The right to the city is not merely a right of access to what already

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The right to the city is not merely a right of access to what already
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
Los Angeles
Fighting for a Right to the City:
Collaborative Research to Support
Community Organizing in L.A.
Community Scholars Program 2006-2007
A Comprehensive Project submitted in partial satisfaction of the
requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Urban Planning
by
Students
Community Scholars
Project Managers
Janice Burns
Lydia Avila-Hernandez
Gilda Haas
Andrea Contreras
Lidia Castelo
Jacqueline Leavitt
Michael Matsunaga
Steve Díaz
Revel Sims
Polo Muñoz
Alison Dickson Quesada
Miguel Nuñez
Colleen Flynn
Nirva Parikh
Scott Goodell
Maureen Purtill
Sumaiya Islam
Jennifer Tran
Melissa Nicholas
M. Dolly Valenzuela
Robert Rubio
Enrique Velazquez
Fabiola Sandoval
Nancy Villaseñor
Moníc Uriarte
Takatoshi Wako
Paul Vizcaino
UCLA
Department of Urban Planning, School of Public Affairs
Center for Labor Research in Education, Institute for Research on Labor and
Employment (IRLE)
DISCLAIMER
Neither the University of California nor the Department of
Urban Planning, School of Public Affairs either support or
disavow the findings in this project. The University affiliations
are for identification purposes only; the University is not
involved in or responsible for the project.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Figures and Tables ……………………………………………………………… iv
Acknowledgements and Dedication …………………………………………………….vii
Student and Community Scholar Biographies ………………………………………… viii
1.
INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………….…..1-1
2.
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN
HEIGHTS: Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
2.1
Introduction……………………………………………………………..………2-2
2.2
Community Centered Praxis: Creating a Community Profile…………………2-12
2.3
Possible Threats and Challenges……………………………………………....2-26
2.4
Relevant Interventions to Prevent Displacement and Build a Healthy,
Sustainable Community………………………………………………………..2-27
2.5
Concluding Remarks: Limitations and Possibilities…………………………...2-35
3.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
3.1
Introduction……………………………………………………………….…….3-2
3.2
Snapshot of Leimert Park……………………………………………………….3-3
3.3
Defining Problems …………………………………………………………….3-11
3.4
Redevelopment and Community Awareness…………………………………..3-14
3.5
Lessons from Little Tokyo for Save Leimert …………………………………3-22
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
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4.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL JOB RETENTION IN
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
4.1
Introduction……………………………………………………………………..4-5
4.2
Industrial Land in Los Angeles: Past and Present……..……………………….4-7
4.3
Major Players in the Debate…………………………………………………...4-12
4.4
Geography of Downtown Los Angeles………………………………………..4-18
4.5
A Profile of the Area…………………………………………………………..4-22
4.6
Industries, Establishments, and Employment………………………………....4-29
4.7
Economic Impact Assessment of Downtown Manufacturing:
IMPLAN Analysis…………………………………………………………….4-42
4.8
Case Studies: Strategies and Best Practices…………..……………………….4-47
4.9
Recommendations……………………………………………………………..4-58
4.10
Conclusion……………………………………………………………………..4-63
5.
TRANSIT AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS: Challenges and Opportunities
For South Los Angeles
5.1
Introduction……………………………………………………………………5-2
5.2
ROW Background: Location, Surrounding Area, Stakeholders, and Equity….5-3
5.3
Investment Policies, Political Realities, and Transit Ridership in
Los Angeles……………………………………………………………………5-11
5.4
Metro and the ROW…………………………………………………………...5-13
5.5
How Can Community Members Use the ROW Section in Their
Neighborhood? ..................................................................................................5-18
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
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5.6
Current ROW Use……………………………………………………………..5-19
5.7
Examples of ROW Use for Housing Construction……………………………5-21
5.8
Joint Development Samples and Opportunities……………………………….5-24
5.9
What Would it Take to Replicate the Previous Housing Examples in
Southeast Los Angeles?.....................................................................................5-27
5.10
Recommendations for FCCLT and NIC………………………………………5-30
5.11
Conclusions…………………………………………………………………...5-31
6.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR A
CITYWIDE TENANTS’ UNION FOR LOS ANGELES
6.1
Introduction……………………………………………………………………..6-3
6.2
Tenant Demographics…..……………………………………………………....6-4
6.3
Current Landscape….………………………………………………………….6-10
6.4
Existing Resources……….…………………………………………………....6-20
6.5
Best Practices…………………………………………………………………..6-26
6.6
Vision for the Future…………………………………………………………...6-32
6.7
Organizational Challenges……………………………………………………..6-41
6.8
Conclusion……………………………………………………………………..6-43
7.
CONCLUSION …………………………………………………………………7-1
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
iii
List of Figures, Tables & Maps
Figures
Figure 2-1:
Figure 2-2:
Figure 2-3:
Figure 2-4:
Figure 2-5:
Figure 2-6:
Figure 2-7:
Figure 2-8:
Figure 3-1:
Figure 3-2:
Figure 3-3:
Figure 3-4:
Figure 3-5:
Figure 3-6:
Figure 3-7:
Figure 3-8:
Figure 3-9:
Figure 3-10:
Figure 3-11:
Figure 3-12:
Figure 4-1:
Figure 4-2:
Figure 4-3:
Figure 4-4:
Figure 4-5:
Figure 4-6:
Figure 4-7:
Figure 4-8:
Figure 4-9:
Figure 4-10:
Figure 4-11:
Figure 4-12:
Figure 4-13:
Detail from the mural "The Learning Tree" by Alfredo Diaz Flores,
Plaza de la Raza, Lincoln Heights ……………………………………...2-2
Lincoln Heights in the Greater Los Angeles Area Focus on
zip code 90031 ……………………………………………………….....2-3
Industrial Laundry Union Workers ……………………………………..2-9
Median Household Income, Households Paying More than 50 Percent
Income on Rent...….………...................................................................2-16
Advertisement for luxury housing in Lincoln Heights ………………..2-18
New and Planned Improvements in Lincoln Heights …………………2-20
Concentrations of Residents with Educational Attainment of a
Bachelors Degree and Youth Serving Agencies in Los Angeles……...2-23
Industrial Laundry Union Workers ……………………………………2-37
Location of Leimert Park and Leimert Park Village …………………...3-3
Location of Leimert Park Village ………………………………………3-4
Original Olmsted Plan for Leimert Park Village ……………………….3-5
Rendering of Community Plan for Leimert Park ………...…………….3-5
Median Income Distribution in Leimert Park and its Vicinity …………3-6
Aerial Photographs of Leimert Park in 1965 and 2006 ………………...3-7
Aerial Photographs of Leimert Park Village in 1984, 1993, 2006 ……..3-7
Demographics of Leimert Park and its Vicinity …………...………….3-10
Rent Increase in Leimert Park Village ………………………………..3-13
CRA Crenshaw Redevelopment Area ………………………………...3-15
Photo of Leimert Park Village Commercial/Residential Streets ……...3-15
Draft Master Plan of Leimert Park Village Shown in the Public
Meeting on March 2006 ………………………………………………3-18
Los Angeles Wards, 1908 ……………………………………………....4-7
Los Angeles Oil Rigs …………………………………………………...4-8
Los Angeles Bridge ………………………………………………….....4-9
Biscuit Company Lofts ………………………………………………..4-10
Decision Making Process ……………………………………………..4-12
Community Planning Flow Chart (2006) ………………………….….4-13
Land Use: Greater Downtown Area ……..…………………………....4-18
Data Areas ……………………………………………………….……4-19
Downtown Districts ………………………………………………..….4-20
Downtown Area of Focus ……………………………………………..4-21
Vulnerable Populations in Los Angeles ………………………………4-23
Value Trend of Industrial Land in Downtown Los Angeles …….……4-27
Data Areas and Area of Focus ………………………………………...4-29
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
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Figure 4-14:
Figure 4-15:
Figure 5-1:
Figure 5-2:
Figure 5-3:
Figure 5-4:
Figure 5-5:
Figure 5-6:
Figure 5-7:
Figure 5-8:
Figure 5-9:
Figure 5-10:
Figure 5-11:
Figure 5-12:
Figure 6-1:
Figure 6-2:
Figure 6-3:
Figure 6-4:
Figure 6-5:
Downtown Industries: % of Establishments by Size and
Manufacturing Sector - % of Establishments by Size………………....4-36
Manufacturing Employees’ Estimated Pay Range in the
Downtown Area …………………………………………………..…..4-38
ROW Examples …………………………………………………..….…5-3
Zoning Imposed on Aerial of ROW …………………………………....5-5
Industrial Zone with Residential Land Uses …………………………....5-6
Residential Use with Rear Yard Adjoining ROW ……………………...5-6
Leased Temporary Parking Areas Along ROW ………………………..5-7
Proposed Expo Line and Existing Rail in Los Angeles ………….……5-16
Del Mar Apartments, Gold Line Station in Pasadena, CA ……………5-22
Cross Section of Light Rail with Development Above ……………….5-22
Holly Street Apartments, Gold Line Station in Pasadena, CA …….….5-23
Mercado Apartments, Barrio Logan, San Diego, CA …………………5-24
Land Parcel Owned by METRO in SELA ……………...…………….5-26
Taco Stand in Parcel Owned by METRO in SELA …………………..5-27
Poverty Rate in Each Region of L.A. County …………………….....…6-5
Household Income Between 2004-2006 …………………………….….6-6
Renter Occupied Households by Race of Householder …………….…..6-7
Occupied Housing Units by Race of Householder ………………….….6-8
Power Analysis ………………………………………………………..6-12
Tables
Table 2-1:
Table 2-2:
Table 3-1:
Table 3-2:
Table 3-3:
Table 4-1:
Table 4-2:
Table 4-3:
Table 4-4:
Table 4-5:
Table 4-6:
Table 4-7:
Table 4-8:
Table 4-9:
Table 4-10:
Amcal Housing Developments in the Avenue 26 TransitOriented Development Projects ………………………………………2-17
Case Studies: A Brief Overview ...…………………………………….2-29
A Current Inventory of Businesses in Leimert Park Village ..………….3-8
The Timeline Related to Leimert Park Visioning Process …….……...3-20
Potential List of Stakeholders for Leimert Park Community
Council …………………………………………………………….…..3-24
Impact of Land Use Conversions on Property Values …………..……4-27
Total Establishments and Employment: All Industries …………..…...4-30
Total Establishments by Type of Industry and Area ………………….4-31
Total Employment Estimates by Type of Industry and Area …………4-32
Total Manufacturing Establishments and Employment ………………4-33
Establishments by Type of Manufacturing …………………………...4-34
Employment by Type of Manufacturing ……………………………...4-35
Wage Estimates by Manufacturing Type ……………………………..4-37
Wage Estimates by Occupation ………………………………………4-38
Change in Establishment and Employment in All
Industries (‘98 to ‘03) ………………………………………………....4-39
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
v
Table 4-11:
Table 4-13:
Table 5-1:
Table 5-2:
Table 6-1:
Table 6-2:
Table 6-3:
Table 6-4:
Change in Establishment and Employment in
Manufacturing (‘98 to ‘03) …………………………………………....4-40
Summary of Output Impacts, Summary of Employment Impacts,
and Summary of Labor Income Impacts ……………………………...4-43
Evaluation of Alternatives with Initial Screening Criteria …………....5-15
Current ROW Use …...………………………………………………..5-20
Tenant Background and Landlord Satisfaction ……………………….6-37
Landlord Satisfaction Distribution ………..…………………………..6-38
Tenant Support of a Citywide Tenants Union ……………….………..6-39
Tenant response to the Role of a Tenant Union ………………………6-41
Maps
Map 6-1:
Map 6-2:
Map 6-3:
Percent of Renter Occupied Households in Los Angeles ………………6-9
Population Density of Los Angeles …………………………………...6-10
Tenants’ Rights Organizations in Los Angeles ……………………….6-26
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
vi
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND DEDICATION
This project is dedicated to the residents and community members
of Los Angeles who have been denied a seat at the table; with
special love also to the folks organizing in New Orleans to demand
a Right to their City. As students and community scholars, we are
committed to align our struggles with yours, and demand together
that all people have a right to claim their city; create it to their
heart’s desire; and demand that social and economic justice be
prioritized over private property rights.
We would also like to take this opportunity to express our deep
appreciation for the tireless support and guidance of our faculty
and project coordinators, Gilda, Jackie and Revel. You dedicate
your lives to work for social justice, connect university resources
with communities, and facilitate the processes by which we can join
you in that struggle.
In solidarity and with much respect,
~ The Scholars and Students of the Comprehensive Project
June 2007
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
vii
STUDENT AND COMMUNITY SCHOLAR
BIOGRAPHIES
Lydia Avila-Hernandez is a community organizer with East L.A. Community
Corporation in Boyle Heights. She works with low-income tenants to advocate for social
and economic justice through accountable development. In addition to her work
organizing a leadership base of Boyle Heights residents, Lydia also conducts research for
the organization on current developers and development plans, housing policy and the
community. She has launched two neighborhood committees and is currently working on
a house meeting campaign. Lydia was born, raised and currently lives and works in
Boyle Heights. In the past two years she has witnessed a steady increase in tenant
harassment and illegal evictions by landlords driven by a desire to increase profit without
respect for the local community. Her work and personal experiences with the changes in
her community has made it clear that the current struggle for communities of color in Los
Angeles must establish and demand the right to their city. Lydia joined the community
scholars program in order to work with other organizers to devise a strategy against
gentrification that will give low-income people of color ownership of their communities
through the preservation of social networks, improved housing opportunities, and selfsufficiency.
Janice Burns is a second year MA in Urban Planning candidate, studying Social
Planning and Analysis. The daughter of Panamanian immigrants, she grew up in Los
Angeles and became the first in her family to receive a degree- a BA in Sociology and
Black Studies from UC Santa Barbara. She currently works for the City of Long Beach
Housing Services Bureau, where she seeks to combine her social service and planning
experience towards the development of service-enriched housing and neighborhoods.
Lidia Castelo is a tenant organizer for Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE).
She is a charismatic leader that encourages her community leaders to empower their
neighbors, friends, and family. She leads by example and demonstrates her full
commitment and accountability in this passion that derives her to make a difference.
Lidia is actively working on a campaign to bring down one of L.A.’s biggest slumlords,
as well as smaller slumlord campaigns, and to provide individual tenant support. In doing
so, she organizes tenants by bringing awareness of their rights and an understanding of
the socio-economic impacts on their communities in order to mobilize change through the
leadership efforts in all. Through her work as a tenant organizer, she has learned first
hand the direct impacts of how gentrification victimizes working class communities;
therefore, it was essential for both community scholars and students to collaboratively
exchange ideas and create strategies for the betterment of their communities.
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
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Andrea Contreras is a second year Masters student of UCLA’s Urban Planning
program. Prior to attending UCLA, she earned a Bachelor of Arts from Pitzer College
which allowed her the opportunity to learn about the economic and social empowerment
of an Untouchable subcaste in Kathmandu, Nepal. Andrea has worked with organizations
dedicated to improving workers’ lives and communities, including the Service
Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Communities for a Better
Environment. The chance to work with community activists and apply her scholarship to
the creation of a more just Los Angeles is what drew her to the comprehensive project.
Steve Diaz is an organizer for The Los Angeles Community Action Network, where he
works with homeless and low-income residents in Downtown Los Angeles. Steve has
been organizing since he was 19 years of age. He joined the Community Scholars class
to engage in the collaborative effort of joining theory and every day struggle in the fight
for social and economic justice as it relates to the Right to the City.
Alison Dickinson Quesada is Deputy Director of the Coalition for Economic
Survival (CES). She assists tenants in protecting their rights, fighting for improved
building conditions, and organizing powerful and effective tenant associations. Alison
coordinates CES' Affordable Housing Outreach Program which organizes tenants living
in at-risk federally subsidized housing. Key to Alison's work is the development of
tenant leaders and the training and growth of other tenant organizers within CES. Before
joining CES, Alison worked as an organizer for both the Service Employees International
Union and ACORN in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Alison received her
Bachelor's Degree in International Relations from George Washington University in
Washington, D.C.
Colleen Flynn is a civil rights attorney and a member of the National Lawyers Guild.
An interest in learning the roots of the rapid gentrification of Los Angeles and how to
shift control over the built environment from those with capital and political power to
local communities brought her to the Community Scholars class.
Scott Goodell graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2003 with a major in Latin American
and Latino Studies. He is a passionate advocate for immigrant and workers rights, having
worked with both community-based organizations and labor unions in Los Angeles.
Apart from his formal work, Scott is a competent volunteer bicycle mechanic at the L.A.
Bicycle Kitchen, a nonprofit learning space dedicated to making bicycles more accessible
to all people.
Sumaiya Islam is a community organizer working with primarily Bangladeshi tenants in
Koreatown. As a youth organizer she works with South Asian youth to build leadership.
The need for us to obtain more of a voice through more decision-making power is
becoming clearer to a larger number of minority communities. Therefore, we need to
build alliances to oppose slumlords and the systematic gentrification of our
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
ix
neighborhoods. She is a member of the APPPCON equitable housing committee. She
came to the class to better understand how other communities have fought gentrification
and regained the rights to their own cities. It is imperative for smaller hidden
communities to be part of the struggle and understand the long term implications of the
developments that are happening around them.
Michael Matsunaga is a second year Urban Planning student with an emphasis in Social
Planning and Analysis. Born and raised in the harbor area of Los Angeles, he has a
vested interest in the City. He is particularly interested in the intersection between
education and planning issues.
Polo Muñoz is a second year Urban Planning MA candidate. His concentration is
Community Development and the Built Environment with an emphasis in Affordable
Housing Development. He has interned with nonprofit housing organizations in Los
Angeles and San Francisco and plans to continue doing work in housing development.
Melissa Nicholas spent this past year as an Americorp member at Habitat for Humanity,
working as the Volunteer Coordinator as well as on the construction site. Working with
affordable housing advocacy led her to join the Community Scholars to learn more about
tenants’ rights and gentrification. Before Habitat for Humanity she lived in Oaxaca,
Mexico, studying alternative economic systems to Free Trade. Growing up in a multiracial family, she will be studying multi-racial/multi-cultural identities at Claremont
Graduate University next year.
Miguel Nuñez is an Urban Planning student with an emphasis in transportation, having
interests in policy, equity, and sustainability. He has worked for the City of West Covina
for two years and will be working in the field of transportation planning upon completion
of the program. A desire to explore community-based planning and improve
accessibility, equity, and transportation drew him to the comprehensive project.
Nirva Parikh formally worked with the South Asian community on Civil Rights and
housing issues for two years before coming to the Department of Urban Planning. As a
student in this program, she focused on issues relating to workers rights, labor, and
community development. In the future she plans to work in labor.
Maureen Purtill worked with Migrant families in Northern California for three years
before she decided to enter the Planning program so that she could begin to address the
underlying root causes of social, political and economic injustice facing her community.
While in Los Angeles she has worked with the Figueroa Corridor Community Land
Trust, developing interactive popular education trainings with residents to address the
need for community control of land. She is dedicated to ensuring that University
resources and research are grounded in the realities and needs of low-income residents,
and hopes that her work will contribute to the deconstruction of white supremacy in
herself and in our society.
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
x
Robert Rubio was born and raised in the Los Angeles region. Currently a resident of
Leimert Park, he owns and operates a Los Angeles based furniture business and is one of
the founding members of the Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition. Also, he is a board
member of the Crenshaw Community Advisory Council to the CRA. He was drawn to
the Community Scholars Program out of a desire to help his community defend itself
from unwanted redevelopment and to learn from other scholars facing similar situations.
Also, he was eager to expose the plight of Los Angeles' African American community to
future planners with the hope of respecting the rights of ethnic enclaves in future
community planning and development.
Fabiola Sandoval is an Asset Manager for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation
located south of downtown in the Figueroa Corridor. She oversees property
management, complies with housing rules and regulations, and monitors the financial
operations of nine affordable housing multi-family buildings. She also coordinates tenant
relations in management through the creation of a first tenant advisory committee.
Fabiola was born and raised in the Figueroa Corridor; now a resident of Lincoln Heights
and mother to a two year old – she is dedicated to fighting for an equitable city through
her work in social justice. On her off time you can find her writing about feminism,
motherhood and documenting every-day resistance.
Jennifer Tran is a second year Urban Planning Masters Candidate with an emphasis in
Regional International Development. Prior to entering the Masters program, Jennifer
earned her BA in Sociology and a minor in Labor and Workplace Studies at UCLA. She
is currently employed as a Research Assistant for Professor Abel Valenzuela on his work
pertaining to the day laborer population. She is also undertaking a contract research
project for CIPHER to assess the potential of the Green Building Manufacturing industry
in Los Angeles.
Moníc Uriarte is a long-time resident activist and mother of four beautiful children. In
addition to supporting and spending time with her family, Moníc volunteers as a member
of the board of directors for the Figueroa Corridor Community Land Trust, works TWO
full-time community-based jobs, AND chose to participate in the Community Scholars
program to further support her community and collaborate with other organizers and
students. As a single mother struggling to make ends meet, she understands very well the
urgency of the economic and social hardships of her neighbors. With unbelievable spirit
and love, she inspires all of us to continue in the fight to create a more just and equitable
society.
Dolly Valenzuela worked as a field deputy for Councilmember Ed Reyes
for two years. Her experience in the community persuaded her to attend UCLA Planning
School in hopes of continuing to fight for equitable distribution of resources. While in
school, she continued to work for the Councilmember in the capacity of a Planning
Intern. Her work included assistance with planning issues, research, policy analysis,
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
xi
as well as continued community outreach. She is dedicated to the fight for affordable
housing, responsible economic development, and continued community participation.
Gilbert E. Velasquez (Kike) is a second year Urban Planning Masters student with an
emphasis in Economic Development and Affordable Housing. Kike, a native from El
Salvador, immigrated to the US in the 80s due to the civil war in his country. He earned
his Bachelors of Arts from Cal State Northridge in Urban Studies and Planning and has
worked for more than twenty years as a community organizer in Los Angeles’ urban
trenches.
Nancy Villaseñor is a second year UCLA Urban Planning student interested in economic
development and labor rights issues. Originally from Long Beach, she received her
Bachelor of Arts from UCLA and went on to work for the Instituto de Educación Popular
del Sur de California (IDEPSCA) where she is now a board member. The opportunity of
being able to combine academic scholarship with community activism is what brought
her to the Community Scholars class.
Prior to coming to the United States, Takatoshi Wako worked for the Ministry of Land,
Infrastructure and Transit (MLIT) with the Japanese Government as a technical official
for four years. While working at the local level in Japan, he saw a need to improve the
citizen participation process in the creation of large public infrastructure projects in
Japan. His goal through the Community Scholars Program at UCLA is to
gain skills and knowledge related to urban planning which are applicable to his
professional work in Japan, and with this knowledge, work towards a more transparent
and effective decision making process in which the public plays a greater role.
RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
xii
1.1 INTRODUCTION
The right to the city is not merely a right of access to what already exists, but a right to
change it after our heart's desire. We need to be sure we can live with our own creations
(a problem for every planner, architect and utopian thinker). But the right to remake
ourselves by creating a qualitatively different kind of urban sociality is one of the most
precious of all human rights.
David Harvey
“The Right to the City” (2003)
The Comprehensive Project at UCLA promotes the collaborative efforts of Urban
Planning graduate students and Community Scholars to examine pressing issues.
Community Scholars, who are also full or more-than-full time organizers, health
promoters and community residents, contribute their invaluable lived experiences to the
co-investigation process with graduate students to develop research that is both informed
by and informs work being done to create a more just society in their communities. The
Community Scholars program is a joint effort by UCLA’s Urban Planning Department
and The Center for Labor Research and Education to create an academic forum where
labor and community leaders can engage in applied research with students and faculty on
salient planning topics.
This year’s project was unified by an exploration of issues related to the Right to the City
movement. The genesis of this document can be traced to a focus on gentrification and
land reform, and has flourished into a challenging discussion about the definition of the
Right to the City. The union between the Community Scholars program and the
Comprehensive Project has brought together individuals with different personal and
professional backgrounds, different social and political perspectives, and different
approaches to creating change. The accumulation of such eclectic social and intellectual
capital contributed to a final product that ultimately introduces different means to
achieving the same overarching end – the creation of a just and equitable city.
While unbounded inequities have prompted the Right to the City movement to be
advanced throughout global communities, our projects specifically focus on the
application of this philosophy in the City of Los Angeles. We focus on Los Angeles for
many reasons. First, the endemic inequality and tension that exists in historical and
contemporary Los Angeles demands a more encompassing framework to combat the
array of social injustices. Second, the City is personally significant in that it retains the
history and will shape the future for many of the scholars and students. Los Angeles is a
paradoxical place as it has served as the gateway to opportunity for past and current
generations and, at the same time, threatens the quality of life of our families, friends, and
communities. It is without a doubt that the projects have some level of personal
significance to each member partaking in the Comprehensive Project. Finally, and
maybe most importantly, the present social, economic, and political climate necessitates a
Right to the City dialogue and movement in Los Angeles. The conditions of present-day
INTRODUCTION - RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
Page 1-1
Los Angeles can simply be described as a climate of great possibility. For some, it brings
the possibility of great financial reward and for others it brings great possibility of further
loss and marginalization. Rampant development throughout Los Angeles is just one issue
that exemplifies the dichotomy of possibility in the City. A hot real estate market,
coupled with the political and social push to revitalize the City, has created a market ripe
for developers and land-owners. As this small segment of society stands to reap great
rewards, low-income people of color who unduly face tenuous living conditions stand to
receive questionable to marginal social or economic benefits.
It is for these reasons and conditions that each group embarked on their projects.
Grounded in their own history, each project attempts to address current material
conditions, redistribute benefits, and alter decision-making processes that abet social
injustices. In Chapter 2, concerns over gentrification in Lincoln Heights led to a project
that hopes to serve as a model to other communities in determining appropriate
interventions to create sustainable and healthy development without displacing current
residents. In Chapter 3, cultural preservation and business gentrification are the focus of
community groups that are actively opposing city sponsored redevelopment efforts that
will change the character of Leimert Park. Chapter 4 examines the potential loss of
quality jobs for local residents as downtown development places immense pressure on
adjacent industrial land. Chapter 5 explores the potential for affordable housing
development and more equitable investments in public transit that can contribute to
improving the quality of life for residents along an unused right of way belonging to
Metro. Finally, Chapter 6 explores the feasibility of creating a citywide tenants union
that will address the problems tenants face (unjust evictions, unaffordable housing, slum
housing, rent increases) by uniting the efforts of organizations already fighting against
these injustices.
The processes by which we create our urban existence are also full of tensions.
Exploring the balance between democracy and development, policy and free-market
economics, and local and regional approaches can lead to fruitful exercises that help
identify what balance of these tensions results in a fair and equitable society.
Unfortunately, Los Angeles, like many urban centers, has witnessed potentially
cooperative viewpoints degenerate into conflicting and damaging battles where the status
quo sanctions inequality, top-down decision-making, and the primacy of private property
rights. Meanwhile, acceptance of the status quo has been institutionalized into the
governmental entities that are assigned to protect the rights and ensure the well-being of
all Angelinos.
Historically, a Right to the City has been narrowly construed to consider the extent and
varying dimensions of private property rights. We reject this conception for a much
broader definition of the Right to the City that is not based on ownership or property
rights. Furthermore, we advance the notion that to address the ills that face our urban
populations we must put forth a robust and expansive set of ideas that ensure and enhance
our many Rights to the City including stable and secure affordable housing, community
INTRODUCTION - RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
Page 1-2
involvement in the planning process, transparent decision-making, and access to
transportation and quality jobs.
On its own, each chapter seeks to address issues of inequality, displacement, and
decision-making. Unified as a single work, the text asserts various Rights to the City in
hopes of – as Harvey writes – making a better city that provides a desirable quality of life
for all of its inhabitants. Admittedly, this is neither a simple nor or short-term goal, and is
rife with obstacles and opponents, yet it is something to which we are committed.
INTRODUCTION - RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
Page 1-3
INTRODUCTION - RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
Page 1-4
Chapter 2
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN
LINCOLN HEIGHTS: Emancipatory-Action Research for a
Healthy, Sustainable Community
Scott Goodell
Melissa Nicholas
Maureen Purtill
Fabiola Sandoval
Moníc Uriarte
M. Dolly Valenzuela
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
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2.1 INTRODUCTION
Communities in Los Angeles and in urban areas around the globe have been deeply
concerned with the destabilizing and destructive effects of gentrification. Primarily lowincome communities of color have been involuntarily displaced as economic, political,
and social changes have resulted in an influx of upper-middle class residents to urban
centers. As this process continues to uproot families, destroy social networks, and
unravel the cultural fabric of communities, residents and organizers search for
interventions to prevent displacement, and ensure that existing residents claim the right to
their city. Joining as researchers, organizers, and community residents, we hope that this
project contributes to that effort, and that it be a starting point for building a base of
organized resistance to prevent displacement in Lincoln Heights and elsewhere.
Figure 2-1 “The Learning Tree”
source: Alfredo Díaz Flores
Lincoln Heights is home to primarily lowincome renters of color. The community is
located just northeast of downtown Los
Angeles, and until recently has been one of
the last few affordable areas to live for lowwage workers and their families. We have
identified Lincoln Heights as a community
that is potentially at risk of becoming
gentrified, and have chosen to work with
community residents there to develop a
project that will hopefully serve as a guide to
communities that face similar threats of
displacement due to gentrification.
Utilizing an “emancipatory action research” framework we begin with the lived realities
of residents of Lincoln Heights. To contribute to the discussion started by residents we
then provide some of the underlying historical, political, economic, and planning forces
that have worked to shape the community in which they live. We also acknowledge and
examine some of the specific threats to the stability of the community so that we can
begin a discussion about how to respond to them. And finally, based in the emergent
themes from discussions with residents we review a number of case studies from other
communities who offer us lessons that may be specifically appropriate to organizing in
Lincoln Heights.
This work does not by any means attempt to provide the perfect answer to the problem of
displacement, but it does hope to stimulate an engaged community-based conversation
and incorporate theory and practice into long term projects that will ensure residents in
Lincoln Heights retain a right to their community. We hope to support proactive
processes of engaged community economic development that create sustainable and
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
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healthy communities for working class and so-called marginalized peoples in Lincoln
Heights and elsewhere.
We do not need to wait for the eviction notices to arrive to start organizing against
displacement and we can not rely on a system that is rooted in white supremacy and
capitalism to ensure the needs of low-income renters are met. We do need to create
healthy cities that value all people regardless of income, race, or any other socially
constructed identity used to marginalize us. Rights are only honored if they are fought
for, and the fight against gentrification is the fight for a Right to the City for all of its
inhabitants.
Figure 2-2 Study Area: Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles CA 90031
source: www.nkca.ucla.edu 4/15/07
Lincoln Heights is adjacent to both downtown L.A., as well as many other communities
where the effects of gentrification are more visible. Similar neighborhoods surrounding
the central core of Los Angeles have already been culturally and socially uprooted as
many working class communities have been disrespected and displaced to make room for
upscale residents and their housing and social needs. While the “gentrifiers” are not
always necessarily white, we feel that this process is one that is rooted in ideologies of
white supremacy that do not value the cultural fabric that is being destroyed when people
are involuntarily displaced (Yancey, 2004). When one group moves in and is allowed to
displace another group, the pre-existing residents in effect become “othered” and
unwanted, while the newcomers are seen as better citizens and more desirable in terms of
economic development.
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
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In 1873 the Southern Pacific Railroad built a link to L.A. from the East Coast and the
Santa Fe Railroad built a second link to the area in 1885. This brought thousands of new
settlers, and in 1889, horse drawn streetcars were replaced by electric cable cars, further
facilitating migration into the neighborhood. With the proximity of the railroad and
relatively inexpensive cost of land, many new industries were established in the area,
including wineries, bakeries, a fireworks company, a rock and gravel plant, and a
fertilizer manufacturer. During this time, many blue collar immigrant workers from
Germany and Italy who worked in the new industry settled in Lincoln Heights
(Bermudez, 2003).
Lincoln Heights has always been an ethnic enclave. Currently, the majority of residents
are of Mexicano descent with an upsurge in the Chinese and Vietnamese communities.
During the coming of the railroads in the 1880s more and more Mexicano/as began to
move to the communities of Boyle Heights, Chavez Ravine, and Lincoln Heights (Acuña,
1984). Due to this long residential history, the existing cultural fabric is valued and
indispensable for current residents. Surveys undertaken for this project demonstrated that
since individuals had family and friends living in the community, long standing
relationships contributed to their desire to stay in Lincoln Heights.
Although it was not mentioned in our surveys, we want to acknowledge that Lincoln
Heights has a rich history of resistance. By 1950, the Community Service Organization
(CSO) had developed three branches in East Los Angeles - Boyle Heights, Belvedere,
and Lincoln Heights. With support from the National Industrial Areas Foundation, Fred
Ross founded the CSO in California after WWII. Saul Alinsky, César Chavez, Dolores
Huerta and Tony Rios were among the organizers involved. Along with other
community organizations the CSO registered voters and supported Chicano candidates.
These groups also engaged in such diverse activities as language and citizenship
education, court challenges against school segregation, and assistance in obtaining
government services. The CSO developed a strong community-based voice, calling
attention to the miles of unpaved streets and lobbying for the improvement of traffic
lights and signals, as well as fighting for the construction of recreational facilities.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, CSO was "one of the nation's finest
demonstrations of grassroots democracy in action” (Javier, 1990).
Twenty-seven years later students, parents, and teachers from Lincoln High School
coordinated “blow-outs” with other local schools to protest the deplorable, inequitable
conditions of Chicano students. We feel it is important that current residents learn about
this rich history of resistance, and hope that future organizers in the community will be
empowered to continue the fight for the Right to the City that was started there decades
ago.
