Gentrification: It’s the Little Things

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This is a picture of something missing. If you don’t know the area you might drive by and not look twice, but if you’ve lived in Lincoln Heights for any length of time, you’ll wonder about the sidewalk vendors that used to set up shop here. This small street leads to the St. Vincent thrift store, which gets heavy traffic from antique hunters and vintage clothing resellers. And for at least the past 10 years, a few men would set up their own shop on this small stretch of sidewalk, selling all kinds of castaway items like video tapes, kitchen wares, rusty wrenches, and old bikes just to try and catch some of that extra money that comes driving by on the weekends. But for the past few months they’ve not come back to take their usual spots, having been effectively chased away by harassment and ticketing. What an odd thing, after all these years, for that to suddenly happen. I wonder how the cops got wind to suddenly start enforcing one of those many random laws? Could it -by some freak coincidence- be related to that building on the right that is being altered into a box to house suburban suckers?

One of the commentators over at la.curbed.com has dubbed them the fulla’ shit lofts since they pretend to be building some “affordable housing” units, yet you need to be making around 84K to qualify for those, doesn’t sound affordable to me. Fulla’ shit, that just rolls off the tongue. But back to our story.

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The vendors used to be based out of this red garage, now they set up a massive spread over on Ave 26 and Humboldt. I talked to one of the sellers and he didn’t know who called the cops, he just knew that he had to move. The new spot is not going to last either as there’s another shitty loft right around the corner. Nothing kills the loft-shopping-buzz like seeing a bunch of poor folk in the neighborhood trying to scratch out a living!

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Massive parking structure being built for the cars to come. Lofties take the Metro? Doubt it.

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And on the other side of the building is another thrift store, only this one is the Goodwill. How long before the unsightly vans and trucks filled with trash becomes too much of a nuisance for the new residents and owners of this building? Not long. How telling that the artist rendition of this block just happens to forget all the thrift stores and junk collector activities. Must have been an oversight.

While some debate floor plans, sq. footage, or whether Lincoln Heights is cool enough to take over, I’m just watching the small things that I enjoy about my neighborhood disappear. The villainous tag team of money and access to power strikes again.

P.S. For another take on the gentrification experience, check out sicklyseason.com

Bonus! Bonus!

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Across the street I snapped a picture of the guy that ran the office, he was looking over some religious book. No, not reading it, just looking at the book. I wonder if developers are planning some shopping cart lofts? He needs a place to start the next office.

This entry was posted in Analysis, Fotos, Lincoln Heights, Shit I hate. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Gentrification: It’s the Little Things

  1. tin says:

    i wonder who is buying these lofts? in Mexico it is obvious that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer (and increasing in numbers). people in california and all over the u.s. are loosing their homes cuz they can’t make payments, this is specially hurting people of color. there might be a day where beautiful large homes sit abandoned while people sleep on the streets (wait, i think that they is here already)

  2. Koan Juggernaut says:

    You’re just resentful cause whitey is coming to the hood with his BMW, and you we’re there first. If I were you I’d think about starting a detailing business so you could make a grip off whitey’s relationship with his Bavarian muscle.

  3. TacoSam says:

    Chavo, “Change” is coming to Lincoln Heights and Highland Park. Its undeniable and probably unstoppable because all the developers have the so-called “Latino” politicians in their back pocket.

    It appears to me that your diatribe on the “gentrification” of Lincoln Heights (and the diatribe on the sicklyseason link) is similar to the diatribes of the anit-immigration crowd (like Lou Dobbs and similar folks). The anti-immigrant crowd is fearful of the “foreigners” moving in to “our” country that “don’t look like us”. “don’t speak like us” and have a different culture and background. They would love to put up a wall around this country so that things stay the same and we “preserve our way of life”.

    Unfortunately, “Change” is very difficult accept no matter where it comes from. Heck, I hate Change just as much as the next person, but Change is a constant in our society. Change is like the flow of a very strong river, you cannot stop the riverflow or hold it back. At best you can try to contain it or somehow try to harness its power to create and destroy.

    Its too late for the anti-immigrant crowd as all the “brown” immigrants are already here. Just look around, this wave of immigration to America has already **changed** the look, language and color of America, and America’s politics, too. Its probably also too late for Lincoln Park and the rest of LA as the developers have already taken over and planned to change LA into a more “dense” LA in the future. Unfortunately, you cannot put up a wall around Lincoln Heights in the hopes that it will not change. The wave of “lofties” and other newcomers will change the look, language and color of Lincoln Heights. Lincoln Heights version 2007 does not look like Lincoln Heights version 1977, which does not look like Lincoln Heights version 1957. For example, I understand that my father lived in Lincoln Heights for a time in the late 1950’s/early 60’s when he first came to the USA but had to move because the apartment he rented was going to be torn down and paved over by the 5 Freeway.

