Boliche Blvd. is not a homogeneous population where everyone shares th e same values and ideas. The lawyers of the Boliche Blvd. business owners, who in itially come forward to the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce to discuss the business ownersÂ’ concerns about the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan, ha d noticed that many of these business owners did not share the desire to mobili ze and actively participate in West TampaÂ’s
85 plan. During their interview, the lawyer s described how many of the business owners reacted to the plan: Not everyone wanted quite the extensive re -development efforts which come with these [economic development] plans...Folks were worried that they would have to do beautification efforts and spend a lot of money to get their businesses with the right awnings and you know all that kind of stuff that goes along with itÂ…We had a couple of businesses that ran into some trouble with some city code folks and we were able to assist them in getting extension with grease traps and so forth. That, I think, addressed some of their [business owners] concerns with having their voices heard, as well as brought it to their attention, it Â’s not all a great thing. You might have to have some money spent to have to get in line. There seemed to be a difference among the business owners who wanted to invest the time and money into participating in the West Tampa Economic Development Plan and those who, once their initial ques tions were answered, did not want to get involved in the plan. Unlike the observations expressed by th e lawyers, many of the business owners interviewed on Boliche Blvd. consistently men tion that the business owners were unified in their desire to participat e in the change that the economic development plan could bring to their neighborhood. Many were even willing to invest ex tra money into their businesses if it will contribute to the overall redevelopment of the area. Such as one restaurant owner stating to me during an in terview, Â“If I donÂ’t need to put too much money, it doesnÂ’t matter for me. And I guess for the other people too. You know what IÂ’m saying, it costs you time and money butÂ…t hen you are going to have your pay back.
86 The people are going to come here.Â” Ho wever, another business owner made an interesting observation which reflected what the Boliche Blvd. lawyers initially stated. Although the business owners along Boliche Blvd. believe that there needs to be changes made to their business district, he noticed th at there was no sense of unity and solidarity among the business owners outside of this i ssue. He expressed that business owners seem to be only concerned about themselves and in competition with each other. This was unlike his experiences in the north, wher e he owned a business for 20 years, where neighboring business owners would often visit with each other afte r they closed their shops for the day. This crea ted a sense of solidarity among the businesses and helped the owners work together. This business owne r believed that if the other businesses on Boliche Blvd. came together to help each othe r, things would get better in the area. Although there is an informal business help /support system within Boliche Blvd., it is mainly among the older, b ilingual business owners as sisting the younger and newer Spanish-speaking business owners to negotiate various busine ss issues. Other than this, there does not appear to be much other s upport or interaction betw een the businesses. During interviews, when asked specifically if the business owners have talked to each other about their development concerns in the area, the majority of them replied no. This response illustrates that a lthough these business owners sh are a common desire for the redevelopment of the business district, there is not much interaction and communication among the owners to help facilitate such a change. The history of Boliche Blvd.Â’s associati on with West Tampa and TampaÂ’s city government has strongly influenced the busine ss ownersÂ’ ability and de sire to participate in the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. The issues related to city
87 government discrimination, politicianÂ’s broke n promises, confusion navigating through the bureaucracy of the cityÂ’s government, langua ge barriers and the social and political relationships within the ne ighborhood of West Tampa have produced an environment which is unappealing for many of the Boliche Blv d. business owners to participate. It is these issues which the Planning Commission faile d to address or take into consideration when they conducted their community engageme nt process. Despite these issues, the Planning Commission is not to be solely blamed for the lack of progress on Boliche Blvd.Â’s development. The fact that the busin ess owners were not coherently organized made it difficult for them to independently co me together after the community meeting at La Teresita and draft an official list of community concerns which the Planning Commission could, potentially, incorpor ate into the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. However, years of bei ng ignored and disappointment with TampaÂ’s city government did not offer the business ow ners much hope for th eir concerns being met with the West Tampa Economic Development Plan.