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
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Emancipatory Action Research: A Methodology of Liberation
This project utilizes an “emancipatory action research” framework to engage with
community residents of Lincoln Heights. Our work hopes to provide a model for a
collaborative research process as well as suggest potential planning interventions that
could prevent displacement due to gentrification, and instead build a healthy, sustainable
community for existing residents. As researchers and community organizers we feel we
are strategically positioned to make university resources available to communities, while
simultaneously honor and engage with the invaluable perspectives and experiences of
community members to inform our academic project. As Margaret Ledwith (2005)
argues in Community Development: A Critical Approach, the way in which we engage in
research may have devastating effects on communities if it is not done with a critical and
ethical analysis that is not based solely on our assumptions about communities. In other
words, we must “be sure that it contributes to the process of liberation from oppression”
that communities are facing. We worked to engage in a process that was aligned with the
definition she and others offer for “emancipatory action research” that:
seeks to be participatory and collaborative, involving everyone in the process of
change, demanding ‘that the investigator be as open to change as the ‘subjects’
are encouraged to be – only they are now more like co-researchers than like
conventional subjects (Ledwith, 2005).
We involved residents in the research process through interviews, surveys and informal
conversations that helped us to create a community profile that would lay the foundation
for appropriate future planning and organizing interventions. Based on the surveys, we
drew out “generative themes,” or themes that were generated by the conversations with
residents, in order to provide additional research and information to help us understand
their origins and impacts on the community. These themes revealed a need to identify
interventions that could support community-based development without displacing
current residents.
Through collaborative dialogue with community members we were able to identify their
priorities for a “sustainable and healthy” neighborhood. For residents in Lincoln Heights,
the Right to the City means access to affordable housing, better jobs, open spaces, youth
programs, safer streets, and cleaner blocks for them and their families.
Our positionalities: What brought us to this project?
Our collaborative research team consisted of four community scholars and two urban
planning graduate students. Community scholars are people, who in addition to their full
or more-than-full time jobs, decided to take part in a two quarter long Urban Planning
course. The community scholars play an essential role in adding their expertise and real
life experiences to our academic research. Three of the four community scholars live in
or work with residents in Lincoln Heights, and all of them are full time workers, health
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
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promoters or organizers in various social justice capacities. One of the graduate students
focuses on popular education and participatory community-based decision-making
processes, while the other has two years of experience working as a field deputy in the
Councilman’s Lincoln Heights office.
We were individually and collectively drawn to this work because of who we are and
where we have decided to place ourselves in the struggle for social, economic and racial
justice. We did not come to this research from an objective, unbiased lens, but rather we
placed ourselves and our experiences with low-income community residents of Lincoln
Heights. Since we hoped to base our research in the lived realities and voices of residents
we felt it was necessary to first position ourselves as individuals in the context of our
investigation. As opposed to seeing ourselves as outsiders taking a snapshot of the
situation in Lincoln Heights, we wanted our work to engage with residents as key
informants and stakeholders in the community.
One of the members of our research team shares her personal story that is, as she says,
unfortunately the story of too many. We value and appreciate her presence in this project
so much because of her passion, energy and intimate knowledge of why this work is so
important. We include an English translation of her narrative in Appendix A, but chose
to represent it here as she wrote it in Spanish:
Mi Realidad
Lamentablemente mi realidad es la realidad de muchos. Empezaré compartiendo que
soy sobreviviente de violencia doméstica, por consiguiente una madre soltera con cuatro
hijos MARAVILLOSOS. El poder sobrevivir en este sistema es muy difícil cuando la
economía no está a tu favor, día a día mis hijos y yo luchamos por salir adelante y ser
útiles a la sociedad a la cual correspondemos, aunque difícilmente la sociedad reconoce
nuestros esfuerzos. En muchas ocasiones he recibido quejas o me han etiquetado, el
porque no participo más en las escuelas de mis hijos, o porque no asisto a reuniones
comunitarias, o porque no pertenezco a ningún comité de la iglesia al cual asistimos.
Son innumerables los adjetivos que utilizan para etiquetarme como mala madre, o mala
vecina, o mala creyente - en fin adjetivos que no comparto con nadie.
Lo único que yo sé es que tengo que trabajar dos tiempos completos para poder proveer
y cubrir las necesidades de mi familia y hogar. Mi día empieza a las 6:30 AM
preparando el desayuno para mis hijos y posteriormente llevarlos a sus respectivas
escuelas. Mi primer trabajo es de nueve a cinco de la tarde, regreso a preparar la cena,
ayudar con la tarea y prepararme para mi próximo trabajo que es de nueve de la noche
a cuatro de la mañana. Eso es de lunes a viernes. ¿Me pregunto que más puedo ofrecer
a esta sociedad si lucho día a día contra mis propias fuerzas para salir adelante? No soy
una carga pública y mis hijos son estudiantes y atletas que han representado a USA
internacionalmente, los educo con valores y la calidad de tiempo que compartimos es
invalorable.
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
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Me encantaría pertenecer a grupos comunitarios, o ir a reuniones para saber más de lo
está pasando en mi vecindario pero mi prioridad es otra. El poder sobrevivir en este
sistema con tanta desigualdad económica no es nada fácil. Me siento frustrada en
ocasiones al darme cuenta que son tantas cosas que puedo compartir con mi comunidad
y que al igual son tanta las cosas que puedo aprender de ellos, pero el miedo de no
tener el dinero necesario para poder pagar la renta, la comida, las consultas medicas,
medicinas y las utilidades me llena de angustia…. Angustia que comparto con miles y
miles… lamentablemente ésta es nuestra realidad.
En mi personal opinión el haber elegido Lincoln Heights es muy importante en pensando
por la historia, es uno de los primeros suburbios de Los Ángeles, la cercanía con la
ciudad, su interesante distribución geográfica, la diversidad cultural que se está
presentando en los últimos anos, la disposición que tiene los residentes para apoyar sus
propios comercios, me preocupa la vulnerabilidad, de esta comunidad para posibles
desalojos. Es un blanco muy interesante. ~m.u.
One scholar is personally inspired to engage in this work because although she has lived
in Lincoln Heights for three years, she has not been able to actively engage with her
neighbors. She sees the eminent threat of gentrification and wants to work to make
connections in her community:
Los Angeles’ landscape undergoes continued construction of new high luxury lofts and
condominiums with policies favoring these developments - simultaneously rent control is
being destabilized, the stock of affordable homes are decreasing, and the extreme version
of poverty, homelessness, prevails in our city. The vulnerability of not having the stability
of an affordable and safe home in a community with ones social network, I believe is a
reality that must be fought against because our survival depends on a foundation of a
home, health and bodily and community autonomy. Having the privilege to be part of the
Community Scholars’ Right to the City of Los Angeles – I chose to be part of this
particular research section studying Lincoln Heights as a resident of the neighborhood
researched.
My work entails preserving affordable housing, with the goal of creating more. We
engage in city collaborations to leverage the imbalance of power to fortify tenant rights,
maintain and create affordable housing, control land: this is my livelihood. Not only are
these my passions but also my lived experience as a new mother. My own neighborhood
is one I’m not intimately engaged in. Even though the summation of my day to day reality
is that the gist of local community involvement is non-existent I fervently believe that
bringing my passions home, will increase my quality of life in this struggle for a right to
the city. Revolution indeed comes from within; a healthy community means the right to a
home, to work and play in proximity from home for not only the affluent but for the
majority of what constitutes Lincoln Heights and the City of Los Angeles, people of color
and the working class. Having a right to a home as well as a Right to the City is a fight I
want to engage in, in the greater Los Angeles city and my own neighborhood. ~f.s.
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
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Another scholar who has lived in Lincoln Heights for over six months wants to explore
how she and her roommates can contribute to Lincoln Heights without perpetuating the
destructive effects of gentrification. She wrote:
I became interested in gentrification in Lincoln Heights when I moved here six months
ago. My roommates and I have had ongoing discussions on gentrification in Los Angeles
as we have seen what L.A. was a few years ago, and the dramatic change of lofts,
homeless sweeps, and increasing terminology from city officials about "cleaning up the
neighborhoods": code for pushing lower-income people out and bringing higher income
people in. Within these conversations always comes the debate among us as roommates
being gentrifiers. Five highly educated single white women with no children moving into
a neighborhood of Chinese and Mexican working class families appears like the face of
gentrification to me.
Our landladies told us when we first moved in that they wanted to wait and sell the house
in a few years because they knew it would sell for more. This was a first red flag that the
city has plans for the neighborhood to change. So it has been an ongoing tension in my
mind. Can I be a good community member instead of a gentrifier? Can I be a part of the
struggle against gentrification in Lincoln Heights, or am I contributing to it becoming
"the new Echo Park...which was once the new Silver Lake"? These are questions that I
am eager to face through the development of our group project. ~m.n.
One of the community scholars works as a union organizer. Many of his workers live in
the Lincoln Heights area because thus far it has been relatively affordable for them. As a
resident of an already gentrified area he shares:
There are two principle reasons I have chosen to examine Lincoln Heights through the
lens of gentrification. For one, Lincoln Heights strongly reminds me of my place of
residence, Echo Park, which has been hit hard by gentrification. Besides their
geographic proximity to one another, the two share a common architectural history
(turn-of-the-century homes and craftsman homes), similar geographic beauty (man-made
lakes and picturesque hillsides), and most importantly, an abundance of ethnicallydiverse immigrant poor–to-working class residents. The only thing missing is the
overpriced underground fashion boutiques next to Latino “botanicas” offering spiritual
“limpiezas” and good luck charms-which you are going to need in your search for an
affordable apartment in Echo Park.
While Lincoln Heights is missing this sort of hyper postmodern juxtaposition, where the
young and hip appear to happily coexist with working poor immigrants, areas like the
Brewery Artist Colony are sure to draw the attention of the cultural elite priced out of the
“New Downtown,” in search of the next cool part of town. Given all that Lincoln Heights
has to offer in terms of housing, location, and history, it seems to me that it is just a
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
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matter of time before the gentrification bomb drops on Lincoln Heights, displacing long
time residents that live and work in the area, such as the laundry workers my union
represents. It is for this reason that I believe that the union should really begin to support
the Right to the City. If for no other reason, than the fact that the 25+ workers that live
(almost entirely renters) and work in
Figure 2-3 Industrial Laundry Workers
the area all express a desire to stay in
Lincoln Heights and feel threatened by
the rising cost of rent. Yet their work is
crucial to the local economy: as the cost
of energy rises and space becomes more
valuable, hospitals (public and private),
hotels, restaurants, and city governments
can no longer afford to wash their linen
and uniforms. By subcontracting this
work out, they can keep costs low and
consumer prices down, which (in theory)
Source: Scott Goodell 2007 benefits everybody. Yet the service sector
industry that they work in (along with 80
percent of all US workers) does not pay anywhere near a living wage by today’s
standards. At $9.05/ hr, it takes two workers’ salaries to be able to afford the current cost
of a one-bedroom apartment in Lincoln Heights. I hope that by bringing these issues to
light and providing examples of how other cities have combated gentrification, the labor
movement in Los Angeles can, as a whole, come together with other community groups in
building a movement based on the Right to the City.
~s.g.
The two graduate student members of our research team also came to this project with
vested interests in both Lincoln Heights as well as the struggle against displacement.
One student worked for two years as a field deputy in the community and the other hopes
to extend what is learned from this project to support work being done to combat
gentrification in her home town in Northern California:
Ending my career as a Lincoln Heights Field Deputy for Councilmember Ed P. Reyes
was a tough decision to make. After all, I enjoyed my job, the area, and the continued
process of learning. I engaged with community residents in my day to day activities,
whether it be meetings, visits, telephone calls, or events in the community. In retrospect,
their concerns regarding their desires for a safer neighborhood, cleaner streets, access to
affordable housing, parks, and recreational programs was an outright cry for the Right
to the City. Through this project I was able to bridge resident’s complaints with the need
to encourage community leaders to organize for an equitable Lincoln Heights.
Lincoln Heights holds a special place in my heart for all the memories, challenges, and
accomplishments we have shared. I am grateful for the opportunity to work on this
project and to once again serve the residents of Lincoln Heights by collaborating on this
study. ~d.v.
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
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Bridging the work being done here in Los Angeles with her community up north, the
second student writes:
I was drawn to this project because we are not only attempting to prevent displacement
due to gentrification in Lincoln Heights, but it is my hope that what we learn and what we
create through this process may serve as a useful tool for community building in other
places as well. I am from Sonoma County in Northern California, and it has always been
my goal in my graduate work to do research that is useful to grassroots organizing
efforts there. On the surface Sonoma County prides itself on its progressive politics, but
in terms of social relations it is a highly segregated and highly racist place to live. If we
can develop a project that effectively offers a model for engaging with existing residents
to build community power and intervene before displacement occurs, then that model
may serve as a tool for me and others concerned with gentrification in certain areas of
Sonoma County that are at risk.
For example, Roseland is an unincorporated area in the middle of the City of Santa Rosa,
California. In recent years the county has seen rapid growth in the wine industry and
immigrant workers have responded to the increased labor demands – many of them
settling in the Roseland area. For a long time it was the area of town where poor white
families lived, but with an increase in immigration from México, it is now one of the most
highly concentrated Latino communities in the county.
Because of economic growth in the area, land values have increased at unprecedented
rates. Attention has turned toward Roseland as an untapped resource for redevelopment,
and although residents of Roseland have been asking for incorporation into the city for
years, it is only now being considered. If the area is incorporated into the city there will
be infrastructure investments and an increase in services. This will increase the land
value in the area, and if the community is not organized and prepared to demand a right
to benefit from those changes, I fear that many renters and low-income home owners will
be forced out. If Roseland, like Lincoln Heights, becomes gentrified, then the existing
stock of affordable housing for the area will be drastically reduced, if not eliminated.
Similar to Lincoln Heights, and many other places across the country, gentrification is a
real and pending threat for many renters in Sonoma County, and it is my personal goal
that this research informs work I may do there to assure that low-income people of color
and immigrant workers have a right to plan and benefit from an improved community for
years to come. ~m.p.
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Displacement, Gentrification and Fighting for the Right to the City: Defining the
Terms of Engagement
Gentrification is a process that many people can recognize and from which the
devastating effects are felt far and wide in low-income communities of color. It is a
process that has culturally, socially, and physically uprooted many such communities in
Los Angeles and in urban areas around the globe. Involuntary displacement, one of the
hardest felt results of gentrification, is rooted in racist and classist ideologies that favor
the profit-making capacities of the capitalist elite over the human necessities of workingclass communities. This is transmitted on the ground level in the form of landlord
abuses, illegal evictions, and intentional negligence to clear out housing in order to make
units available for middle and upper class people from outside the community (Fullilove,
1996; Smith, 2002). This process denies the rights of residents to live in the central cities
and excludes them from decision-making processes regarding economic and housing
developments.
Using political clout developers are able to pressure city governments to alter the
allowable uses of light industrial land and single-family homes in order to build luxury
high rise condos. Such changes in zoning have paved the way for rapid investment in
communities that have been historically neglected and marginalized by the same city
governments that now hope to benefit from increased tax revenue due to their conversion.
The word gentrification has even earned a positive, almost benign connotation among
young hipsters who post roommate-wanted ads on craigslist.org declaring “come help us
gentrify down-town L.A.!” Real estate owners advertising apartment buildings for sale in
different parts of Los Angeles use the concept of gentrification as a selling point for
potential buyers. In craigslist ads posted in May of 2007 the same seller advertised three
different non rent-controlled buildings for sale in Van Nuys, Canoga Park and North
Hollywood claiming that each area:
“Supports A Very Strong Rental Market & Has Been Showing Strong Signs of
Gentrification Throughout The City Fueled By…
The Redevelopment of Van Nuys Blvd Located A Short Walk Away…
Burgeoning Retail Centers And Malls Located A Short Drive Away…
The Trendy No-Ho Arts District Located A Short Drive Away…
(www.craigslist.org, 05/21/07)
All of the ads remind the potential buyer that new “Tenants Have Convenient Access to
Public Transportation As Well As Shops & Dining!” From the perspective of a building
owner/landlord, gentrification is a perk. It means that new, wealthier clientele are
moving into the area and rents can soar. With a market driven analysis, the needs and
lives of low-income communities of color are completely denied.
Gentrification is a process that begins long before working class residents are forced out.
The moment that a landlord evicts their tenants to make room for a wealthier clientele is
not the first sign of gentrification, and we can not wait for that to happen to only react to
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a force that is long in the making. Those of us who are dedicated to assuring that healthy
and sustainable communities are created with and for existing residents have been
discouraged by the devastating effects of gentrification in the past decade. However, in
understanding gentrification, we may be in a position to intervene strategically to stop it,
prevent it, and even reverse it.
2.2 COMMUNITY CENTERED PRAXIS: CREATING A
COMMUNITY PROFILE
In emancipatory action research a community profile is created as the central focus of
organizing. Based in the voices and lived realities of residents, organizers engage in
discussion with residents about where they live. Together they paint a picture of the
community, including important places, assets, concerns, fears and hopes for the future.
Residents tell their stories, and organizers research and support those voices with historic,
economic and social data that is informed by, and relevant to the issue at hand (Ledwith,
2005). In this way the collective is able to see the ways in which these stories match or
diverge from one another.
In our case we wanted to get a sense of how residents felt about Lincoln Heights in light
of the threat of displacement. Positioned strategically to both hear about the realities
through the voices of low-income tenants, as well as have access to city and historical
data we were able to see the ways in which Lincoln Heights is viewed in congruent and
contradictory ways. Regarding housing, services, youth programs, as well as community
cleanliness, the way the city plans and addresses Lincoln Heights does not always match
up with the perceptions of our respondents. This report analyses the similarities and
contradictions we found in order to create a more comprehensive picture of both how
low-income tenants can fight for the Right to the City, and how planning and city
structures should change to authentically include them in redevelopment and planning
processes.
Although the limited scope and scale of our project did not allow us to create a complete
community profile, we were able to draw some important connections with our
respondents, and begin a discussion around possibilities for further engagement.
Survey Methodology and Generative Themes
We conducted surveys with 26 people in order to begin a conversation and connect how
residents see the community with the structural forces and issues that we found to play a
role in creating that reality. One member of the group has a relationship with the Parent
Center in Griffin Avenue Elementary and another group member works in a union where
the majority of his members live in Lincoln Heights. The bulk of the surveys were
conducted with people due to these relationships. Our research team acknowledges that
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this study is not representative of the entire Lincoln Heights community, but it is simply a
good start to encourage a community-based movement to evolve.
The goal of the survey was to begin a conversation with low-income residents about their
views of their community, the benefits and challenges to living there, and their priorities
for changing it in the future. In analyzing the responses some major themes emerged.
From these themes we looked into the underlying historical factors effecting them so that
we could place them in a larger context. Paulo Freire, Brazilian popular educator, argued
that in order to change our reality we must collectively understand it. It is through this
conscientization process that we become empowered to change oppressive situations into
processes toward liberation (Freire, 1990). Oftentimes we are more likely to see our
surroundings on individual terms – meaning we are more aware of what is going on in
our home, and on our street, but we may not realize that the same thing is happening on
the next block, or that there are forces that have been perceived to be beyond our control
that make and shape our situation.
Census data shows that a large majority of residents in Lincoln Heights are low-income
people of color. Coupled with the current skyrocketing costs of rental housing, we chose
to focus our interviews mostly on renters. Rather than simply distributing a survey and
asking them to fill it out by themselves, we chose to interview and engage residents in
their homes, hoping to get a more profound idea of what was happening in the
neighborhood, along with obtaining basic quantitative and qualitative data.
We focused our survey questions on four major themes. We wanted to get a sense about
our respondents in terms of demographics, occupation, housing status etc. Also, we
wanted to know how people felt about their community: What do you like most / least
about Lincoln Heights? What would you change or keep the same? And finally, we asked
respondents to prioritize changes they would want to see in Lincoln Heights (see
Appendix B for the full survey).
One lesson our group learned from the survey process was that many of our questions
seemed repetitive in terms of the responses we received from the participants. We thus
had to change our interview style to become more of a conversation about the
participants’ experience living in Lincoln Heights, while at the same time still being able
to obtain important information.
We were particularly interested in hearing from members of the laundry workers’ union.
We felt that if we could begin engaging with residents who are already organized in some
capacity, then the results of our research could more likely be utilized to make change in
the community. There are two major industrial laundries in the area. One is located in
Lincoln Heights and the other is close by in Chinatown. We were able to obtain a worker
list from each plant to find out who lived in Lincoln Heights. Workers identified as
Lincoln Heights residents were called in random order and appointments were set up at
the workers’ convenience. We conducted in-person interviews and held informal
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conversation with workers and their neighbors in their homes, on front porches, and on
street corners.
All of the respondents expressed a desire to stay in Lincoln Heights despite the rising
costs of housing and fears of being forced to move. For example, one worker we visited
had been renting a small house in the back of a larger house owned by a higher paid coworker who was a truck driver at the plant where he worked. He explained to us that the
owner (his coworker) had recently sold the house and that he and his family were being
forced to leave. Rather than search far and wide for a comparable residence, he chose to
move just a block away to an apartment that cost twice as much as he was paying. He and
his wife justified the decision because it was more important to him to live close to his
work, which was just a mile away, rather than find more affordable housing further away.
On the way out of the same interview, we were told that another coworker had been
renting the trailer on the same property for 10 years. As a divorced woman in her late
50s, with over 25 years with the company, she was being forced to find another home
with her meager $9.10/hr salary.
Another laundry worker interviewed told of her ever-present worry that their aging
landlord would one day sell the small house they rented and they would be forced to
move or pay at least double their current rent. This situation worried the wife, who was
part of her local parent group at the school just down the street.
Many people talked about the importance of school-based parent groups, saying that they
found support and agency through their involvement. Over and over again, these groups
played a central supportive role for parents experiencing problems related to housing.
One respondent told a story of how a woman in the neighborhood, who was a single
mother, had just given birth to triplets. For this reason alone, she was being evicted. She
went on to explain how this woman was at the point of a nervous breakdown due to the
pending eviction and how the parent group was helping her cope with the situation and
connecting her with resources.
We had conversations with youth as well. One young man in particular shared that he
has lived in Lincoln Heights all seventeen years of his life, and that if he could, he would
raise his family there. In addition to attending high school, he also works part time as a
janitor at his school, and does administrative work at the nearby USC hospital. He
dreams of going to college and wants to be a designer and a hip hop dancer. He was very
enthusiastic, but also critical of his neighborhood, saying that he wished the streets were
cleaner, and that people would take better care of their yards. He recognizes changes in
his community as “a lot of white people are moving in” and he fears that although
Lincoln Heights has always been home, “it’s getting so expensive it will be too hard to
buy a house here.” He is not alone in his love for his neighborhood, and shares the fear
of many that some day he will have to leave.
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Our thematic analysis attempts to give context to the forces that affect the realities of
survey respondents so that we can together create a picture of what Lincoln Heights
means to people. From there we can place ourselves strategically in a process to both
protect and change it for existing residents. The four major themes that emerged in
discussion with residents were the History and Importance of Place, Housing and
Affordability, Youth and Safety and, Cleanliness and Community Maintenance. We
consider this analysis the beginning stages of a community profile, and would encourage
any interested community groups to use this work as a point of departure for continuing
to dialogue and organize with residents in Lincoln Heights.
History and Importance of place
Many respondents have lived in Lincoln Heights for over two decades. Data from
Neighborhood Knowledge of California (NKCA) shows that a large concentration of
people came into the area in the early 80s through the 1990s, but that the community
remained relatively stable until recently. Between 2000 and 2002 Lincoln Heights saw
an influx of new residents into the central area of the neighborhood (NKCA, 2007).
This new influx might account for why many of our survey respondents acknowledged a
change in the ethnic and racial make-up of their neighbors. When we asked a general
question about what changes people had noticed in their neighborhood some of the
responses included:
“There has been a change of people - a lot more Asians and black people.”
“Different ethnicities are becoming a majority.”
“No offense, but, I see a lot of White people are moving in – when my neighbor
got kicked out for selling drugs white people moved in next door. And there are
some around the block too.”
“There are more affluent white people living here than before.”
“The make-up of people is changing – there are more blacks and whites.”
The importance of place is central to residents’ experience in Lincoln Heights. This is
true not only because it is their home of many years (respondents averaged 16 years of
living in the community) but people also appreciate its proximity to businesses and
downtown. Because of rising rents and pressures to move out, an entire community of
low-income renters is threatened with losing their home, and face the reality that they
may have to start all over again.
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Housing and Affordability
Respondents to our survey are concerned with increasing housing costs. Twenty-one out
of 26 people listed affordable housing as one of their top five priorities for change, and
all of those who
rent are concerned
Figure 2-4 Median Household Income,
that it will become
Households Paying more than 50% Income on Rent
too expensive to
live in the area in
the future. This is
0 ~ 33,920.99
due to the fact that
residents are
33,921 ~ 46,656.99
experiencing rent
46,657 ~ 63,453.99
increases
themselves, and
63,454 ~ 200,001
they see that other
Households paying
community
more than 50% of
members have
their income as Rent
been forced out of
Top 25 Percentile
their homes
28.52% ~ 100%
because of rising
Source:
rents. As shown
www.nkca.ucla.edu
in the map,
2007
Lincoln Heights
residents earn well below the Los Angeles County median family income of about
$56,500 a year, and many pay over 50 percent of their income on rent. Although survey
respondents reported paying much lower than market rate for their housing, ranging from
$500-$900 a month, current available rental units in Lincoln Heights are being advertised
for $750-$1200 for a one bedroom apartment (Craigslist 2007). Without tenant
protections landlords will want to cash-in and cater to a higher-income clientele, residents
in Lincoln Heights will be more vulnerable to involuntary displacement. Many
respondents acknowledged this threat and most agreed that housing issues need to be
addressed. The new housing developments and recent planning policies taking place,
however, are also reason for concern.
Median Household
Income
Recent Planning Policies and Economic Development
The Lincoln Heights community has experienced new investments from City, State and
Federal funds as well as developers and other private agencies. A new wave of housing
developments, mixed-use retail opportunities, infrastructure improvements, planning
tools and projects have emerged in the area in the last couple of years. While the new
investments and public monies pouring in to improve the area have benefited the
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community, they have also made the area attractive to outsiders- a fact that residents
acknowledged in their interviews.
In the next pages, a list of completed and current improvements and projects is provided.
The listed investments and projects are simultaneously making Lincoln Heights appealing
to gentrifiers who are seeking to live closer to their jobs and to the Central City while
also decreasing stability and increasing the risk of displacement for existing residents.
This contradiction marks an important place for intervention in community organizing to
ensure that improvements benefit existing residents.
What Happens When You Can’t Afford Affordable Housing?
Housing developments have been the primary form of investment in Lincoln Heights.
Some new affordable housing opportunities have been created for residents as well as
opened the door for others to relocate to the area. Ed Reyes, the area’s Councilmember,
focused careful outreach to local residents, but the question becomes: who is actually
eligible to live in these units? Although most of the units in the Avenue 26 Transit
Oriented District (TOD) project are rented at below market rates, they are affordable for
only a small percent of the lower income population. A list of current housing projects
by Amcal Housing is provided below to demonstrate the diversity in housing
opportunities created by a single developer in Lincoln Heights.
Table 2-1 Amcal Housing Developments Avenue 26 TOD
Project
Total Units
Type
Unit Mix
39-studios, 13lofts, 15-work live,
54-2bdr, 28-3bdr,
16-4bdr
Puerta Del Sol
165-units
Mixed-use
condo/retail
Camino Al Oro
102-units
Senior Affordable
81-1bdr, 21-2bdr
Tesoro Del Valle
121-units
Family Affordable
48-2bdr, 65-3bdr,
8-4bdr
Flores Del Valle
146-units
Family Affordable
54-2bdr, 76-3bdr,
16-4bdr
Affordability
Up to 30% of units reserved
for moderate income
households.
10 units-30% AMI, 10 units40% AMI, 50 units-50%
AMI, 30 units-60% AMI,
2units-manager
12 units-30% AMI, 12 units40% AMI, 60 units-50%
AMI, 35 units-60% AMI, 2
units-manager
15 units-30% AMI, 15 units40% AMI, 72 units-50%
AMI, 42 units-60% AMI, 2
units-manager
Source: Amcal Housing, 4-24-07
As indicated in the above chart, the lowest affordability level unit available is at 30% of
the Area Median Income (AMI), which is $22,200 for a family of four. Although
affordable housing is being built in Lincoln Heights, it is important to note that based on
the census data and information gathered in our surveys, the majority of low income
residents still cannot afford the rents. In fact, almost half of the Amcal rental units (182
out of 369) are reserved for households earning 50 percent of AMI, or $37,000 for a
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family of four. This requires two full time laundry workers’ income or for a person to
hold two steady full-time jobs to meet the income requirement i . While this income level
may be feasible for a single person or married couple, the reality of being low-income
and having children mandates that one parent stay at home to care for them while the
other is forced to work two or three jobs. The situation for single parents is more severe.
Lincoln Heights’ close proximity to downtown can also be a factor that makes the area
susceptible to increasing rents. Increased marketing campaigns to draw in middle-upper
class residents to nearby downtown neighborhoods are starting to cause a spill-over effect
in Lincoln Heights. This is evident in the ad below, which attempts to draw residents to
lofts in the Lincoln Heights area. This type of marketing promotes gentrification and
supports the statements of residents that the composition of the neighborhood is
changing.
Figure 2-5 Advertisement for Luxury Housing in Lincoln Heights
Source: www.latimes.com accessed 4-1-2007
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Planning Tools
Compared with the rest of the City of Los Angeles, the Planning Department has
disproportionately implemented and invested funds in plans and policies in Lincoln
Heights, as well as the entire East L.A. region. In recent years, Lincoln Heights has been
experiencing new waves of planning mechanisms and processes that have impacted the
area. Planning Department resources have been funneled to the area (by means of staff
time, workload, policies, tools, etc.), planning methods implemented have created
opportunities to create more housing, preserve historic homes, as well as open the door to
redevelop the commercial corridors. Below are recent planning tools that have been
implemented in Lincoln Heights:
•
•
•
•
Avenue 26 Transit Oriented District-TOD
Historic Preservation Overlay Zone-HPOZ
Community Design Overlay-CDO
Lincoln Heights Revitalization Area
Like the contradiction in the case of “affordable” housing, planning policies have also
increased the threat of gentrification. For example the re-zoning of land to create the
Avenue 26 TOD has resulted in the loss of manufacturing land and adds to the overall
threat of losing the character of the neighborhood. A balance of planning policies along
with direct community participation needs to play a role. The residents interviewed rarely
mentioned or acknowledged any planning tools, clearly suggesting the lack of
information and authentic participation of residents in the implementation and drafting of
the above mentioned processes and policies.
Improvements
As noted, public and private improvements have occurred in Lincoln Heights at an
unprecedented rate. The area has historically lacked investment, as evidenced by the
poor quality of existing infrastructure, but is now rapidly receiving funds and monies that
are improving the aesthetics and public spaces in Lincoln Heights. The local
improvements in the area are outlined below. Similar to other changes mentioned, while
these improvements have improved the quality of life for existing residents, they also
make the area a potential magnet for gentrifiers. If current residents are not included in
the active decision-making processes around these developments, they will be excluded
from their benefits and may lose the stability of their community.
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Figure 2-6 New and Planned Improvements in Lincoln Heights
MTA Gold Line
N Broadway Streetscape
Downey Pool
Lincoln Park Pool
LH Youth Center
LH Library
Lincoln Park Carousel
Arroyo Vista Health
Center
Las Memorias Art
Panels
Boundless Playground
Source: authors 2007
Specifically these improvements have focused on beautifying streetscapes and light rail
constructions, pool improvements, library renovations; building a youth center and health
clinic; and contributing park enhancements (playground, art walk, and carousel).
Attention and investments in opportunities for youth is admirable. This is especially
important because many of our respondents shared their mutual concerns regarding the
need for additional youth services and pastimes. It is unfortunate that these wonderful
enhancements have not been widely publicized or disseminated. Our respondents would
have been thrilled to hear of these upcoming improvements. Conversely, nearly everyone
expressed deep concern about the lack of youth activities and spaces in the area and
highly prioritized youth activities.
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Youth and Safety
Many of our survey respondents felt there was a lack of alternative activities for youth
and connected this concern with the presence of gangs in the area. They referred to the
graffiti and drug use in public spaces as the visible representations of this tension,
and the principal reason for why they do not utilize youth-centered spaces that do exist.
The presence of gangs was usually acknowledged in some way – either as having increased
or decreased in the past few years. Whether or not the activity is more or less
prevalent than in recent years, the fact that most people acknowledged gangs and youth as
an important issue should draw attention to the need for a process through which lowincome tenants, including youth, can give input on youth issues.
Seventeen of the 26 respondents noted that creating more activities for youth would be
one of their top priorities for improving the area. Some people suggested bringing in
businesses that could employ young people, while others wanted more spaces and
programs that would provide alternative activities for young people in the community. One
teenage respondent said that he had chosen to attend a school outside of Lincoln Heights
because he wanted to participate in activities that he would not be able to access close
to home.
The goal of this section is to ask critical questions about why our survey respondents,
mainly low-income tenants of color, do not perceive they have adequate access to
youth-serving activities and academic support. Based on our findings we call for a
planning process that involves authentic community participation to ensure that their voices
are central to the discussion.
Although a fairly large number of youth-serving recreation centers exist in Lincoln
Heights, with some improvements along the way, our survey respondents did not mention
them or feel that there were any spaces where young people could participate safely in
activities. The Downey, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights and Lincoln Park Recreation
Centers serve 12 to 17 year old youth, but respondents expressed concern for the safety of
their children. One respondent said that she used to enjoy taking her younger children
to the Downey Recreation center, located near Avenue 19 and Spring St., but that over time
she has seen the use of drugs and unsafe activities there. She would like to have a
place to take her kids but prioritizes their safety over their access to the park.
Given that Lincoln Heights is a predominantly low-income neighborhood and respondents
were upset about a lack of access to resources for teenagers, we looked at the distribution
of youth-serving agencies and centers in the greater Los Angeles area to see if there were
any large discrepancies. Also, because the surveys reflect the perception that other
areas offer young people more options for activities and academic support, we look at the
local high school in comparison with other areas of the City to prompt a discussion and
critique of regional disparity for students. Because one of our research members lives
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in the already gentrified area of West Los Angeles, we compare and contrast high schools
in Lincoln Heights and West L.A. This analysis raises questions not only about the
distribution of resources, but also about the validity of existing planning processes in
Lincoln Heights that affect young people. Even if participatory processes exist, in the
naming or siting of a park for example, why aren’t the people we surveyed involved? We
argue that this is extremely problematic as they are the people who are most vulnerable
to displacement due to gentrification as improvements make the area more attractive to
investors and outsiders.