    I only wish the developers (or the police–nah, too much to ask) could clean house by exterminating the gangs infesting Lincoln Heights and Highland Park. When I was growing up, one of my high school classmates was shot and killed while eating a taco at Carnitas Michoacan on N Broadway. He was a good guy and I bet that his mother and father still mourn his senseless loss. Not to mention all the lost souls who lost their lives when the Avenues declared open season on Dogtown in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

  4. Graham K says:

    Have you noticed that on the street in front of those buildings, there are fake “tags” that look like artsy stencilings, but are actually advertisements for the lofts! Viral marketing for rich hipsters…

  5. chichilala says:

    fake tags for fake people who live fake lives

  6. Aleks says:

    I got to agree with TacoSam on this one. I’ve seen lots of changes taking place here in Lincoln Heights, and in surrounding neighborhoods for that matter, over the past few years and I actually welcome it. Not all might be for the best, but who’s best are we concerned about?? I think with these changes Lincoln Heights will get more services. More cops. Less violence (hopefully) and eventually start driving the “bad” people out. Also, it’s getting better for property value here, which my mom and I are happy about. You know how many offers we’ve gotten for our property which reaches all the way up to flat top? Development is just about here for that area and we’re going to benefit from it. So change is good, I think. Of course, during the change we might lose some of the things we’ve come to love about Lincoln Heights over the years we’ve lived here, but that’s part of life.
    For those of you who have looked at the website which talks about the history of Lincoln Heights (www.lincolnheightsla.com), you will see that in the early days there was nothing, but “white” people living here and most homes were beautiful, with Victorian style homes and even mansions in LHTS. Then one day Latinos and other non-whites came into the picture and there was change. What if the “whites” had built a wall to protect their neighborhood and keep change out?? Well, we wouldn’t be here to enjoy this wonderful neighborhood.
    I say welcome change, but try to use it to your own advantage. As the previous joke about the auto detailing was mentioned, well, that’s a start!

    Aleks

  7. P-3000 says:

    I hate the idea of gentrification, but gotta agree with TacoSam.
    We can’t stop it.
    We saw how up in SF’s MIssion homies tried to scare whitey by detailing BMWs with scratches, flats tires and some violence, but it didn’t stop them.
    In our downtown, if they could move skid row east, including the Mission, they will move anything in pursuit of the buck.
    My long term guesses are:
    a) a big earthquake hits and scares the shit out of midwest Jane and John and they high tail it back home
    b) we continue our economic spiral into a depression and lofts, schmofts, they will end up housing anyone, including po’ folks.
    c) they come in the front door, we come in the back, and we make brown, bilingual, taco loving, low riding, gansta babies with them. and it seems like they were never here.
    d) Idiocracy.

  8. EL CHAVO! says:

    TacoSam, et al.
    I welcome change, I’m not a believer in some pristine past. Structural investments and expanded services can benefit the community, but of what use is to the residents if they get priced out and can’t enjoy any of the improvements? Have you ever had a landlord fix up your place just so that they can quickly throw you out to increase the rent? That’s what these lofts represent, a cumulative negative change. Whether anything can be done to stop it or not is up for debate, but I refuse to let investors off the hook and accept whatever changes to our communities they see fit.
    One thing I’d like to point out: there is a big difference between getting pushed out of a neighborhood and choosing to leave it, as happened during the eras of White Flight ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_flight) in LH and Boyle Heights. Having the option to choose to move somewhere “better” (like so many Latinos and Blacks did in the 90’s moving out to the Inland Empire) is not the same as having to leave because you can no longer afford the rent in the neighborhood.
    Which brings us to the next point: this is ultimately about class and not about ethnicity. Koan and Aleks make the correlations with race but that is a very limited way to understand these fundamentally economic issues, you can be Latino, White, or Asian and still be on either side of the gentrification coin, my diatribe applies to them all.
    Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments.

  9. huro says:

    I first heard about those lofts almost 4 years ago. At the time, they made it sound like it was going to be totally sustainable yet attainable by all, wanting to be part of the community and promoting the Metro in favor of lessening our dependence on the almighty auto as an attempt to save money and foster a healthier environment. They were touting abandoning car ownership as a prime way to save money to become a homeowner and stakeholder in our neighborhood.

    Now? It just looks like another slick loft with a fancy-looking marketing schtick. And, with those prices, even peeps making 84k can’t afford them unless they don’t have student loans or credit card bills or have been living with mom and pops saving all their cash for a super fat downpayment. Originally they were supposed to start in the low 200s, now they’re at least 100k above that.