88 CHAPTER FIVE
89 Next step Boliche Blvd.Â’s place in th e West Tampa Economic Development Plan The Planning Commission contends that there is space within West TampaÂ’s economic development plan for the Boliche Blvd. business owners to participate. In order for these business owne rsÂ’ concerns to be incorporated into the economic development plan, the Commission has stated th at Boliche Blvd. needs to draft a list of concerns and neighborhood goals they would like to have targeted by the West Tampa Economic Development Plan. For over a year, since the meeting in October 2005, there has been no follow up taken by the Planning Commi ssion to ensure this list gets drafted or incorporated into the neighborhood plan. The Boliche Blvd. business owners have not come together to work on drafting this neighborhood list. The Planning Commission and the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce have st ated that Â“the ball would be in their [Boliche Blvd.Â’s] court,Â” therefore they are waiting for the Boliche Blvd. business owners to make the next step in participating and joining up with the West Tampa Volunteers. Ironically, Gaston Riera and Irma Wilcott, the Boliche Blvd. business owners who initially organized the areaÂ’ s businesses around this issue of the economic development plan, are waiting to hear from Jim Hosler and the Planni ng Commission. Both Riera and Wilcott have repeatedly stated, Â“We arenÂ’t doing anything now, we are waiting to see what happens.Â” The other business owners on Boliche Blvd. are also waiting, they are waiting to hear from Riera and Wilcott abou t the next business owner meeting or their next course of action regardi ng neighborhood plan. In short, nothing Â– as far as Boliche Blvd.Â’s participation Â– has happened since the in itial community meeting at La Teresita. With everyone waiting for the other person to Â“do somethingÂ” or Â“make the next moveÂ” with the economic development plan it is clear that there was obvious
90 miscommunication and lack of adequate fo llow-up. The Planning Commission rapidly organized the community meeting for Bolic he Blvd. once they discovered that this population had felt excluded from the de sign and implementation of the economic development plan. Their quick resp onse was impressive, bringing in many representatives from within the city to he lp answer the business ownersÂ’ questions. However, following this meeting, there was no cl ear direction establis hed as to what the next step would be to get representa tives from Boliche Blvd. involved in the implementation of the economic developmen t plan. It seems that the Planning Commission assumed that by providing a co mmunity meeting specifically for Boliche Blvd. they would solve the prob lem of this populationsÂ’ lack of involvement. However, this meeting did not undo the history of Boliche Blvd.Â’s relationship with the rest of West Tampa and its past experiences with city government and other local institutions. The community meeting in October of 2005 was a quick fix for a much larger problem which the Planning Commission did not fully understand. Recommendations This thesis research has evaluated th e community engagement methods used by the Planning Commission in West TampaÂ’s ec onomic development plan. The results of this evaluation have produced recommendations for the Pla nning Commission that can be applied to future economic development plan s in West Tampa and other culturally and linguistically diverse neighbor hoods within Hillsborough County. One of the most notable issues which affected the Boliche Blvd. business owners in their willingness and ability to participate in West TampaÂ’s economic development
91 plan was the business ownersÂ’ estrangement fr om the rest of West Tampa and its civic institutions. The West Tampa Chamber of Co mmerce must take steps to go out into the Boliche Blvd. business district and begin building relationshi pÂ’s with the areaÂ’s business owners. During interviews, many business owners stated that they had never been approached by the West Tampa Chamber of Co mmerce. One business owner stated, with resentment, that Â“I have been here 15 or 16 years with my company, never have I been approached by the West Tampa Chamber of Co mmerce to be a member. I am a member of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce because I receive more response [from them].Â” By establishing contact with the Bolich e Blvd. business owners, the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce can provide access for these business owners to the development projects occurring within the neighborhood. Du ring interviews with Riera and Wilcott, they both discussed the possibi lity of establishing a West Tampa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce which would serve the numerous Latino owned businesses on Boliche Blvd. and the other areas of West Tampa. This Hi spanic Chamber could function as a wing of the West Tampa Chamber, directly serv ing the needs of the neighborhoodÂ’s Latino business owners while connecting them to West Tampa neighborhoodÂ’s development projects from which they can benefit. This association among the Chamber(s) and all of West TampaÂ’s business owners will allow for greater ease in the creation and implementation of future development pr ojects because there will be increased communication and connection among the di fferent business dist ricts within the neighborhood. Although the Planning Commission was well aware of the cultural and linguistic diversity within West Tampa, the Commission di d not make an adequate effort to reach
