Urban Life – Anaheim

Urban Life – Anaheim

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Urban Life – Anaheim

A Detailed Description of the Urban Setting

The area surrounding the junction between Sunkist Street and Winston Road represents a typical urban location in Anaheim City in which residential areas coexist alongside commercial establishments. The crossroad is controlled by overhung streetlights, with Sunkist Street being the main road. From the junction, one can see the Sunkist gardens, which is a residential neighborhood on one side, and business buildings such as Kelly Paper and Spectrum Gas Products on the other. The roads are well-lined with walkways that serve as the cycling lanes, and streetlights that illuminate the neighborhood at night.

The residential area comprises of bungalows that have open front yards. As such, one can easily view the front end of the houses. No storied blocks for residential dwellings are visible in this area Also, personal vehicles are parked on the driveways and along the roads serving the neighborhood. However, across Sunkist Street, large one-storey commercial buildings with ample parking spaces are visible. Several vehicles are visible in the parking areas, which are mostly passenger cars, although a few trucks are present. Nonetheless, empty parking slots are available.

The area is largely quiet during the day, with occasional traffic breaking the silence, although traffic jams were not observed. However, loading and unloading activities are observable at the commercial premises as clients pick their orders and supplies are delivered. Pedestrian traffic is minimal, except in the evenings when children return from school and adults, from work. The majority of the people are of Caucasian and Asian descent, with Hispanics and African Americans being a small minority. Incidentally, the smell of paper dominates the air in this area because of Kelly Paper. A department store is visible down the street, although it is not very busy. Altogether, the serenity of this area is representative of Anaheim, which is a city in the suburban Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Why are these descriptions important and what do these observations tell us about urban life, social problems, and social inequalities?

These descriptions are important because they illustrate the nature of the urban dwelling in the area, which can be extrapolated to the rest of Anaheim City. In this city, residential dwellings are interspersed with commercial areas and therefore, there is no central business district as such. The mixed-use urban life characterizes the city, combining per-urban living with commercial center bustle, with people living in close proximity to their working areas and social amenities such as nature and theme parks. As such, the city serves a working middle class and business community as the dominant city dwellers. Low urbanization density characterizes the built development in the city, as evidenced by the ample spaces around the residential and commercial buildings. It also serves as a tourist attraction considering that is served by the Santa Ana Freeway (Interstate-5), hosts the largest Disney Park in the state of California and has numerous parks, museums and historical buildings, such as the Anaheim Harbor RV Park, the Los Angeles Angel Stadium of Anaheim, and MUZEO art museum.  

The city has minimal social problems, which is uncharacteristic of large urban areas. The crime rates, unemployment rate and homelessness are below the nation’s average. Moreover, social inequalities are not visible because people appear to be leading a comfortable life, with 45 % of the residents owning their own houses, while the rest rent. The average income of households in the city is 65,413 dollars, which is higher than the national average of 55,322 dollars. However, about 500 homeless people dwell along the Santa Ana River. Moreover, Anaheim is grappling with lack of space for residential development because ground-floor bungalows dominate the residential areas, while the population is growing. With a population approaching 350,000 people, and growing at a rate of about 4 % since 2010, housing pressure will increase. Besides, zoning is an issue because industrials are interspersed with residential and commercial buildings. These may present health challenges to the city dwellers and environmental problems to Santa Ana River that flows across the city. However, the housing challenge is being addressed through the redevelopment of Platinum Triangle. The ongoing constructions involve the relocation of industrial building to make way for residential apartments and commercial building for offices and retail businesses.    

What are the main arguments highlighted in the scholarly peer reviewed academic journals you chose for this paper?

Neighborhoods as urbanized centers in modern cities act as sites for investment and contested spaces that deserve investigation to enhance the understanding urban dynamics and facilitate policy-making (Pagano, 2015). Developed countries such as the United States are highly urbanized, with the majority of people living, working and playing in city neighborhoods. Such neighborhoods are vulnerable to economic downturns and globalization forces, presenting challenges related to housing affordability, foreclosures and education standards, alongside immigration and economic mobility. As such, the achievement of mixed neighborhoods that do not have socioeconomic disparities remains elusive in the United States, presenting urban planning dilemmas. However, by viewing neighborhoods as communities in which circumstantial and functional factors override the social and cultural issues, complex problems afflicting cities can be investigated and resolved (Park & Rogers, 2015). Large American cities sprawl wide areas comprising of multiple neighborhoods that comprise a metropolitan setting.  