    I welcome the day when all the loft speculators lose their butts and have to lower their prices so ANYONE can afford to live in their 600 sq/ft boxes and then we can have a real community instead of an insular hipster-fest.

  10. P-3000 says:

    One point about the Latinos and Blacks that moved out to the IE, they didn’t all move because they got a good job. NO WAY. Many also left because of gang injunctions, the crumbling LAUSD and surrounding school systems, crack cocaine, and violence in the streets.
    They were pushed out and some were pulled.
    Today many are hoping to come back by selling off the stucco box in the IE and using the money, but housing in the core is ridiculous, for now.

  11. chimatli says:

    The IE is sorely lacking infoshops and other community run spaces. They make a world of difference for youth and others who imagine another world is possible.

  12. KIKO says:

    Change: Everything is change. We are all change. I have no problem with change, I welcome and encourage acceptance of it. It’s what life is about. I have a problem with people who try to construct a world, and then force the rest of us to live in it, in which change is denied, hidden, punished. This is a world of death, a world which refuses change. This is the world of the gentrifiers who are moving into these areas, those “fake” people as chichilala says here.

    Gentrifiers don’t bring change. They bring stagnation. They bring a culture of homogeneity and death that is resistant to change. They represent and support and ARE the status quo–the opposite of change.

    This isn’t about REAL “change,” unless you mean the monetary kind, the kind that homeless people ask for because they can’t afford to live anywhere.

    oh, and:

    Main Entry: di·a·tribe
    Pronunciation: ‘dI-&-“trIb
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Latin diatriba, from Greek diatribE pastime, discourse, from diatribein to spend (time), wear away, from dia- + tribein: to rub
    1 archaic : a prolonged discourse
    2 : a bitter and abusive speech or writing
    3 : ironic or satirical criticism
    (Merriam-Webster online)

    Neither this posting, nor the sickly season posting, strike me as particularly illustrating any of these definitions. I think some of what is said in both cases consciously references the kind of rhetoric of someone like Lou Dobbs–in a somewhat ironic way designed to turn that stuff inside out, turn it on its head, and turn it back on itself to point out its own flawed reasoning. I guess then it might somewhat touch on the third definition as ironic or sarcastic, but I don’t think that’s what TacoSam meant, nor do I think it does either posting justice to dismissively and simplistically categorize them as such, because both illustrate a great deal more than this one small tactic.

    But speaking of diatribes, there are lots of different ways to be bitter and abusive in one’s writing. TacoSam’s posting here illustrates one in which the language appears calm, reasoned, almost friendly even. But as anyone who has had any experience with a patronizing, condescending, dismissive person knows, some of the most hurtful and damning language can come with the most smiley, friendly voice and face.

    It appears to ME that TacoSam is condescending, dismissive, and inaccurate. S/he represents (and appeals to those who espouse) that old paternalistic, patriarchal, imperialist line of, “Now now, ignorant little children/women/poor people/people of color/non-heterosexuals, if you would only see that this is just the way things are, the way they’ve always been, and the way they’ll always be, and if you stop complaining, and just accept it all, then we’ll all be a whole lot happier. just ignore my boot on your neck and smile, m’kay?”

    I choose to not engage a discussion like this beyond calling out what I see the human being doing because it appears to ME that the human being is not coming from a place of true willingness to communicate, so it is therefore a waste of time and energy to get caught up in an exchange. There are too many blind spots there. Of course they will say I am just mounting an ad hominem fallacy argument or something. That I am the one that is dismissive. But honestly, after spending many many hours responding to folks like TacoSam, I don’t care what they think that I just say what I think about them and their argument on MY terms, not their western, euro-defined terms of “reasoning” and “argument” and “logic,” and then just leave it at that. It’s not that I can’t do it, I just don’t have the time or energy anymore, and somebody else can take that merry-go-round on if they want.

    oh by the way, one thing that I do agree with TacoSam on is that somebody definitely should “clean house”–and I think a great place to start would be with the cops–the biggest gang in L.A. Maybe we could stop them from harrassing and killing poor brown and black people in their job of protecting and serving the rich and powerful (and, yes, white). Hey here’s an idea: Get rid of the cops, and get rid of the rich and powerful. Now THERE’S some fucking change, culeros. “Oh come on, we’ve got to be realistic!!!” yeah, I AM realistic. YOU’RE the ones living in a fantasy, in which the only thing holding up the whole illusion is the promise of violence. who’s really unrealistic?

    as always, thanks for posting, EL CHAVO! you’ve got some interesting peeps reading your blog, man. props to you for juggling all these different worlds with dignity and grace and truth. I couldn’t do it.