In order to choose high schools for comparison we went to the Los Angeles Unified School
District (LAUSD) website and did a school search for the zip codes corresponding to
Lincoln Heights and West L.A. In both zip codes only one high school and two
continuation high schools were found. For the purpose of our comparison we looked at
each of the high schools and chose one continuation school in each area for which we had
the most data. In Lincoln Heights we looked at Lincoln Senior High and Pueblo de Los
Angeles continuation. In West L.A. we chose University Senior High and Indian Springs
High School, which is a continuation school. The main questions we had concerned the
differences, if any, between the two high schools in these distinct educational communities
in terms of: 1) availability of youth centered activities and recreation centers 2) school API
scores 3) demographics of students 4) percent of students completing their high school
diploma, and finally 5) amount of funding allocated per student.
If community residents in Lincoln Heights are concerned with a lack of educational
support for youth, we wanted to look at that concern within the context of the City. Is
it true that no one has these services? Or are the odds bent against certain communities
based on how money is allocated and where they live? We recognize that the comparison
between these two areas will not give us solid answers to these questions, but we
hope the findings will at least begin a conversation around educational access and
resources for youth in Lincoln Heights and in Los Angeles in general.
Figure 2-7 below shows the concentration of residents in the greater L.A. region that have
attained a Bachelor’s degree. The darker red represents areas where between 25 and 100
percent of people have attained a B.A., a distinction made to show the top 25 percentile of
residents that fall into that category. The purple dots correspond to youth serving agencies
and recreation centers identified by the Neighborhood Knowledge of California website – a
mapping project out of UCLA that people can use to locate services in their area. West
L.A. to the left and Lincoln Heights to the right are both outlined in green.
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Figure 2-7 Concentrations of Residents with Educational Attainment of a Bachelors
Degree and Youth Serving Agencies and Recreation Centers in Los Angeles
Educational Attainment:
Bachelor's degree
0% ~ 7.27%
7.28% ~ 14.37%
14.38% ~ 24.75%
24.76% ~ 100%
◘ Youth serving Agencies
and Recreation Centers
Source: NKCA, 2007
Clearly there is a regional disparity in terms of educational attainment, with a larger
concentration of college educated residents living toward the Westside, and north along
the coast and into the San Fernando Valley. Looking at West L.A. and Lincoln Heights,
we can see that there is an abundance of youth serving agencies on the Westside – nearly
covering the green outline marking the West L.A. neighborhood, while Lincoln Heights
has very few.
According to the California Department of Education “the Academic Performance Index
(API) is a numeric index (or scale) ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1000 that
reflects the performance level of a school …based on the results of statewide testing…
The statewide API performance target for all schools is 800. A school’s growth is
measured by how well it is moving toward or past that goal.” In comparing the change in
API scores in Lincoln Heights with West L.A., we see that while both schools have
generally improved over time. However, by 2006 Lincoln Senior High had never
reached the score that University Senior High had obtained seven years earlier.
The schools vary demographically in a number of ways. The ethnic/racial make-up of
students is more diverse at University SH than Lincoln SH, with a more representative
distribution of students in comparison to the city of L.A. as a whole. Considering
academic performance as it is reported in the School Accountability Report Card (SARC)
summary for the schools, students at University SH have higher levels of proficiency in
all of the major core subjects.
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Students attend continuation schools for a number of reasons. Some of them including
having been criminalized or expelled from their former school, or because they have
generally not been able to fit into the standards set by the mainstream high schools. In
any event, they are students who have had a harder time accepting the confines of formal
academic institutions, and we feel are therefore more vulnerable to dropping out
completely. While the data was limited for continuation schools, it does show that 50
percent of Indian Springs HS students (West L.A.) earned a high school diploma, but
only 17 percent of Pueblo de L.A. students (Lincoln Heights) completed coursework for
university entrance. Students at West L.A. high schools had a better chance of
graduating with a diploma than students in Lincoln Heights. Nearly 88 percent of
University SH students graduated in 2005, where only about 63 percent of Lincoln SH
students earned their diploma. We can only speculate the reasons behind this disparity,
but certainly student funding and academic support play a role in the success of students.
School funding formulas allocate for each student at Lincoln SH a little under $4,200 per
year compared to an 11 percent increase of $4,650 per year at University SH. The
situation for continuation students is much worse, where they receive only a fraction of
the amount for students at mainstream high schools. Showing some of the disparities
between these high schools is not enough to draw major conclusions about the
educational system, or attempt to explain it in its entirety. However, in response to the
concerns of residents about safe youth activities and involvement, and because school is
where youth tend to spend the majority of their time away from home, it is imperative
that we uncover some of the structural inequalities inherent in the educational system so
that we can locate strategic points for changing it.
Our analysis is limited in that it does not provide some important answers about why
these disparities exist, but like this report it offers the basis for asking the
questions to begin with. Community organizing groups could ask how income, race, and
location effect educational support for students. Why are students allocated more
funding in West Los Angeles than in Lincoln Heights? Why is the academic proficiency
of students so much lower in Lincoln Heights than on the westside? And more
importantly, how can community members demand changes that will equalize the
situation?
Questions concerning an authentic planning process where low-income renters of color
are included as major stakeholders could be: what are the services that are being
provided? And how is quality and distribution decided? If there are places for youth that
exist, why don’t the most vulnerable populations feel a part of them? While we
recognize that community meetings do occur in Lincoln Heights, it is imperative to ask:
Who is present for them? These questions that have emerged from discussion with
residents and further investigations are the initial building blocks for emancipatory action
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research in the fight for the Right to the City. Authentic or inclusive participation of the
most vulnerable populations is the first step.
Community Cleanliness and Maintenance
“I wish people would take better care of their yards, or that the city would clean up
more.” ~17 year old resident of Lincoln Heights
The statement above summarizes one of the main points expressed by our survey
participants. The concern for cleanliness, on the part of the City as well as their
neighbors, was prevalent. A desire for additional trash pickups and street sweeping was
mentioned as possible ways to make the area cleaner. Graffiti on walls, freeway
overpasses, and on signs was also considered a huge problem. Moreover, graffiti was
considered a visual representation of violence, which clearly brought up safety concerns.
It was concluded that if the City made sure graffiti was removed in a timely manner,
there would be less of a concern for possible gang violence that would result.
A lack of safe, clean community spaces, like parks, was also an issue of concern. The
nearby parks were considered spaces where vices and unregulated behavior are taking
place. Residents often do not feel safe and preferred to avoid the common areas in an
effort to “protect their kids.”
The City’s allocation of resources for community maintenance is an issue that effects the
Lincoln Heights area. Funds and services are inadequately distributed to the Lincoln
Heights area in relation to their population density. The Lincoln Height area has 11,065
residents per square mile as compared to the City average of 7,068. Low incomes and
high housing costs cause families to cohabitate in large numbers, consequently increasing
the density in the area. The dense population in Lincoln Heights means that the needs for
services are greater. The “unwritten law” that divides its resources for services equally by
the 15 council districts under serves dense areas.
After much searching for a "City Formula" in the books, municipal law, or in motions,
the member of our research team that works for the City came to the realization that it
does not exist. After working for over four years in the council office she understood that
each district received its "fair share" of funding through the assumed formula that divides
all city funding and services “equally” by the 15 council districts.
Working in the lower income community of Lincoln Heights, she also understood that
this and other communities in the City required additional services based on the density
and composition of the neighborhood. As more people work, walk, and live in an area
the trash and debris accumulation increases. But as in all things, there was nothing that
any politician could do but try to garner the support of nine other council members in a
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far-fetched attempt to change the historic ways of allocating funding in City Hall.
The crude reality is that if funding and services are re-allocated to serve the needs of
Angelinos based on the density of their neighborhoods, some would be losing services
while others gain. This concept would not be politically viable and would not feasibly
pass unless there is strong community will on the part of the more dense areas to demand
more equitable distribution of resources. Lincoln Heights happens to be a dense
community that desperately needs additional services and disproportionately receives
funding as compared to city residents in other council districts.
2.3 POSSIBLE THREATS AND CHALLENGES
There are a number of potential threats to resident stability in Lincoln Heights that have
effected former working-class neighborhoods in the past. The USC Medical Center
expansion, the Northeast Community Plan, and the Historical Preservation Overlay Zone
(HPOZ) are all elements in redeveloping the city which are similar to factors that have
perpetuated processes of gentrification and displacement in other areas.
Residents are correct in their speculation that new investments and changes are opening
the doors to rising rents. The County-USC Medical Center and USC Health Science
Campus is in the midst of redevelopment, and community residents see this expansion as
a threat. As the medical center expands, the community will be in competition for
housing with USC students, staff, and faculty. In addition, the incorporation of the
Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) in Lincoln Heights has made the area more
attractive to outside investors, increased property values, and also places financial
stressors to families wishing to remodel or upgrade their homes. Lower income
homeowners may be pressed to sell and move from the area if they cannot afford the
increased cost in upkeep due to the HPOZ.
The USC Medical Center, although technically located in Boyle Heights, will have a
great impact on Lincoln Heights with redevelopment and expansion. The Northeast
Community Plan, revised on June 15 1999, states that “the large area centered on the
County-USC Medical Center and USC Health Science Campus is in the midst of
redevelopment…” The increase in demand for student housing has the potential to
destabilize Lincoln Heights tenants in the same way that it did in the Figueroa Corridor,
where rents and property values shot up 200 percent in three quadrants of the area, and
250 percent in the area between USC and the Staples Center (Figueroa Corridor
Community Land Trust).
The Northeast Community Plan, which could be a plan that works to benefit the people of
Lincoln Heights, is drafted in a way that excludes the voices of present day residents of
the community. The Plan states, “In purely residential areas, at greater distances from the
main streets, the challenge is similar, i.e. preserving the best of the past residential
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character while permitting rehabilitation and new construction to accommodate the future
needs of the community.” The flaw in this plan is in the language used to discuss Lincoln
Heights. It completely leaves out present day residents and their plans for the
community’s future.
As the plan mentions, a goal of the City is to “preserve the best of the past residential
character…” Lincoln Heights is part of the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ),
which comes with new investors and preservation developers. The landscape of the
neighborhood includes “residences range from 1890’s-era homes to newer hillside houses
with dramatic views.” Century 21 Realtor Angelina Robinson said that area prices have
been rising rapidly, especially with notable improvement of the neighborhood in the last
few years (April, 2006). With such a considerable amount of new investment and
development in the area as mentioned here and above, it is imperative that community
members concerned with displacement organize and intervene to ensure that their voices
are heard.
2.4 RELEVANT INTERVENTIONS TO PREVENT
DISPLACEMENT AND BUILD A HEALTHY,
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY
Considering the Community Profile
We have identified a number of organizations that have worked to fight gentrification
once it has been identified as a threat to their communities. We are also looking at
methods by which organizations engage with community residents in dialogical processes
of popular education and consciousness-raising around the need for community-based
planning and development. The ultimate goal of this analysis is to offer some viable
starting points for interested community members and groups in Lincoln Heights to begin
organizing around displacement – based in the themes that community members have
already identified as central to their community.
Although we are attempting to ground this research process as much as we can in the
experiences and voices of community residents, it is important to acknowledge that due
to our limitations of time and organizational capacity, we are not engaging in the popular
education processes that would be imperative to foster community-based development.
We will however attempt to the best of our ability to explain how popular education
methods can and should be used in creating momentum to challenge displacement where
it is likely to occur.
The case studies we have chosen offer relevant interventions and community-based
organizing strategies to combat gentrification and fight for a Right to the City. In order
to ensure that the lessons we learned are relevant to residents of Lincoln Heights, we
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organized our analysis and discussion around the generative themes that emerged from
the surveys, but applied them to a context of how to respond to those issues. Regarding
the first theme of History and Importance of Place, we were looking for communitybased organizing strategies that honor and utilize a strong sense of pride of place in order
to mobilize residents. In relation to Housing and Affordability we were concerned with
cases where groups specifically focused on increasing the availability of permanent
affordable housing and community control of land. To relate to the issue of Youth and
Safety we looked to groups that fought for the rights of youth to claim spaces in their
communities. And finally, in considering Cleanliness and Community Maintenance, we
saw this issue as one concerning the distribution of resources in the larger region and
looked for lessons about how communities have fought for and won campaigns to
increase public investment and increased participation for the beautification of their
community. We generally based our analysis on reports or publications created by the
groups we studied. Unfortunately it was outside the scope of our project to interview and
discuss in detail with organizers about their strategies, but we hope that this brief
introduction to effective community-based organizing tools will inspire similar work to
be done in Lincoln Heights. Table 2-2 below summarizes the various lessons from our
case studies that are relevant to Lincoln Heights, with more detailed discussion of each
case to follow.
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Table 2-2 Case Studies: A Brief Overview
HISTORY
AND PRIDE
OF PLACE
Harlem On
The River:
Making a
Community
Vision Real
New York
“La
Comunidad
Ha Hablado”
Old Town
National City,
San Diego, CA
New York
City AntiGentrification
Network
Bartlett Park
St. Petersburg,
Florida, Oak
Park
Sacramento,
California
The Figueroa
Corridor
Community
Land Trust
Los Angeles
Low-income
community of
color, originally a
major destination
for African
Americans with
history as a
cultural center
HOUSING AND
AFFORDABILITY
YOUTH
AND
SAFETY
Created alliances
with residents, nonprofit & government
agencies, elected
officials and local
businesses to
leverage power
COMMUNITY
PARTICIPATION
Community-based
planning process to reclaim the community;
Developed master plan
for the river front
The area was a
polluting
dumping ground
for years
Addressed
youth health
concerns
through survey;
Prioritized
communityserving
developments
Conducted community
survey to address
environmental
concerns; Drafted
“Principles for
Revitalization in Old
Town” based on
results
Goal to preserve
cultural fabric and
identity of
community and
community identified historic
places
Goal to preserve
public and
affordable housing
Youth as major
organizers and
stakeholders in
the
collaboration
process
Working group to
build knowledge,
proposals, and power;
Legitimate residents as
stakeholders in
decision-making
process
Worked to
prevent
displacement
before it occurred
Housing
rehabilitation, infill
development,
zoning changes and
economic
development
strategies
Works for a right
to the city for
low-income
Latino immigrant
and African
American
communities
Develop permanent
affordable housing
in partnership on
community-owned
and controlled land
Economic
development projects
to raise wages and
increase resident
stability so people can
benefit from physical
improvements
Youth
membership
encouraged;
Youth invited to
participate in
planning
processes
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Community control in
decision-making
processes regarding
site acquisition and
development
Page 2-29
Case Studies: A Review of Interventions and Community Organizing Strategies
Relevant to Lincoln Heights
The above mentioned case studies that we researched share similar conflicts and offer
solutions to the threats of gentrification facing them and Lincoln Heights. Old Town
National City lays the foundation for organizing through an emancipatory action research
framework by residents gathering information from residents. Harlem on the River takes
the demands of residents and creates alternative plans to those that perpetuate
gentrification. New York City displays organizing methods for spreading awareness on
gentrification and cultural preservation. Bartlett Park offers practical examples for
community based economic development, and finally the Figueroa Corridor Community
Land Trust determines alternative methods to preserve land for community use. These
studies provide a possible outline for Lincoln Heights residents to follow in stopping
gentrification and creating an alternative peoples plan.
The lessons learned that resulted from analyzing the case studies are grouped in four
themes: Emancipatory Action Research, Participatory Planning, An Organized
Community, and Planning Interventions.
Lesson 1: Emancipatory Action Research
Creating a Community Profile was a vital characteristic of Emancipatory Action
Research. In the case study “La Comunidad Ha Hablado” (The Community has Spoken)
we find various examples of a community working together to gather information to
create a community profile.
The community of Old Town National City in San Diego, California, has been a polluting
dumping ground for years. With the help of community-based organizations and a
supportive City Council, residents developed a Specific Plan to be put into effect over the
next ten to 15 years. The Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) conducted a community
survey on how the neighborhood would shape the Specific Plan. EHC administered the
survey and worked in bilingual teams led by promotoras (community-based health
promoters). Visual aids were used to explain the survey, such as heights of residential
complexes. The survey had 56 questions and 110 residents responded. The EHC also had
residents choose their top three priorities in a list of 17 changes that could be made in
their neighborhood in order to prioritize what would be on the specific plan.
Based on the recommendations made, they drafted the “Principles for Revitalization in
Old Town” that included action steps toward developing the community according to the
residents’ priorities. According to our Lincoln Heights surveys, immediate desires for the
city are as simple as better grocery stores, more youth after-school programs, and cleaner
streets. These demands, as in La Comunidad Ha Hablado, can lead toward developing an
alternative plan to pro-gentrification development.
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“La Comunidad Ha Hablado” exemplifies a useful case study in the first stages of
developing a people’s plan, which is collecting data on what the people want. The use of
surveys and conversations brought the Environmental Health Coalition to the conclusions
that Old Town National City was not developing according to the residents’ needs.
Similarly Lincoln Heights residents have been excluded from developing the Northeast
Plan. By taking EHC’s example of surveying and gathering information on the people’s
vision for Lincoln Heights, our group can compare immediate resident desires for the city
with the future plans that have been drafted for Lincoln Heights by the city without their
participation.
Lesson 2: Participatory Planning
Authentic participatory processes would include the voices and opinions of the most
vulnerable groups in a community. In the case of Harlem On the River: Making a
Community Vision Real, the community worked together to create alternative plans for
their neighborhood, involving low-income people. The participatory planning process
made it possible for residents to legitimatize their opinions as well as take part in the
shaping of the future of their community. Disinvested areas like the piers are receiving
new attention as investments have been pouring into neighborhoods.
WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a community-based organization, led the grassroots
efforts to initiate resident participation in the Harlem-on-the-River project to develop the
Harlem Waterfront along the Hudson River. The key to the organizing efforts of WE
ACT was based on the alliances formed between residents, representatives from
community-based organizations, elected officials, local businesses and other government
agencies. The organization built capacity in community planning. Like Lincoln Heights,
Harlem has historically been a low-income community and home to a large concentration
of people of color. It is also rich in historic significance partially because of its piers, and
while it was once a disinvested area, it has recently received new attention as investments
have been pouring into the neighborhood.
Utilizing community-based planning as an organizing tool, WE ACT fought to reclaim
the places where existing residents live, work, play, pray, and learn. In this planning
process, residents and other community stakeholders engaged in the act of envisioning,
designing, and recommending future land uses in their neighborhood. Through this
process residents of Harlem actively participated in the creation of a Master Plan for the
river area. WE ACT and Community Board 9 created a people’s plan by not only saying
they disagreed with the plans developers had for the riverfront, but by offering an
alternative plan that reflected what the community wanted:
Taking the issue directly to the community through a variety of its institutionsschools, churches, businesses, tenants’ associations, and a host of communitybased groups - WE ACT and Board 9 drew residents from around Harlem to
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supply their know-how input, and vision and transformed Harlem-on-the-River
into a community-owned project (Harlem, 2000).
This case study provides a number of important lessons. While the University was an
ally in the development of the community plan for the waterfront, once it was done, it
sought eminent domain powers to take over 20 acres of the community, including a
substantial section of the planned area. The lesson here is that plans have to be backed up
with community vigilance and oversight. Community-based planning processes and
organizing can be utilized to highlight community voices in demanding a role in projects
affecting the neighborhood. It is a useful tool to engage residents in any future
developments and public hearings, while promoting the creation of alliances with Lincoln
Heights groups such as residents, organizations, elected officials, churches, artists,
parents groups and schools that align themselves around important community issues and
goals. Doing work like this could eventually mature into a nonprofit community-based
organization. One way this process could be started would be to collaborate with the City
Council Office, Planning Department, and nonprofit groups to facilitate and host
community meetings to introduce the planning process and discuss how people can get
involved.
Lesson 3: An Organized Community
Organizing a community whether it be to fight for changes, demand services, share their
concerns and/or opinions, or to resist are lessons that were learned from many of the case
studies. In particular, the New York City Anti-Gentrification Network: Summation of
Convenings, embodies lessons specific to our project on how to address gentrification.
Similar to Los Angeles, New York is a global city that caters to the “predominantly
white, elite professionals who require access to a Global City lifestyle”(New York,
2007). This lifestyle calls for increased development of luxury housing and services
where working class people are pushed out while simultaneously working “some of the
longest hours for the lowest wages” to meet the needs of the new elite. The City’s
dominant model for development favors large commercial and luxury residential projects,
“failing to protect working class communities from being displaced from their
neighborhoods.” Some organizations in the case study identified a threat to their
neighborhood because of its proximity to the financial district in Lower Manhattan.
Based on shared concerns about the destructive forces of gentrification multiple
organizations came together to “engage the local and city-wide development processes in
order to ensure that they have a voice in their future and are not developed out of their
communities, neighborhoods and other spaces.” A working group was established to
build knowledge, proposals, and power to influence development. They analyzed the
root causes and impacts of gentrification, acknowledged their shared experiences across
communities, and identified collective needs and possibilities to “develop strategies for
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equitable and sustainable local and regional economic development.” Some key points
and interventions included:
•
•
•
•
Preserve public and affordable housing
Preserve cultural fabric and identity of communities
Preserve community-identified historic places
Legitimate low-income, immigrant, people of color, and so-called marginalized
communities as valid stakeholders in decision-making processes
The general goal is to create equitable and sustainable development in the region without
displacing current residents and unraveling the cultural fabric and heritages of the people
and places. Some initial points of convergence for further discussion and action that
emerged from the convening were to:
•
•
•
•
Exchange strategies and tactics that organizations have used to combat
gentrification
Share strategic use of data and research
Conduct media trainings and collective, strategic PR campaigns
Build community bases and work in leadership development
By using this example, Lincoln Heights residents can be engaged in analyzing
gentrification, educating fellow-residents, and preserving the cultural fabric of the current
community. The New-York City Anti-Gentrification Network lays a strong foundation
for organizing residents to spread knowledge and action against gentrification, which is
one of the deepest needs of Lincoln Heights during the pre-gentrification process.
Lesson 4: Planning Interventions
Planning interventions are important lessons to implement in communities to attain the
voice of residents and to respect the wishes of the community. There are several
examples we find in the Bartlett Park and Oak Park examples, as well as in the work
being done by the Figueroa Corridor Community Land Trust to fight for community
control of land and the creation of affordable housing.
The two cases studies of Bartlett Park and Oak Park were reviewed in a publication
prepared by the Urban Institute in Washington D.C. to look at local efforts to mitigate
displacement due to gentrification. The major strategies to prevent displacement
discussed in this report include the construction and retention of affordable housing, and
engagement in various asset building projects such as Individual Development Accounts
(IDAs), or Community Land Trusts. Furthermore, the report looks at six case studies in
relation to the relevant market strength and the level of gentrification reported by
residents in each particular community. They start with neighborhoods that show the
beginning signs of revitalization through examples where communities are facing strong
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gentrification pressures. They argue that to intervene effectively we must be aware of the
stage of gentrification through which the community is passing, and apply appropriate
interventions that are relevant to the specific context of the housing market and
subsequent effects of gentrification.
Since we are primarily concerned with how to intervene in the earliest stages of
gentrification in Lincoln Heights, we focus on the two case studies whose contexts are
most relevant to our project: the community of Bartlett Park, St. Petersburg, FL, and Oak
Park in Sacramento, CA. In both cases, active community organizations in the
neighborhoods intervened to fight involuntary displacement through various means. In
Bartlett Park the key strategies included housing rehabilitation and infill development, as
well as zoning changes and economic development strategies. In Oak Park there was a
focus on vacant property redevelopment as well the creation of a housing trust fund and
homebuyer programs to increase stability of residents (Levy, 2006).
Funding for the rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing in Bartlett Park came from
government agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations. Infill development aimed to
decrease the number of vacant lots in the area through private and nonprofit partnerships
with selected and trusted housing contractors. Economic development is an important
component to preventing displacement so that current residents are able to increase their
earnings, “thereby reducing the chance that lower-income people will get caught in a
cycle of being displaced to lower cost areas as neighborhoods change and housing values
increase.” Many survey respondents for this report stressed the importance of the link
between affordable housing development and economic development. Both must be
addressed simultaneously to ensure that current residents can benefit from physical
improvements and investments in the community.
The Figueroa Corridor Community Land Trust (FCCLT) has emerged in response to
broad-based community organizing that has occurred in the South L.A. region in the past
decade. It has been established to combat the destructive forces of displacement due to
gentrification in the community, and to provide a space where community-based
democratic decision making processes will decide the fate of land in the Figueroa
Corridor. By placing the ownership of land in the hands of the community they can
assure the availability of affordable housing for generations of working class people to
come.
A Community Land Trust is a nonprofit membership organization that produces
privately-owned housing on community-owned land. Land is held in a trust “forever”
with 99-year, renewable, inheritable ground leases that separate the ownership of the land
from the improvements to the dwellings. The ground lease limits the resale value of the
buildings, while subsidy is used to remove or reduce the cost of land from the total
development cost. This model ensures that the benefit of public and private subsidies is
preserved for future generations.
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The first community land trust was formed in the late sixties as a way to secure access to
land for African American farmers. The movement has grown to include over 200
community land trusts throughout the U.S. The Figueroa Corridor CLT will be a
powerful model for developing permanently affordable housing opportunities in
conjunction with strategies to combat displacement, increase job opportunities, and better
access to health care in their work to create a healthier community.
The FCCLT will engage youth and adult community residents in a genuine planning
process for a healthier community by establishing community planning values and
standards that will guide the strategy for land acquisition and entitlements. They will
organize and mobilize the community to support entitlements while garnering political
support and resources to expedite their approval at the city level.
While building a strong grassroots constituency for community planning, the FCCLT will
acquire ten residential, commercial and industrial sites, rezone for higher density and
healthier land uses, sell development rights at market value to affordable housing
developers, execute long-term ground leases with developers to establish affordability
requirements, and retain ownership and control of the land. They will surround the
developments with community-driven planning processes in order to reduce slum
housing, toxic land uses, and other nuisance businesses, while providing permanent
affordable housing for families with incomes between $14,000 and $50,000 a year.
Lincoln Heights is in a strategic position to challenge displacement due to gentrification
because it is in the early stages of revitalization. Residents have the advantage of learning
from organizational bodies such as those discussed here to work and organize towards an
equitable community development process that encompasses the community’s needs
through democratic participation.
2.5 CONCLUDING REMARKS: LIMITATIONS AND
POSSIBILITIES
Given the limitations of time and organizational capacity, we recognize that this project is
not a complete model for creating sustainable, community-driven interventions in
Lincoln Heights. Given more time, we would continue the process of conducting
community surveys, and would hold additional focus groups and community meetings to
expand upon the themes generated thus far. We would expand and diversify our outreach
to more community groups, such as the Vietnamese and Chinese community, faith-based
groups, youth, and additional parent groups.
Recently a new group has been started in Lincoln Heights to discuss the business corridor
and new improvements in the area. A variety of interested parties were part of the first
meeting that took place on Tuesday, February 27, 2007. In attendance were business
owners, the Lincoln Heights Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Heights Boys and Girls
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Club, Neighborhood Council representatives, Councilmember Reyes’ staff, and property
owners.
The discussion focused on how to form a group to foster and promote the on-going
efforts to revitalize the area as a whole. The group agreed that partnerships with the City,
the business community, and the overall constituency of Lincoln Heights had to be
formed to successfully take advantage of further opportunities for redevelopment.
Although all of these issues are important, the critical missing component of the group
was low-income residents. Resident participation was lacking and it is absolutely
necessary in order to ensure that the decisions made reflect their realities. Although this
gathering reflects a new, and much needed, surge in energy and dedication to the
community, it is essential that this group acknowledge the importance of preserving the
stability of current residents so that they may too benefit from impending developments.
If low-income tenants, like our survey respondents, are not invited to the table, this will
be impossible.
We hope that this project serves to promote and encourage community participation in
planning all future developments in Lincoln Heights through strategic organizing and
coalition building. Considering that youth activities and engagement was one of the
central themes generated from the surveys, and young people are interested and invested
in their community, we feel it is imperative that any community development project
must outreach and involve youth as key participants and decision-makers. Low-income
residents, who are affected the most by community decisions, need to be involved in all
the future and on-going changes in the built environment in Lincoln Heights. The sense
of pride for Lincoln Heights should be a driving factor to encourage participation.
Community infrastructure, such as churches and/or community centers, may be utilized
as venues to promote organizing and participation.
Figure 2-8 Industrial Laundry Workers
Clearly, interventions need to be
considered in order for local residents to
benefit and enjoy the recent waves of
investments, projects, planning tools, and
housing opportunities. The recent changes
and projects discussed in the pages above,
while beneficial, are also creating
opportunities for gentrification as the area
Source: Scott Goodell 2007 is becoming increasingly attractive. It is
important to come together with as many
diverse groups as possible who share the common goals of equitable and sustainable
development in Lincoln Heights while maintaining the cultural fabric and heritage of
existing residents. We must understand the root causes of gentrification in our context in
order to apply strategic interventions. Because we are preemptively challenging these
destructive forces in a community that have not yet been visibly affected by
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gentrification, it may be more challenging for us to bring together partners in the struggle.
However, if we are to stop gentrification before it begins, we need to engage in widespread community, popular education campaigns to bring awareness to this problem.
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Appendix A
Translation of Mi Realidad
My Reality
Unfortunately my reality is the reality of many. I will start by saying that I am a survivor
of domestic violence and a single mother of four marvelous kids. The power to survive
in this system is very difficult when the economic forces are not on your side, day after
day my kids and I struggle to get ahead and to become useful to the society we belong to,
despite the fact that society seldom acknowledges our efforts. On many occasions I have
received complaints and/or I have been labeled, because I do not participate enough in
my kids’ schools, or because I do not attend community events, or because I do not
participate in any committee from our local church. Countless efforts are utilized to label
me as a bad mother, a bad neighbor, or an unfaithful believer-finally there are many
accusations that I do not share with anyone.
The only thing that I know is that I need to work two full time jobs to be able to provide
and cover the needs of my home and family. My day begins at 6:30 AM preparing
breakfast for my kids and dropping them off at their schools. My first job is from nine in
the morning to five in the afternoon. I return home to prepare dinner, help my kids with
their homework, and to get ready for my next job that starts at 9:00 PM and ends at 4:00
AM. This routine takes place Monday through Friday. I ask myself, what else can I offer
this society if I struggle day after day against my own power to get ahead? I am not a
public burden and my kids are students and athletes that represent this nation
internationally, I educate them with values and the quality of time we spend together is
invaluable.
I would love to belong to community groups and to attend meetings to learn more on
what is happening in my neighborhood but that is not my priority. To be able to survive
in this system with so many economic inequalities is not easy. I feel frustrated on many
occasions as I realize that there are so many things that I can share with my community
and at the same time there are many things that I can learn from them, but the fear of not
having the money necessary to pay rent, food, medical bills, medicines, and the utilities
fill me with anxiety…Anxiety that I share with thousands and thousands…unfortunately
this is our reality.
In my personal opinion, haven chosen Lincoln Heights as our class study area is very
important starting with its history, it is one of Los Angeles’ first suburbs, the proximity to
downtown, its interesting geographic distribution, the cultural diversity that has resulted
in the last couple of years, the position that residents have to support their own
businesses. I worry about the vulnerability of displacements in this community. It is an
interesting case study. ~m.u.
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Appendix B
Community Survey of Residents Regarding Conditions in Lincoln Heights
Encuesta Comunitaria de Residentes Sobre Las Condiciones De La Vecindad
Lincoln Heights
I. Basic Information / Información básico:___________________________________
1. How long have you lived in Lincoln Heights?
¿Por cuántos años ha vivido usted en Lincoln Heights?
_______ years / años
2. Are you renting or do you own your housing?
¿Usted es inquilino/a? o dueño/a de casa?
RENT / OWN
Inquilino / Dueño
3. What is the total cost of rent or mortgage for your home?
¿Cuál es el costo total de la renta o hipoteca de su vivienda?
_____ / month/ mes
4. Do you think this is a reasonable amount?
¿Usted cree que es una cantidad razonable?
YES / NO
Si / No
5. Do you have children that go to school in Lincoln Heights?
¿Usted tiene hijos o hijas que asisten a las escuelas en Lincoln Heights?
YES / NO
Si / No
6. How many people live in your home?
____ people/ personas
¿Cuántas personas viven en su hogar?
7. Do you participate in any of the following groups? What are their names?
¿Usted participa en algunos de los siguientes grupos? ¿Cuáles son los nombres?
8. School / Parent group
About You / Sobre Usted
Escuela / Grupo de Padres __________________
9. Religious Institution
Institución Religiosa
__________________ 15. Age/ Edad:
_________
10. Community Organization
16. Gender/ Genero: _________
Organización Comunitaria __________________ 17. Race, Ethnicity /
11. ESL / Adult Education classes
Raza, Etnia: _______________
Inglés como segunda idioma/ __________________ 18. Occupation / Tipo de Empleo:
clases de adultos
___________________________
12. Cultural Organization
19. Annual Salary / Ingreso
Organización Cultural
__________________ anual:
13. Government
___________________________
Gobierno
__________________
14. Business Associations
Asociación de negociantes ______________________
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
Page 2-39
II. Information about Lincoln Heights / Información sobre Lincoln Heights:
20. What do you like most about your neighborhood? Please prioritize them and explain.
¿Qué le gusta a usted más de su vecindad? Favor de priorizarlos y ser detallado.
1st./1r°
2nd./2°
3rd./3°
21. What do you not like about your neighborhood? Please prioritize them and explain.
¿Que es que no le gusta usted de su vecindad? Favor de priorizarlos y ser detallado.
1st./1r°
2nd./2°
3rd./3°
22. What changes have you noticed in your neighborhood? Please prioritize them and
explain.
¿Que cambios ha notado usted en su vecindad? Favor de priorizarlos y ser detallado.
1st./1r°
2nd./2°
3rd./3°
23. Have you been, or do you know people who have been:(Please mark all that apply)
a. Evicted By A Court
b. Illegally Evicted
c. Forced To Move Out Because Of Landlord Intimidation
d. Forced to Move Out Because of landlord Negligence
Usted ha estado, o conoce a personas que han estado: (Favor de Marcar todos que
apliquen)
a. Desalojados por una corte
b. Desalojados ilegalmente
c. Forzados a dejar su hogar por los acosos del dueño
d. Forzados a dejar su hogar por la negligencia del dueño
24. What happened?
¿Qué aconteció?
