The Dynamics of Multiracial Integration: A Case Study of the Pico Neighborhood in Santa Monica, CA

Although academics across disciplines have debated the factors that contribute toresidential segregation and gentrification, relatively little literature exists on the factorsthat enable and sustain residential integration. The purpose of this study is to examine thedynamics that contribute to long-term multiracial integration in the Pico neighborhood inthe City of Santa Monica, CA. Drawing from 68 structured interviews with residents ofvarious backgrounds, this research underlines the importance of housing cost, socialnetworks, public services, proximity to commercial establishments, and attachments toplace in influencing residency decisions from 1950 to the present. In addition, this studyhighlights the role of a grassroots neighborhood organization in sustaining theneighborhood’s mix. Instead of engaging in “integration maintenance” efforts asidentified by Saltman (1990), this organization is led successively by different race andtenure factions who use its influence to achieve group-benefiting goals, a function thatviimay curb the departure of disgruntled individuals. The significance of this research istwofold. First, by using qualitative methodologies, this study expands upon the findingsof predominantly quantitative studies of racial integration. Second, by identifying andexamining a historically integrated area, it adds to a growing body of literature on racialintegration in multiracial regions such as California and develops theories ofneighborhood stability.

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