    -K

  13. Juice says:

    Change? I think you guys may be jumping the gun on the gentrification issue. I am a Latino who grew up in Lincoln Heights in the 70s and 80s, graduated college and was able to move far away from my doorstep gang shootings (no exaggeration) to the “safe haven” of the San Gabriel Valley. But now I want to buy a place but can’t afford a house in this market, even in Lincoln Heights, even though I make over 84k . . . So, I checked out the Fuller Lofts open house, and the Avenue 26 condos, and guess what . . . it’s not big money “whitey” who is there interested in moving in. It’s mostly hard-working Latinos like me (teachers, civil servants, young couples), good hard-working people, just trying to find a cool place to own where we won’t go into extreme debt fixing an old house. There’s no need to hate on these condos and lofts. (Or haven’t you seen the demographics of the Avenue 26 condos?) All the big-money people you’re worried about are moving to South Park in downtown, not into Lincoln Heights. If any neighborhood should worry it’s East LA, along the GoldLine extension, where major developments are already in the works.

    Really, though, I think we all should just be happy that this area that has been a dump longer than I’ve been alive is finally getting cleaned up…

  14. chimatli says:

    Interesting, what makes a neighborhood a “dump”?
    A few things things I think make LH a little dumpy-ish:
    Landlords who do the bare minimum to upkeep their properties.
    Stores that create blight with their physical manifestations of fortress mentality.
    Lack of social services, community activities, accessible parks
    Other than that, I wouldn’t call LH a “dump.” But perhaps I have a different perspective because I choose to live here and my idea of beauty goes beyond middle class aesthetics and facades.

    In any case, I don’t see how condos/lofts/developers will improve the neighborhood for the people already living here. And again, these discussions have more to do with class than with race. Middle class Latinos moving into the urban core with their suburban ideals need to check themselves too. Cities are dynamic, chaotic, messy places.

  15. Juice says:

    Of course, I didn’t mean Lincoln Heights was a dump. I meant the specific area where they are building these lofts has long been the sight for people dumping things they don’t want, whether to the Goodwill, St. Vincent’s or directly on the street. (They even used to “dump” criminals there in the old jail.) As evidenced by the abandoned car pictures, this is still going on . . .

    Or do you prefer abandoned cars in your front yard, locked-up toothpaste, etc., as part of your ideals?

    And the sicklyseason.com link was not about class. It was about race.

  16. TacoSam says:

    Kiko, thanks for your kind words. As your post illustrates, your point that “…there are lots of different ways to be bitter and abusive in one’s writing…” is valid. In fact, the language in your post “… appears calm, reasoned, almost friendly even…” just like in my post. Hmmm.

    You also made some incorrect assumptions about me and what I represent. So be it. My opinion and viewpoint is simply that, and is just as valid as everyone elses on here, including yours. After all, it is a “comment board” and El Chavo comes up with some interesting posts (both funny and serious) for people to comment on. As another commenter once said, El Chavo is the Latino Huell Howser.

    I do not believe my comment was “condescending, dismissive, and inaccurate.” In fact, my comment was neither in favor of or against the so-called “gentrification” of Lincoln Heights. It is apparent that the condo/lofts are already in the construction phase, so its “too late” to stop this project from being built. That was the point of my comment. If you read anything further into my comment, so be it, but that is your prerogative.

    Future projects are a different story and the local community can and should (but probably won’t) organize to determine what is in the best interest of the community. That is the way its supposed to work, but it never works that way in real life. The developers grease the pockets of the Mayor, City Council Members and the planning commission. Tale as old as time.

    Now, other than getting rid of the “biggest gang in L.A.”, Kiko’s post offers no insights or solutions to the so-called “gentrification” of Lincoln Heights. Generally, it is not enough to make a blanket statement that all “gentrification” is evil without offering any other solutions. That would be too easy.

    Chavo and Chimatli, I do agree with you that this issue is more about class than ethnicity or race. However, the number of “middle class” people who can afford to purchase a home in California is extremely small now (maybe that will change with all the foreclosures but who knows). At the same time, rental rates have gone through the roof everywhere. So I think housing costs are hurting both the lower class and the middle class, property buyers and renters alike. As Juice’s post illustrates, housing is freaking expensive in SoCal, even if you make more than 84k a year (which most people do not).

    Juice and Chimatli, I think the overall common goal that everyone would like to see is a safer, better and improved Lincoln Heights. I do not and have never lived in Lincoln Heights so I do not know whether these condos/lofts are part of the answer or the great evil that will destroy the neighborhood.