25. Are you concerned that it may become too expensive to live in Lincoln Heights in the
Future? YES / NO
¿Le preocupa a usted que pudiera ser demasiado caro vivir en Lincoln Heights en el
futuro? SI / NO
26. Why?
¿Por qué?
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
Page 2-40
III. The Future of Lincoln Heights / El Futuro de Lincoln Heights:
27. What do you think would improve your neighborhood? Please prioritize them and
explain.
¿Que mejoraría su vecindad? Favor de priorizarlos y ser detallado.
1st./1r°
2nd./2°
3rd./3°
28. What type of housing would you prefer be built in Lincoln Heights?
Please rate your preference from 1st to last (#1 being the most important)
____Single-family homes
____Condos
____Apartments
_____Luxury Lofts
¿Qué tipo de vivienda preferiría usted que construyeran en Lincoln Heights?
Favor de priorizar su preferencia entre 1 a 4 (#1 sería lo más importante)
____Casas para familias
____ Condominios
____ Apartamentos
____ Estudios de Lujo
29. What kinds of businesses would you like to see come in to Lincoln Heights? Please
prioritize them and explain.
¿Qué tipos de negocios le gustaría a usted que desarrollaran en Lincoln Heights? Favor
de priorizarlos y ser detallado.
1st./1r°
2nd./2°
3rd./3°
30. What would you take out/remove from Lincoln Heights? Please prioritize them and
explain.
¿Qué quisiera quitar / remover de Lincoln Heights? Favor de priorizarlos y ser detallado.
1st./1r°
2nd./2°
3rd./3°
¡Muchísimas gracias por su participación!
Thank you so much for your participation!
If you would like to have a copy of our final report, please include your name, email and /
or phone number (Optional). Si le gustaría recibir una copia de nuestro reporte, favor
de incluir su nombre, correo electrónico y/o número telefónico (Opcional).
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
Page 2-41
V. Your Community, Your Priorities / Su Comunidad, Sus Prioridades
¿Si usted tenía que dar prioridades a las cosas más importantes hacer en Lincoln Heights,
qué serian?
Favor de leer la lista, entonces escoge las cinco cosas más importantes que a usted le
gustaría ver en Lincoln Heights. Por favor marcarlos con una palomita. También se
puede incluir otras ideas que usted tiene que no aparecen en la lista.
If you had to prioritize the most important things to do in Lincoln Heights, what would
they be?
Please read the whole list then choose the five most important things you would like to
see in Lincoln Heights and put a check mark next to them. Also, please feel free to add
other ideas you have that we may have left out.
More activities for youth
Más actividades para los jóvenes
Better street lighting
Mejor alumbramiento en las calles
Better traffic control
Mejor control del tráfico
More affordable housing
Más viviendas económicas
Parks and recreation areas
Áreas de recreación y parques
More street signs
Más señalamientos de tránsito
Better grocery stores
More Child care facilities
More police
Arts programs
Neighborhood cleanliness
After school programs
Better Public Transportation
__________________(Other)
Mejor supermercados
Más guarderías infantiles
Más policías
Programas de arte
Limpieza en la vecindad
Programas después de la escuela
Mejor transporte público
(Otra)_____________________
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
Page 2-42
References
Acuña, Rodolfo. A Community Under Seige (1984). Monograph. Los Angeles: Studies
Research Center University of California
Bermudez, Antonio and Michael Coyne, Liz Fowler, Mary Novak, and Cheryl Stump
(2003) Avenue 26: Re-connecting a Community. University of California Los Angeles,
Department of Urban Planning Spring
browne, jaron, marisa franco, jason negrón-gonzales, and steve williams (2005). towards
land, work & power: charting a path of resistance to u.s.-led imperialism. Unite to Fight
Press: San Francisco
California Department of Education. Academic Performance Index Information Guide.
(2006) http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/documents/infoguide06b.p
Craigslist. Widely used on-line search database. www.craigslist.org
Delp, Linda, Mirando Outman-Kramer, Susan J. Schurman, and Kent Wong editors
(2002). Teaching for Change: Popular Education and the Labor Movement. UCLA
Center for Labor Research and Education: Los Angeles
Department of City Planning. North East Los Angeles Community Plan (2003)
http://plncts.lacity.org/complan/pdf/nlacptxt.pdf
Fullilove, Mindy Thompson M.D. (1996) Psychiatric Implications of Displacement:
Contributions from the Psychology of Place. The American Journal of Psychiatry
Freire, Paulo (1990). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum
Here is Your Community Service Organization pamphlet. Los Angeles: Community
Service Organization (1951), 5, in Galarza Papers, Box 13-7
Javier, Juan. La Comunidad En Lucha: The Development Of The East Los Angeles High
School Blowouts (March, 1990). Working Papers Series. No. 29 Inda Stanford University
Ledwith, Margaret (2005). Community Development: A Critical Approach. The Policy
Press: UK
Lessel, Helen. LA Times Real Estate. April 2nd, 2006,
Levy, Diane K., Jennifer Comey and Sandra Padilla (2006). In the Face of
Gentrification: Case Studies of Local Efforts to Mitigate Displacement. The Urban
Institute. Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. Washington, DC
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
Page 2-43
National Park Service.http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/5views/5views5d.htm.
A History of Mexican Americans in California: World War II and Its Aftermath Accessed
May 30, 2007
New York City Anti-Gentrification Network: Summation of Convenings. Informational
handout given to participants at “The Right to the City” convening in Los Angeles.
January 2007
Smith, Neil (2002). New Globalism, New Urbanism: Gentrification as Global Strategy.
Antipode
U.S. Census Bureau, 2005 American Community Survey
Walls, David. http://www.sonoma.edu/sociology/dWalls/commun.html , The Workbook,
Summer 1994. Copyright 1994, 1996 Accessed May 30, 2007
Yancy, George (2004). ed. What White Looks Like: African-American Philosophers on
the Whiteness Question. New York: Routledge Press.
End Notes:
i
The Median Family Income in the Los Angeles County is estimated at $56,500 dollars (HUD, 2007). This
is almost three times as much as an average laundry worker earns, which is estimated to be under $18,900 a
year according to the Labor Federation. This means that on average, laundry and other service employed
residents living in Lincoln Heights can not afford an “affordable housing” unit in any of the four
developments mentioned above.
BUILDING A BASE TO PREVENT DISPLACEMENT IN LINCOLN HEIGHTS:
Emancipatory-Action Research for a Healthy, Sustainable Community
Page 2-44
Chapter 3
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Robert Rubio
Takatoshi Wako
3.1 INTRODUCTION
Across the country, the effects of gentrification can be seen on ethnic enclaves of all
types. Among the communities most affected are the historically African American
communities of our major cities such as the Bay View Hunters Point community of San
Francisco and also the Sweet Auburn District in Atlanta. In San Francisco, The Bay View
Hunters Point Neighborhood is the last black neighborhood in the city of San Francisco.
Currently, the neighborhood, along with the Hunters Point Ship Yard and Candlestick
Point, has been declared a massive redevelopment project area. Many African Americans
feel that their homes and businesses are threatened and that they will be forced out of a
community they love. The community has collected over 33,000 signatures to force a
referendum to challenge the redevelopment project, but it is currently tied up in legal
challenges (Hogarth, 2007).
Likewise, in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn District, some residents were concerned about the
addition of 159 new condos in the middle of Auburn Avenue. Auburn Avenue has been
the historic center of the African American community in Atlanta and is home to
numerous historic sites such as the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr. Many in the
community wanted guaranteed housing for the poor and middle class, not just the wealthy.
Also, there was a concern that if development isn’t handled carefully, the neighborhood
could grow into something completely different from what the area has been. As one
business owner stated, “The challenge is how to weave the old and the new in a way
that’s representative of the historic aspect of the community” (Fausset, 2006). This is the
same concern voiced by those that are trying to preserve the Leimert Park community.
While residents and business owners do want to see growth in their village, they want
growth based on culture and commerce, not condominiums and unwanted density.
The effects of gentrification on Leimert Park artists and businesses began to be felt in
2001-2002 when one large building in the center of the village changed ownership. This
building, located at 4334 Degnan Blvd., contained nine separate store fronts that housed
artist galleries, the World Stage Performance Gallery and other black-owned businesses.
While the previous owner kept the rents low to nurture the artists in the community, the
new owner raised the rents and served eviction notices. In response, in early January of
2002, the artist and merchants held a rally to “Save Leimert Park” which was attended by
hundreds of people. Many of the artists and business owners felt they were being pushed
out to make way for businesses that did not reflect the historical significance of the
village as a center of African American culture and commerce. As Central Avenue had
lost its role as the center of culture and commerce for the African American community,
there was a fear that a similar fate was awaiting Leimert Park if no action was taken to
protect it. At the time, one artist stated, “Gentrification is not just a money thing. In this
case it is the tearing out of a heart.” Others, such as the late great jazz pianist Horace
Tapscott stated that “Lets make sure Leimert is always a place where the vibe is passed
on to new generations” (Slate, 2002).
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-1
In this paper, we will highlight the issue of business gentrification in Leimert Park. By
reviewing related literature and using census data, we will give a brief snapshot of
Leimert Park’s history, demographics and key establishments. Based on the result of
surveys intended for business owners and information gathered through interviews with
them, this chapter defines the problems of business gentrification and the lack of
community involvement. The process of how public agencies acted in the past and how
the community responded will be described through close observation of the community,
including our participation in a series of public meetings. And finally, we introduce the
case study of Little Tokyo as the best example we have found to offer recommendations
for Leimert Park.
3.2 SNAPSHOT OF LEIMERT PARK
In order to study how gentrification is affecting the Leimert Park community in Los
Angeles, this section presents a brief overview of the neighborhood history and a
snapshot of its current circumstances. Though it is not a detailed historical and
demographic analysis, we hope this section will provide the basic understanding for
further analyses examining gentrification pressures that we explore in the following
sections.
Geographic Description
Leimert Park, a community in southwest Los Angeles, is one of the last predominantly
African American centers of culture and commerce in the western U.S. The
neighborhood is approximately 1 square mile, bounded by Rodeo Road on the north, 4th
Avenue and Roxton Avenue on the east, Vernon Avenue on the south, and Crenshaw
Boulevard on the west.
Figure 3-1: Location of Leimert Park and Leimert Park Village
Source: Authors, May 2007
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-2
Leimert Park Village is a unique commercial and African American cultural district
located at the South-West corner of the Leimert Park neighborhood, surrounded by 43rd
St. on the north, 43rd Place on the south, Crenshaw Blvd. on the west, and Leimert Blvd.
on the east. (Figure 3-2: Leimert Park Village).
Figure 3-2: Location of Leimert Park Village
Source: Extracted from CRA Brochure, some information added by authors
History
Created by Walter H. Leimert Co. in 1927 and designed by the Olmsted brothers, the
same firm responsible for New York City's Central Park, the U.S. Capitol and White
House grounds, Leimert Park was one of Los Angeles' first planned communities for
working and middle-class families (Robertson, 1997). Figure 3-3 is the original Olmsted
plan for Leimert Park Village, and Figure 3-4 shows the rendering of the community plan
for Leimert Park where the civic park and commercial center were sited at the
convergence of Angeles Mesa Drive (currently Crenshaw Blvd.), Degnan Blvd, Leimert
Blvd, and Vernon Ave (Hise, 1997). Leimert Plaza Park is a small triangular space.
Magnolias, palms, maples and pines line the streets.
The creation of Leimert Park involved many planning innovations including a heavy
emphasis on organic landscaping, schools and churches located away from heavy traffic
areas, and a residential street and pedestrian path system that was designed to flow
directly into the Leimert Park Village commercial district. The pathway system was
unusual for its time and also provided means to ensure that children would be able to
walk to the neighborhood schools without walking along busy streets.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-3
Figure 3-3: Original Olmsted Plan for Leimert Park Village
Source: A collection of Hal Miller, a resident in Leimert Park
Figure 3-4: Rendering of Community Plan for Leimert Park
Source: Magnetic Los Angeles (Hise, 1997)
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-4
Beginning in the late 1940s and early 1950s with the removal of racial restrictions on
where non-whites could live, many African Americans began to move into Leimert Park.
At the same time, a large Japanese American community developed in the area. As the
area became more African American, white flight began and was accelerated after the
Watts riots of 1965. The Japanese Americans did not flee the area as the whites left for
the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. The Leimert Park census area is still nearly
90 percent African American. Unlike other communities that saw white flight, such as
West Adams, Echo Park, and Boyle Heights, the residential area of Leimert Park
remained a middle class enclave with well-maintained homes and did not physically
deteriorate (See Figure 3-5 for the area’s median income data).
Figure 3-5: Median Income Distribution in Leimert Park and its
Vicinity
Source: 2000 Census
A black-oriented cultural district started taking shape about 15 years ago, anchored by
the Vision Theatre at the corner of 43rd Place and Leimert Boulevard and the Crossroads
Theatre on Degnan Boulevard at 43rd Street (neither are open now). More than a dozen
galleries also opened up. Artists, mostly black, came to the area, which began to be
compared with the heydays of New York's Harlem and L.A.'s Central Avenue. It has
been referred to as “the black Greenwich Village” (Lee, 2006). With the 1992 riots, a
few of the businesses were burned or torn down soon after, including the Crossroad
Theatre, which was turned into a large city-owned public parking lot (Fine, 2003).
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-5
Leimert Park Today
Many of the commercial and residential buildings were constructed before 1940, with
Arte Deco, Spanish, and Mediterranean influences. As can be seen in Figure 3-6, the
Leimert Park neighborhood maintained its original planned shape for almost half a
century.
Figure 3-6: Aerial Photographs of Leimert Park in 1965 and 2006
(a) 1965 (Unknown sources)
(b) 2006 (MS Virtual Earth)
Leimert Park Village, on the other hand, experienced some scrap and build, especially
after the 1992 riots (see Figure 3-7). Even with the changes that came after the riots, the
village is still considered by many as the center of the African American arts scene in Los
Angeles, with flourishing blues and jazz clubs, as well as numerous venues for dramatic
performances and poetry readings. Today, the district is struggling to maintain its identity
as several of the long term tenants are being forced out by redevelopment and rapidly
increasing rents. This process will be discussed in more detail below.
Figure 3-7: Aerial Photographs of Leimert Park Village
in 1984, 1993, and 2006
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-6
Key Places & Establishments in Leimert Park
Leimert Plaza Park is a small pocket park designed in 1928 in the original Olmsted Plan,
which is located south of Leimert Park Village and bounded by 43rd Place on the north,
Vernon Blvd. on the south, Crenshaw Blvd. on the west and Leimert Blvd. on the east.
The park and large fountain in its center provides a focal point for activism, a popular
place for street performance and a gathering place for the community. “When the black
community wants to speak out or send a message about something, quite often they come
to Leimert Park to make that statement.” Lively bongo drum jam sessions held in
Leimert Plaza Park every Sunday are a major scene.
Degnan Boulevard is the main street in Leimert Park Village with dozen of shops,
galleries and restaurants. Among the shops are the Zambezi Bazaar, which sells out of
print African American books and magazines along with a large selection of gifts. Across
the street is Gallery Plus which specializes in African American themed fine art, folk art,
and gifts from the African Continent. Also, Gallery Plus has a wide selection of books by
African American writers. Down from Gallery Plus, the Eso Won bookstore has recently
relocated to the Leimert Park Village. Eso Won is one of the only African American
independent bookstores left in Southern California, and often plays host to dignitaries
such as former President Clinton and numerous Black authors for book signings. Along
with shopping, there are restaurants such as M&M Soul Food, a Jamaican restaurant, and
the 5th Street Dicks Coffee House which has been a place for local spoken word, jazz,
and gospel music events. Table 3-1 shows a current inventory of businesses in Leimert
Park Village.
Table 3-1: A current inventory of businesses in Leimert Park Village
Category
Beauty
Professional Services
Restaurants, Café
Art
African Gifts, Products
Medical
Apparel
Education
Book
Other Services
Total
# of business
14
13
7
6
6
5
3
3
2
6
65
Source: Save Leimert (March 2007)
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-7
The Vision Theater is a 1,050 seat movie house, originally built as the Leimert Theatre
by Howard Hughes in 1932. Since its creation, it has been the landmark building in
Leimert Park Village. Even though it has gone through numerous transitions and changed
ownership several times, it is still considered by many to be the physical heart of the
community. Located in the center of Leimert Park, and considered Los Angeles’ cultural
Mecca, the Vision Theatre has withstood two riots and years of neglect. Finally, in 1999
the City of Los Angeles purchased the 75-year-old property and has been slowly working
on a plan for its renovation and re-opening as a performing arts center (Smith and Tobin,
2005). Currently, five million dollars of 17 million needed to open the theatre has been
set aside by the City. The City Councilman and the Cultural Affairs Department are
currently trying to find the rest of the funds necessary so that the project can move
forward. The City believes it will be four to five years before the theatre will be reopened,
so currently it sits, unable to be utilized due to a lack of an occupancy permit from the
Building and Safety Department.
World Stage, co-founded in 1989 by world famous drummer, Billy Higgins, and
poet/activist Kamau Daaood, provides a grass roots headquarters for Leimert Park.
Locals, regardless of formal education or class, come to speak their minds on politics and
every day life in the city. Often times, this is accomplished through spoken word, open
mic nights, where those in attendance are encouraged to speak their mind through poetry.
The workshop–performance space seats only fifty, but has provided a rehearsal space and
a nurturing environment. During the week, there are instrumental and vocal workshops,
Wednesday night poetry workshops, and Thursday night jam sessions. Over the years, the
World Stage’s various workshops, jam sessions, and performance series have provided
support, training, and creative outlets for a myriad of artists and musicians in the area
(Lindsay, J., 2006).
The Museum In Black sold African artifacts as well as artifacts from the era of slavery
and had an extensive collection of slavery and segregation memorabilia. The Museum in
Black closed in July of 2005 after disagreements with the landlord about the rising rent.
After a short vacancy, the location was leased to Eso Won Books, bringing an African
American owned and focused bookstore to Leimert Park Village. The Museum in Black
moved part of it’s collection to the Dunbar Hotel on Central Avenue while it continues to
search for a space and funds to relocate back into the Leimert/Crenshaw area.
Demographics
Total Population: The residential population grew by 18 percent, from 7,549 in 1990 to
8,911 in 2000.
Racial Make-up: According to the 2000 Census, African American people make up
almost 90 percent of the population while Asian (5.1 percent) and Latino (4 percent)
follow. Whites comprise only 1.1 percent of the population. This racial distribution is
totally different when compared to neighboring communities. As can be seen in Figure
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-8
3-7 while African Americans make up only 11.2 percent of the total population of the
City of Los Angeles, and even less (9.8 percent) within the whole county.
Age: Seniors (age 65 and over) make up 20.7 percent of the population, which is
significantly larger than city-wide average of 9.7 percent.
Income: Leimert Park is comprised of middle-income residents. The median income of
Leimert Park ranges between $28,897 and $53,063 (Census 2000), which is between 79
and 144 percent of the City’s median income ($36,687).
Housing: There are about 4,500 housing units in Leimert Park. Nearly half (46.3 percent)
of the housing units are single detached units while the rest of them are small multifamily units. Forty-five percent of the units are owner occupied, which is significantly
higher than the City’s average (38.6 percent). Sixty-seven percent of all the units were
built before 1950; 30 percent of all the units were built earlier than 1939. (See Figure 3-8).
Figure 3-8: Demographics of Leimert Park and its vicinity
% Black
% Latino
% Asian
% Age over 65
Median Rent
Median Housing Value
Source: Census 2000
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-9
3.3 DEFINING THE PROBLEMS
The Loss of Community Identity as an African American Center for Culture and
Commerce and Threat of Businesses Gentrification
Gentrification in Los Angeles
There exist various definitions of gentrification. According to Smith (1996):
Gentrification is the process...by which poor and working-class neighborhoods in
the inner city are refurbished by an influx of private capital and middle-class
homebuyers and renters....a dramatic yet unpredicted reversal of what most
twentieth-century urban theories had been predicting as the fate of the central and
inner-city.
Like most weather patterns that sweep across Southern California, gentrification
primarily moved from west to east throughout the late 1990s, passing through
neighborhood after neighborhood as buyers and renters alike realized they could no
longer afford the places they wanted. Buyers priced out of Santa Monica tried Venice.
Those who gave up on the Westside headed east to Los Feliz. As the 20th century drew to
a close, the development weather pattern kept driving east, making its way into Silver
Lake where it branched off in multiple directions (Zahniser, 2006). Commercial
gentrification reached Leimert Park in early 2001, and increased with the rise of the real
estate market in the past two years.
Gentrification in Leimert Park Village
The Leimert Park neighborhood did not face gentrification issues as early as other ethnic
enclaves such as Little Tokyo, Chinatown, Korean Town, Thai Town, and Historic
Filipino Town (Apisakkui, Huynh, Lee and Sunoo, 2006). This might be because of its
location in South Los Angeles, or distance from downtown. Another possible reason is
the relatively high owner-occupancy ratio of the residential units. However, in 2001,
commercial gentrification started in Leimert Park Village through redevelopment.
Because of this the neighborhood quickly began to fear losing its identity. Several of the
long term tenants were being forced out by redevelopment and rapidly increasing rents.
One of the first businesses in Leimert Park to feel the sting of gentrification was Zambezi
Bazaar, a unique gift shop that carries a wide selection of out-of-print black literature and
gifts. Opened in 1991 by two sisters, Mary Kimbrough and Jackie Ryan, Zambezi Bazaar
is a small family run business that has successfully operated in Leimert Park Village for
over 15 years. While their shop was able to survive the decline in business that occurred
after the 1992 civil unrest, they are now concerned that they will be forced out because of
rising rents. The sisters believe the City and Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)
are trying to replace black-oriented businesses with businesses and national chains that
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-10
cater to wealthier white customers as a means of boosting tax revenue. Jackie Ryan
believes “the whole thing is to remove black people.” The sisters feel that if their building
is replaced by a large mixed-use building of shops with high-end condos above, they will
not be able to pay the rent that such a building would command. As it is, their rent has
gone from $595.00 in 2001 to $2000.00 a month. If it were to go any higher they may be
forced to close or relocate (Glazer and Pregaman, 2007). As president of the Leimert Park
Merchants Association, Jackie Ryan has played an integral part in the formation of the
Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition, bringing commercial property owners, small
business owners, and residents together in order to preserve and strengthen the cultural
and commercial enclave of Leimert Park Village.
Another example of the effects of rising rents and real estate values can be seen in the
situation of the Black Employees Association, a nonprofit corporation that is located in
Leimert Park Village. Having been located in the area for decades, they are currently
searching for other communities to relocate to due to rising rents. Their landlord plans to
double their rent when their lease expires in July. Such a large rent increase is not
something the nonprofit could financially support. Unfortunately for Leimert Park
Village, if the Black Employees Association relocates, the neighborhood may loose two
additional nonprofits and a private security company who currently sub-leases from the
association.
We conducted a survey of small businesses in Leimert Park Village from April 19 to 27,
2007, to gather basic information such as ownership status and rent increase (See the
survey questionnaire in Appendix A). There exist 76 small businesses in the Leimert Park
Village. Out of that, we were able to contact half of them, and completed surveys for 18
business owners (24 percent) as of May 2, 2007. The following is the summary of the
results from the survey.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
83 percent of the businesses are African American owned.
Half of the businesses are women owned.
All of them are business tenants.
Most of the owners of the building live outside of Leimert Park.
There are four business tenants who are planning to relocate their businesses due
to rent increase.
On average they have been in business for 13.5 years.
Some tenants are experiencing a rapid surge of rent, while others enjoy stable rent
thanks to their building owners’ favor.
Figure 3-9 shows how the rents increased between 1990 and now. Due to privacy
concerns, the data is an average of all of the answers received. There are differences to
the extent of rent increases, but in general, it can be said that rent started increasing in
2000, and have doubled in seven years.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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While conducting the surveys, it was clear from the large majority of business owners
that they wanted to base development on culture and commerce, not housing, which is the
predominant surrounding land use. Also, many wanted to see additional space for
professional services such as lawyers and medical services. Some wanted to see
development based on encouraging minority-owned small businesses and all were in
agreement that the speedy reopening of the Vision Theatre was essential in bringing
about economic and cultural growth. Many wanted to see the Leimert Park Village
promoted as a national tourist destination as the center for black art and culture in Los
Angeles. Others were feeling the effects of high rent increases, and one respondent felt
that a new building owner was aggressively trying to force them out of their space where
they have been operating their business for nearly 30 years. Although they have five
years left on their lease, they may be forced to go earlier due to the inability to pay high
legal fees to fight their eviction.
Figure 3-9: Rent Increase of 18 Businesses in Leimert Park Village
from 1990-2007
$1.6
Monthly Rent ($/sqft.)
$1.4
$1.2
$1.0
$0.8
$0.6
$0.4
1990
1995
2000
Year
2005
Source: authors
Compounding the frustrations of the merchants is the fact that there is little opportunity to
express their concerns about their situation to the City decision makers. Likewise, the
City and CRA policies that seem to be helping to encourage the gentrification of the
merchant district are usually created with very little involvement from the merchant
community. We also would like to bring attention to the lack of community involvement
in the planning process, which will be explained more in the next section.
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3.4
REDEVELOPMENT, THE LACK OF COMMUNITY
PARTICIPATION AND COMMUNITY AWARENESS
In her briefing at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, Cecilia Estolano, the new CEO of
the CRA addressed how horrible and miserable past community outreach attempts of the
CRA were. Some of the CRA’s problems with outreach included the lack of sending
notices to effected communities, and attendance issues with the Community Advisory
Committee (CAC) board members whose responsibility is to hear the concern of the
community. She also recognized that the CRA needs strategic planning at the community
level (Estolano, 2007).
The redevelopment process in Leimert Park was a typical case of what she described.
This chapter explains how the community was neglected in the redevelopment process,
how the community responded, and what happened as a result.
CRA’s “Redevelopment”
Leimert Park Village became part of the CRA’s Crenshaw project area, which also
includes the Baldwin Hills- Crenshaw Plaza, when the Plans were amended in late 1994
in response to the 1992 civil disturbances (see Figure 3-10 for the project area boundary).
For the past 12 years, the CRA has spent over $600,000 on streetscape and business
facade improvements in Leimert Park Village. Currently, the CRA is studying the
possibility of merging and expanding the project areas in South LA. While the CRA
states that their study only includes the commercial area, they have hired GRC Associates,
a private consultant, to implement a blight analysis on all properties located one quarter
of a mile from the current project boundaries, which includes the quiet residential
neighborhood of Leimert Park (CRA/LA, 2006).
It is vital for the CRA to find blight in the surrounding residential area for two main
reasons. First, a declaration of blight is necessary for the CRA to retain the power of
eminent domain. This eminent domain authority is necessary should the CRA want to
combine smaller parcels in the area to create larger ones for redevelopment. Secondly,
the CRA needs the blight designation so that they will be able to gain increased property
tax increment from the expanded redevelopment zone. Residents are angered that their
beautiful, historic neighborhood is currently under blight analysis and fear that a positive
blight finding would hurt their property values and possibly lead to the threat of eminent
domain being used against their properties. At a minimum, the intention of the CRA is to
find blight so that they can gain more tax increment money which will be used to boost
the redevelopment process (see Figure 3-11).
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Figure 3-10: CRA Crenshaw Redevelopment Area
Source: CRA/LA
Figure 3-11: Photo of Leimert Park Village Commercial/Residential
Does this look like blight?
Source: Robert Rubio
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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LANI Initiative
Leimert Park, like other areas of South Los Angeles, was affected by the riots of 1992
and the Northridge earthquake of 1994. One of the City’s responses at the time to
improve the condition of economically depressed areas was the creation of the Los
Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI). The purpose of LANI was to try to give
specific neighborhoods a boost economically and physically through the “jump starting”
of improvements such as new landscaping and business facade improvements.
The City of Los Angeles, at the request of Council District 8, selected LANI to
administer the Leimert Park Neighborhood Block Grant (NBG) Program ($948,000) in
order to create community consensus for targeted improvements while expediting the
permitting and development of these improvements. Community priorities for the NBG
funds included facade and signage improvements along the commercial corridors and
landscaping improvements in adjacent residential areas. The planning and design for
facade, signage, and landscaping improvements was completed in March 2003.
Construction of the facade improvements was completed in winter 2005 and resulted in
the revitalization of six contiguous buildings along Crenshaw Boulevard (Jaax, 2005).
In the case of Leimert Park, LANI improvements were instrumental in helping stop the
decay of the commercial village and create a sense of place and pride for the African
American community (Arefi, 2004).
Through the improvements to the physical appearance of the Leimert Park Village, many
new businesses have opened, including Starbucks which had stayed away from Leimert
Park for years. Also, the neighborhood improvements brought about by LANI did not
come with major displacement of current residents or businesses.
Master Plan for the Leimert Park Village, Community Revolt and Establishment of
the Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition
In mid 2005, at the request of City Councilman Bernard Parks, the city began to work on
a new Master Plan for the Leimert Park Village commercial district. Councilman Parks
wanted the new plan because his office was receiving inquiries from developers and
commercial property owners in the village who wanted to develop two large parking lots
owned by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) in the heart of the
village (See Figure 3-2). Three architecture firms were hired to complete the Master Plan.
Initially, the new Master Plan process for Leimert Park was to be completed within a four
month process. While it is unclear why the process was being expedited, there were
property owners within the village and outside developers that were interested in bringing
in mixed-use and additional housing to the village. While the architects did attempt to
survey the business owners in the village, no attempt was made to survey any of the
residents. Although the CRA and the councilman’s office felt that the residential and
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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commercial districts should be treated as separate entities, the community demanded that
they be looked at together as they had been under the original Olmstead Master Plan.
This process became more public when three of the residents attended a Crenshaw CAC
meeting in February of 2006, in which renderings were shown of mixed-use development
replacing much of the village. The residents in attendance felt that the process should be
put in front of the entire community. However, the response of the CRA was again that
the new Master Plan would not have any effect on the residents and that they did not have
the time or the money to survey them. The CRA felt that one public meeting, to be held
in March of 2006, would be sufficient to hear and address the concerns of the community.
It was at this point that the Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition was formed in order to
alert the community to the proposed master plan.
A few of the residents got together and at their own expense, prepared and mailed
information to over 2,000 households urging them to attend the March meeting held by
the CRA and their architects. Even though it was short notice and there was pouring rain,
over 200 concerned residents showed up at the CRA meeting at Audubon Middle School.
The consultants once again showed their renderings of possible developments (Figure 312), which brought about wide-spread community outrage at the possibility of having
hundreds of housing units constructed in such a small area. Equally disturbing to the
residents and many merchants was the potential of displacing many of the minorityowned businesses that currently exist in the village.
After the overwhelming response the CRA received at the Audubon meeting, the CRA
decided to hold smaller “house” meetings to make their case to the public and gain
community input. These meetings were usually held in people’s homes and attended by
about a dozen people, half of whom were usually CRA staff. Due to a lack of
transparency in this process, Save Leimert did not endorse the meetings and continued to
push to have the Master Plan process slowed down.
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Figure 3-12: Draft Master Plan of Leimert Park Village
Shown in the Public Meeting on March 2006
Current status
Source: Photo taken by Robert Rubio
CRA’s mixed-use plan
Source: CRA/LA
Source: CRA/LA
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Leimert Park Visioning Process Led by the Coro Foundation
Due to the concerns of grassroots organizations such as Save Leimert, the City suspended
the Master Plan process in order to allow for more legitimate community involvement.
However, on February 2007, they came back on track, and decided to hire the facilitator
organization, the Coro Foundation (Coro) to collect public input and to attempt a more
legitimate community involvement process.
Coro has held four public meetings on February 24th, March 3rd, 10th and 17th in the
interest of developing a proposal for the Leimert Park Master Plan (see Table 3-2 for the
timeline related to Leimert Park Visioning Process). One of the authors participated in
most of these public meetings, but he felt that the process was too hasty because the CRA
set the due date for this process for the end of March. The number of participants for each
meeting were somewhere between 40 and 70 people according to Coro; but it actually felt
less than that because the meetings were long (3 hours) and people kept coming and
going during any one meeting.
On a parallel with the Coro process, the Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition organized
three workshops to develop its own alternative Master Plan in March, 2007. The number
of attendants was less (between 15 and 20 people) than those in the Coro process.
However, their discussion seemed to be more productive with a concrete plan of action
when compared to the discussion in the Coro process. This difference between the Save
Leimert plan and the Coro process can be attributed to the fact that many Save Leimert
members had accumulated a large pool of knowledge while working for over a year on
the issue. On the other hand the Coro process was completed in a month. Also, the scope
of the Coro visioning process was contractually limited to Leimert Park Village while
Save Leimert was able to develop a community plan that took the whole neighborhood
into consideration, including adjacent commercial districts. After summarizing what they
agreed to out of a series of workshops, Save Leimert presented their recommendations for
the Leimert Park Village Master Plan (See Appendix B) in the Visioning Presentations
meeting on March 17, along with other community members who presented their
community visions.
Coro reported their final report in the CAC meeting on April 12, 2007 (see Appendix C).
The report basically said that the Visioning Process proved that while there are diverse
stakeholder groups in Leimert Park Village – residents, merchants, property owners,
artists, musicians, students, patrons, poets, and others – there is an overwhelming
common interest in maintaining and enriching the Afro-centric culture of the village,
through encouraging and protecting small business development, particularly blackowned businesses.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Table 3-2: Timeline for Leimert Park Visioning Process
Date
Mid 2005
Feb. 2006
Event
Participants
Councilman Parks with collaboration from CRA initiated new
Master Plan for LPV.
CRA hired architects for developing Master Plan
-
Architect showed the draft renderings of large-mixed use in the
public meeting at Audubon Middle School.
Over 200
Formation of the Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition
April, 2006
The City/CRA suspended Leimert Park Master Plan Process in
order to get more community involvement
May, 2006
Save Leimert took six seats on the Crenshaw Community
Advisory Committee
Feb. 2007
City/CRA decided to hire the Coro foundation to convene
community meetings, and help develop the plan.
