Potholes and Equity / by Jose Loza

Here is the first of a series of digital illustrations meant to highlight areas affected in my neighborhood.

This first illustration is based on promotional advertisements used to bring in tourists to the national parks, with a twist. The theme is Potholes on Market St. in North Long Beach. I chose to first address this to test the ground of what highlighting an un repaired public utility could do to getting the problem resolved.

Potholes and Equity

José M. Loza

The problem of potholes may appear insignificant in comparison to issues such as violence, property crime, and access to affordable housing to name a few and I would agree with you. Potholes seen through the lens of economic inequality and access to resources is a different story. Those nasty dips in the road can be an indicator of greater problems facing a neighborhood in terms of an equitable allocation of public resources.

Potholes lie at the intersection of economic disparity, segregation, and inequality causing not only a visible eye soar but an invisible one as well. Depending on the zip code you live in, your street may get repairs attended to more frequently. Even though we live in a diverse city that can still mean segregation in the access people get to city services. Jessica Trounstine (2016) states that segregation across racial lines contributes to inequalities in public goods across cities (p.709). This is reinforced by man made barriers such as freeways, waterways, and train tracks. Separating districts into visibly resourced neighborhoods and under resourced neighborhoods.

This disparity often affects people of color, persons with disabilities, working class, and poor causing compounded economic hardship. Think about having to cover the unexpected cost of repairs on a fixed income, having your only form of transportation put out of commission , or risking injury while riding your bike.

According to AAA, “ Pothole-related auto repair costs average $306, but some unfortunate drivers wind up paying more than $1,000 to fix the damage.”

In 2017 the city of Los Angeles paid out over 19 million to cyclists over injuries and death on streets. -Bicycling.com


Riccio, Lucius. Pothole Analytics: Bad weather or bad management, Informs .org

Trounstine, Jessica. Segregation and Inequality in Public Goods. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 60, No. 3 (JULY 2016), pp. 709-725

Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24877490