    However, I do know that as a person gets older their perspective changes based on their life experiences, education and stage in life. For example, if a person has children most of the time that person would like their childrent to grow up in a safe neighborhood with good schools, where the kids will not be in danger of being mowed down by a gang member’s stray bullet. These suburban “ideals” (safe neighborhood, low crime, good schools, etc.) would go far in helping improve any community.

  17. What is so interesting about the various responses to ‘Gentrification: its little things’, is the American symptom of masking class with a language of race… so typically American.

  18. Juice says:

    TacoSam,
    Although I did not take offense by your initial comments, I appreciate your clarification. I do want to point out, though, that the developer of the lofts is a NON-PROFIT corporation, http://www.livableplaces.org, who, I have no doubt, started with the best intentions of building affordable housing for the community. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the continuing delays in completion, I am sure the crappy real estate market and nationwide escalating construction costs forced them to raise prices from the $200s to $300s just to break even, sadly, thereby now making them “unaffordable” to the very people they intended as residents. Simply put, the market is to blame. And whether that bubble will burst, hey, stay tuned . . .
    You are correct, though, in asserting that we can’t just rally against any development, as new housing brings residents who spend more money in the community, which, ultimately should lead to improved schools, services and conditions for the whole community. I would hope to think that those ideals you mention (safe neighborhood, low crime, good schools, etc.) are everyone’s and not just suburbia’s. That is why concerned Lincoln Heights residents should be active at the development stage and not just pooh-pooh things after the fact. Believe it or not, with organization, you can control your neighborhood development. Just look at how well other cities do it (ex. S. Pasadena residents keeping the 710 out, etc.) . . .

  19. Nate says:

    Good stuff El Chavo. And thanks for the Sickly Season link.

  20. jk says:

    What a great thread!

    My only observation: “affordable housing” is the new lingo for a vanguard of gentrification. And, frankly, even if the typical new condo buyer is a struggling middle class teacher, social worker, or firefighter, it’s still some type of gentrification.

    Even my looking for an apartment near LATTC is a kind of gentrification, because most of my coworkers commute into the area from their lower-middle-class suburban communities of color (that some call “the inner city”) or their relatively middle class parts of the City of LA. There’s already one “gentrifier” apartment building there near LATTC. I think it’s struggling. Some of the retail stores they put in are like the stores a block away – stores for locals, not yuppies. Maybe I’ll move in.

    “Affordable housing” used to strike fear into the hearts of suburban house-mortgage-holders fearing an influx of poor people into their (barely) middle class neighborhoods, but today, it means something else entirely. The alternative term, “workforce housing”, refers to people who make around $70k and work in the public or quasi-public sector. “Senior housing” is a way to get grandma and grandpa out of the bedroom so the kids can have more space to grow up. With middle class folks and old folks laying claim to all the new subsidized affordable housing, what’s left for the poor?

    There’s Pueblo del Sol, a HOPE VI project that fixed up the old Aliso Village projects. All good, except it has half the units of Aliso Village, and a number of low-end townhouse units sold at market rate. They also have a zero-tolerance for breaking community rules – like a gang injunction for everyone. It adds up to a Orwellian para-suburb in what was traditionally one of the working class areas of LA (even when the Molokans and Russians lived there).

    But, hey, if that’s what it takes to gain some peace, maybe people will go for that, at least for a while. Then they might learn to have the problems that happen in working class suburban areas.

    This latest mortgage meltdown might actually help the situation. You can only hope.

    And, I guess for the current residents facing this wave of people, they have to organize to demand their rights, as people, to the improvements the city will buy for these new middle class residents.

  21. Chuck Morse says:

    Hi everyone,

    This is a super interesting discussion… as someone who lives in New York City and has witnessed decades of the most virulent gentrification, let me just begin by saying: You are doomed! There is no hope! You are going to die!

    Just kidding, but one of the reasons that this discussion so interesting to me is because my wife and I are thinking about moving out to LA in part because housing in New York is so freaking expensive (yeah, even worse than out there!).

    Anyway, I’ve lived in one gentrifying neighborhood after another in New York and have thought a lot about the issue. I want to make two points:

    First, I think it’s a mistake to blame someone looking for cheap housing or (in most cases) someone looking to make a profit off the housing that they own. For example, we live in one of the few remaining working-class neighborhoods in New York City. We moved here because it was one of the only few places where we could get a decent apartment for a price that we were willing to pay. I’d bet that the landlord is charging us more than the previous tenant, but should we be blamed for paying it (when this was the most affordable, decent place that we could find)? And, likewise, should our landlord be blamed for charging us a little more? The guy grew up in our apartment (with his mom, dad, and five other brothers and sisters), he’s a firefighter, and has two kids with his wife. How can they be faulted for wanting to make a buck? They want to send their kids to college too and probably also like to take a vacation every now and again. My point is that discussions about gentrification tend to pit poor people against poor people, which is not right, in my view.