Feb 17, 2007
History/outreach event (at Farmer’s market) by Coro
Feb. 24, 2007
Leimert Park Vision Meeting (at Dorsey High)
Mar 3, 2007
1st group planning meeting (at Vision Theater Lobby)
Mar 10, 2007
2nd group planning meeting (at Vision Theater Lobby)
March 17, 2007
April 12, 2007
May 1, 2007
Visioning Presentations Meeting
(at Audubon Middle School)
Final Report was presented at CAC meeting
Special CAC meeting for Leimert Park Visioning Process
(at Audubon Middle School)
53
45
41
(60-70)
(40)
(60-70)
Numbers of participants in parenthesis are roughly estimated by author present
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Next steps
It was the actions of the Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition that stopped the Master
Plan process. It was also due to them that the CRA was forced to hire the Coro
Foundation to facilitate the community’s input. Although there were some aspects that
they could have improved, at large, Coro’s Leimert Park Visioning process did a good
job of gathering the community’s opinion. One thing that emerged from the Coro process
is that diverse stakeholder groups in Leimert Park Village – residents, merchants,
property owners, artists, musicians, students, patrons, poets, and others – have an
overwhelming common interest in maintaining and enriching the Afro-centric culture of
the village, while at the same time, encouraging and protecting small business
development, particularly black-owned businesses.
However, the outcome of the Coro process does not guarantee what public agencies such
as the Planning Department or CRA will do in the future. Also, at this moment, there are
no legal or political powers for the community to force public agencies to take the
outcome of the Visioning processes into account or to implement the community’s
suggestions. Because of this, the result of both the Coro and Save Leimert Visioning
processes, which were quite similar, may not be put to use.
In fact, Ricardo Noguera, Regional Administrator for the South Los Angeles Regional
Area in CRA, said in the special CAC meeting held on May 1, 2007, for a community
review of the Coro findings, that “The report will be an addendum or one of the chapters
in their report for CRA Board of Commissioners.” This statement is obvious proof of
how the community’s input will most likely be treated in the future – simply an
addendum, as opposed to a central piece of the plan.
As the Coro Foundation suggested in their final report, the community needs to convene
a meeting with representatives from various City agencies. The purpose for such a
meeting would be for representative groups of the community to determine what they
need from public agencies. Also, the role of the community needs to be defined and
findings of the Community Visioning process need to be implemented.
Right now, there are no such bodies representing Leimert Park. Any of the existing
bodies such as the CAC for the CRA or Neighborhood Council are not alternatives
because they are in charge of broader areas. In the next chapter, we will suggest the
establishment of the Leimert Park Community Council as an overarching organization.
Its role would be to have strong political influence on decision making processes by
public agencies and elected officials concerning Leimert Park. We look to the Little
Tokyo Community Council as the best example in the Los Angeles area of such a group.
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3.5 LESSONS FROM LITTLE TOKYO FOR SAVE
LEIMERT
Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC)
While there are numerous ethnic enclaves within the city of Los Angeles, one of the
oldest and most well known is Little Tokyo. Due to its location in the downtown area, it
was one of the first neighborhoods in the city to face the forces of redevelopment and
gentrification.
Beginning in the 1970s, neighborhood activists began to organize to protect the rights of
tenants and small cultural businesses that were being forced out by redevelopment. In
particular, the area was beginning to loose a number of affordable residential hotels, a
community center, and numerous small businesses to make way for a luxury hotel and
shopping center. Because of this threat, three activists got together to form the Little
Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) with the intention of serving the Japanese American
community by preserving and improving their lives in the City. Out of their confrontation
with the city and developers, the LTSC was able to force a number of concessions for the
community. These concessions were the first of their kind in the city and included five
years of relocation benefits for displaced artists, five years of rent subsidy for small
businesses that were pushed out of their locations, and displaced residents also received
relocation benefits. For the past 25 years, the LTSC has grown into a large social service
organization serving all ethnicities within the Little Tokyo area. One way that the Center
reaches out to all stakeholders in the community is through the Little Tokyo Community
Council.
The Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) is a nonprofit 501(c3) whose mission is to
ensure that Little Tokyo would be a viable center for the Japanese American community
and the Los Angeles Downtown community. LTCC consist of nearly 100 organizations
ranging widely from commercial associations, religious associations, tenants
organizations to mass media. (See Appendix D for the membership list). LTCC has a
board of directors, where approximately 20 members are elected yearly, that holds
monthly meetings to work to create a vision of what Little Tokyo should be in the future
and serve as an advocate on behalf of the Little Tokyo community.
One of the three founding members of the Little Tokyo Service Center was Ms. Evelyn
Yoshimura. Ms. Yoshimura, who grew up in the Leimert Park community, remembers
that walking home from school, she would often hear jam sessions coming from the
home of the legendary singer Ray Charles. She is currently the Community Organizing
Director for Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC). According to Ms. Yoshimura, the
LTCC was established in 1998 in response to a development of a retail complex
including Home Depot and Starbucks on the corner of 1st street and Central Ave. The
community had wanted to see a recreation center built on the site. They thought they
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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needed to be organized to have more influence on political and public decision-making
rather than just dreaming.
At first, there was no political support for the council. The turning point was in 2003,
when the City was planning to construct a new 900 cell jail on the Mangrove site (northeast corner of intersection on 1st Street and Alameda Street, where the Gold Line station
will be constructed). This site, located next to a very important temple and child day care
center, was considered completely inappropriate for such a facility by the community.
The LTCC collected more than 35,000 signatures against the new construction of the jail.
In response to opposition from all over the community, and facing this broad coalition,
Councilwoman Jan Perry began to cooperate with the LTCC. With her involvement, the
jail plan went back to the drawing board. After that, the Mangrove Community Visioning
Workshop was co-sponsored by the Councilwoman, the CRA, and the LTCC in 2005.
Through the process, they identified preferred land uses such as community spaces,
commercial/retail uses, and housing.
LTCC is now functioning as a one-stop council where all stakeholders can distribute and
gather information, and report what they are doing in Little Tokyo. Many agencies such
as the CRA, the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority), and the DOT also attend their
monthly meeting if they have something to share with the community. They know they
can outreach to the community effectively through LTCC rather than outreaching to
numerous individual stakeholders in the community.
Recommendations: Leimert Park Community Council
Little Tokyo is facing more intense redevelopment than Leimert Park Village because of
its proximity to downtown L.A. and the opening of the Gold Line station. The majority of
the Little Tokyo district is a redevelopment project area. While it is hard to avoid all the
future development in the area, the community, public sector such as CRA and Metro,
and private developers are working closely to preserve the cultural identity of Little
Tokyo as a Japanese American hub through the window of the LTCC.
We see a lot of similarity between Little Tokyo and the Leimert Park community in terms
of their size, role as cultural hubs, ethnic concentrations, and concern in relationship with
adjacent neighborhoods such as Skid Row and South L.A. However, Little Tokyo seems
to have a lot of social and physical infrastructure that Leimert Park does not presently
have such as a museum, library, and a coordinated planning process. The reason for this
difference is that Leimert Park lacks a mechanism to facilitate and develop community
consensus, which turns into a political voice. Therefore, it is our recommendation that the
Leimert Park Community Council (LPCC) be created in order to build new bridges of
communication between the different stakeholders in Leimert Park. The LPCC could be
modeled after the LTCC. In Coro’s recommendation (see Appendix C), they also
suggested the formation of such an organization. Table 3-3 is potential list of
stakeholders who could play a role in a formation of the LPCC.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Table 3-3: Potential List of Stakeholders for Leimert Park Community Council
Sector
Public
Businesses
Stakeholders
City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency
Department of Transportation
Department of Water and Power
Department of Cultural Affairs
Department of Recreation & Parks
Los Angeles Police Department
Planning Department
Public Library
Councilmember Parks Office
Councilmember Wessons Office.
Leimert Park Village Business Improvement District
Leimert Park Merchants Association
Banks
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza
African American Business Associations
Residence
Residents association (4th Ave. Block Club etc)
Schools
Audubon Middle School
42nd Street Elementary School
Local high schools (Crenshaw & Dorsey)
Local universities such as UCLA, Loyola, USC
Religious
Christ the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
West Angelus Church of God In Christ
Transfiguration Catholic Church
Brookings Community AME Church
Other local churches and mosques
Artist /Others
Save Leimert
The Crenshaw Community Advisory Committee to the CRA
LA commons
National Association for Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP)
Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI)
Black Employees Association
KAOS network
African American fraternity and sorority alumni associations
Empowerment West Neighborhood Council
African American Cultural Center
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Through the Leimert Park Visioning Process, many of the stakeholders in the community
have had an opportunity to get to know and interact with each other. Also, through the
parallel processes of the Coro Foundation and the Save Leimert Visioning process, it can
be said that there are many areas where there is wide community consensus. The main
concern that the village maintains its Afro-centric culture and that it continues to be a
place for small business development were two of the overriding visions. The difficulty at
this stage is in identifying who should make up the Leimert Park Community Council and
the technicalities of setting up the organization. As difficult as it may be for the
stakeholders to create this new organization, its formation is necessary to leverage the
momentum generated by the Leimert Park Visioning Process. Without such oversight of
the CRA and City’s activities, the wishes of the stakeholders in the community will most
likely continue to be set aside.
Perhaps the concerns of the community can best be summed up in the words of Kamau
Daaood, local business owner, poet, and art activist when he stated, “My concern is that
the area be maintained for artists, for art and culture. We talk about building structures
and improving the physical environment, but if a major effort is not put into developing
people, the physical structures mean nothing” (Daaood, 1993).
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References
Apisakkui, M., Huynh D., Lee, J., and Sunoo G. (2006). Gentrification and Equitable
Development in Los Angeles’ Asian Pacific American Ethnic Enclaves. A UCLA Client
Project for the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON).
Arefi, M. (2004). Neighborhood Jump-Starting: Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative.
Cityscape: Journal of Policy Development and research, Volume 7, Number 1, 5-22
CRA/LA (2006). Leimert Park Village: Principles for Design, Development and Market
Feasibility Study.
Daaood K. (Jan. 18, 1993). In the Neighborhood Leimert Park: Refining its Renaissance.
Southern California Voices in Los Angeles Times
Estolano, C. (April 25, 2007). New Approaches to Redevelopment in Los Angeles: CRA
Role in the City's Economic Development Strategy. Senior Fellow Policy Briefing at
UCLA School of Public Affairs.
Fausset, R. (November 26, 2006). THE NATION; DISPATCH FROM ATLANTA;
Preserving history, and a legacy, in the city; Gentrification is coming to the crumbling
district around Martin Luther King Jr.'s grave. Leaders hope the renaissance lives up to
his ideals. Los Angeles Times.
Fine, H. (Jan 27, 2003). Where many welcome change, area sees threat to its character Spotlight on Leimert Park - Leimert Park residents fear for the future of their community.
Los Angeles Business Journal
Glazer, A. and Pregaman, P (April 29, 2007). Future of Post-Riot Leimert Park Unsure.
Guardian United Kingdom.
Hise, G. (1997). Magnetic Los Angeles: Planning the Twentieth-Century Metropolis.
Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Hogarth, P. (May 9, 2007). As court considers BVHP referendum, Lennar plows ahead.
The San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper.
Jaax, S. (2005). Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI); Leimert Park. Retrieved
on May 1, 2007, from http://www.lani.org/leimert_park.htm
Lee, G. (March 19, 2006). Los Angeles's Black Pride: Taking In the Retro Vibe of
Leimert Park. Washington Post p.6.
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Robertson, G. (June, 1997). Inside Leimert Park: this three-sq-mile commercial center is
an example of a community recycling its dollars - Los Angeles, CA neighborhood. Black
Enterprise.
Lindsay, J. (2006). Leimert Park: The History/Key Places. Retrieved on Apr. 30, 2007,
from http://www.leimertparkmovie.com/PressReleases/LeimertParkHistory.pdf
Slate, M. (January 2002). Rally to save Leimert Park Village. Retrieved on May 16, 2007
from http://www.artistsnetwork.org/news7/news324.html
Smith, N. (1996). The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City,
Routledge, London and New York.
Smith, S. and Tobin, P. (August 8, 2005). Vision Cultural Organization Strives to
Revitalize Vision Theater. Retrieved on Apr. 30, 2007, from
http://www.tobinpr.com/VisCul.asp?message=31
Zahniser, D. (August 23, 2006). Welcome to Gentrification City: Teardowns. Evictions.
Investment. Rebirth. And the significance of that new gelato stand. LA Weekly
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Appendix A
Survey of Merchants in Leimert Park Village
April 16, 2007
My name is Takatoshi Wako, a graduate student in the UCLA Urban
Planning Program. I’m currently working on the project to describe what’s
happening in Leimert Park with the city’s work on a new master plan for
the village and the communities involvement in the process. Thank you
for answering the following questions as much as possible.
Your Information
Name of merchant:
Description of your business:
Name Representative:
Ethnicity of ownership:
Woman owned:
Address:
Phone:
E-mail:
Yes or No
Fax:
Questions for all
Q1: Do you own the building or are you a tenant?
Q2: Approximately, what is the square footage of your space?
(Owner, Tenant)
Sqft.
Q3: Are you planning to close or relocate your business in the near future?(Yes,
No)
(Please answer if you answer Yes in Q3)
Q4: What is the reason for closing or relocating your business?
Q5: What kind of businesses would you like to see added to the tenant mix in
Leimert Park Village? Describe as much as you want.
Q6: What is your opinion about the amount of parking spaces in Leimert Park?
(Too much, enough (Adequate), too little)
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Q7: What kind of development do you want to see on the City-owned parking
lots?
a. Civic Institution such as library, museum, community center etc.
b. Housing
c. Multilevel Parking
d. Others (
)
e. Leave them as they are now
Questions only for owners
Q8: When did you (your family or forerunner) acquire the land?
Q9: Have you ever be approached by developers to sell your land?
(Yes, No)
(Please answer if you answer Yes in Q9)
Q10: Could you name the developers who approached you as far as you
remember?
Q11: Do you have a plan to sell your land?
(Yes, No)
(Please answer if you answer Yes in Q11)
Q12: Why are you willing to sell your land?
Questions only for tenants
Q13: When did you (your family or forerunner) start to rent your building?
Q14: Who is the owner? Where is he/she living?
Who:
Where:
Q15: Have you ever been approached by the owner to terminate your tenancy?
(Yes, No)
(Please answer if you answer Yes in Q15)
Q16: What was the reason for your owner to terminate your tenancy?
Q17: Please describe the change in your rent as detailed as possible in the
following table;
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Month/ Year
Rent
Notes
Thank you for sharing your precious time.
I will walk around the village to collect your answers on this Thursday afternoon.
If you have any question, feel free to contact me;
Contact Information:
Takatoshi Wako < [email protected]>
3270 Sawtelle Blvd. #307, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Phone: 310-922-7939; Fax: 310-398-0721
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Appendix B
SAVE LEIMERT
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE MASTER PLAN
Vision Statement:
Landmark and incubator for the continued development and preservation of
African American art, culture, entrepreneurship and economic development
What We Value and Must Build Upon and Sustain
• Historical significance to African American population
• Opportunity for independent small businesses development
• Focus on African American/Black culture.
• Crossroad and gathering place for a wide segment of African American
and Black population and culture in L.A.
• Village atmosphere
• Intimate and more elegant than larger shopping areas
• Streetscaping – lots of trees and use of medians
• Small town and personal feel
• Dense but not tall
• Heavy traffic kept out of area/diverted
• Family oriented
• Easy access shopping
• Scale of village
• Presence of art and culture
• Consistent/historical architecture
• System of walkways - “walk-able” community that is pedestrian friendly
Recommendations for Master Plan
• Land Use:
¾ Commercial, business and cultural district
¾ No residential units
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-30
•
Building Standards:
¾ Maximum of 2 stories on Degnan and 43rd to maintain scale.
¾ Ground floor retail, commercial
¾ Second floor professional office space.
•
Design Character:
¾ Consistent with historical design (Streamline, Art Deco, etc)
¾ Pedestrian friendly
¾ Subject to a public review process.
•
Traffic and Parking:
¾ Maintain existing traffic flow - no street closures
¾ Increase parking through use of city-owned multi-level parking in
existing lots.
•
Public Improvements:
¾ Increased police patrol via bike and foot
¾ Daily maintenance plan
¾ Signage or decorative gateway entrance
Strategic Redevelopment
•
•
•
•
Re-opening of Vision Theater as anchor
Multi-level parking structure with ground floor retail on city owned south
east parking lot to support commercial district and Village Theater.
African American Cultural Research Center (e.g. Schomburg Center) on
south west city owned parking lot,
Library on 43rd Street
Sustaining Village as African American Cultural and Economic Enclave
•
•
•
•
Place parcels along Degnan in trust – Public Land Trust.
Develop strategy and identify operator for management of Vision Theater.
Establish year round art and culture programming and events.
Increase small business loans and technical assistance in accessing new
markets
Putting the Plan in Action
•
•
City fund feasibility study and adopt interim ordinance or moratorium on redevelopment of
properties with existing structures along Degnan for five years to allow for establishment
of Public Land Trust.
CRA and City provide rent subsidies for small African American owned businesses within
Village to stabilize ownership.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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•
Community advocate for HPOZ.
Shortages and Placement of Development Opportunities
Needed Resources/Services
1. Professional office buildings to generate daytime
population
2. Good sit-down restaurants with extended hours
a. Mexican Restaurant
b. African Restaurant
c. Steakhouse
d. Soup Plantation
e. Salad Place
f. Barbeque Restaurant
g. Vegan Restaurant
3. Al Fresco Dining on/in Crenshaw Community
4. Food Court
5. Ice Cream shop
6. High-end/Boutique Market (e.g. Whole Foods, Gelsons)
7. Stater Brothers
8. Internet Café
9. Delicatessen
10. Bakery
11. See’s Candy
12. Exercise Facility
13. Pharmacy/drug store
14. Hardware store
15. Office Supply (eg Staples, Office Depot, Office Max)
16. Copy Services (e.g. Kinkos)
17. Mail Services (Fed-Ex, UPS)
18. Art Supplies
19. Hobby/Craft Store
20. Library
21. Performing Arts Center (music and dance)
22. African Dance
23. Museum (for exhibition of historical contribution of Black
Entertainment)
24. Senior Community Center (e.g. Culver City Center)
25. Education Center (tutorial services, training, etc)
26. Job Training Center
27. Chess Pavilion
28. Domino Pavilion
29. Dress Shop/Tailors
30. High end Clothing Store
31. Pet Store
32. Pet Day Care
33. Pet Park
34. Day Spa
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Recommended Location
Village
Crenshaw
Marlton
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Page 3-32
Needed Resources/Services
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
Florists
Quality Furniture Store
Antique Furniture Store
Car Wash
Independently owned music stores (and support existing)
Small Hotel/Conference Center
Wine Bar/Cocktail Lounge
Sports Bar
Bookstore (support existing)
Photo Studio
Visitor/Tourist Center
Area wide parking plan to increase parking with multilevel structures
47. WI-FI Cloud over Village
48. Transportation Center/Station in anticipation of Crenshaw
Corridor
Recommended Location
Village
Crenshaw
X
X
X
X
X
X
Marlton
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Other Recommendations:
ƒ Re-use of Pacific Bell Building on Vernon and 11th Ave for housing, YMCA, Mixed-Use
SAVE LEIMERT Neighborhood Coalition consist of residents and merchants in the Leimert Park
Village and residential area supporting a community education and engagement process to
preserve the architecture, history, art, culture and economic contribution of the African American
community as reflected in Leimert Park and the Historical Leimert Park Village for generations to
come.
For more information go to: saveliemert.org
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Appendix C
Leimert Park Visioning Process
February 2007- April 2007
Image by Michael Massenburg
Facilitated by:
Coro Southern California
Deanna Cherry, Project Manager
Rhoda Jackson, Logistics Coordinator
Coro Fellows:
Samuel Filler
Jessica Lall
Matthew Mornick
Jennifer Wood
Evan Westrup
Consultant:
Karen Mack, LA Commons
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Background
To bring greater clarity and to document the community of Leimert Park’s vision for the
Leimert Park commercial area to light, the Crenshaw 8 Community Advisory Committee
(CAC) hired Coro Southern California on February 5, 2007, to facilitate a community
visioning process that would complete on March 17, 2007. That process was to include:
outreach to local residents and stakeholder groups, a series of community meetings,
preparation of stakeholder group proposals to the community, and a final written
summary of the process and its outcomes. This report represents the final deliverable for
this process, with the understanding that it can and should be amended as needed and
used as a starting point to build a platform for further community discussion, organizing
and communication among stakeholder groups and the City of Los Angeles regarding
the future of the Leimert Park Village commercial area.
Priorities
In sum, the vision process proved that while there are diverse stakeholder groups in the
Leimert Park Village – encompassing residents, merchants, property owners, artists,
musicians, students, patrons, poets and others – there is an overwhelming interest in the
following:
• Reopening of the Vision Theatre as a cornerstone for arts and educational
activities, as well as a means for greater collaboration among the various entities
in and surrounding the village. There is an interest on behalf of many in the
community to support with fundraising to expedite its re-opening, and I would
encourage the city to take an inclusive approach in building a support base for
the theatre given its unique place in the history and future of the village.
• Maintaining and enriching the afro-centric culture of the village, through
encouraging and protecting small business development, particularly Blackowned businesses and those that promote the African-American and African
cultures. The most popular ideas, among the many shared were more sit-down
restaurants, a small grocery market, and a new music venue.
• Improving safety, cleanliness, and store-front facades while keeping Leimert’s
unique “village feel” with its mix of political and arts activities, and friendly
atmosphere.
The overwhelming majority of ideas shared enjoyed widespread support. The next steps
will be:
• Determining which items are best supported by which city entities charged with
providing services and oversight in the village,
• Determining which entities in the village will guide and monitor the action items
(the BID, the CAC, Save Leimert Park etc.).
• Developing a vital tool for productively orchestrating the development of the
village, i.e. the assembly of a diverse stakeholder group that has an agreed upon
shared vision, which can serve as a one-stop negotiating body with developers
and city agencies, as these plans move forward. It would be prohibitive for any
city entity or private property owner to engage each stakeholder group separately,
and the report demonstrated that there is sufficient consensus for such a body to
be formed.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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•
Continuing to cultivate community leadership, which is comfortable and capable
to speak on behalf of the interest group they represent. This provides a
coordinated yet inclusive means for moving various projects forward.
Proper Use of the Report
This report in no way purports to be representative of all of the community – since only a
sub-group of the community participated. It is not inclusive of many plans and
documents prepared by community leaders and professionals that would be useful in
providing a more complete representation of the needs to be considered in developing
the village. Rather, it documents the beginning of a process, and includes
recommendations for next steps in that process. The goal of community engagement
here is to ensure the community’s needs are more fully understood and that the various
points of view are fairly taken into account in the determining policies and approving
projects that impact the Leimert Park commercial area.
Attribution and Acknowledgment
Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to work in Leimert Park. We were honored to be
chosen to help deliver this visioning process, and I am confident the results of this
process have the promise of providing a new, more collaborative means of conducting
community planning in Los Angeles.
This report was prepared by Deanna Cherry, of Coro, as a consultant to the Crenshaw 8
CAC. Any mistakes or omissions are the sole responsibility of the consultant, and are
not a reflection on the CAC. Notification of mistakes and omissions should be made to
both the CAC and to Coro for immediate correction or revision.
The Leimert Park Visioning process benefited greatly from the long hours and a
tremendous amount of energy community members invested into completing a visioning
process in a relatively short amount of time. The involvement of each of the over 200
individuals who took time out to join in this process is a testament to both the high level
of civic concern for the Leimert community and the importance of Leimert Park Village
commercial area.
This process would not have been possible without the involvement and support of the
CAC Ad-Hoc Committee, including Joyce Perkins, Lark Galloway-Gilliam, Vickie
Scarbrough, Joseph Hubbard, and Laura Hendricks. This process was made more
relevant through the advice and counsel of many city and community leaders, among
them Ben Caldwell, Clint Rosemond, David Roberts, Ron and Richard Harris, Avis
Ridley-Thomas, Jimmy Valentine, Jackie Ryan, James Fugate, Tom Hamilton, Dwight
Trible, Michael Datcher, Kevin Fridlington and many others. Special thanks is extended
to Curtis Fralin, Faisal Roble and Megan Hunter from LA City Planning, Ernest Dillihay
from LA Cultural Affairs, David Denton consultant for the CRA, and Ken Bernstein of the
LA Mayor’s Office, who took time out of their weekends to support the visioning process.
Finally, this project would not have been possible without the tireless work of five
volunteer Coro Fellows who collectively donated 2,000 hours to ensure the process was
run professionally, inclusively and as smoothly as possible.
Context
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Leimert Park Village is unique. It is a community developed over many years with
relationships that reach back half a century. It is a mix of people - business owners,
property owners, artists, musicians, poets, visitors, regulars, youth, government
employees and others who have an interest in how the village evolves over time. For the
purposes of this work, Leimert Park Village was defined as the area bordered by Leimert
Blvd., 42nd Street, Vernon, and inclusive of both the west and east sides of Crenshaw
between 42nd Street and Vernon.
The village exists in a context where there is increasing interest in private and public
investment in South Los Angeles. After many years of economic disinvestment, the area
around Leimert Park has seen a rapid increase in new and renovated structures.
Meanwhile, housing costs in South Los Angeles are on the rise, some three to four-fold
over the past five years. Commercial property has seen a similar increase, putting
pressure on new owners to raise rents for those leasing space.
The effects of these shifts have been seen in the village itself. Rising mortgages,
delayed repair maintenance and the contribution of property owners to a new business
improvement district have increased rents in some buildings leading to the displacement
of some of the villages most noted establishments. Rising rents have also led to a
decline in the artist population that once rented apartments in the near-by residential
area. Without resident artists the level of performance & art available in the village has
declined.
Still many key establishments remain in the village, and artists still perform in local
venues on a regular basis. In addition, a new farmers market and ongoing festivals
remain a part of the Leimert Park event calendar.
Out of its unique history has grown an interest in preserving the village’s size and scope,
protecting its current merchants, and maintaining its afro-centric culture and art.
Meanwhile, there is also an interest in bringing more vitality to the business district, both
to ensure the success of the existing businesses and to bring in new businesses that
serve diverse community needs. Add to this the interest in re-opening the Vision Theatre,
and perhaps adding a new public library, and even some mixed-use projects that would
combine new condominiums with new retail.
The tensions that emerge out of the desire to preserve the village and the desire to
increase its vitality are a natural part of community planning, and through this visioning
process stakeholders have begun to identify areas of agreement and are perhaps now
more than ever, ready to negotiate through their differences to a shared understanding
of how both the vitality and preservations interests can be met. What has been needed
is greater specificity on both sides – with those interested in preservation linking to a
specific plan for what, in their opinion, needs to be conserved. Likewise, those interested
in development are coming closer to identifying key benchmarks that would clarify how
development could move forward with community input and with respect for the current
culture and strengths of the village.
What is vital to the success of any planning process is open communication among the
city and community groups. In the Leimert Park area, development is supervised by the
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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City Councilman Bernard Parks and his experienced economic development deputy
David Roberts. The council office works with the Los Angeles Community
Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in areas, like Leimert Park, that are designated a
redevelopment areas. The CRA is charged with garnering financial resources, and
developing concepts to revitalize underdeveloped areas of Los Angeles. In recent years,
the CRA has engaged in a number of community projects in South Los Angeles with
varying degrees of community input. More recently, communities have sought greater
input into the CRA projects. The LA Planning Department has also become more active
in soliciting community input into revisions of the city’s General Plan. Yet, despite long
processes and community involvement, the CRA and City Council are not bound to
comply with community recommendations. Recent and dramatic examples of projects
approved in contradiction with community visions, makes it difficult to ensure any
community visioning process will hold sway in final decision making. However the
ramifications and environment created when community planning is dismissed can be
easily avoided in Leimert. While an architect and consultants have been hired to develop
plans for a renovated Leimert Park Village, and are planning to present their plans in
June 2007, there is still time to bridge the architects and consultants with key
stakeholders in Liemert and through authentic engagement with them gain the benefit of
broad community input and guidance to the process of developing the village.
In to this context, Coro was hired to lead a series of community visioning processes to
help gather the community’s input for integration into future CRA development guidelines
for the city. With a background in community civic engagement and leadership
development, Coro’s approach has been not only to create a clean process free of an
intended outcome, that invites all community stakeholders and that documents all of the
feedback provided in an accessible format, but to use the process to consolidate the
community. We would like to also encourage community leadership in the village that, in
the absence of a more formal process, to improvise and work collaboratively with the city
and private developers on a shared plan for the area.
Coro acknowledges that within the context described above, it was difficult to establish
trust with community members. The tension between preservation and development, a
relatively low level of public trust in government process, the ethnic make-up of the Coro
team, not to mention the fatigue felt by many who have engaged in many community
planning process that led to little result – meant that many members of the community
logically hesitated before buying into this new process. Many others chose not to
participate at all.
Nevertheless, we affirm that the development of consensus between community
stakeholders that was articulated provides a strong platform from which to assert an
agenda for the village. The intersections clearly articulated in this process provide new
strength and clarity that may make it harder for the village to be developed in a way that
is unsavory to those who hold it so dear, and would lay a path for “right” development in
the minds of many.
We hope this report provides both insight into the Leimert Park Visioning Process, a
template for replication of the process in other areas of the city, and the information the
community generated in an unadulterated form. What is left is to recon with is how this
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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information will be used to help shape a future of the village that builds on what was
learned in this process.
Visioning Process Timeline
o Coro hired (2/5/07)
o Initial presentation at CAC meeting (2/8/07)
o Distribution of flyers and questionnaires – 7,000 distributed
o One-on-one outreach – focus on merchants, property owners, residents
Neighborhood Councils, Block Clubs, artists, and traditional leaders.
o History / outreach event at Farmer’s Market (2/17/07)
o Reception for Leimert area leaders at Euphoria 360 (2/21/07)
o Visioning Session at Dorsey High School (2/24/07)
o Theme group meeting at Vision Theatre (3/3/07)
o Update at CAC meeting (3/8/07)
o Theme group meeting at Vision Theatre (3/10/07)
o Presentation run through / merchant input at 5th Street Dicks (3/16/07)
o Visioning presentations at Audubon Middle School (3/17/07)
o Survey collected by mail and at EsoWon Book Store (2/8/07 – 3/17/07)
o Report presented to CAC – (4/17/07)
Rationale for Processes
1) HISTORY DAY: Coro chose to begin the process with a history day event to both
acknowledge the long and relevant history of the village, the role of understanding the
past in planning for the future and to help the community become more familiar with the
Vision Process. It was located in the farmer’s market to take advantage of the high level
of foot traffic there.
2) LEADERS RECEPTION: We then held a reception for Leimert Park area leaders to
acknowledge the contributions of many people in keeping the village a vital part of Los
Angeles and in particular for its role as a hub of African American arts and politics. The
event was catered by five of the local restaurants, and attended by over 50 individuals.
An article was written in Our Weekly chronicling the event.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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3) VISIONING SESSION: The Visioning Session at Dorsey High School began with
introductions of all the participants, followed by the development of a timeline of events
that led up to the Visioning Process, and then we used the “Mind-Mapping” process to
collect on a large sheet of butcher paper ideas about what the community liked about
Leimert Park, what it didn’t like, what it wanted to see more of, and what it didn’t want to
see in the future Leimert Park village. The “Mind-Mapping” process was facilitated by
trained mediator from the City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution Center. Lunch was served
during this process, followed by a panel with presentations on the LA Cultural Affairs &
City Council office plans for development of the Vision Theatre and Pizza Hut, a
representative from LA City Planning Dept. who spoke on tools to control development,
a representative from LANI spoke on their streetscape projects in Leimert, a property
owner spoke on his plans for developing Maverick’s Flats and property adjacent to the
Vision Theatre, and a representative from Save Leimert Park who spoke about having
an HPOZ (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone) in the village.
4) THEME GROUP SESSIONS (2): Coro then held two follow-up sessions to develop
presentations in the areas of Cultural Identity and Civic Institutions, Preservation and ,
Business Development and Communication. The meetings were held in the Vision
Theatre lobby to ensure proximity to local stakeholders, and meals were provided by
local restaurants. Facilitators from the Office of the City Attorney worked with the groups
the first meeting, and then groups were asked to self-facilitate the second meeting to
help ready them for their presentations the following week. Lists were made on what the
community members wanted to see in each area, and in some cases they explored what
the potential positive and potential negative impacts might be of their proposals. Groups
represented various and sometimes contradicting points of view, and all ideas were
encouraged. The afternoon of the second meeting, representatives from the LA
Planning Department, a former LA Conservancy staff member, and the CRA’s consultant
on Leimert Park provided reflections on the presentations being developed. Their
reflections at times contradicted one another, making clear that community planning is
neither linear nor is there a definitive answer to what is “right”.
Working with the charts developed by the community, Coro developed a PowerPoint
presentation for use at the final Vision Presentation, which was emailed to the
presenters from each group for editing. Once edited the presentation was copied for
distribution at the final event.
5) MERCHANT PRESENTATION: Representatives from the three theme groups were
invited to present the ideas that came out of their group for a group of local merchants
the evening before the final community meeting. The purpose was two-fold; first to give
merchants an opportunity to respond to the presentation and second to provide
community members a chance to practice together. The Coro staff wrote down feedback
from the merchants to include in the final report.
6) COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS: The final presentation day began with informal
discussions among community members, with coffee and donuts served. The
importance of this was to aid in the development of new ties between stakeholders and
strengthen existing ties. We then showed a clip from the film Return to Glory which
outlined some of the great accomplishments made by Africans and African Americans,
and the challenges faced as well. The intention in showing the film clip was to
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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demonstrate the great potential in the Liemert Park area, the cultural roots it celebrates,
and to motivate the community to work collectively to bring an even brighter future to the
village. The film clip was followed by the three presentation groups, each led by one or
two community members.
Interspersed throughout the program, from either a presenter or a community
member, were words of recognition for the leaders – past and present – in the room,
outlining their unique contribution to Liemert Park. The cumulative impact of the many
kind words was a sense of uplift. The three presentations were followed by a
presentation by Save Leimert Park, which outlined a similar process they had engaged
in and shared their goals both for the village and for the surrounding Crenshaw and
Marlton Square areas.