Cities grow according to the growth hypothesis presented by the Chicago School in 1924. According to this school, industrial cities in the United States grew drastically through a sequence of concentric zones that expanded outwards over time. The inner zone comprised of the central business district while residences and commuter infrastructure were developed on the outer zones (Palen, 2014). This may explain the growth of old cities that initiated as settlements that were attracted by natural resources or set up particular businesses. However, in Los Angeles, the growth of cities can be explained using the political economy approach that is associated with the Los Angeles School in opposition of the Chicago School (Palen, 2014). While the Chicago School was useful in explaining the growth of industrial cities, it fails to explain the growth of those without an industrial heritage. The political economy model posits that city growth progresses in an inverse zonal manner that is fragmented. The social and spatial patterns in such cities do not follow a zonal pattern; instead they process in a fragmented mixed model with the central business district intermingling with the residential and transportation infrastructure (Palen, 2014). Capitalistic interests and globalization forces, usually with little regard for the city residents, drive this growth. This may explain why many modern cities in the United States experienced deindustrialization, suburbanization and decline following the 2008 financial crisis and offshoring of industries outside the country. Moreover, the American context indicates the application of urban growth machines, in which a conducive business climate supersedes the purpose of neighborhoods as locations of life, work and social interaction (Palen, 2014). These are global and not local forces, that city managers often have no control over, thus challenging city planning and policy-making. Even when local drivers can be implicated, the business community interests override the influence of the local government, exacerbating planning and policy-making in cities. 

However, the sustainability of the growth of urban environments in cities can be achieved through smart growth (Dierwechter, 2017). Intercurrence is a concept that considers the uneven geopolitical-economies, when restructuring or redeveloping cities to improve their sustainability. In addition, smart containment helps in addressing the challenges undermining environmental performance of cities alongside other traditional problems related to the reordering of residential development (Dierwechter, 2017).
Based on your urban observation and the lessons learned in this course, identify a social issue/problem and a possible solution or suggestions for social change

Housing is the biggest social issue afflicting the city of Anaheim and the larger Los Angeles metropolitan area. The city of Anaheim is experiencing a population growth and deindustrialization, which is pressuring residential development. Moreover, the bungalows that dominate the residential buildings are becoming more expensive for the struggling middle-class in the current economic environment. As such, it lacks high-density residential buildings that can address the high rents and homelessness. Indeed, this problem is characteristic of the changing functionality of cities due to global forces, which presents reconfiguration challenges that are often resolved using redevelopment.

Smart city planning can help reorder and redevelop the vacant spaces and structures left by the exited industries in Anaheim city. Smart city planning that employs big data analytics to design the residential and commercial buildings, while projecting the technological development in the community to improve the city’s livability and sustainability (Rathore et al., 2017). The conservations of space and open areas alongside the maintaining the mixed urban living model of the city could benefit from integrated residential and commercial buildings that are resilient to changes in functionality without compromising land use. Moreover, smart city planning would accommodate the imminent internet-of-things, which is already being embraced by many modern Americans, albeit in varying degrees. In this case, provisions for online shopping of groceries, monitoring of pollution, electric car infrastructure are some of the benefits that would be delivered by smart city planning.


Modern cities such as Anaheim in Los Angeles epitomize the challenges experienced in modern urbanized communities. Globalization and local dynamics are changing the functionalities of many cities, with their economic viability being endangered. However, focusing on the economic feasibility of neighborhoods ignores the residents who form the communities and add vibrancy to urban living. Indeed, the American middle class was most afflicted by the recent economic downturn and slow economic recovery, making city life exorbitant and almost unbearable. Besides, the political economy approach of city growth is problematic because it benefits the capitalists, while disempowering the city managers and disenchanting the residents. Indeed, the ongoing redevelopment of the Platinum Triangle presents an opportunity for applying smart city planning. The use of smart data analytics that can decipher the current and future needs of Anaheim as an extension of the Los Angeles city, can yield a livable and sustainable model that combines residential and commercial structures and spaces. This can improve the quality of urban life and serve as an example that can be emulated by other suburban cities surrounding Los Angeles. Indeed, the current city dweller is manic about technology and open to smart houses and cities. By making Anaheim smart city ready, its resilience to local and global forces would be improved greatly.   


Dierwechter, Y. (2017). Urban Sustainability through smart growth: Intercurrence, planning, and geographies of regional development across Greater Seattle. New York, NY: Springer.

Pagano, M. A. (Ed.). (2015). The return of the neighborhood as an urban strategy. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Palen, J. J. (1992). The Urban World. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Park, Y., & Rogers, G. O. (2015). Neighborhood planning theory, guidelines, and research: Can area, population, and boundary guide conceptual framing? Journal of Planning Literature30(1), 18-36.

Rathore, M. M., Paul, A., Ahmad, A., & Jeon, G. (2017). IoT-based big data: from smart city towards next generation super city planning. International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems (IJSWIS)13(1), 28-47.

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