    Second, I think the issue is affordable housing. If people can’t find decent places to live, that’s a huge problem. There is no way around that. Whether gentrification brings good things or bad things, housing is a right not a luxury and we should all be pissed off that we’re stuck in this situation. We can change it, if we stick together and organize, but we need to make sure that we put the blame on the people who deserve it, not the little guy/gal, but the bigwigs who have 99.99999% of the wealth. They have names and address and can be stopped.

  22. chuy90023 says:

    Chavo, you took the words out of my mouth–it’s really about class, not ethnicity! (Although, unfortunately, too many of our friends of color don’t see this fact–perhaps because too many social-justice theorists of color are rather privileged themselves and their personal experiences with class oppression is less marked than their sense of racial bias.) And I’m glad you point out to TacoSam that previous communities residing in Lincoln Heights (or Boyle Heights, for that matter) were not pushed out but left on their own.

    I would add that this makes TacoSam’s analogy between gentrification and the influx of brown immigrants ludicrous, as immigrants are not pushing anybody out. Rather, it is they who are being pushed out of their countries by the same forces (especially with the loosening of regulations, such as through NAFTA) that make gentrification a problem.

    Not that gentrification is entirely bad, as several here point out. It can potentially lead to the development of mixed-income communties, which would be good. But if all those who are poor and afflicted with problems of stability and crime (such as the gangbangers TacoSam wants exterminated) are pushed out of our neighborhoods, then gentrification’s potential good will be lost.

    As for the gangs, let us not forget that they are not “other” and therefore dismissable, or to be exterminated. They are us; they are our own problem. Fortunately, I don’t have anyone in my family in a gang or a direct victim of gang violence but I think it would be good, TacoSam, to imagine that you have a brother in a gang and who does bad things to himself and others. Then you might be more inclined to recognize gangbangers’ humanity and endeavor to ask what leads boys into gangs and how we can change that.

  23. chichilala says:

    Survey

    Seriously condiser the following question:
    1. What if gentrification was equally an issue of race as it is of class?

    Mind you, this is purely a “what if” question- requiring you to imagine and fully empathize with this as a possiblity. Really dig in the discomfort I imagine you feel.

  24. Taco Sam says:

    Chuy90023, I did not draw an analogy between immigration and gentrification. Nor did I say that immigrants are pushing anybody out. As I clarified in my 8/13 post, the point of my 8/11 post is that its “too late” to stop this condo project from being built. Likewise, its “too late” to stop the flow of recent immigration that is already here.

    Let me further clarify one last time. The analogy I made is that the **arguments** against gentrification, sound very similar to the **arguments** against immigration (i.e., we need to preserve our way of life so we will not allow any [immigration/gentrification/development], the culture of the neighborhood will change with the arrival of the [foreigners/condos], etc.). I then made the point that the **arguments** in Chavo’s post and in the linked post are basically irrelevant at this point in time because its “too late”–the condos are in the construction phase already and the immigration wave is already here.

    As for the gangs, that is a whole other topic. I am glad that gang violence has not touched your family. Unfortunately, it has touched many families of color in East LA and South Central LA (or “South LA” as its now called). I suggest visiting the LA Times’ “Homicide Report” blog by Jill Leovy. Link: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/homicidereport/

    There you will find incredible firsthand reports of how gang violence hurts families. Reading about the survivors (and comments from the families) will break your heart and you will realize that most homicides are brown on brown or black on black. Very sad stuff, and a vivid illustration of the waste of lives for nothing really.

    Maybe “exterminating” was not the right word choice. It does sound dehumanizing, so I respectfully withdraw that statement. I recognize gangbanger’s humanity, and only wish that the gangmembers themselves also recognized the humanity of others so that there could be true peace and safety in the neighborhood. Violence is not the answer. Thanks for reminding me.

  25. KIKO says:

    WHA-WHA-WHAT!@?!?!? equally an issue of race and class? now you’re talking crazy talk there! everybody knows this is all SOLELY about C-L-A-S-S. As in you’ve got no class, if you keep bringing race into the discussion (there’s a bad Fat Albert joke in there somewhere).

    I think “exterminating” was exactly the right word choice. It conveys its intent and mindset very clearly and precisely.