Comment and question cards were distributed throughout the audience, which
were collected and written up for this report. In addition, there were a number of
speakers from the audience who came to the front of the room and took the microphone
to share an idea, or elaborate on a point made earlier. Coro kept a record of the ideas
shared using butcher paper in front of the room. After breaking for lunch, the group
reconvened to continue the discussion. A number of areas of agreement emerged and
were noted on butcher paper. Near the close of the meeting, the group arranged itself in
a circle and was led in a group acknowledgment and pledge to continue to positively
work toward change in Leimert. The meeting ended with a song, sung by the group, and
distribution of a final survey to rank the vision items shared by importance. There was
also an opportunity for attendees to volunteer to attend future meetings, and make
similar presentations to other bodies. There were 150 people in attendance and thirtythree surveys were returned.
7) QUESTIONNAIRE: In addition to the meetings, Coro designed a brief questionnaire
that was distributed by hand to local residents, schools and businesses through which
stakeholders could share in open text form what they liked and didn’t like about the
village now, and what they wanted and didn’t want in the future. This was done in
recognition that only 4% of people attend community meetings of any kind, and the
community needed an alternative form of providing input. The surveys could be faxed or
mailed to Coro, or dropped off at Esowon Book Store in the village. In the end, 65
surveys were returned. The results are included in this report.
8) OUTREACH: Information on the activities through the Visioning Process was
distributed in numerous ways. Coro hired a company to drop 7,000 flyers and
questionnaires at the homes of local residents, and hired a group to make over 3,000
phone calls to local residents about upcoming meetings. Coro also purchased a mailing
list and mailed 5,000 postcards to residents, and hand delivered hundreds of flyers to
local merchants. Over 3,000 flyers to were taken to local schools and sent home with
children, and placed on cars at local churches and the mall. Coro staff and fellows
provided information at the local BID meeting, Neighborhood Council meeting, local
discussion groups at Lucy Florence and the African American Museum, attended the
Farmers Market, and conducted door to door outreach to local merchants, and media
outlets to help ensure people knew about the process and the meetings. Coro also sent
hundreds of emails to local contacts, and non-profit organizations who helped get the
word out, and placed the flyer on the Coro website.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Results
The summary of community priorities for the future of Leimert Park are presented here in
four parts. 1) The results from the survey distributed throughout the process (2/7/073/17/07 – 65 collected). 2) The results from the questionnaires collected at the final
Vision meeting 3/17/07, which asked stakeholders to weight the importance of each of
the proposals made (23 collected). 3) The summary of the discussion that took place at
the final Vision meeting 3/17/07, including agreed upon next steps and areas for further
discussion (156 people present). 4) The notes from the merchant meeting, which reflect
areas of consensus and areas of further discussion agreed upon by those present
(3/16/07 – 15 people present).
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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1. Results of Survey from throughout the process:
What people like about the village now
Afro centric culture
small businesses / shops
arts
village feel
safety
recent improvements
diversity
potential
political hub
parking
the park
non-commercial area
food
nice people
location
history
farmers market
events
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
Number of people
What people don't like about the village now
unattractive store fronts (esp. on Crenshaw)
parking
parking policies
no youth services
signage
not using theatre
not enough planting
not enough office building space
no regular business hours
low variety in shops
low safety
low foot traffic
homeless
don't want to go back to the past
don't like shops
unfriendly business owners
buildings need renovation
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
Number of people
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
Page 3-43
What new things people want (most desired)
franchise that fits / more, variety of small profitable businesses / black owned (5)
restaurants
more arts / entertainment / jazz
nicer store fronts
theatre open
market / trader Joes
no change / bring back the past businesses / go back to past
artists lofts / housing / condos
music venue
more / better parking
better branding
better lighting
more events
more youth services
better safety
foot traffic
area cleaner
lower rent
more diversity / multi-ethnic
planting
signage
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
Number of people
What people want (bottom of scale)
block street
health classes
library
merchant training
office building
community room
height limit on new buildings
Kaiser Permanente
love
more families
post office
public transportation
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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16
2. Results from questionnaire at Final Vision meeting (3/17/07)
Priorities (top to bottom)
164
Open and operating Vision Theater
More cultural and arts programs and events
151
Art Association to control graffiti
149
Arts Library or Museum
146
Get more help for the homeless
145
Increase people’s efforts to clean up, add trash cans
143
Bathrooms - open and more of them, operating safely
143
An infrastructure that supports artists
142
Items
Establish Neighborhood Watch
136
Increase the village’s parking capacity
132
Aggressively pursue businesses that complement Village
131
Establish National Landmark status
129
Shuttle from Mall/Crenshaw to Leimert Park
128
Leimert Park station on Crenshaw light rail line
125
Expand Farmer’s Market
124
Marketing: transit-advertising, web kiosk, viral ads
123
Foster connectivity with Crenshaw and the region
120
Maintain consistent business hours
119
Business leader training
118
Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in business district
117
Foot-paths from Mall/Crenshaw to Leimert Park
116
Develop more physical commercial spaces
113
Mural Project
107
Street closures for more pedestrian environment
107
Artists’ housing as a security measure
106
Wifi cloud
72
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
180
Total Points
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Average Score per item
Open and operating Vision Theater
More cultural and arts programs and events
Art Association to control graffiti
Arts Library or Museum
Get more help for the homeless
Increase people’s efforts to clean up, add trash cans
Bathrooms - open and more of them, operating safely
An infrastructure that supports artists
Establish Neighborhood Watch
Increase the village’s parking capacity
Aggressively pursue businesses that complement Village
Establish National Landmark status
Shuttle from Mall/Crenshaw to Leimert Park
Leimert Park station on Crenshaw light rail line
Expand Farmer’s Market
Marketing: transit-advertising, web kiosk, viral ads
Foster connectivity with Crenshaw and the region
Maintain consistent business hours
Business leader training
Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in business district
Foot-paths from Mall/Crenshaw to Leimert Park
Develop more physical commercial spaces
Mural Project
Street closures for more pedestrian environment
Artists’ housing as a security measure
Wifi cloud
0.0
1.0
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
Page 3-46
6.0
3. Final Vision Presentation Summary of Discussion (3/17/07)
Agreed Upon Next Steps
1) Shared meeting to identify common ground & move forward
2) Meet with city officials to share community common ground
3) Identify who needs to be at HPOZ / preservation / vitality / business discussion.
Make shared decision – compromise
Tool – new website - leimertparkunity.com
Topics for more discussion
1) Controlling development in the Village
• Balance growth / new with stability for existing – what tools do we have and need?
• HPOZ – business owners, property owners, residents summit – agreement,
specific plans
• How to address rent issue?
• Save Leimert / Coro commit to work on shared plan together
• Engaging property owners around HPOZ
• Preservation of buildings vs. culture
• Examine issues of reparations / $ for repair
• Land trust
• Purchasing land in village
2) Serving & including youth
• How children / youth can be included more.
• Community center for youth to receive free music, dance, drama, etc. to preserve
culture of Leimert Village
3) Coordinating among selves, with the City & Fundraising
• ID what we can do and what city can do – define roles
• Working with political leaders
• Identify those who can move process forward
• Solicit outside funding
• Money / Funding – fundraising campaign to save Vision Theatre / Publicity
• If your plan / idea not included what to do – stay involved
• Who should continue to lead process?
• Set timelines objectives and goals – what are we going to do?
• Review original plan for Leimert Park – before changing / developing
• Take a look at other cultural districts – see local leadership holding cities
accountable
4) Business
• How to attract professionals? - Create support structure - Physical building
• Fostering loyalty to black business
5) Transportation & Housing
• Expo line details
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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•
Housing in the village (what if anything is acceptable?)
4. Merchant Presentation Notes (3/16/07)
Areas of Consensus:
• Maintain Black business district – own property, address the rent increases
• Vision Theatre a priority – opening plan?
• Remain a village atmosphere – height controls
• More unity within the community – smile and say hello policy
• Cleaner environment / Face-lift – what and how to make it happen?
• Inventory of assets – human (leaders from the past) and physical (museum on
MLK etc.)
Areas of Discussion:
• Vision landmark status
• Increasing young entrepreneurs / celebrity role
• How difficult to get wifi – how many want it? Cost / benefit
• Rail? After expo Phase II 2016 + subterranean (Environmental Impact Report
soon)
• Ownership – how? Trust
• Focus on Crenshaw as well, not Degnancentric
• What does plan do to impact rent?
• Big Sunday – volunteers (day of service to clean up Leimert)
• Increase Park and Recs role in increase security
• Recycling / Trash receptacles offered by groups interested in the environment
• Debbie Allen – see if she will use the Vision Theatre exclusively
• Parks and Rec – add them to the process of the cleanup
• Vision Theatre – get clarification
• Farmers Market – booth price, rents, use for building fund to help the existing
merchants
• Incorporate Leimert side buildings into the Vision Development – Artists space
• Parking lots can go up in height
• Possible to have mixed use buildings to generate income by developer from
community
• Need for parking for theatre, businesses will increase
• Need green space on top of mixed use
• Parking could be taken out of the village space – non-contiguous
• People like Larchmont – without very much parking
• Need to make sure the theatre is affordable to rent
• Need agreements between Cultural Affairs and the community
• Could potentially build on the other side of Leimert Blvd.
• Lots of room for parking in the surrounding areas
• Need to establish timeline over the next 6 months
• Need to evaluate resources, power here in Leimert to recognize political power /
capability
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Need more police right away
Need to bring in youth
Community needs to hold elected officials accountable
Need to make sure that the process is inclusive – cast a wide net to establish
priorities
Need to demand that businesses on Crenshaw are involved
Need to block off the street to test and get feedback
Must force the change
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Recommended Next Steps
Developed in Collaboration with Karen Mack, LA Commons
The challenge/opportunity for the Leimert Park community is to move to actionable steps
based on the priorities developed during the process just completed. From the results of
the community dialogue and the surveys submitted. Highly placed on everyone's list is
the opening of the Vision Theater. Also ranked high on the surveys is the development
of new businesses, more arts and entertainment and perhaps even a museum or library
dedicated to the arts.
Interestingly, other issues that placed in the top 10 on the survey had to do with creating
an environment that makes people feel safe in Leimert Park and include graffiti control,
addressing the needs of the homeless people, establishing neighborhood watch, etc.
Finally, the evolution of the village, must find resonance inside a plan that also helps the
village commercially, while respecting the preservation of existing businesses, its village
scale and art-deco landmarks.
To enable the community to address these priorities, we recommend several steps:
1) Encouraging the Business Improvement District to take leadership in attending to
maintenance and safety issues -- graffiti, trash, bathrooms, homelessness, etc. In
neighborhoods around the city, cleaning and crime prevention fall within the purview of a
local BID; several hire their own security and maintenance crews.
2) Distribution of a briefing memo on the Vision Theater that communicates to the
community what is required to make the facility fully operational. Additionally, it would
be a good idea to activate the existing citizen oversight group or to create a new one, to
hold the city staff accountable for progress on the tasks required to get it ready to host
performances. It should include individuals experienced in programming theaters with
responsibility for examining what it will take to operate the theater, developing scenarios
for meeting these operational requirements and making recommendations to
Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Council Office.
3) Build on the momentum generated during the visioning process:
a) Confirm consensus: The first part of this task is to affirm consensus around the top 5
or so priorities among key stakeholders and engaging those groups not involved in the
planning process in a review of the priorities (artists and property owners are two of the
most important groups that were not present in significant numbers).
b) Build new bridges: Convene a meeting with representatives from various city offices,
and a representative group of community stakeholders to get more clarity on the CRA
and City Council office processes, what they want for the village and how they intend to
carry out their plans. Ideally, develop new, and stronger working relationships, and build
trust that can under-gird the remaining planning and implementation processes. Agree
on how frequently this group will communicate with each other and around which issues.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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c) Engage the traditional leadership: Key as well will be engaging long-time supporters
of the village in sharing with the community the things that made the Village the place to
be and making suggestions for creating a successful Leimert Park Village in the current
environment.
d) Build an arts expansion plan: Because arts are the primary engine of the village, arts’
planning (beyond the opening of the theatre) is central to planning the village’s future.
Facilitate a team of artists and community members in developing physical models in
answer to the question: "ideally, what do we want people to experience when they come
to Leimert Park Village?" This exercise would provide input for developing multiple
scenarios for bringing more arts and cultural facilities and programs into the Village.
e) Use the arts expansion plan to drive the economic development model: Once the
community has figured out what kind of activities should be in place, then it can turn to
the question of how to bring people into the Village to experience these activities. The
recommended second phase of planning would tackle business development, marketing
and any technology infrastructure issues.
f) Get proper zoning: Review the community plan with the LA Planning Department to
determine what zoning changes and other Q conditions might be needed to shape the
village’s development. Explore as well mechanisms, including, HPOZ to maintain the
historic aspects of the village’s architecture. Determine the best tool to achieve the
desired results.
g) Support the development of local leaders to build ongoing capacity for implementation
of the plan: This would entail providing as much support as possible to those involved in
the planning process to ensure they are well prepared to participate with access to
relevant information about the neighborhood, and research and models from around the
country to enable their best thinking in the creation of the plan. Additional mentoring and
training would be needed to increase their ability to drive the implementation of the plan.
It is critical that the CRA, the City and its contractors contribute to the community's
feeling that their hard work over these last weeks in the visioning process has not been
in vain.
I recommend that the CAC garner additional resources from private or public sources to
fund ongoing meetings and collaborative work by community stakeholders. I believe the
resources exist to continue this work, and the community is poised to take advantage of
an ongoing planning and implementation process.
Resources:
Bank of America
California Community Foundation
Ford Foundation
Irvine Foundation
Liberty Hill Foundation
Open Society Foundation
Union Bank
Washington Mutual Bank
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Facilitators include:
Karen Mack, Executive Director of LA Commons, a non-profit organization that supports
communities in capitalizing on their cultural strengths to turn them into sustainable and
highly functioning cultural districts, like Chinatown in New York and Los Angeles.
Jackie Dupont Walker, a consultant with experience in both economic development and
Historic Preservation Overlay Zones.
Mandala Kayese, a local activist and educator with many years of community organizing,
an experienced facilitator, and a gift for bridging stakeholder groups together.
BUSINESS GENTRIFICATION IN LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE
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Appendix D
Little Tokyo Community Council Membership
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Chapter 4
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL JOB RETENTION IN
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Janice Burns
Michael Matsunaga
Polo Muñoz
Nirva Parikh
Jennifer Tran
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Page 4-1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
With Downtown Los Angeles in the midst of rapid residential development, real estate
developers and their supporters advocate the conversion of industrial land for residential
purposes. A number of factors drive the current push for conversion, including:
increasing demand for housing and the analogous scarcity of vacant land; speculative real
estate forces attracted to cheap industrial land; and a New Economy focused on the
Entertainment and Service sectors. Downtown L.A. proves particularly important
because it: 1) is largely zoned for industrial uses; 2) supports a large number of
manufacturing firms and jobs; and 3) faces the greatest pressure of industrial conversion.
The welfare of the working class population that lives within the Downtown and
surrounding areas has emerged as an integral, yet seemingly silent element in the local
struggle for land. While the forces of gentrification threaten the housing stock and costs
in surrounding low-income neighborhoods, industrial land conversion threatens jobs
accessible to these communities. This report seeks to highlight this specific issue. As
local decision-makers navigate the process of implementing a policy to better address
industrial land uses and the negative impacts of deindustrialization, this report aims to
integrate job displacement and related issues into the conversion discussion by providing
an overview of the debate, a profile of downtown industries, and recommendations that
support industrial land preservation. The following represents the key findings:
a) Working Class People of Color are Disproportionately Affected
• Latinos make up 70 percent of the local working class population while 14
percent are Asian, and nine percent are African American.
• Their annual income ranges between $10,000 and $12,500.
• Approximately 25 percent of workers are employed by manufacturing
firms.
• In addition, twenty-eight percent of the workers have attended some high
school.
b) Housing and Land Values are Instigating Deindustrialization
• The average home price of new housing is $600,000 in the industrial
areas.
• Permissive land use conversion to residential and mixed use has inflated
industrial land values from approximately $30 to $160 per square foot
over the last ten years. Some measures indicate higher inflation.
c) Manufacturing & Wholesale Trade Presence in Downtown is Significant
• Manufacturing and wholesale firms compose 64 percent of all
establishments and over 50 percent of all jobs in the area.
• There are 1,804 manufacturing establishments in this area that supply
16,190 jobs.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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•
•
There are 3,245 wholesale firms in the downtown area that supply 15,298
jobs.
Health Care, Accommodations, Printing, and Food, Furniture, and Apparel
manufacturing contain significant numbers of firms and jobs.
d) Strategies and Best Practices from National Case Studies
• Case studies from four cities (Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and
New York) highlight such best practices as the establishment of industrial
protection zones, expansion and retention programs, and financing new
incentives.
We conclude that community groups must take an active stance to retain industrial land
in order to undercut the forces of gentrification that threaten to displace jobs. Below, we
provide five possible strategies that not only demand land preservation, but also
incorporate public benefits and strategies that lead to job creation and higher wages for
local working class people. These strategies are:
Preservation
Industrial Protection Zones (IPZs)
Currently the city permits conversions on industrial land on a case-by-case basis.
IPZs present a focused and consistent interim alternative to this policy, helping to
stabilize land values, and curb speculative development until more permanent
zoning policies are implemented.
Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMDs)
Los Angeles City Planning and the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)
preliminary recommendations suggest that approximately 83 percent of the City’s
industrial land will remain zoned industrial. The City should take this a step
further by adopting permanent, protective zoning controls to create industrial
“sanctuaries” known as Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMDs).
Retention and Expansion
Industrial Retention and Expansion Programs (IRE)
A business retention strategy would be the next step after permanent controls over
zoning of industrial land are secured. Since the CRA and City Planning found that
industrial land in Downtown is often utilized for small business formation, we
should aim to create an environment that supports their growth and retention
(2007). IRE programs allow the public sector to promote downtown’s incubator
function and actively engage small businesses to foster entrepreneurship and
innovation in order to secure L.A.’s role in the New Economy.
Improvement
Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
TIF will raise money for the industrial district and use the funds collected from
additional tax revenue to reinvest in infrastructure upgrades, support an IRE
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Page 4-3
program, or create workforce training programs. The steady stream of tax
revenues could contribute to the stability of the district.
Public Benefit
Public Benefit Overlay Zoning
The preliminary recommendations proposed by City Planning lead us to believe
that approximately 17 percent of the city’s industrial land will be rezoned for
other uses. If this re-zoning occurs, developers will benefit from parcels that now
have greater development potential and value. The City can seize this opportunity
to mandate developers to provide a public benefits package along with their
project proposals in order to share added value with community stakeholders.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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4.1 INTRODUCTION
Problem Statement
Industrial land in the greater downtown Los Angeles area is being threatened by the same
robust activity that is transforming and gentrifying the downtown core and adjacent
residential communities. As the development of luxury lofts, commercial spaces, and
entertainment spaces catering to a privileged class of residents permeates the inner core,
developers are now looking towards more affordable industrial land in adjacent areas to
continue their expansion efforts. The scarcity of developable land, coupled with the
desire of landowners to change to more lucrative land uses, has placed considerable
pressure on industrial spaces. These dynamics in particular have brought the issue of
rezoning industrial land to alternative uses to the forefront, leaving city officials and
private and public sector stakeholders debating over the future of industrial land. Should
industrial land be preserved to secure a diverse economic base and job opportunities, or
should industrial land be converted to more lucrative alternative uses that the market
demands?
Proponents of industrial land conversions often craft their argument by emphasizing the
need for housing and their goal of converting dated industrial parcels into “better” uses.
While adaptive reuse and rezoning can be a powerful tool to shape the built environment,
add aesthetic qualities to the community landscape, and alter the economic capacity of
land, we must recognize the costs and tradeoffs that are associated with such conversions.
It becomes vital to assess who reaps the benefits and who unduly bears the costs of
industrial land conversions, and maybe more importantly, how these decisions will
impact the long-term economic sustainability of Los Angeles. Will much needed
affordable housing units be built when market-rate housing prevails? Will we allow
potentially higher paying industrial jobs to be supplanted by sub par service jobs? The
City of Los Angeles is currently at the crossroads of making critical decisions that will
determine the fate of our scarce and valuable industrial land.
While the debate continues, we contend that the conversion or displacement of industrial
land in Los Angeles directly threatens the peoples’ Right to the City. Development that
has displaced low-income residents and destroyed affordable multi-unit residences in
favor of luxury lofts and commercial spaces now threatens to convert potentially job-rich
industrial land into similar uses. A substantial displacement of industrial land can leave
large segments of the city’s most vulnerable populations – low-income, transitdependent, and less educated people of color – with increasingly limited economic
options. Not only has new development systematically decreased one’s right to live in
the city, it now threatens to diminish one’s right to a city that provides access to quality
jobs and living wages.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Goals
On April 15, 2007, Jane Blumenfeld, Principal City Planner of Los Angeles, was a
panelist and presenter for a session entitled “The Demise of the Industrial Revolution” at
the American Planning Association’s National Conference held in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Several of our team members were in attendance for this session and were
able to participate in a dialogue pertaining to industrial retention in major metropolitan
areas. During a question and answer session, a participant posed the question: “What role
have constituents played in cities’ industrial retention policies?” Ms. Blumenfeld
responded by stating that there was virtually no constituency supporting industrial
retention in Los Angeles and that it was surprising that community organizations and
labor unions have not been at the forefront to contend with these issues. Her response
was one that reflected the nature of the industrial retention issue; although vital and
contentious in some realms, it is an esoteric issue largely unfamiliar to or disregarded by
many people. It is to this question and response that we frame our project.
The goal of our project is to educate a wider audience of constituents who have a stake in
the City’s industrial land. It is imperative that the debate taking place between City
Planning, the CRA, City Council members, and business advocacy groups be moved to
the larger public arena. The working class people of Los Angeles and organizations who
advocate on their behalf must be informed about the issues and imminent decisions that
will clearly impact them. Consequently, we would like to deliver a product that can be
used to inform community-based organizations and labor unions about the current debate
over industrial land and provide best practices and recommendation to prevent
unnecessary industrial displacement favoring parochial interests. We hope that this can
be the first step to getting the people’s voices added to the decision-making process. In
doing so, the objective of this project is to:
•
•
•
•
Provide an overview of the debate and issues;
Profile Downtown industries that may be impacted by the rezoning of industrial
land;
Highlight best practices from other cities that promote industrial retention; and
Provide recommendations to help preserve industrial land in Los Angeles.
Above all, our goal is to help preserve a diverse economy that meets the needs of Los
Angeles’ diverse population by preserving land that can be used to support and enhance
job opportunities for its most vulnerable communities. Not only do we urge residents and
organizations to become informed and engaged in this discussion, we urge advocates to
pressure decision-makers to look beyond current market conditions and prioritize the
people’s right to the city that provides long-term access to quality jobs and living wages.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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4.2 INDUSTRIAL LAND IN LOS ANGELES:
PAST AND PRESENT
History
For nearly a century the Los Angeles region has been marred by land use conflicts
between residential and industrial interests. These conflicts have been specially
pronounced in the central city where the history of industrial zoning and environmental
activism is very intertwined. Residential proponents have fervently fought encroachment
of polluting industrial uses in attempts to preserve their land values and community
character. Adding to these interests have been real estate speculators who have sought
tremendous profits from the development of homes. Industrialists, on the other hand,
have opted to capitalize on the region’s production advantages, including abundant labor
and the strategic location for goods movement, while giving little consideration to
environmental impacts. Although this struggle has generally favored industrialization, a
growing housing shortage extending back over a decade has shifted the favor to
residential interests. Regrettably, what has remained constant in this battle is the
domination of market forces in facilitating benefits for an elite class while the working
poor lose their homes and jobs.
Figure 4-1
Los Angeles Wards, 1908
Early Industrialization: The industrial
character of downtown stems largely
from turn of the century business
gravitation to the City’s regional
center and a sentiment to diversify and
expand the economy beyond tourism
and real estate. Between 1899 and
1910 the City’s population tripled
from 102,479 to 319,198 and the value
added by manufacturing quadrupled
from 7 million to 29 million (G. Hise,
2005). The industrial expansion and
swelling population were
accompanied by garbage
accumulation, smoke and soot
spewing petroleum-fired plants and
other noxious industries which hurt
the climate and damaged property
values.
Source: G. Hise, Land of Sunshine (2005)
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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A growing awareness of environmental degradation mobilized citizens to preserve the
economic value of their neighborhoods and residences. In 1904 the City Council
approved an ordinance that segregated industrial and residential districts. Subsequent
statutes, passed in 1908 and 1909, parsed the city into two industrial and seven residential
wards. Unfortunately, these divided the central city into an affluent West Side and a
working class low-income East Side with Main Street as the dividing line.
To no surprise, most
industrial development
and pollution took root in
the East Side thanks to
easy access to
transportation facilities,
ready labor supply, and
weaker political influence.
The same zoning
regulations intended to
enhance residential
property values also
created districts where
industrialists held
unfettered sway. At one
Source: Wikipedia Image
point polluting factories
and effluent smells from
slaughter houses and meatpacking industries moving into the sixth ward sparked severe
protests from residents. High levels of home ownership meant workers in the East Side
had a direct economic stake in preserving their communities. Protection of their
neighborhoods took precedence over job creation. However, policy makers and economic
growth proponents usually got their way. Zoning regulations were often curtailed with
the help of civic boosters and business backed politicians.
Figure 4-2 Los Angeles Oil Rigs
1960s – 80: While the residential-industrial conflict accelerated downtown in the early
nineteen hundreds as it does today, the conflict has not been contained to this
geographical area alone. Regional economic growth and permissive industrial policies
throughout the twentieth century opened the door for land use battles in several working
class communities during the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Many examples of conversion battles exist. Forty years ago rapid population growth
placed increased pressures on the city of Santa Ana to allow industrial land to be used for
multiple residential projects (Los Angeles Times, 1964). In 1968 Los Angeles County
Supervisor Kenneth Hahn joined opposition to any major industrial conversion of Watts’
residential sections. He and the County Planning Commission claimed that there were
already numerous jobs nearby. High unemployment in South Central LA, they stated,
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Page 4-8
was due to the lack of skills and training in the workforce. Industrial redevelopment
would remove residential units and uproot 37,000 people (Los Angeles Times, 1968). In
1974 residents from a small Mexican American neighborhood in East Los Angeles faced
a similar predicament in their attempt to persuade the city to turn down a request to
rezone their properties from residential to light industrial. Unfortunately their struggle
was unsuccessful. In 1981, aiming to revitalize one of the grittier parts of the City’s core,
the council passed the Artist-In-Residence (AIR) ordinance that allowed artists to legally
reside in low-rise industrial warehouses in the east side of downtown. While the art scene
cooled during the subsequent recession, many people remained in the converted lofts
(Los Angeles Business Journal, 2005).
Los Angeles at a Crossroads
As L.A. moves towards trying to transform itself into a 24-hour city, the pressures of
development, an urgent demand for housing, gentrification, and the increasingly scarce
stock of land has sparked conversations about industrial land uses. These conversations
are particularly focused on whether or not the New Economy requires the same facilities
that have traditionally been demanded by manufacturing or if it’s time to rezone the land
for “better” uses. Developers and businesses who wish to capitalize on the gentrifying
neighborhoods surrounding the greater Downtown L.A. area (including the Downtown
Core, Southeast L.A., Alameda, Chinatown, and Boyle Heights) have raised critical
planning issues around industrial displacement, affordable housing development, the
evolution of land use, and even more broadly, the type of economy that we envision for
the future of our city (Los Angeles Department of City Planning, 2006).
Figure 4-3 Los Angeles Bridge
Source: Flickr
When the increase in development projects and wave of condo conversions began to
impact the industrial districts of the city, the City Planning Department and Community
Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) found it necessary to strategize a plan
to address the industrial land crisis. In 2004, Mayor James Hahn and the City Planning
Department began an Industrial Development Policy Initiative (IDPI). This was followed
in December 2005 with a memo from the Mayor’s Office for Housing and Economic
Development to city departments requesting their input on the conversion of industrial
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Page 4-9
land and also urging them to exercise great caution in processing land use cases and
applications as the city began an in-depth survey of the uses of the City’s industrial land
(B. Ovrum and A. Martinez, Memorandum, December 12, 2005). What followed shortly
after was the city’s Industrial Land Use Project. Some of the highlights from the study
include (City Planning, 2006):
y
y
y
y
y
Only eight percecnt of the city’s land is zoned industrial
Industrial employment accounts for 28.5 percent of the city’s overall employment
Industrial tax revenues total $219.4 million (accounting for 13 percent of the
city’s total tax revenue)
Twenty-seven percent of industrially-zoned land is currently not being used for
industrial purposes
Vacancy rates for industrial land are extremely low. Los Angeles’ industrial
market is said to be the tightest market in the nation at the end of the fourth
quarter in 2006 (Grubb & Ellis, 2007)
Findings from the research have been used to facilitate dialogue within the impacted
communities and to allow for public comment and input to the City Planning
Commission as they work towards developing a broader master plan.
In November 2006, the City Planning Department publicly announced their preliminary
recommendations based on their research findings. Appendix A summarizes the
recommendations for the five industrial districts. At this point City Planning and the
CRA aim to retain about 83 percent of the current industrially zoned land and possibly
rezone 17 percent of incompatible industrial land.
In response to these recommendations, proponents and opponents have come forward to
make their case. The Mayor, Cecilia Estolano (the CEO of CRA/LA), and the Planning
Department have all openly expressed an agenda to preserve industrial land that would be
of valuable use to the city in retaining quality jobs and a tax base. The key argument for
industrial preservation is that before any drastic changes are made to zoning, the city
must take into consideration the likelihood that once rezoned, the industrial land may
never return to industrial use. The implications of this decision will shape the outlook of
L.A.’s economy and restrict the possibilities for industrial sectors in the future.
Figure 4-4 Biscuit Company Lofts
At the other end of the debate are Councilman Huizar
(CD14), Councilwoman Jan Perry (CD9), and Central City
Association who propose a mix of policy
recommendations. These recommendations come from a
concern that City Planning’s preliminary recommendations
may be too restrictive of developers. Huizar (2007)
suggests that, “We do not preserve these industrial land
Source: Flickr
areas but allow the market to continue to push forward
The Biscuit Company Lofts in Downtown LA,
formerly the west coast headquarters of the
National Biscuit Company
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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toward residential and mixed-use, and to be creative when we say mixed-use.” The
Central City Association (2006) similarly proposes an alternative vision – re-zoning to
create three defined districts: the Pure Industrial District, the Mixed-Use Industrial
District, and the Mixed-Use Commercial Corridor – as opposed to preserving industrial
zoning. The Central City East Association (CCEA), which represents property owners of
the Artist, Toy and Industrial BIDs in Downtown, has also disagreed with the preliminary
recommendations and argues that the Mayor’s request to use discretion in granting land
use applications and permits has halted development in their districts and encroaches on
property owners’ rights to use the land in a manner they see fit (E. Lopez, 2007). Estela
Lopez, the Executive Director of CCEA, argues that jobs have already left the area
(2007). Lopez contends that owners who have been holding properties for decades,
despite the City’s failure to invest in infrastructure upgrades, should be able to capitalize
on this favorable market.
There are valid points to be made on both sides of the debate. Los Angeles is at a
crossroads as we try to determine what a healthy economy of the future will look like
while also trying to find the balance between jobs and housing. Now that preliminary
recommendations have been made, the CRA and City Planning are working on finalizing
their recommendations to present before the Planning Commission later this spring. For
areas that may be rezoned, the change will be incorporated through a Community Plan
process at which point there will be opportunities for community input (D. Spivak, 2007).
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4.3
MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE DEBATE
Decision-Making Process
The Community Redevelopment Agency and the Department of City Planning have
come together to produce recommendations that will be adopted as a finalized policy on
the question of rezoning industrial land. Four personnel from both agencies are currently
investigating the feasibility and future impacts of losing industrial land on the economy.
This team consists of the following persons:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Conni Pallini-Tipton, Planner; Department of City Planning
Jane Blumenfeld, Division Manager of Citywide Planning; Department of City
Planning
Donald Spivack, Chief Operations; Community Redevelopment Agency
Steve Andrews, Chief of Strategic Planning; Community Redevelopment Agency
Their recommendations will be developed jointly with equal input by both agencies. The
finalized recommendations will be presented before the Planning Commission. As we
have already said in previous sections, the final adoption will occur through the
community plan update. The chart below summarizes the decision-making process.
Figure 4-5 Decision-making Process
Joint
Study
CRA/PL
Planning
Commission
Presentation
Community
Plan Update
Process
Final
Adoption
Phase
Source: Los Angeles City Planning
The community plan is a set of land use planning guidelines that governs development
within specific communities. These plans are usually integrated into the General Plan for
that community and substitute the land use element. The Community Plan is enforceable
under the law. Therefore the general plan and the community plan govern any and all
land use activity in the City of Los Angeles.
The community plan update occurs every five years and it is managed by the Community
Planning Bureau under the City Planning Department. The update is a complex process
that includes heavy public participation and a final vote by the Los Angeles City Council
is necessary for the updated plan’s final adoption.
Since Director Gail Goldberg has taken control of the department, she has revised this
process to increase public representation. She is particularly focused on increasing
representation of marginalized and low-income persons when updating community plans.
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Community planners previously relied on neighborhood councils to provide input during
the public comment phase. However, neighborhood councils do not always represent the
voices and opinions of all members of the community. Therefore, Director Goldberg
requires community planners to reach out to more organizations to create a more
inclusive process (G. Siemers, personal communication, April 13, 2007).
Final decisions are made by the Community Planner and the Los Angeles City Council.
Final adoption will occur up to one year from the start of the Community Planning
process (See graphic below).
Figure 4-6 Community Planning Flow Chart (2006)
Source: Los Angeles City Planning
Advocacy: Due to the bureaucratic nature of this decision-making process, community
organizations must advocate for change in public and private venues to urge a resolution
that will benefit the community as well as the City. It appears the research team will
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remain independent of any community input besides the public comment phase.
