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Almost all US cities are controlled by real estate and development interests, but Santa Cruz, California, is a deviant case. An unusual coalition of socialist-feminists, environmentalists, social-welfare liberals, and neighborhood activists has stopped every growth project proposed by landowners and developers since 1969, and controlled the city council since 1981. Even after a 1989 earthquake forced the city to rebuild its entire downtown, the progressive elected officials prevailed over developers and landowners. Drawing on hundreds of primary documents, as well as original, previously unpublished interviews, The Leftmost City utilizes an extended case study of Santa Cruz to critique three major theories of urban power: Marxism, public-choice theory, and regime theory. Santa Cruz is presented within the context of other progressive attempts to shape city government, and the authors' findings support growth-coalition theory, which stresses the conflict between real estate interests and neighborhoods as the fundamental axis of urban politics. The authors conclude their analysis by applying insights gleaned from Santa Cruz to progressive movements nationwide, offering a template for progressive coalitions to effectively organize to achieve political power.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780813344386
ISBN-10: 0813344387
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 12mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Westview Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 5-Feb-2009
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Richard Gendron

Richard Gendron is associate professor of sociology at Assumption College in Massachusetts. His research on the political contestation over development in Santa Cruz has appeared in Sociological Perspectives and City and Community. G. William Domhoff is research professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of many influential books in sociology and political science, including Who Rules America? (1967, 2006); The Powers That Be (1979); The Power Elite and the State (1990); and State Autonomy or Class Dominance? (1996).