    What is so interesting to ME about the various responses to ‘Gentrification: its tha little things’, is the leftist/progressive replication of the American symptom of masking race with a language of class… it’s tripped out to me how folks dismiss any invocation of race as irrelevant, beside the point, and detrimental to a “clear” reading of the underlying issue of class. It’s weird, it’s almost like how white people are just fine talking about racism and diversity and multiculti shit, but then they get all funky when white privilege is pointed out, like they just laid a big stinky pedo in the room and need to deflect attention away by immediately focusing on something else like intra-racism between nonwhites, or class, or…

    (he who smelt it…).

    and I think that’s an important distinction to make, by the way–we’re not simply talking about race, we’re talking about white privilege here, as relates to gentrification. and maybe that’s what strikes a raw nerve more than anything, and why the conversation quickly shifts to discussions about brown gentrifiers and so on.

    but hey, I was thinking: isn’t ANY conversation about gentrification automatically about class, by definition? we’re talking about the historical gentry, right? privatizing and dividing up communal lands? etc.? (J.K., you always have a good handle on the deep history of shit like this, break it down.) I mean, assuming that we’re talking about conscious, thinking people who understand what they’re talking about, of course, isn’t everybody in the room assumed to have an awareness that “gentrification” is about class? (hmmm, maybe that’s the problem–some of us have been written off as not having a complex understanding of the topic at hand because we choose to touch on taboo dimensions of the issue…)

    but so anyway, assuming everybody knows we’re talking about class to begin with, then it becomes a question of what context, what intersections of different dimensions of gentrification, and so on, we are going to discuss. gay men gentrifying economically depressed areas with extra disposable income? upwardly mobile brown and black families fleeing to the suburbs and then returning? starving artists pricing themselves out of the only places they can afford to live and still do their work? shifting demographics, migration, economic patterns, white flight vs. brown push, etc.? the ways in which power and whiteness are intertwined, and the ways in which this leads to people of color (correctly) perceiving and experiencing gentrification as a parallel/intertwined strand of the racism and exclusion they see every day? an internalization of dominant views and an identification with those in power by those who are excluded from power?

    why does focusing on any of these relevant issues prompt all of these disclaimers of, like, “Of course, it’s more about class than race, for sure…” as if the people who choose to discuss these issues in the context of race (or whatever other relevant dimension) are too stupid to realize and understand the complex ways in which these different sites of power intersect and work together?

    veeeeeerrrry interesting to me.

    speaking of “relevance”—as for “irrelevant arguments,” man, you don’t get any more dismissive than that. (again, perfect word choice to sum up all the other rhetorics of dismissal and condescension peppered throughout). anyway, I actually don’t really see how either post is an “argument,” per se. It’s more like they present a set of experiences and observations, a documentation of how gentrification looks to some particular people, based on a particular set of social-historical circumstances. but I can see how they might appear “irrelevant” to those who identify with the dominant ideology, which does not want these things to be discussed by these particular kinds of people with these kinds of experiences. historically, it makes sense that such experiences would be condescendingly written off as irrelevant. After all, that’s how histories (and people) are erased to make way for power, and how official stories of progress and power become the approved document of what went down.

    if you don’t see how El Chavo’s documentation of his experience of his neighborhood being gentrified is relevant to an understanding of what gentrification means to the people whom it affects most detrimentally–and if you don’t find it relevant to gain such an understanding in the first place–then why bother having this conversation? why chime in at all in the first place, other than to shit on others who choose to find and document the relevance and meaning in their communities and their own lives?

    but hey, who am I to say anything if I’m not offering “solutions”? my voice is irrelevant, of course, by the standards of those who identify with power. how convenient that works out. I suppose I should just shut the hell up already and take it. after all, dialogue and communication and sharing one’s experience is useless and irrelevant when it comes to finding “solutions.”

    Tale as old as time–western civilization time, that is. which actually isn’t all that old, really…

    –d’oh!–sucked in again!

  26. EL CHAVO! says:

    Wow, there’s a bunch of good comments here! For the record, the post isn’t an “argument” against gentrification in the pro-con sense, it’s my take, and disgust, of the damage I see the process already doing. There must be some really articulate voices out there that reason for or against the process, pulling out numbers, facts, planning studies; I’m not one of them as I lack any objectiveness.

    Gentrification, which I define as the restoration of urban property that leads to the displacement of the poor, is never good. Urban renewal, restoration, etc. can be good for a poor neighborhood but since the term gentrification includes that displacement element, it would be best if we kept the proper meaning to the term and not use it in the context of “it could be good”, unless you actually think the displacement part is good.

    Kiko, I think you underestimate how rarely most people (outside of the circles that take an interest in political things) make the class connection when it comes to this topic, it mostly is seen as an issue of race/ethnicity/other.

    BTW, everyone should check out this link: http://kcet.org/explore-ca/departures/
    It deals with BH and there’s lots of different takes on gentrification and the changes coming due to the metro extension.

