Urban renewal of the 1960s, which James Baldwin coined, “Negro Removal,” met fierce community opposition. Modern-day gentrification is more subtle, but equally vicious.
The powerful perpetrators of displacement must like that the conversation typically focus on the new residents walking their dogs. It prevents a thorough analysis of the forces at play and the actors involved.
In Los Angeles many of the actors are Black elected officials, who implement the policies of their corporate overseers. That is the primary reason every Black elected official on the City Council of Los Angeles who advocates and votes for gentrification mega-developments is opposing the citizen’s initiative on the March ballot, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative - Measure S. Measure S will delay or end specific gentrification mega-developments that they support and prevent future ones.
Understand that an important component in making gentrification acceptable is convincing people of color that “white ice is colder.” Some want us to blame the absence of quality services in our community on our neighborhood’s lack of White people or the lack of access to white people, so that we don’t focus on the long history of institutional racism, discrimination and divestment by both the public and private sector, because that would lead to demands for holding our elected officials and corporate America accountable. Often after heightened discriminatory policing and/or a new investment in public resources like a new transit rail line, these same people tell us to welcome the new luxury developments with $3,500 per month rents.
Changes are coming. But are these new developments by and for us? And if we are forced to move out to places like Lancaster, because we’ve been priced out of our community, how are we to enjoy and benefit from them?
Review the list of the largest proposed developments in L.A. County and it is clear that this current wave of change isn’t for the Black and Brown residents of South LA and the Eastside.
A real estate article published in May 2016 stated that the county’s biggest proposed developments are not skyscrapers in Downtown L.A. or Century City. Their locations should awaken you.
1 Rams Stadium/Hollywood Park Development (Inglewood): in addition to the stadium, retail shops and offices, 3,000 market rate luxury apartments.
2 New Wyvernwood (Boyle Heights): the demolition of the historic garden apartment complex occupied by poor and working class Latinos, to build 4,400 luxury apartments.
3 Crenshaw Mall Redevelopment (Crenshaw/Leimert Park): in addition to the renovation and expansion of the mall, a new hotel, and nearly 1,000 all luxury apartments and condos.
4 Cumulus Skyscraper (Baldwin Vista): the first approved skyscraper in the history of South LA, 30 stories at traffic-clogged La Cienega/Jefferson with nearly 1,200 luxury units.
6 Historic Sears Building (Boyle Heights): the building is to be rehabilitated for 1,100 luxury-housing units.
7 The Reef (Historic South Central): 1,440 luxury-housing units next to LA Trade Tech College.
Only one of the seven is where you’d expect it - in Downtown (#5 is the Ferrente luxury apartments by Jeffrey Palmer, the biggest donor to Donald Trump’s campaign). The other six are in historically Black and Brown communities of Inglewood, Boyle Heights, Crenshaw/Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, and Historic South Central, where the units are to be priced much higher than the amount affordable to local residents.