The Price of Renewal
What are the challenges in crafting a vibrant urban village from an ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse population? This perceptive documentary examines complex issues of community development, philanthropy, and civic engagement by chronicling the long-term redevelopment of an older, deteriorating neighborhood called City Heights, often referred to as the Ellis Island of San Diego.
The film probes both the potential and the pitfalls of public/private partnerships in addressing the problems of inner city decay, as well as the thorny questions raised by the gentrification of multicultural urban neighborhoods.
Thirty years of non-European immigration to City Heights was spurred by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which replaced preferences based on national origin with priorities favoring family reunification. The result in City Heights is a rich mix of cultural values and people, including immigrants from Mexico and Latin America and refugees from Southeast Asia and East Africa.
Profound redevelopment plans placed this poor and largely powerless community in an unlikely partnership with businessman and philanthropist Sol Price (the founder of the Price Club and widely recognized as the “father” of the discount warehouse industry) and William Jones, an African-American real estate developer who was the youngest person ever elected to the San Diego City Council.
“The Price of Renewal” demonstrates how urban redevelopment is a double-edged sword as it explores what is gained and what is lost as the community develops and improves itself. The film will spur thought and discussion in courses in urban studies, sociology, development, ethnic studies, and American studies, among others. It was directed by the award-winning documentarian Paul Espinosa. This is the second part of the four-part series, California and the American Dream.
For information on the other films in the series, see:
California’s “Lost” Tribes
The New Los Angeles
Ripe for Change