According to Conni Pallini-Tipton, a majority of the comments received during the
study’s recent public comment phase were made by real estate developers and supporters
of conversion (personal communication, 2007). Although the Department of City
Planning is in favor of retention, it remains imperative that community organizations
actively voice their opinion and monitor the process to ensure the best possible
recommendations.
Organizations will have more opportunities to advocate for the appropriate changes
during the community plan updates. In the chart above, boxes that are highlighted in blue
represent areas where community organizations may influence decision-making. As
discussed in this section, Gail Goldberg wants to expand community representation
beyond the neighborhood council. This opens up several spaces for action by
organizations. Community organizations may engage the process in the following places:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Review plan issues and opportunities,
Review plan,
Public workshops,
Review plan changes,
Public hearings,
Area Planning Committee,
The Planning Commission,
Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee,
City Council.
Although community organizations should be involved throughout the process, they
should also identify the best strategy that will ensure the rights of the people. The
following is a summary of possible strategies that organizations may use:
•
Coalition-Building: This coalition should consist of grassroots community-based
organizations, labor, local community development corporations, and other
groups who work with the impacted community. The coalition should build a
platform that voices community concerns over industrial conversion, their
demands and methods for their implementation.
•
Mobilize the Community: Organizations need to motivate the community to
engage this issue, particularly groups who will be impacted most by the
conversions. Possible strategies for mobilization include community sessions to
explain the community plan process and specific areas where the community
should publicly engage the issue. These areas would include the public comment
and hearing phases of the community plan process. In addition, community
groups should identify community leaders who can engage the issue on a longer
term basis so the Planning Department realizes the community’s commitment to
retain industrial land.
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•
Garner support from members of the Los Angeles City Council: Organizations
should evaluate existing relationships with councilpersons and approach them for
support. This is particularly important because the final adoption will occur by a
majority vote by the Council. Therefore, garnering their support will ensure a
positive result.
Organizations should approach some of the key councilpersons including: Ed
Reyes, Jan Perry, Jose Huizar, and Jack Weiss. Councilmen Reyes, Huizar, and
Weiss are members of the PLUM Committee which reviews any planning related
legislation before it is sent for a final vote before the Council. Industrial land is
concentrated in Huizar and Perry’s council districts. As you will see in the
recommendations section, gathering council support is crucial to implementing
any legislation that will produce public benefits or job creation.
Relevant Players
The debate encompasses individuals from six major institutions. While some of these
groups will play a role in deciding whether any of the land is converted, other institutions
play the role of advocates. The latter groups represent a diversity of opinions that include
the industrial business owners and real estate developers. Although few community
groups have been involved so far, we believe that they will come to the forefront in the
near future. Below is a list of the relevant individuals and agencies that play a central
role within the industrial debate.
Department of City Planning: As Director of the Planning Department, Gail Goldberg has
renewed the Department’s commitment to plan communities that meet the needs for all
members of the community. The San Diego Business Journal quoted Goldberg saying
that she “really believe[s] strongly in participatory planning. Nobody knows a
neighborhood better than the people who live there” (Jackson, 2002). As former Director
of City Planning for the City of San Diego, Goldberg engaged the community for two
years to update the City’s general plan so that it was inclusive and respectful of their
needs (San Diego Business Journal, 2002). Given her commitment, the community is in a
pivotal position to work together with the Planning Department to reach a resolution that
will benefit both the City and the local residents.
Community Redevelopment Agency: As previously stated, the Community
Redevelopment Agency is part of the joint study for the Industrial Development Policy
Initiative (IDPI). In an interview with Cecilia Estolano, Chief Executive Officer, she
explained that the Agency’s mission is grounded in building “the different components
that make a healthy community” (Los Angeles Downtown News, 2007). Ms. Estolano’s
objectives also include “adding capacity on workforce development, on local hiring, on
affordable housing, on green urbanism” (Los Angeles Downtown News, 2007). These
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objectives combined with the mission highlights the CRA’s commitment to the
community.
With respect to the industrial study, the CRA stands in support of a balanced community
that is mixed with low and high-income persons living proximate to jobs. Donald
Spivack, Chief of Operations at the CRA and a member of the joint research team,
believes strongly in the jobs component of this study. In a recent presentation, Spivack
highlighted the necessity to create a downtown that ensures jobs remain close to housing,
particularly protecting the transit-dependent (Spivack, 2007).
Los Angeles City Council: The Los Angeles City Council will operate in two capacities
under this issue. During the recommendations phase, the Councilpersons act as
advocates by voicing their opinion on the issue (G. Siemers, personal communication,
April 13, 2007). Councilpersons have done so in a variety of venues including the media.
They are also allowed to submit official comments during the public comment period.
Both Councilwoman Jan Perry and Councilman Jose Huizar are the two strongest
advocates for industrial conversion on the City Council. One reason for their position is
that a majority of the contested land falls into both of the council districts they represent.
Their constituents include the residents of Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo, Central City East
and Central City North as well as the industrial business owners who compose the
individuals most interested in converting their land for residential purposes.
Secondly, the city council is the last component in the community planning process.
Once the community plan has been finalized by the planning department, the council
must approve each plan with a formal vote. This vote provides constituents the space to
engage the civic process by lobbying Councilpersons to support decisions that benefit the
communities they represent.
Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation: The Los Angeles Economic
Development Corporation (LAEDC), led by Jack Kyser has publicly opposed any
conversions. Kyser argues that an already limited supply of industrial land could
potentially endanger the local economy (E. George, 2007). Industrial land is the only land
on which firms of various industries may locate. Without land zoned for these uses,
businesses will be motivated to locate elsewhere.
The Central City East Association: The Central City East Association (CCEA) represents
and advocates for property owners located in the Industrial, Artists, and Toy Districts.
As representatives of the property owners, their members include the manufacturing
business owners. The organization does not formally support conversion of industrial
land. Instead, they support a property owner’s choice to decide what he or she wants to
do with his or her property. Their stance is in response to the Mayor’s decision to halt
developers from purchasing industrial businesses to be slated for residential construction.
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According to Estela Lopez, CCEA’s Executive Director, “these properties lack the
infrastructure that modern manufacturing requires” (Lopez, 2007). Downtown industrial
areas have been disinvested for the past 50 years and business owners cannot afford to
update their buildings to meet their growing needs. Most of these buildings serve as a
façade for back-office operations. Therefore, business owners should maintain the choice
to sell their property contrary to the Mayor’s decision. CCEA argue the result is
beneficial to themselves, the developers, and the community at large. Residential spaces
can and will revitalize these spaces and produce a positive impact on the affected
neighborhoods.
The Central City Association of Los Angeles: The Central City Association of Los
Angeles (CCA) is a nonprofit entity that represents business and property owners located
throughout the Central City. This area includes Skid Row, as well as the largest
concentration of industrial land within its boundaries. The CCA avidly supports rezoning
industrial land. In 2006, they drafted a report to recommend some industrial preservation
and rezoning some land for light industrial mixed use. These recommendations advance
the CCA’s vision for Downtown Los Angeles to create a 24-hour, vibrant Downtown
complete with housing and amenities including retail and entertainment venues.
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4.4 GEOGRAPHY OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Land Use
In order to gain a better understanding of the general landscape, composition, and land
uses of the greater Downtown Los Angeles area, we selected and examined eight adjacent
zip codes that contain industrial uses that may be susceptible to industrial displacement.
Figure 4-5 illustrates the general zoning for the following eight zip codes: 90012, 90013,
90014, 90015, 90021, 90023, 90031, and 90033. A large portion of the industrial uses
found in the area are located just southeast of downtown with other industrial uses
running along the Los Angeles River in the Boyle Heights area and north between
Chinatown and Lincoln Heights.
Figure 4-7 Land Use – Greater Downtown Area 2007
General Zoning
Manufacturing
Commercial
Multiple Residential
Single Residential
Open Space
Public Facilities
Agriculture
Lincoln Heights
Chinatown
Downtown LA
Boyle Heights
Source: Google Earth; Zimas
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Data Gathering Areas
The eight zip codes were grouped into three different areas – downtown, East L.A., and
North L.A. – for the purposes of gathering and aggregating establishment and
employment data. We utilized the zip codes to gather job data from the Economic
Census. This data was aggregated by industry codes (NAICS – North American Industry
Classification System) and summarized for the three areas. The downtown area is
composed of four zip codes – 90013, 90014, 90015, and 90021. The East L.A. area is
composed of 90023 and 90033, and the North L.A. area is composed of 90012 and
90031.
Figure 4-8 Data Areas
Data Areas
Downtown
East LA
North LA
Zip Code
90013
90014
90015
90021
90023
90033
90012
90031
Source: Google Earth
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Downtown Districts
Throughout the downtown area, industries are generally organized and spatially
concentrated into districts. Figure 4-7 illustrates the spatial distribution of various
districts that exist in the area. Given that we are concerned with the displacement of
industrial land, we have given special attention to the districts in this area that are
predominately zoned for manufacturing. These districts are the Artist, Miscellaneous,
Produce, Seafood, Electronics, Flower, Textile/Wholesale, and Fashion Districts.
Currently, an influx of development is taking place in the districts that lie on the northern
and western boundaries of the downtown area. In the north, Little Tokyo continues to see
the development of luxury lofts. The Financial and Jewelry Districts on the west are also
seeing many historic buildings and residential hotels being converted into luxury lofts
and commercial spaces. A majority of the new development is taking place in the
districts surrounding the Staples Center and Convention Center. Here we see the
development of an entertainment district, luxury lofts, and more commercial spaces. As
development in these districts continues to expand, the adjacent districts zoned for
industrial uses increasingly feel pressure for conversion.
Further into the paper, we will describe and examine the type of changes taking place in
some of the industrial districts. Particular attention will be focused on the conversion of
industrial space in the Artist Loft District.
Figure 4-9 Downtown Districts
Source: Lee & Associates
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Area of Focus
While it would be ideal to examine the evolution of all industrial land in greater Los
Angeles, we have decided to focus on one particular area – the downtown area. We do so
for the following three reasons: 1) it is largely zoned for industrial uses, 2) it supports a
large number of manufacturing establishments and jobs, and 3) it faces the greatest
pressure for industrial conversion. This section will be used to examine industry profiles,
land values, for-sale properties, and the conversion of industrial properties to alternative
uses.
Figure 4-10 Downtown Area of Focus
Manufacturing
Data Areas
Area
Zip Code
90013
90014
Downtown
90015
90021
Source: Google Earth; Zimas
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4.5 A PROFILE OF THE AREA
Methodology
We obtained data from the United States Census Bureau 2000 in summary file 3. The
data consists of information from census tracts that are partially or fully contained within
the following zip codes: 90033, 90023, 90026, 90003, 90001, 90010, 90005, and 90057.
These zip codes encompass Westlake, Boyle Heights, the eastern edge of Wilshire
District, Lincoln Heights, Central City North, Central City East, and parts of Northeast
Los Angeles and South Los Angeles. Some tracts also contain information for
populations that live outside of our target communities; therefore, some of the statistics
included below describe a much larger demographic area. For example, our calculations
show that a greater percentage of persons drive a car to work even though we argue that a
large percent of the target population is transit-dependent. Therefore, the information in
this section is meant to provide a rough understanding of the local community.
Community Demographics
Low-income working class people have worked in industrial jobs and lived in the areas
surrounding industrial land for nearly a century (Avila-Hernandez, 2000). Despite the
impact of the New Economy and the ongoing flight of industrial businesses out of the
area, this land continues to provide jobs to low-income working class populations.
Yet, proponents continue to argue that conversions will benefit the greater community.
Working class populations earning a minimum wage cannot afford the prices of new
market rate housing and will not be able to afford their current rent or housing payments
if they lose their existing income. The map below indicates populations most vulnerable
to being displaced (indicated in dark red). The populations, immediately within a three
mile radius of the industrial land are the most vulnerable to displacement. However, it is
clear that communities located outside of the three mile buffer are also highly vulnerable
to displacement based on their income, employment status, minority status, and transit
dependence. In the following sections, we shall study the local area and highlight the
negative relationship between industrial conversion and working class people’s right to
their city.
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Figure 4-11 Vulnerable Populations in Los Angeles
Source: US census, ESRI TIGER/LINE Data
Ethnic Composition: This area contains a significant population of people of color. The
following is a breakdown of the ethnic communities:
• Seventy percent are Latino,
• Fourteen percent are Asian,
• Nine percent are African American, and
• Six percent are Caucasian
Educational Attainment: There is a low rate of high school completion and an even lower
rate of college attendance among local residents.
• Twenty-eight percent have attended some high school,
• Sixteen percent have received a high school diploma,
• And six percent have an Associate’s Degree.
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Access to Transit: Based on the data, the results for transit access contradict our previous
assumptions about the local population. This is due in large part to limitations in
capturing data specific to the neighborhoods we are studying.
• Fifty-five percent of the people travel to work by car.
• Fifteen percent carpool to work,
• Twenty-three percent rely on public transit,
• And, approximately seven percent walk or bicycle to work.
Income: We have broken down income by gender. Overall both groups do not earn
livable wages for the City of Los Angeles.
• The highest income for both men and women falls between $10,000 and $12,500.
• Over half (58 percent) of the female population earn incomes that are
concentrated in the lowest five income categories, ranging between $0 and
$12,500.
Worker by Industry: Our analysis shows that most men and women are employed in the
manufacturing industry.
• Twenty-seven percent of male workers are employed in manufacturing
• Twenty-three percent of female workers are employed in education and social
services,
• Manufacturing is the second highest industry to employ women at 22.5 percent,
Poverty Status: The 2000 Federal Poverty Guideline states that an individual earning
$8,350 and under per year is living in poverty (Department of Health and Human
Services, 2000). However, a person earning $8,350 cannot adequately support herself in
the City of Los Angeles given the high cost of living. $8,350 alone meets the cost of rent
leaving an individual without money to purchase food and supplies. Therefore, we will
consider poverty at 200 percent of the poverty threshold, or $16,700. We found that:
• Nearly 150,000 (or 66 percent of the) people live in poverty
Conclusion: After studying the area’s demographics, we believe that residents could
benefit from the preservation of industrial land. The strongest indicator, workers per
industry, shows that both men and women are heavily employed by manufacturing firms.
While our numbers do not show a strong correlation to workers earning a high income,
we believe these jobs are a last resort that provides families with money to access the
basic necessities and housing. Without these jobs, these workers cannot sustain their
families’ needs.
Please see Appendix B for the detailed breakdown of demographic statistics.
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Housing
The City of Los Angeles is experiencing a steady rise in downtown housing development.
Factors including adaptive reuse and speculative buying have enabled the construction of
numerous housing developments. These new units cater to a wealthy upper class
population of working professionals who now live and work in a changing downtown.
Since 1999, 7,000 new units have been completed; 7,200 units are currently under
construction while 16,900 more units are planned for the future (Downtown Center
Business Improvement District, 2007). Developers and their supporters use these
numbers to argue that their efforts will ease the housing crisis and revitalize the city’s
core. These units cost $600,000 on average to purchase and for them to be affordable a
household’s annual income must exceed $140,000. This is clearly precluding existing
low-income populations from the new stock of housing that is entering their community.
In this way, new and expensive housing has exacerbated the housing crisis.
Challenges to New Housing: Los Angeles faces a substantial barrier to the construction
of new housing given the City’s built environment. The City is nearly built out and thus
redevelopment of underutilized spaces is a major source for new construction. The
Housing Element of the City’s General Plan points out that some of the remaining areas
untouched by development are located in the Santa Monica Mountains. However, this
area precludes the possibility of affordable housing given that the Santa Monica
Mountains is home to some of the wealthiest residents.
In the face of such a serious challenge, the Housing Element states that “nearly all
housing development in the City is expected to be infill development involving the
recycling of land. In many cases, the City's policies and programs focus on utilizing the
existing under-utilized zoning capacity as well as recycling” (City of LA Planning, 2007).
This has been used as a green light to convert underutilized spaces such as single room
occupancy residential hotels and abandoned commercial buildings into luxury
condominium and loft developments.
With the passage of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, recycling developed land was made
possible. This policy supports redeveloping old, under-utilized commercial buildings for
the purpose of housing. Developers have capitalized on this policy by redeveloping old
buildings throughout Central City East and Central City creating a “back to the city”
movement. This influx is composed of young, urban professionals, and older adults
whose children no longer live at home (Soja, 2000). This market has instigated and fueled
booming development occurring in the downtown area. As previously stated, since this
policy’s passage, about 7,000 new units have been built (not all of these developments
can be attributed to adaptive reuse).
Affordability: In a study published by Kate O’Hara of the Southern California
Association for Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH) the highest concentration of affordable
housing is located in low-income neighborhoods (O’Hara, 2007). Low-income
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neighborhoods around Downtown Los Angeles include Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights,
South Los Angeles, Westlake, and the Wilshire District (Koreatown) and represent the
most affordable areas immediately surrounding new downtown housing developments for
low-income persons to live. Yet these areas are experiencing a rise in the cost of
housing. According to Lydia Avila-Hernandez of the East Los Angeles Community
Corporation (ELACC), in 2001 the average home in Boyle Heights cost $224,000 and by
2005 home prices jumped to $565,000 (Avila-Hernandez, 2006). Similarly, rent prices in
1999 were as low as $576 a month; as of 2006 average rent has more than doubled
costing over $1,300 (Avila-Hernandez, 2006). Although the cost of rent has increased
over a longer period, median incomes have not increased to meet increases in the cost of
living during this same period of time. According to O’Hara, low-income residents
“represent over 80% of those who overpay” for housing (O’Hara, 2007). As a result, lowincome residents are forced to pay a higher percentage of income on rent, leaving little or
no money to pay for other necessities such as food or bills.
Low-income persons once concentrated in the City’s center because it was the most
affordable. However, today the average price of a loft in Downtown Los Angeles is
$651,000. Given this price, it is impossible for a low-income person to afford a home in
the downtown area. Therefore, they are forced to move away and live in much more
affordable areas. One area where low-income persons often move is Riverside County
(Wolff, 2007). This further reduces a person’s access to jobs these low-income, transitdependent residents.
The Department of City Planning and the Community Redevelopment Agency jointly
commissioned Keyser Marston and Associates (KMA) to determine the affordability of
housing on industrial land. KMA determined that new housing in Industrial areas is not
affordable. On average, housing in the industrial areas cost $598,000 which is eight
percent less than the average cost of housing in the Central Core. Yet, if we compare the
cost of these housing prices with respect to the determinations of affordability in the
California Health and Safety Code, housing in the industrial areas costs twice the Code’s
determination of what is affordable, or $200,000 (Hollis, 2006).
Although we recognize the need for more affordable housing units, we believe the current
proposal to rezone industrial areas will lead to more unaffordable housing units to the
detriment of those in need.
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Industrial Land Value Trends
We looked at industrial property price trends in Downtown over the past ten years to determine the impact land use
conversions are having on property values. We attained data for several properties in our target area by using the real estate
website www.zillow.com. Values were adjusted to 2007 dollars for fair comparison. As we expected, industrial land has
increased significantly in the last five years. This roughly correlates with the beginning of downtown gentrification. From 1998
to 2002 the average price per square foot increased from $32 to $55, or a 72 percent increase. From 2002 to 2007 prices
increased to $164 per square foot, or a 200 percent increase.
Table 4-1 Impact of Land Use Conversions on Property Values
Address
Zip
Building Size Property
(SF)
Type
2007
value
2002
value
1998
value
2007 $/SF
2002 $/SF
1998 $/SF
CPI
CPI rebase
2007
2007 $/SF
2002 $/SF
Adjusted
1998 $/SF
Adjusted
2007
2002
1998
202.4
177.1
161.6
1.0000
0.8750
0.7984
549 Ceres Avenue
90013
9729
Industrial
$2,849,000
$750,000
$330,000
$293
$77
$34
$293
$88
$42
544 San Pedro Street
90013
20821
Industrial
$3,485,000
$1,200,000
$500,000
$167
$58
$24
$167
$66
$30
560 Stanford Avenue
90013
14496
Industrial
$1,312,000
$300,000
$200,000
$91
$21
$14
$91
$24
$17
560 Gladys Avenue
90013
14496
Industrial
$1,401,000
$300,000
$200,000
$97
$21
$14
$97
$24
$17
1010 E. 7th Street
90021
13312
Industrial
$1,859,000
$500,000
$390,000
$140
$38
$29
$140
$43
$37
1201 E. 7th Street
90021
13131
Industrial
$2,616,000
$1,000,000
$500,000
$199
$76
$38
$199
$87
$48
$164
$55
$32
AVERAGE
Source: www. zillow.com
Value Trend of Industrial Land in Downtown Los Angeles
(Adjusted to 2007 dollars)
Figure 4-12
Price per Sq Ft
$200
$164
$160
$120
$80
$55
$40
$32
$1998
2002
Year
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2007
Source: www. zillow.com
Page 4-27
In order to measure changing uses of industrial land, we researched the number of
properties that were currently for sale. By identifying concentrations of properties that
appear to be changing hands quickly, while also juxtaposing those with loft and condo
conversions that are already in progress, we identified particular neighborhoods that have
historically been industrial but are gradually transitioning to commercial and residential
uses.
Property data was based on observations during visits to our target area and the following
three websites:
y http://www.loopnet.com
y http://www.zillow.com
y http://cartifact.com/dtnews/
Please refer to the map in Appendix C to see where for-sale industrial properties and
current loft and condo conversions are taking place and Appendix D for a list of
identified properties.
Key Findings
Our analysis helped us identify several things:
y
y
y
y
y
y
Much of the rezoning is taking place in the Arts District around 4th Street and
Traction Avenue. New uses are generally residential in the form of
condominiums, lofts, and live-work units. In addition, many of the projects are
building renovations rather than new construction.
20 of the 60 properties that are currently for-sale are in the Artist Loft District and
its surrounding area
Over half of the industrial properties currently on the market are warehouses and
distribution warehouses
The average price per square foot for many of the districts is in the $200-$300
range, with the exception of the Fashion, Electronics, and Staples/Convention
Center areas. Current property owners may be seeking to capitalize on buyers
who would like a low-risk entry into the downtown development area given that
the average condo in the area is being sold at $505 per square foot.
Most of the condo and loft conversions (7 out of 13) that are underway are in
the Little Tokyo area.
There are currently 12 industrial manufacturing facilities on the market.
Some of which are being advertised as a “fantastic adaptive reuse opportunity,”
also suggests that the property be purchased for “loft conversion or keep as an
investment and raise rents.”
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-28
4.6 INDUSTRIES, ESTABLISHMENTS AND
EMPLOYMENT
The following section was completed to
create a profile of industries in the
Greater Downtown area with specific
attention given to our area of focus.
We give overviews of industry type,
size, and employment and take a closer
look at the manufacturing sector to
build a better understanding of what is
at stake if industrial land is lost. In
addition, we examine wage data and
industry changes from 1998 to 2003 to
generate a better picture of economic
activity in the area.
Figure 4-13
Data Areas and Area of Focus
Methodology
Economic Census data was utilized to
identify industries and calculate
establishment and employment figures
for the eight zip codes we identified
for our study. The numbers of
establishments were explicitly stated
Source: Google Earth
for each zip code and industry.
However, employment figures were estimated by multiplying the number of
establishments of a given size by the range of employees for those establishments. For
example, if there were ten establishments with 10 to 19 employees, then ten was
multiplied by 10 and 19 to establish a range of employment. Although we calculated low
and high estimates for each industry, we decided to report conservative (low)
employment numbers throughout the following section. It is important to note that
conservative employment estimates can be much lower than actual employment figures
because of the way establishment size ranges are categorized by the Economic Census
and the likelihood of a sizable undocumented immigrant worker population.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-29
Current State of Industries and Manufacturing
General Findings: As expected the greatest concentration of establishments and
employment fall in the downtown area of our study. This area had a total of 7,863
establishments, which account for a conservative estimate of 60,730 jobs. Zip codes
90014 and 90015 have the greatest concentration of establishments while 90015 and
90021 have the greatest concentration of employment for the Downtown area. Table 4-2
contains establishment and employment totals for all industries in the three different areas
we examined.
Table 4-2 Total Establishments and Employment – All Industries
Area
Downtown
East LA
North LA
Establishments
Zip Code
90013
90014
90015
90021
90023
90033
90012
90031
Establishments
1,204
2,256
2,779
1,624
1,054
531
1,287
451
Area Total
7,863
1,585
1,738
Employment Estimates
(Conservative)
Employment
Area Total
9,182
10,919
60,730
22,486
18,143
18,232
26,354
8,122
16,197
22,192
5,995
Source: 2003 Economic Census
All Industries: Two-digit North American Industry Code System (NAICS) codes were
utilized to identify industries that operate in the area. We identified 20 different
industries that range from food services to professional services. When looking at all the
areas we examined (eight zip codes), Wholesale Trade, Manufacturing, and Retail Trade
industries topped the list of industries with the largest number of establishments. This
also holds true for the downtown area. The Wholesale Trade industry has over 3,000
establishments and the Manufacturing industry has over 1,800 establishments in the area.
Together, they account for 64 percent of all establishments in the downtown area.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-30
Table 4-3 Total Establishments by Type of Industry and Area
2 Digit
NAICS
11
21
22
23
31-33
42
44
48
51
52
53
54
55
56
61
62
71
72
81
99
Type of Industry
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Mining
Utilities
Construction
Manufacturing
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade
Transportation and Warehousing
Information
Finance and Insurance
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Management of Companies and Enterprises
Administrative and Support and Waste
Management and Remediation Services
Educational Services
Health Care and Social Assistance
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
Accommodation and Food Services
Other Services (except Public Administration)
non-classifiable establishments
Totals
Total Establishments
by Area
East
North
Downtown
LA
LA
3
0
2
1
1
1
4
1
2
64
34
27
374
184
1,804
277
160
3,245
947
198
270
98
54
24
42
10
38
113
27
74
203
24
73
331
32
154
26
8
11
Total
Establishments
5
3
7
125
2,362
3,682
1,415
176
90
214
300
517
45
125
51
60
236
25
147
32
271
16
217
5
126
17
139
22
250
58
503
59
647
353
129
225
707
29
7,863
1
1,585
5
1,738
35
11,186
Source: 2003 Economic Census
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-31
With respect to employment, the Manufacturing, Wholesale, and Health Care industries
were the largest employers when looking at all three areas as a whole. The top three
industries with the highest employment figures in the downtown area are Manufacturing,
Wholesale Trade, and Retail Trade. The Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade industries,
together, account for over 30,000 jobs and compose over fifty percent of the jobs in the
area. It is also important to note that the Health Care/Social Assistance and
Accommodation/Food Services industries are also large sources of employment
throughout the areas we examined. (See Table 4-4 for employment details.)
Table 4-4 Total Employment Estimates by Type of Industry and Area
2 Digit
NAICS
11
21
22
23
31-33
42
44
48
51
52
53
54
55
56
61
62
71
72
81
99
Type of Industry
Total Employment Estimates
by Area (Conservative)
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Mining
Utilities
Construction
Manufacturing
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade
Transportation and Warehousing
Information
Finance and Insurance
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Management of Companies and Enterprises
Administrative and Support and Waste
Management and Remediation Services
261
10
1,530
778
16,190
15,298
4,866
2,518
589
1,822
1,021
1,864
891
0
20
10
331
8,432
3,405
1,272
2,644
14
202
90
323
1,031
North
LA
2
20
2
228
2,739
1,294
1,195
1,749
1,477
2,252
481
864
312
1,439
676
718
2,833
Educational Services
Health Care and Social Assistance
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
Accommodation and Food Services
Other Services (except Public Administration)
non-classifiable establishments
Totals
930
3,699
1,173
3,271
2,528
52
60,730
139
5,318
52
1,645
745
5
26,354
341
2,048
1,857
3,386
1,218
9
22,192
1,410
11,065
3,082
8,302
4,491
66
109,276
Downtown
East
LA
Total
Employment
Estimate
(Conservative)
263
50
1,542
1,337
27,361
19,997
7,333
6,911
2,080
4,276
1,592
3,051
2,234
Source: 2003 Economic Census
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-32
Manufacturing: Given that our focus is on industrial land and the preservation of higher
paying manufacturing jobs, we further examined the manufacturing sector of the
downtown area. Three-digit NAICS codes were used to acquire a more detailed look at
what types of manufacturing is taking place. Generally, across all three areas, downtown
had the greater number of manufacturing establishments (1,804) and employment
(16,190). It accounted for about 23 percent of all establishments and almost 27 percent
of all employment in the area. Table 4-5 summarizes the general establishment and
employment figures for the manufacturing sector.
Table 4-5 Total Manufacturing Establishments and Employment
Downtown
East LA
North LA
90013
90014
90015
90021
90023
90033
90012
90031
Industry
Manufacturing
Area
Zip
Code
Est.
74
680
581
469
336
38
76
108
Establishments
% of All
Area
Establishments in
Total
the Area
1,804
23%
374
24%
184
11%
Employment
Conservative
Estimate
635
4,297
3,833
7,425
7,792
640
1,103
1,636
Area
Total
% of All
Employment
in the Area
16,190
27%
8,432
32%
2,739
12%
Source: 2003 Economic Census
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-33
A closer look at the manufacturing sector shows that Apparel Manufacturing dominates
across all observed areas. It is particularly strong in the downtown area with over 1300
establishments, which accounts for approximately 75 percent of all manufacturing
establishments in the area. Behind Apparel Manufacturing, Miscellaneous
Manufacturing comes in second with 188 establishments. Textile Mills, Printing, and
Food Manufacturing follow with 188, 58, and 51 respective establishments. Table 4-6
summarizes the total number of manufacturing establishments by manufacturing type and
area.
Table 4-6 Establishments by Type of Manufacturing
3 Digit
NAICS
311
312
313
314
315
316
321
322
323
324
325
326
327
331
332
333
334
335
336
337
339
Type of Manufacturing
Food Manufacturing
Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing
Textile Mills
Textile Product Mills
Apparel Manufacturing
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
Wood Product Manufacturing
Paper Manufacturing
Printing and Related Support Activities
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
Chemical Manufacturing
Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
Primary Metal Manufacturing
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
Machinery Manufacturing
Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component
Manufacturing
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
Miscellaneous Manufacturing
Totals
Total Establishments
by Area
East North
Downtown
LA
LA
40
44
20
3
1
2
58
24
3
22
6
3
1,353
110
113
4
2
1
7
3
2
2
8
0
51
29
6
0
3
0
5
16
3
5
9
1
1
13
1
4
4
0
25
49
11
17
9
4
2
1
1
Total
Establishments
104
6
85
31
1,576
7
12
10
86
3
24
15
15
8
85
30
4
3
2
0
5
3
11
188
1,804
6
23
12
374
1
5
7
184
10
39
207
2,362
Source: 2003 Economic Census
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-34
As expected, Apparel Manufacturing accounts for the largest number and percentage of
manufacturing jobs across all areas. This industry supports over 10,000 jobs or 65
percent of all manufacturing jobs in the Downtown area. Food and Miscellaneous
Manufacturing follow by supporting a little over 1,000 jobs each in the area. Printing and
Furniture Manufacturing also provide a good number of jobs at 693 and 599,
respectively. Table 4-7 summarizes the total number of manufacturing jobs by
manufacturing type and area.
Table 4-7 Employment by Type of Manufacturing
3 Digit
NAICS
Total Employment Estimate
by Area (Conservative)
Type of Manufacturing
1,145
East
LA
1,007
North
LA
475
111
250
51
412
546
242
10,617
20
48
11
693
0
56
136
1
35
334
430
420
332
1,853
21
41
366
642
22
395
510
533
121
1,055
126
40
41
1,304
20
55
0
18
0
121
5
1
0
291
31
1,006
615
13,774
61
144
377
1,353
22
572
651
535
156
1,680
587
6
50
100
156
65
6
0
71
45
599
1,050
16,190
141
343
198
8,432
100
17
69
2,739
286
959
1,317
27,361
Downtown
311
312
313
314
315
316
321
322
323
324
325
326
327
331
332
333
334
335
336
337
339
Food Manufacturing
Beverage and Tobacco Product
Manufacturing
Textile Mills
Textile Product Mills
Apparel Manufacturing
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
Wood Product Manufacturing
Paper Manufacturing
Printing and Related Support Activities
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
Chemical Manufacturing
Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
Primary Metal Manufacturing
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
Machinery Manufacturing
Computer and Electronic Product
Manufacturing
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and
Component Manufacturing
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
Miscellaneous Manufacturing
Totals
Total
Employment
Estimate
(Conservative)
2,627
Source: 2003 Economic Census
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-35
Industry Size: Generally, we found that establishments throughout the area were small in
size. 90 percent of all Downtown establishments had less than 20 employees with 61
percent having less than five employees. The manufacturing sector produced similar
results with 86 percent of the establishments having less than 20 employees and 47
percent having less than five employees. These findings suggest that the manufacturing
sector is not dominated by large-scale factories or “smokestack” industries and is
primarily composed of small-scale, boutique-style companies indicative of the current
economy.
Figure 4-14
Downtown Industries - % of Establishment by Size
1%
2%
7%
Size of Establishment
(# of Employees)
1 to 4
5 to 19
20-49
29%
50 to 99
61%
100+
Manufacturing Sector - % of Establishments by Size
1%
3%
10%
47%
39%
Source: 2003 Economic Census
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-36
Wages: We utilized Bureau of Labor Statistics data to examine average wages for
manufacturing industries. It is important to note that this data is taken at the national
level and is for production occupations within respective manufacturing industries. This
data was primarily used because it was aggregated by NAICS codes and allowed us to
uniformly compare wages across manufacturing sectors. While production occupation
wages in manufacturing do not necessarily represent entry-level pay, we use these figures
as a point of comparison to examine the potential benefit of manufacturing jobs over jobs
likely to be created by industrial conversion. Table 4-8 contains average wages for some
occupations that are likely to be created if industrial spaces are converted to retail and
residential spaces. They include occupations such as food preparation, retail sales,
cleaning and maintenance, janitors, security guards, and personal services.
Average hourly wages across manufacturing sectors ranged from a low of $9.99 in
Apparel Manufacturing to a high of $22.05 in Petroleum and Coal Product
Manufacturing. The mean hourly wage for all manufacturing types is $14.48 and $10.69
for service jobs. Wage figures alone suggest that manufacturing jobs have more potential
to provide economic benefits than service sector jobs. Not only do they provide higher
wages, they may offer more opportunities to access occupational ladders.
