On an unusually hot February afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, I conducted a field walk assessment to help a client identify potential sites for a bikeshare "mobility hub." Standing on a corner near the Convention Center, I noted that we were at the border between two Census tracts. Ordinarily, this border wouldn't matter much—the neighborhood isn't discernibly different on one side or the other—but in this case, I was helping the client apply for a state grant program that gives special consideration to projects located in "disadvantaged communities."
If located on the south side of the street, the project would be located in a "disadvantaged" census tract, but not on the north side. "Well, let's clearly locate the hub on the south side," the client advised, with some incredulous laughter. Humorous as it may sound, this decision speaks to the serious policy weight—and dollars—the State of California has put behind the concept of "benefitting disadvantaged communities."