92 out to the neighborhoodÂ’s monolingual Spanishspeaking residents and business owners. It is necessary for the Planning Commission to re-evaluate their methods of community engagement when conducting economic development plans in such diverse neighborhoods. With future development effo rts in West Tampa or other linguistically diverse neighborhoods, the Pla nning Commission must make an effort to adapt and translate all of their comm unity outreach materials (posted announcements, mailings, surveys, community meetings and focus groups) so as to adequately reach the neighborhoodÂ’s entire population. Future development efforts in West Tampa must included clearly written a nd posted neighborhood community meeting announcements in both English and Spanish and more bilingual or Spanish-language meetings should be scheduled for the monolingual Spanish-speaki ng residents and business owners of the neighborhood. This will increase the opportuni ties for this populationÂ’s involvement in the creation and implementation of future development plans and provide appropriate follow-up to ensure that this populationÂ’s conc erns and goals are bei ng addressed in their neighborhoodÂ’s plan. The success of future development proj ects within West Tampa does not rest solely on the Planning Commission or th e neighborhoodÂ’s civic institutions; the neighborhood residents and business owners ar e also responsible in the ensuring the progress of their neighborhoodÂ’s development. Boliche Blvd.Â’s business owners want development to occur in their business dist rict and they expect the city and county government to play a role in such developmen t efforts. However, the areaÂ’s community leaders must do more than just wait for th e Planning Commission to tell them what will
93 be their next course of action. Jim Hosler is quoted previously on page 79 discussing a plannerÂ’s frustration when attempting to work with the community: At some point in time during the public involvement process, one needs to ask Â– Â“How many times do I have to ask these people to get i nvolved? Why is it that they don't want to get involved? Is it me, or is it them, both?Â”Â…How much time do I take from the people who want to help in order to engage those that may be hanging back due to something as simple as grease traps in their restaurants that are out of code? This is a very prevalent issue which city planners confront when conducting neighborhood outreach and engagement work. Is it unreasonable to expect that all segments of a local population will be succe ssfully reached and involved in neighborhood redevelopment plans? Often times these planners must mo ve forward with those from the community who are involved in order for development efforts to be implemented. Working to reach members of the community who are Â“hanging backÂ” may take too much time and effort and may impede the implementation process. However, it is important for neighborhood planners and comm unity outreach workers to understand that the residents and business owners in a neighborhood whom are not responding to engagement efforts are doing so due to poli tical, economic and soci al issues. Although these residents and business owners may hold th e same values as those participating for community redevelopment and growth, these is sues can severely limit their ability and desire to participate in lo cal development efforts. When neighborhood planners and community development workers do not addres s these issues in a critical way, they
94 reinforce the institutional and social structures which maintain the marginalization of these populations. Conclusion Urban neighborhood redevelopment is a pr ocess which affects many individuals, families, businesses and local institutions. Often targeting once prosperous, now struggling, neighborhoods around the downtown city centers, these ar eas are developed in order to accommodate incoming urban pr ofessionals and cater to their neighborhood aesthetic and entertainment needs. These effo rts often result in the redevelopment of a neighborhood in a way which is not economically or socially accommodating for its original residents. The end result is often the neighborhood disp lacement of many poor and working class families, small businesses and civic institutions. However, this displacement is not a blatan t agenda of neighborhood develo pment projects and cities make attempts to limit this during the development process; often accomplished through resident involvement in the design and implementation of neighborhood development plans. The West Tampa Economic Developm ent Plan is an example of neighborhood participation in a local economic development pl an. This research has demonstrated that despite attempts made to gene rate involvement from local residents and business owners in West Tampa, there were challenges en countered which limited the involvement of many within the neighborhood. It was the Â“social, political and environmental realitiesÂ” of West Tampa, and the City of Tampa, that affected the grassroot s participation of the Boliche Blvd. business owners in thei r neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan (Peterman 2000:4). Without a comprehensive understanding of the real-life, social
