ABSTRACT

The social transformation of urban patterns, the densification of barrios, and the evolution of multiethnic suburbs have inherent political implications for planning policy. The constituency of metropolitan regions in the Southwest has changed dramatically within a generation: class interests have become increasingly polarized and the political arena is being reconstructed through the ascendance of Latina/o officeholders. While political access alone is insufficient to address the myriad urban problems, increased political representation will complicate demands regarding revitalization and redistribution strategy. Institutionalized barriers to the electoral arena in the Southwest have, historically, included poll taxes, the White Man’s Union in Texas, and gerry-mandering (Pachon 1985, 249). These racist restrictions on political participation existed through the 1960s and 1970s. Barrios, historically ignored zones of deterioration and underdevelopment, are now represented by people whose life experiences are centered in these communities. This direct relationship is forging a new sense of urgency for reform and benefits from redevelopment.