The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) differential lending practices in the 1940s are readily illustrated in the controversial history of Ladera Housing Cooperative in Portola, California. This study builds on previous theories of privatization and racialization to proffer new understanding of the application of credit rationing and its actual implementation in Northern California community planning. Utilizing routine, but obscure risk appraisal guidelines and requirements, the FHA played a significant role in the structural institutionalization of segregated suburbs that surround us today. Seen for the first time, this research pulls together dispersed archival material into a coherent and illuminating whole. Beginning with the founding of the cooperative, I analyze the innovative and environmentally responsive planning features of the proposed community, followed by an explication of the lending application process. I advance the theory that through its lending practices, Californian cities achieved the same impact as redlining used in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. For Ladera, implicit rules and policies were just as effective in maintaining racial segregation.
T.F. Tierney is founding director of URL: Urban Research Lab and emerita professor at the University of Illinois. Tierney’s research focuses on critical urbanism and the impact of policy-making on cities and infrastructure. Recent publications concern smart cities, public space, and inclusive urban development. Tierney also serves on the editorial board of The Bartlett’s ARENA Journal of Architectural Research (University College London). She has been published widely, most recently “Intelligent Infrastructure: Zipcars, Invisible Networks and Urban Transformation” (UVa Press 2017); “The Public Space of Social Media: Connected Cultures of Network Society” (Routledge 2013), which was a finalist for the Jane Jacobs Award; and co-editor with Anthony Burke “Network Practice: New Strategies for Architecture + Design” (Princeton 2007), in addition to numerous journal articles. Tierney holds a Ph.D. in Architecture from University of California Berkeley, where she is currently a Visiting Scholar, and a BArch from California College of the Arts. She was a pre-doctoral researcher at the MIT media lab under Bill Mitchell in 2006.