Analysis of National City’s Neighborhoods and Functional Zones


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As part of a semester-long study, two sections of Geography 354: The Geography of Cities, participated in the Sage Project. The Sage Project is a collaboration between San Diego State University (SDSU) and the city of National City to engage students and fac-ulty in assisting local governments with projects that enhance the city’s economy, land-scape, infrastructure, safety, environment, and quality of life.

The students analyzed the neighborhoods and various functional zones in National City in order to answer the following questions:
1. Are the neighborhoods, functional zones, and their characteristics identifiable?
2. Is National City legible, or easy to navigate?
3. How is National City perceived by those that visit, work, and live there?

The purpose of this project was to answer these research questions, and gather informa-tion that would assist city officials, non-profits, and future Sage Project programs. More-over, a variety of methodological techniques were implemented: a) census data analysis, to collect statistical information; b) landscape observations, to comprehend how people interact with their environment; c) surveys, to gather opinions; and, d) mental mapping, to assess legibility. By combining a range of data-collecting methods, students were able to produce cohesive and thorough findings.

Some of the most notable issues and concerns the students raised were the large amounts of fenced yards, some homes in disrepair, busy and unsafe streets in residential areas, and a lack of green space. Additionally, there are many families in National City living under the poverty line compared to the rest of the county, which may be due to the occupational disparities among the two. Furthermore, National City has more renters than homeowners and a significantly higher resident population of people aged 20-24 years. Moreover, there appears to be uneven access to and awareness of healthy food options in National City. Finally, surveys relayed mixed feelings about National City, such as “clean,” “dirty,” and “safe,” “dangerous.”

However, some possible solutions the students proposed included improving the variety of industries in order to diversify job opportunities, and implementing better educational standards and increasing after-school youth programs in order to help educate children on making better decisions and abstaining from illegal activities, such as gang violence and drugs. Likewise, increasing public safety would aid in better community engagement and pride in National City, and increasing the understanding of food awareness and access could be done by establishing farmer’s markets, and increasing accessible green space to all.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

The Sage Project Contact Info
Kristofer Patron
Program Administrator
(619) 594-0103

University Faculty Contact
Zia Salim

Local Government / Community Contact

City Manager

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