Residents of South Los Angeles and the UNIDAD Coalition gathered recently on the steps of city hall to call on the city council’s Planning and Land Use Managementcommittee to stand with the community’s vision for future development in their neighborhoods.

They cited displacement, gentrification, and a lack of economic opportunities as daily realities in the historically underserved community. They also argued that the increased pace of investment in the area by wealthy developers has them worried about the effects of unchecked development, particularly in terms of rent and profitability of small businesses.

“Through years of neglect by our government and private investors, I’ve watched my neighbors disappear from my community,” said Steven Love II, a resident of Council District 9. “Many of them have been priced out because of rising rents and lack of work opportunity. I’m still here, and I want to contribute to this conversation. The People’s Plan brings concrete ideas to the table that decision makers should use to ensure development uplifts the community.”

At stake are Black and Latino households and small businesses who comprise the historic cultural centers that they say make South Los Angeles a unique place. New zoning is being proposed and hundreds of billions of dollars is expected to be added to the value of South Los Angeles land. The “People’s Plan” involves prioritizing investment in local families and businesses.

“City leaders have an opportunity to listen to what disenfranchised residents need, not just those with political capital and access to policy discussions,” said Benjamin Torres, president and CEO of CDTech. “Literally, hundreds of residents were engaged through dozens of meetings to create the People’s Plan. That’s how important this is to folks like small business owners, tenants, students and homeowners. They crafted a coherent vision and have made a strong case for being taken seriously.”

Among the proposals in the People’s Plan that have yet to be incorporated are those that address the 1,800 families who have been displaced in Council Districts 8, 9 and 10 through the use of the Ellis Act. The community proposals call for the City to set limits on the annual number of apartment homes that can be demolished or converted into condos. The use of the Ellis Act, according to the coalition, has increased rapidly in recent years. Coalition members say anti-displacement is at the core of good development policy.

“South LA has seen the mass exodus of its Black residents over the past decade because of short-sighted, profit-driven development,” said Cynthia Strathmann, executive director of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy. “The heart of its existing working class and low-income communities of color now have an opportunity to work with our city leaders to pass good land-use policy that creates more affordable housing through incentives, and keeps residents in their communities.