Luis Orlando Gallardo Rivera is the head of an urban development agency in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. He will be spending the next week in Orange County to attend a Fair Housing Policy Conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Luis is a member of the left wing Popular Democratic Party (PPD) in Puerto Rico, and he maintains a personal blog at: http://www.barriomulas.com/blog/
My first two days in Orange County were characterized by lengthy voyages via public transportation, with routes chosen by random. I made the initiative to purposely get lost, in an attempt to get as far away from the tourist zone as possible and see the Ã¢â‚¬Å“real Orange County.Ã¢â‚¬Â (Or what I thought would be the Ã¢â‚¬Å“realÃ¢â‚¬Â Orange County.) Disneyland is not my thing, so finding pockets of cultural value was most definitely a priority. I followed a similar pattern in previous visits to Mexico, Washington D.C., Seattle, and New York City, all of which blessed me with very enjoyable and enlightening experiences.
Almost instantly I felt hostility from the city planning. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This place isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t very friendly to pedestrians,Ã¢â‚¬Â I mentioned to locals; Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nope, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re right.Ã¢â‚¬Â Pedestrians seem to be brushed off as a hassle as hip box-shaped cars and convertibles plow through the six-lane avenue.
At times it seems as if public transportation usage is limited to immigrant and marginal populations; almost everybody I ran into that wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t from such groups had no idea what time buses stopped service. One woman was shocked when I told her that the Orange County Transportation Authority was voted #1 by the American Public Transportation Association.
In many areas, all the employees of any business was Latino and all the clients White. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Where do the White people work?Ã¢â‚¬Â I continued to ask myself. I wonder how Mexicans feel preparing fake Mexican food for non-Mexicans.