  27. MetroVaquero says:

    Excellent discussion. Visit our (Nate/Chuy 90023) latinourbanforum.org site within the next couple of days & blog on the blogito component. Similar issues will be addressed there as well.

  28. mooncrazy says:

    Very interesting and lively comments. I do like this site, though I’ve just stumbled in through Bandini’s Taco Hunt. I’ve lived in and around LA for over fifty years and have seen so many of these changes. If I understand Juice correctly, I do agree. You need to take back the neighborhood, not that it’s easy, but oh so necessary. Gentrification isn’t always a bad thing, well except for too many Starbuck’s.

  29. F. Castillo says:

    El Chavo said……….

    One thing I’d like to point out: there is a big difference between getting pushed out of a neighborhood and choosing to leave it, as happened during the eras of White Flight ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_flight) in LH and Boyle Heights.

    ************************************
    Are you leaving by “choice” if you leave because you have gangs in your neighborhood and you hear gunshots on many evenings? Are you leaving by “choice” if your kids tell you about being harassed and threatened by gang members at school? And you moving by “choice” because you want to keep your kids safe and have them in good schools?

    Chavo you make a big mistake of assuming only whites fled Los Angeles, and referencing a link to “white flight”, I would call it concerned parent and homeowner flight. I for one think the gentrification is a good thing for areas over run with gangs and street crime. Wikipedia is not the bible of truth.

    My long time friends live behind the new Belmont high school and have seen the Diamond street gang ruin that area, but now that “gentrification” is coming to their neighborhood they welcome it and embrace it, they are not to concerned that the diamond street gang members may have to move out of the area.

    Not everybody wants to see someone selling hot-dogs from a shopping cart equipped with a propane tank; especially the legit small business owner who store the hotdog cart is parked in front of.

    Just my two centavos from an old viejo.

  30. chuy90023 says:

    Don F. Castillo, let me clarify that while wikipedia is hardly the “bible of truth,” the article on white flight–the phenomenon of mass white exodus to the suburbs during the 1950s–simply restates a well-documented episode in urban history in the US. You can find it in any LA history book in the library. White flight is hardly about people like you and me simply seeking to be safe from crime. Rather, it’s about how the US government subsidized the development of suburbs so that white people (including people not formerly considered white, like Russians and Jews) could be middle class and live removed from people of color. So no, Latinos were certainly not part of white flight.

    On the other hand, you’re right about Latinos moving in search of safer neighborhoods. Racial convenants aren’t the problem anymore, now it’s just money. When they can move, they do it, but many can’t afford to.

    Throughout the history of the world poor neighborhoods in cities have suffered from high crime rates. A certain percentage of alienated youth banding together and being antisocial and violent has always been one consequence of urban poverty, whether it’s Damascus in the year 600 A.D., Rome in 100 B.C., or Los Angeles in 2007. They are victims of an unjust system that impoverishes and alienates, just like the victims of their theft and violence (you and me). While I understand your frustration, let us not forget to be content to resort to impulses, like by seeking their extermination or the banishment of their families.

    As for the hot-dog vendors, I don’t mind them at all myself. But more importantly, keep in mind that they themselves hardly think their jobs are enviable. They most likely wish to be as comfortable as you and me and have the luxury to complain about street vendors on a blog. They do that job because they’re poor and have no better choices. The solution is not to price them out of the neighborhood so that they can be even more miserable somewhere else, but to end poverty. And remember that their poverty in their respective countries of origin is our problem too. Wild, unregulated capitalism, which the US government pressures other countries to adopt, is hugely to blame for their need to emigrate from Mexico and Central America while costing working-class people in the US well-paying jobs. The rich on both sides of the border, meanwhile, just get richer.

  31. maxwell says:

    I actually wrote the piece on this development for New Angeles Monthly. The nature of the magazine forced me to write a mostly non-critical descriptive entry, but after talking to many individuals at Livable Places, I can’t find almost a single instance of their actually practicing any of the lofty (harhar) goals that they claim on their various websites. They aren’t even using local contractors, workforce or lenders. It’s a ridiculous site for a massive living complex anyways.

  32. Ana Salas says:

    My mother worked at Saint Vincents De Paul Society (thrift store) for 33 years. I remember on saturdays I had to go to work with her and I would always sneak away and go buy wooden knick nacks from two men that were always selling stuff that looked like junk…Lol. I still have the stuffed over grown burro that I bought for $3.00 from them..lol

    I guess (property) change is always good but Only if it benefits the people of the community, if not it defeats the purpose. Wow I got a flash back of the Quebratita…Do you happen to have pictures of that?

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