95 environment of the neighborhood, the Pla nning Commission was unable to reach the neighborhoodÂ’s large population of recent immigrant, Spanish speakers. The result of which was the exclusion of this populati onÂ’s neighborhood development concerns and goals in West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. The focus of this research covered on ly a portion of West TampaÂ’s Spanishspeaking recent immigrant population, the small business owners on Boliche Blvd. Within this Spanish-speaking recent immigr ant population, there is much social and economic difference which impacts how the population engages, or does not engage, with West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. The small business owners on Boliche Blvd. provided an opportunity to understand how this larger Spanish-speak ing recent immigrant population can be affected by local development projects. This research demonstrates the necessity to critically evaluate engageme nt methods in future economic development plans, which is especially relevant for nei ghborhoods that are ethnica lly and linguistically diverse. It was critical for the Planning Commissi on to have a historical understanding of the Boliche Blvd. business distri ctÂ’s relationship with the re st of West Tampa. When conducting research within immigrant commun ities in the urban areas within the United States, anthropologist Caroline B. Brettell argues that it is beneficial to understand the Â“city as context.Â” She states that Â“each city constitutes a particul ar social and economic field that has been shaped as much by hist ory as by present-day local, regional, national and often global forcesÂ” (Brett ell 2000:131). An understanding of the history of Boliche Blvd. and how this history can strengthen or weaken any existing or potential relationships between the rest of West Tampa and the larger City of Tampa could help to
96 inform how the Planning Co mmission targets their engagement of this population. Boliche BlvdÂ’s historically strained relati onship with Â“oldÂ” West Tampa has influenced the areaÂ’s lack of association with West TampaÂ’s civic institutions. These institutions played a key role in the outreach and cr eation of West TampaÂ’s economic development plan and Boliche BlvdÂ’s disassociation with them lead to itÂ’s exclusion in the development plan. Jane JacobsÂ’ concept of Â“street neighbor hoodsÂ” can be applied to Boliche Blvd. in that street neighborhoods can have strong social connections and internal support however, they can lack politic al power outside in the broader context of the city (Peterman 2000:41). In order for a street ne ighborhood to achieve a degree of influence or control on the issues which affect them, they must have a connection to the larger political powers. This connection is what wa s lacking for Boliche Bl vd. versus the rest of West Tampa. Without an association w ith the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, BolicheÂ’ Blvd.Â’s business concerns were not represented within West TampaÂ’s economic development plan. Boliche Blvd.Â’s lack of poli tical power was also evident in the areaÂ’s interaction with TampaÂ’s city government. Language barriers have greatly impeded monolingual Spanish-speakers from partic ipating in public City Council and County Commission meetings. This language barr ier was reinforced in the West Tampa community meetings which were conducted to generate resident and business owner participation in the neighborhoodÂ’s economic development plan. The Blvd.Â’s business ownersÂ’ infrequent and negative interactions with city government employees have lead to distrust, which has not engendered a desire for the business owners to participate in a city government-affiliated neighborhood development plan.
97 Future neighborhood development effort s in West Tampa must take into consideration these issues im bedded within the social fabr ic of the neighborhood. West TampaÂ’s civic institutions must recognize thei r contribution to the marginalization of the neighborhoodÂ’s recent immigrant population and make efforts to foster relationships among themselves and the populationÂ’s resident s and business owners. This attempt to repair the strained existing social relati ons between Â“newÂ” and Â“oldÂ” West Tampa will begin to address the barriers which have limited the monolingual Spanish-speaking populationÂ’s participation in the civic and gove rnmental institutions within West Tampa and the City of Tampa. The Planning Co mmission and the City of Tampa government must re-examine their avenues for citizen i nvolvement and particip ation. The Planning Commission and Tampa city government can be regarded as Â“mediating institutionsÂ” for many of the new immigrant business owners on Boliche Blvd. Louise Lamphere describes these Â“mediating institutionsÂ” as a means to Â“channel larger political and economic forces into settings that have im pact on the lives of individualsÂ…and mediate interaction between newcomers and establis hed residentsÂ” (Lamphere 1992:3-4). These institutions are formally and hierarchical ly organized and can function as a way to marginalize new immigrant groups. Challenging the structure of how these institutions are organized can help bring in those that have been excl uded socially, economically and politically. The Planning CommissionÂ’s re-examination of their existing community engagement methods is a step in that this direction. Although not challenging the core structure of their institution it does force them to reconsider the different dynamics of an Â“active citizenÂ” and operationalize how all su ch citizens can be integrated into the process of economic development.
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