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Yakima Equity Study Analysis


Yakima AvenueIn 2015, the City of Yakima replaced their previously at-large electoral system with district-based representation, resulting in increased Latino representation on the City Council. The following year, the Yakima City Council initiated an ‘Equity Study’ to assess the distribution of city resources across all council districts with respect to social, racial, and economic equity. The city began by compiling existing data and making it available to the public via a web-based, interactive platform.
The Metro Center was contracted by the Yakima City Council to conduct an evaluation and statistical analysis of specific data compiled for their Equity Study. The results of the analysis gave the city a comprehensive baseline to support data driven decisions, and tools for equitable decision making.

Equity Study Analysis

Yakima City Council members requested that the Metro Center assess and analyze specific Equity Study data sets including: city-funded parks; public safety calls for service; streetlights; code compliance requests and transit ridership, shelters and benches; across demographic variables (including income, race, and education level) and a geographical dividing line.

Of the data sets assessed, we concluded they were developed using best practices to support the operations of their respective city departments;  however, the majority of the data did not include date attributes. This limited her Metro Center’s ability to assess the city’s decisions of resource allocation over time, but did provide the city with a valuable baseline, illustrated by over 200 scatter plots, many of which can be found in the project’s final report.

The Metro Center’s analysis, helped the city understand their data and its utility in decision making. Our report included specific recommendations for improving data collection to better assess equity, and suggested implementing decision making criteria for future resource allocation.

Project Outcomes

The City of Yakima embarked upon this analysis of the Equity Study data with the intention of using it as a tool to inform data driven decisions, and insure that city resources are equitably allocated. To support this goal the Metro Center suggested improvements that the city could make in their data collection, such as the addition of qualitative data, and insuring that the data the city collects is based on the questions they want to address in the future.
The process the city uses to make decisions is as important as the data it collects, so we provided the city with additional recommendation including developing an Equity Toolkit for decision making, and utilizing tools for authentic community engagement aimed at understanding residents’ perspective on their community and issues that are of greatest importance to them.

Project Team

This analysis of the City of Yakima’s Equity Study was conducted, data compiled, and this report written by the following team assembled because of their expertise in urban planning and geospatial analysis. In particular we wish to acknowledge the work of Dr. Branden Born, with whom we have often worked on community based projects, and Dr. Philip Hurvitz, who led the data analysis.

WSU Metropolitan Center for Applied Research and Extension

University of Washington, Department of Urban Design and Planning

  • Branden Born Ph.D., Associate Professor
  • Philip M. Hurvitz Ph. D., Research Assistant Professor
  • Connie Combs MUP
  • Kizz Prussia, MUP candidate (as of 12/2017)

WSU Expertise

While the topic of the study was controversial, all parties had confidence in the ability of the Metro Center to provide an independent and impartial analysis. This project illustrates the value of university expertise in helping cities deal with challenging issues and can be used as a model for other cities seeking to improve data-driven decision making.

Learn More

City of Yakima Equity Study Analysis

Equity Study

Contact Us

WSU Seattle Office
901 5th Avenue, Ste 2900
Seattle, WA 98164 (MAP)