Table 4-8 Wage Estimates by Manufacturing Type
NAICS
Code
311
312
313
314
315
316
321
322
323
324
325
326
327
331
332
333
334
335
336
337
339
Manufacturing Type
Food Manufacturing
Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing
Textile Mills
Textile Product Mills
Apparel Manufacturing
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
Wood Product Manufacturing
Paper Manufacturing
Printing and Related Support Activities
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
Chemical Manufacturing
Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
Primary Metal Manufacturing
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
Machinery Manufacturing
Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and
Component Manufacturing
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
Miscellaneous Manufacturing
Production
Occupation Wages
Hourly
Annual
Mean
Mean
$12.08
$25,130
$16.45
$34,210
$11.94
$24,830
$11.37
$23,650
$9.99
$20,770
$10.91
$22,700
$12.49
$25,990
$16.25
$33,800
$15.33
$31,880
$22.05
$45,860
$17.30
$35,990
$13.77
$28,640
$14.23
$29,590
$15.86
$32,980
$14.94
$31,080
$15.83
$32,920
$14.61
$30,380
Employment by Study Area
1,145
111
546
242
10,617
20
48
11
693
0
56
136
1
35
334
430
6
East
LA
1,007
250
420
332
1,853
21
41
366
642
22
395
510
533
121
1,055
126
50
North
LA
475
51
40
41
1,304
20
55
0
18
0
121
5
1
0
291
31
100
Downtown
$14.36
$29,860
65
6
0
$17.51
$12.82
$13.90
$36,420
$26,670
$28,910
45
599
1,050
141
343
198
100
17
69
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (National Wage Estimates - May 2005)
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-37
Table 4-9 Wage Estimates by Occupation
Occupation
Food Prep and Serving Related
Cashiers
Janitors/Cleaners
Personal Care and Service Occupations
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance
Retail Sales
Security Guards
Hourly Mean
$9.05
$9.63
$10.55
$11.87
$11.09
$11.97
$10.69
Annual Mean
$18,820.00
$20,030.00
$21,950.00
$24,680.00
$23,060.00
$24,900.00
$22,240.00
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Los Angeles-Long Beach, Santa Ana, CA
Metropolitan Area - May 2005)
Although these findings are optimistic, a closer look at manufacturing jobs and wages in
the downtown area produces a more daunting picture. The strength of manufacturing in
downtown is in its Apparel Manufacturing sector. Consequently, a vast majority of
manufacturing workers (66 percent) in the area are earning very low wages. It would
even be safe to say that a large segment of the workers in Apparel Manufacturing are
earning less that the $9.99 hourly wage indicated in Table 4-9. Based on national hourly
median wages, only 11 percent of the manufacturing employees in Downtown might
make $14.00 or more. A majority of these potentially higher paid employees are in the
Machinery Manufacturing, Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing, Beverage and
Tobacco Product Manufacturing, and Printing and Related Activities industries.
Generally, the findings suggest that there are potentially higher paying manufacturing
jobs in the area, but a majority of the manufacturing workers in the area are employed in
the lowest paying sector.
Figure 4-15
Manufacturing Employees' Estimated Pay Range in the Downtown Area
Total Employees = 16,190
223 or 1%
1,564 or 10%
Mean Hourly Wage
Less than $10.00
$10.00 to $11.99
$12.00 to $13.99
$14.00 to $15.99
Greater than $15.99
2,978 or 18%
808 or 5%
10,617 or 66%
Source: U.S Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics (National Wage
Estimates - May 2005)
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-38
Evolution of Industries and Manufacturing
All Industries: 1998 and 2003 Economic Census data was used to examine industry
changes in establishments and employment in the downtown area of our study. Overall,
there was a ten percent gain in the number of establishments during this time period;
establishment numbers rose from 7,167 in 1988 to 7,863 in 2003. Notable percentage
gains were seen in Educational Services (92 percent), Professional, Scientific, and
Technical services (40 percent), Information (31 percent), Construction (28 percent), and
Wholesale Trade (20 percent). Industries with a declining number of establishments
were Manufacturing (-3 percent), Administrative and Support and Waste management
and Remediation Services (-29 percent), and Other Services (-3 percent). (Note: Decline
in establishments and employment in unclassified establishments and auxiliaries are most
likely due to reclassification and/or a better classification system over the years.)
Table 4-10
Change in Establishment and Employment in All Industries (1998 to 2003)
Establishments
2 Digit
NAICS
11
21
22
23
31-33
42
44
48
51
52
53
54
55
56
61
62
71
72
81
95
99
Industry Description
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and
Hunting
Mining
Utilities
Construction
Manufacturing
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade
Transportation & Warehousing
Information
Finance and Insurance
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
Professional, Scientific, and
Technical Services
Management of Companies and
Enterprises
Administrative and Support and
Waste Management and Remediation
Services
Educational Services
Health Care and Social Assistance
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
Accommodation and Food Services
Other services (except public
administration)
Auxiliaries (exc corporate, subsidiary)
Unclassified Establishments
Total
1998
2003
Employment
#
Change
%
Change
1998
2003
#
Change
%
Change
1
3
2
200%
1
261
260
26000%
0
0
50
1,853
2,709
805
83
32
100
193
1
4
64
1,804
3,245
947
98
42
113
203
1
4
14
-49
536
142
15
10
13
10
n/a
n/a
28%
-3%
20%
18%
18%
31%
13%
5%
0
0
575
20,315
14,126
3,904
3,439
422
4,550
929
10
1,530
778
16,190
15,298
4,866
2,518
589
1,822
1,021
10
1,530
203
-4,125
1,172
962
-921
167
-2,728
92
n/a
n/a
35%
-20%
8%
25%
-27%
40%
-60%
10%
237
331
94
40%
1,389
1,864
475
34%
22
26
4
18%
701
891
190
27%
177
125
-52
-29%
1,917
1,439
-478
-25%
13
141
29
266
25
147
32
271
12
6
3
5
92%
4%
10%
2%
448
3,111
936
1,821
930
3,699
1,173
3,271
482
588
237
1,450
108%
19%
25%
80%
365
353
-12
-3%
3,680
2,528
-1,152
-31%
13
78
7,167
0
29
7,863
-13
-49
696
-100%
-63%
10%
241
165
62,670
0
52
60,730
-241
-113
-1,940
-100%
-68%
-3%
Source: 1998 and 2003 Economic Census
In terms of employment, the Downtown area experienced a decline in overall
employment from 1998 to 2003. The three percent decline in employment accounted for
a little less than 2,000 lost jobs. The Manufacturing, Finance and Insurance, Other
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-39
Services, and Transportation and Warehousing industries were hit particularly hard by
losing 4,125 (20 percent), 2,728 (60 percent), 1,152 (31 percent) and 921 (27 percent)
respective jobs. These losses were partially offset by the largest employment gains in
Utilities, Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Accommodation and Food Services.
Manufacturing: From 1998 to 2003, the manufacturing industry lost the largest number of
total jobs (4,125) in the Downtown area. Table 4-11 contains a more detailed look at
changes within the manufacturing industry by manufacturing type. Although Apparel
Manufacturing accounts for the largest number of establishments in the sector and
experienced the largest growth in the number of establishments from 1998 to 2003, it also
experienced the greatest loss of jobs (-3,363) in the industry. There were also a sizable
number of jobs lost in Printing (-600), Textile Product Mills (-232), and Miscellaneous
Manufacturing (-244).
Table 4-11
Change in Establishment and Employment in Manufacturing (1998 to 2003)
3 Digit
NAICS
311
Establishments
Type of Manufacturing
313
Food Manufacturing
Beverage and Tobacco Product
Manufacturing
Textile Mills
314
Textile Product Mills
312
1998
2003
#
Change
Employment
%
Change
1998
2003
# Change
% Change
41
40
-1
-2%
1,149
1,145
-4
0%
2
3
1
50%
101
111
10
10%
73
58
-15
-21%
597
546
-51
-9%
47
22
-25
-53%
474
242
-232
-49%
-24%
315
Apparel Manufacturing
1,269
1,353
84
7%
13,980
10,617
-3,363
316
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
9
4
-5
-56%
73
20
-53
-73%
321
Wood Product Manufacturing
8
7
-1
-13%
57
48
-9
-16%
322
Paper Manufacturing
323
Printing and Related Support Activities
2
2
0
0%
30
11
-19
-63%
79
51
-28
-35%
1,293
693
-600
-46%
-100%
324
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
1
0
-1
-100%
1
0
-1
325
Chemical Manufacturing
8
5
-3
-38%
53
56
3
6%
326
Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
8
5
-3
-38%
59
136
77
131%
327
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
3
1
-2
-67%
7
1
-6
-86%
331
Primary Metal Manufacturing
6
4
-2
-33%
63
35
-28
-44%
332
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
27
25
-2
-7%
382
334
-48
-13%
333
Machinery Manufacturing
Computer and Electronic Product
Manufacturing
14
17
3
21%
178
430
252
142%
4
2
-2
-50%
32
6
-26
-81%
4
3
-1
-25%
36
65
29
81%
7
3
-4
-57%
39
45
6
15%
11
11
0
0%
417
599
182
44%
334
335
336
337
339
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and
Component Manufacturing
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
Furniture and Related Product
Manufacturing
Miscellaneous Manufacturing
Total
230
188
-42
-18%
1,294
1,050
-244
-19%
1,853
1,804
-49
-3%
20,315
16,190
-4,125
-20%
Source: 1998 and 2003 Economic Census
Despite the overall decline of the manufacturing sector, four types of manufacturing
experienced a notable growth in employment from 1998 to 2003. Machinery
Manufacturing not only had the largest growth in the number of jobs (252), it also
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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experienced the largest percentage growth (142 percent). Furniture Manufacturing
employment had a growth of 182 jobs (44 percent increase), Plastics and Rubber
Manufacturing gained 77 jobs (131 percent increase), and Electrical Equipment
Manufacturing gained a modest 29 jobs, but an 81 percent increase from 1998 to 2003.
Summary of Findings
•
Overall, the downtown area has a large number of establishments and
employment. The industrial area, which houses the Manufacturing, Wholesale
trade, Transportation and Warehousing and similar industries, provides over
30,000 jobs, many of which could be held by some of Los Angeles’ most
vulnerable residents. A small percentage loss of these jobs will undoubtedly have
a significant impact on the number of jobs available to such residents.
•
Although the manufacturing industry supports the most jobs in the area,
manufacturing jobs have significantly declined over the years. Over 4,000 jobs
were lost between 1998 and 2003. A majority of these losses came from Apparel
Manufacturing and Printing and Related Support Activities. The sizeable loss of
these jobs may be attributed to some of the following factors: technological
advancements leading to more efficiency, local/regional/global economic
restructuring, outsourcing, and industrial displacement.
•
From 1998 to 2003, the large decline in manufacturing jobs was met with sizeable
job growth in the Retail industry and Accommodation and Food Services
industry.
•
Despite the overall loss of jobs in the manufacturing industry, the Plastics and
Rubber Products Manufacturing, Machinery Manufacturing, and Electrical
Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing sectors experienced a
large percentage growth in employment during this time period. Such findings
shed a little optimism on the potential of the manufacturing sector.
•
Although the manufacturing industry has a strong presence in the downtown area,
it is primarily due to the strength of Los Angeles’ fashion industry. Apparel
Manufacturing accounts for approximately 75 percent of all manufacturing
establishments and 65 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the downtown area.
The size of this industry and average wages for typical jobs in this industry leads
us to the unfortunate conclusion that a majority of the downtown area’s
manufacturing jobs are NOT quality jobs.
•
Despite the dominance of the apparel industry, there are other manufacturing jobs
in Los Angeles that potentially pay higher wages than Apparel Manufacturing and
service sector jobs. Based on national wage data for production workers in the
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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manufacturing sector, all manufacturing sectors except for Apparel
Manufacturing pay wages greater than the living wage rate in Los Angeles. The
City of Los Angeles currently has the living wage rate set at $10.64 (without
health benefits).
•
Manufacturing jobs that potentially pay more than $14.00 per hour and have
experienced some degree of employment growth from 1998 to 2003 are: 1)
Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing; 2) Chemical Manufacturing; 3)
Machinery Manufacturing; 4) Electrical Equipment; Appliance; and Component
Manufacturing; and 5) Transportation Equipment Manufacturing.
•
Manufacturing jobs, themselves, do not translate into better wages or working
conditions. Although mean hourly wages are generally higher in manufacturing
jobs than low-skilled service jobs, entry-level production positions in
manufacturing industries most likely pay low wages or require a specific skill-set.
To capitalize on the potential for higher wages and occupational ladders in the
manufacturing industry, worker training and unionization could play a vital role.
Manufacturing establishments in the downtown area are largely small in size. They do
not hold true to the images of large-scale, “smokestack” style businesses that are often
associated with industrial spaces. While these businesses do not provide the large
number of jobs that we would like to see, they have the potential to be a great economic
opportunity for the City, as they are often sources of innovation and growth. The
different size and function of modern manufacturing requires appropriate infrastructure to
support its needs.
4.7 ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF
DOWNTOWN MANUFACTURING:
IMPLAN ANALYSIS
About IMPLAN: IMPLAN Professional® is an economic impact assessment software system.
IMPLAN Professional, combined with IMPLAN® Data Files, allows the user to develop local level
input-output models that can estimate the economic impact of new firms moving into an area,
professional sports teams, recreation and tourism, and many more activities.
To model the potential loss of these manufacturing jobs in downtown, we used Economic
Census data and IMPLAN to simulate the loss of 5 percent, 25 percent and 50 percent of
jobs in each of the IMPLAN sectors listed in Table 4-12 in Appendix E. Table 4-13
below summarizes the total losses to the Los Angeles County economy a year after the
loss of the manufacturing jobs downtown.
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Table 4-13
Summary of Output Impacts
Impact
Direct
Indirect
Induced
Total
5% Decrease
-$108,124,752
-$43,983,005
-$28,976,624
-$181,084,382
25% Decrease
-$535,110,795
-$217,551,939
-$143,368,216
-$896,030,948
50% Decrease
-$1,073,444,932
-$436,306,801
-$287,598,053
-$1,797,349,806
Summary of Employment Impacts
Impact
Direct
Indirect
Induced
Total
5% Decrease
-817
-337.8
-276.1
-1,430.8
25% Decrease
-4,058
-1,672.4
-1,365.8
-7,096.2
50% Decrease
-8,138
-3,353.4
-2,739.9
-14,231.3
Summary of Labor Income Impacts
Impact
Direct
Indirect
Induced
Total
5% Decrease
-$22,622,004
-$15,521,008
-$10,250,976
-$48,393,987
25% Decrease
-$111,995,834
-$76,785,473
-$50,718,937
-$239,500,244
50% Decrease
-$224,739,984
-$154,008,394
-$101,742,671
-$480,491,053
The Importance of Manufacturing in the Local Economy: These values paint a picture of
what the potential impact of losing manufacturing jobs in Downtown L.A. would do to
the local economy. According to IMPLAN, manufacturing’s employment multiplier is
1.96, meaning that for every job directly created by the manufacturing industry, another
0.96 jobs are created indirectly. For example, although a five percent decline in
manufacturing employment equates to the loss of 817 jobs, the indirect and induced
impacts drastically raises the number of job losses to approximately 1,431.
The output multiplier values indicate manufacturing (1.67) has the greatest multiplier
effect on other local industries. For every dollar that is spent in manufacturing, 0.67
dollars is generated in other industries in the Los Angeles County. Other industries that
have a strong output multiplier include Construction (1.62), Mining (1.50) and
Accommodation & Food Services (1.46).
Similarly, the Value Added multiplier indicates that Manufacturing has the greatest
multiplier impact of all industries (2.03). For every one dollar generated through value
added in manufacturing, 1.03 dollars is generated in the form of either employee
compensation, proprietary income, other property type income, or indirect business taxes.
Construction (1.76) and Mining (1.76) both also have strong multiplier effects.
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These multipliers provide insight into which industries are strong players in the
local/regional economy. Manufacturing stands out as an important industry for Los
Angeles County and the loss of employment in the industry may result in adverse
employment, value added, and output impacts for the region.
Output Impacts: The following sections explore further in depth the specific sectors of
manufacturing that will be hit hardest by a 25 percent decline in manufacturing
employment in Downtown LA. Losing 4,058 jobs in manufacturing would result in a
loss of $896,030,948 to Outputs in the Los Angeles County economy. The other
aggregated industries that have suffered from the impact include Wholesale Trade,
Finance and Insurance, Real Estate and Rental, Professional Scientific & Technical
Services and Government and Non-NAICS industries.
Please refer to Table 4-14 in Appendix E for a detailed summary of the top five Direct,
Indirect, Induced and Total Losses to Output.
Direct losses to output are associated with the jobs we removed from the model to
represent the 25 percent job loss in downtown manufacturing employment. The indirect
losses are a result of inter-industry transactions that have been impacted by the decline in
employment and the induced losses reflect changes in local spending.
The manufacturing sectors which have taken the largest financial hit are in the Apparel,
Jewelry, Seafood, and Commercial Printing sectors. Naturally the model shows that the
indirect losses to output are in industries that support the manufacturing sector, such as
Wholesale Trade, Management of Companies and Enterprise, and Truck Transportation.
The induced losses to output come from industries that service residents such as housing,
restaurant dining, and health care.
Refer to Table 4-15 in Appendix E for a list of Output Impacts for Aggregated Industries.
Employment Impacts: Although the impact only involved removing manufacturing jobs,
there were several other industries that were substantially affected. The Wholesale
Trade, Retail Trade, Professional Scientific and Tech Services, Administrative and Waste
Services, Health and Social Services and Accommodation and Food services lost over
200 jobs each. The total employment impact nearly doubled from the original job loss of
4,058 to 7,096. The total employment impact only represents a loss of 0.03 percent of all
employment in Los Angeles County.
Please refer to Table 4-16 in Appendix E for a detailed summary of the top five Direct,
Indirect, Induced and Total Losses to Employment.
The loss of manufacturing jobs permeated into the non-manufacturing sectors of
Wholesale Trade and Management of Companies and Enterprises, and Employment
services. The decline in employment in Food Services and Drinking Places may be
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attributed to decreased patronage from local residents who now have less disposable
income due to the region’s employment losses.
Refer to Table 4-17 and 4-18 in Appendix E for a list of Employment Impacts for
Aggregated Industries and changes in employment levels in the various industries after
the loss of manufacturing jobs.
Labor Income Impacts: The total loss of labor income also impacted the same industries
that were hit by the largest employment impact. The Securities, Commodity Contracts,
and Investments Industry also experienced one of the largest total losses to labor income
although they were not one of the top industries impacted by employment losses. This
suggests that wages in that industry may be higher than the other industries.
Please refer to Table 4-19 in Appendix E for a detailed summary of the top five Direct,
Indirect, Induced and Total Losses to Labor Income.
Aside from Manufacturing, the aggregate labor income losses were greatest to the
Wholesale Trade, Professional Scientific and Tech Services, Health and Social Services,
Administrative and Waste Services, and Transportation and Warehousing industries.
Refer to Table 4-20 in Appendix E for a list of Labor Income Impacts for Aggregated
Industries.
Conclusion: Although the loss of 7,096 manufacturing jobs in Downtown Los Angeles
only accounts for a 0.03 percent decline in the County’s total employment, the impact of
the loss has the potential to spread through the local economy and negatively impact
other industries beyond manufacturing. The IMPLAN model indicates that the largest
losses to output within manufacturing would come from the Apparel, Jewelry, Seafood,
and Commercial Printing sectors. The loss of labor income to the region would
consequently cause service industries to suffer given than their customer base may no
longer be employed and as a result would decrease their consumption.
Less than a one percent change in L.A. County employment does not sound like much,
however, there is also a spatial dynamic to how these losses will be distributed
throughout the region. It is likely that the communities surrounding downtown would
suffer disproportionately.
The final decisions about re-zoning industrial land in the city have not yet been finalized.
The proponents of re-zoning industrial land bring forth plausible arguments about a need
for more housing, the incompatible conditions of industrial spaces for modern industrial
uses, and changes in the New Economy that no longer demand the same types of
industrial spaces. Yet the CRA is concerned with the preservation of the land because
once the zoning is changed, it is highly unlikely that it will ever be rezoned back to
industrial. Along with the permanent loss of industrial land is a dilemma about workers
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and where they will go. At the UCLA Urban Planning Department’s
“Deindustrialization, Re-industrialization and Housing in America's Urban Regions Lessons for Los Angeles” workshop, Donald Spivack (Deputy Administrator of the
CRA/LA) shared that the CRA does not believe that the education system, transportation
system, and local government is prepared to address the needs of the working population
that would be impacted by the loss of industrial jobs in the city.
Another thing to consider is that the conversion of industrial land to residential uses does
not effectively address the city’s current housing crisis. Most of the spaces are being
converted into expensive lofts, condos and live/work places with little mention of an
affordable housing component. Perhaps with the loss of industrial employment,
occupations related to housing construction would increase and offset the initial
employment losses to manufacturing – however the permanence of those jobs is
questionable.
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4.8 CASE STUDIES: STRATEGIES AND BEST
PRACTICES
Chicago and Industrial Retention
Chicago has had a long history of housing heavy manufacturing industries. Prior to the
great decline of manufacturing in the United States, Chicago along with places such as
Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit were all considered Rust Belt cities. Although the
country has experienced the outward movement of heavy industries from the United
States to other places where production is done cheaper, Chicago has made proactive
attempts to retain its industries. Around the 1970s, Chicago began facing pressures of
gentrification and deindustrialization. Developers started targeting industrial land as ideal
spaces for commercial and residential conversion to attract the downtown working
population. As a result of the destabilized market, manufacturers began leaving
Chicago’s industrial area. In an attempt to curb the departure of manufacturing firms
from the city, Chicago implemented a variety of programs to address industrial
displacement (Rast, 2001).
Although industries are pressured outwards by globalization and by local forces that call
for “better uses” of industrial land, we firmly believe that a healthy city must consciously
make an effort to sustain a balanced economy. We cite Chicago’s industrial retention
programs as a model of best practices. Three strategies utilized by Chicago to support
their industrial sector include:
y The establishment of Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMD)
y Industrial Retention & Expansion (IRE) programs carried out by a local
nonprofit agency
y Industrial Tax Increment Financing Zones (TIF)
Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMD)
y What it is: A protective zoning measure that would designate the industrial district
as a Planned Manufacturing District (PMD). PMD zoning establishes heavy
restrictions against the use of industrial land for incompatible uses as a strategy to
protect industrial firms (Rast, 2001). It is essentially a permanent policy.
y
Process for PMD creation: (Seattle Planning Commission, 2005)
o City undergoes a study of the proposed area and meets the established
requirements
o Community meetings are held
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o Planning Commission votes and makes a recommendation to City Council
o City Council makes the final decision to adopt PMD
y
Why it works: It creates a stable and predictable environment for industry by
controlling for speculative development. It also prohibits any incompatible uses such
as residential, commercial, and live/work spaces from being developed in the PMD.
y
How it applies to LA: As we mentioned in our forces section, one of the key drivers
for conversion of industrial space comes from the hype surrounding the
transformation of Downtown Los Angeles into a 24-hour entertainment hub. The
momentum surrounding the new downtown has led to increased loft and condo
conversion in industrial spaces. A PMD zone in the Downtown Industrial District
would prevent developers from purchasing industrial land at lower prices and turning
the spaces into non-industrial uses.
Industrial & Retention Expansion Programs (IRE)
y What it is: A program that is carried out by a local non-profit or governmental
organization aimed to support local manufacturing firms to stay and grow (Mayer,
1999). IRE programs use preventative measures to keep firms from leaving a locality
by working with them to address their business needs and also by building and
maintaining the relationship between firms, government and workers.
y
Why it works: The organization works as an intermediary between firms and
workers. In Chicago, the Jane Addams Resource Center (JARC), who serves the
metal stamping and related fabrication industry, works to ensure that the firms had a
readily qualified labor pool, help to coordinate school-to-work programs, provide
adult basic education and an introduction to manufacturing. To maintain open lines
of communication with the firms, JARC also focuses on retention services to
manufacturers that included peer learning support groups, development and
management of smaller industrial spaces, marketing assistance, and planning and
advocacy (Mayer, 1999).
y
How it applies to LA: If Los Angeles is to preserve its industrially zoned land, it
must complement the industrial land zoning with industrial retention programs that
create a supportive environment that encourages firms to stay and grow in an area.
Simply keeping a piece of land zoned industrial does not guarantee that there is
enough incentive to remain in the city, or that there will be a skilled labor force that
meets a firm’s needs, or that a firm will provide a community with quality jobs. By
involving a third party that actively participates in holding a firm accountable to the
workforce and socializing a workforce to a particular industry, the outcome is a more
holistic strategy that both protects industrial land and clearly develops a long-term
strategy to retain the industry and justifies that it is indeed the best use for the land.
Perhaps we can learn from Chicago’s model by incorporating an IRE program that
would encourage industry retention and growth within the city. The industries that
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the city chooses to support should be ones that have a sustainable future and meet the
needs of the New Economy.
Industrial Tax Increment Financing Zones (TIF)
y What it is: Tax Increment Financing is a strategy used by public agencies to raise
money by collecting all (or some) of the increased tax revenue that is a result of
increased private development within a designated Industrial TIF Zone. According to
one definition, TIF is defined as “a financing method which uses the additional taxes
generated by a completed development to pay for development costs such as land
acquisition and site improvements. The difference between the taxes before the
development occurs and after its completion is referred to as the ‘increment.’ The
City must create a Tax Increment Financing District according to state statute. It
must meet criteria related to evidence of blight, extent of unemployment and other
standards related to redevelopment districts” (Twin Cities LISC, 2007).
y
Why it works: This strategy is a way for local government agencies to collect tax
dollars without raising local taxes. The money that is generated goes back to the
district to upgrade infrastructure and for job creation programs.
How it applies to LA: Chicago usually couples PMDs with TIFs to generate funds to
upgrade infrastructure and provide services to firms in their PMDs . If Los Angeles
decided to designate the Downtown Industrial District as a PMD then a TIF might also be
a good idea as a way to generate financial resources to improve the District since many of
the arguments against retaining industrial zoning are focused on how the roads, buildings,
and infrastructure in the district are no longer compatible with modern industrial uses.
The money raised could also be applied towards creating an IRE program.
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San Francisco’s Eastern Neighborhoods
In the late 1990s, San Francisco was forced to address the infringement on their industrial
land by new residential developments. Given that a majority of San Francisco’s
industrial land is concentrated in its eastern neighborhoods (South of Market, the
Mission, Showplace Square/Potrero, the Central Waterfront and Visitacion Valley), the
loss of industrial land to non-industrial uses would potentially have a significant spatial
impact on the city. There was significant neighborhood opposition to the construction of
live/work developments on industrial land and although the Planning Department began
working on the issue in 1997, it failed to conduct outreach to communities for input until
2001 (SF Board of Supervisors, 2007). During this period, organized community
members of the Mission District developed their own interim zoning controls which were
adopted by the Board of Supervisors without any involvement from the Planning
Department.
Industrial Protection Zones (IPZ)
The Industrial Protection Zone (IPZ) interim controls did three things:
1. Prohibit the construction of housing, including live/work projects, in IPZs
2. Required conditional use approval for live/work projects in industrial buffer zones
3. Permitted live/work projects in mixed use housing zones
IPZs were established to place controls on industrial land while the city completes their
rezoning process, which is expected to last until 2008. In the meantime, IPZs serve as a
mechanism to restrict any non-Production, Repair, and Distribution (PRD) uses,
including residential and live-work spaces, in industrial districts. Office spaces were also
prohibited unless the developer could prove that the office is “determined to be an
accessory to a permitted industrial use” (San Francisco Municipal Code, Added by Ord.
5-02, File No. 011638). The city wanted to stall any conversion of industrial land until
they completed their assessment of which industrial lands were important to preserve.
In 2005 the department underwent a study to assess the potential loss of this industrial
land on San Francisco’s future economic base. The study specifically analyzed PRD
uses. Their findings indicated that the City could expect growth in these sectors,
therefore industrial land would be needed to house these jobs. PRD uses are defined by
the city as Publishing, Audio/Visual, Arts, Fashion, Transport, Food/Event, Interior
Design, Construction, Equipment, Motor Vehicles, and Other. IPZs are currently
classified as a Special Use District (Municipal Code Section 249.22) but the City is
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moving towards adopting permanent zoning controls in appropriate districts (SF Planning
Department, 2005).
The Mission Anti-Displacement Partnership
Given that community organizations were not initially included in the discussion around
the community planning process, in 2000 the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition
(MADC) organized to establish interim zoning controls mentioned above independent of
the Planning Department. They also put forth what they called “The People’s Plan for
Jobs, Housing, and Community.” The Plan, formed out of community surveys and focus
groups, outlined the various types of development they would like to see in the Mission
District – including affordable housing, open spaces, historic and cultural resources, and
economic development. One of the main ideas that we would like to draw upon for this
project is the concept of the Public Benefits Incentive Zoning. The coalition proposed
the Public Benefits Overlay Zoning as a way to extract community benefits from land
that is rezoned (MAP, 2005). Although it does not appear as though the city incorporated
the Public Benefits Overlay Zoning into their municipal code, we feel that the concept is
one that may be applicable to the City of Los Angeles.
Public Benefits Overlay Zoning
The objective of Public Benefits Overlay Zoning applies to “parcels that have received
increased development potential through re-zonings. Further, Public Benefits shall only
apply to sites 10,000 square feet or larger; and in all subdivisions and lot line adjustments
of properties 10,000 square feet or larger” (MAP, 2005). Developers are expected to
submit a public benefits package along with their project proposal to the Planning
Department. The benefits could be either on-site or in-lieu fees calculated by the City
Planning Department using the assessed increased land value. Some of the public
benefits prioritized by the Mission District community include affordable housing,
publicly accessible open space, community serving space, and PDR space.
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Minneapolis Industrial Land & Employment Strategy (MILES)
Current Barriers to Manufacturing in Minneapolis
The City of Minneapolis created a directive to rezone residential and commercial land for
light manufacturing purposes. Since the 1980s the City of Minneapolis has experienced a
decline in its total manufacturing employment by 23,300 jobs (Tetzlaff, 2007). These
jobs paid above average wages annually and provided 14 percent of the city’s total
employment, approximately 40,400 jobs. Light manufacturing not only benefited its
residents but also fueled the local economy and supported trade.
The manufacturers that left claimed Minneapolis no longer provided land that was
conducive to modern manufacturing needs. According to a 1988 migration study,
manufacturers cited issues with space for expansion as their major reason for leaving.
Therefore this directive proposes to bring back high wage jobs and boost employment
while meeting infrastructure needs of the manufacturers. In response to this problem the
City of Minneapolis Community Planning & Economic Development (CPED) presented
the following strategy:
•
Minneapolis Industrial Land and Employment Strategy (MILES)
Minneapolis Industrial Land and Employment Strategy (MILES)
•
What it is: This strategy will target blighted industrial land for revitalization by
marketing it to new businesses. Second, the Department of Community Planning &
Economic Development (CPED) and the Planning Department will engage in a blight
analysis on blighted residential and commercial land with the goal of conversion to
industrial purposes. This strategy maintains four objectives:
•
•
•
•
Promote good jobs,
Make neighborhood improvements,
Support and expand the City’s tax base,
Ensure the needs of light manufacturing businesses.
The program will be initially financed by $11 million from the common projects fund
over a four year period. The CPED anticipates future funding through a bond issued
by the City of Minneapolis; this will require a vote by the City Council. This money
will be used to purchase underutilized land. The land will be placed in a land lease
program.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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•
Why it works: The MILES program targets blighted land with significant acreage
for conversion to industrial uses. The result is the creation of a pool of available land
for light manufacturers to rent. The City maintains control over the land. By
allowing public control of land, the City undermines speculative market forces that
result in gentrification. Therefore, this strategy cultivates a friendly business climate
that will result in new jobs, good wages, and preserves neighborhoods.
•
How it applies to LA: This strategy can mitigate the effect of speculative and
market forces by public ownership of the land. If the City of Los Angeles owned the
land, they would be in a position to leverage benefits for the community and maintain
affordable prices for housing that is in close proximity to good jobs. This allows lowincome workers to live close to their work.
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City Of New York Industrial Retention & Expansion
As is the case in Los Angeles and other major metropolitan cities in the New Economy,
the profile of firms in the manufacturing industry in New York City has shifted from
large, prominent firms to small, specialized firms. Small firms representing a myriad of
New York City niche markets such as food production, furniture design, and printing
have taken the place of the oil refineries and mass production plants. Nevertheless, the
total of these smaller firms represent a significant number of jobs in the city and make a
significant contribution to the local economy. One recent case study heralded that, despite
the scaling down of firms, the City’s food production industry is a $5 billion dollar
industry that represents over 33,000 jobs provided by 900 local food manufacturers
(NYIRN, 2007). With high job density in industries such as apparel, jewelry, and
publishing, many of these firms are faced with the question of whether to remain in
central business districts or relocate to manufacturing clusters, as they are priced out of
the local area. Recent policy has endeavored to promote proper zoning enforcement and
planning that will enable the growth and retention of the remaining industry, and recluster industrial firms on industrially zoned land.
Industrial Business Zones
•
What it is: Established in 2005, the Industrial Business Zones (IBZ) Program builds
upon the city’s In-Place Industrial Park Program (IPIP; see below). Whereas the IPIP
experienced success in the leveraging of resources and provision of technical
assistance through local development corporations, the program did not provide any
tax credits or exemptions for firms located within designated boundaries. The IBZ
program does. With the changing dynamics of some of the IPIP area, IBZs fosters the
creation of new geographic areas that adds to and updates IPIP designations
(particularly those which may not have been as successful as others) to better reflect
the city’s most productive industrial districts.
IBZ boundaries are based on the following factors: 1) existing land uses; 2) the
neighborhood’s industrial character; 3) no as-of-right zoning for new residential
development; 4) traffic patterns; and 5) Empire Zone boundaries (New York State’s
Empire Zone program was created to stimulate economic growth through a variety of
State tax incentives designed to attract new and retain existing businesses). The
program implements the following initiatives in the designated areas:
1. A guarantee to not rezone to allow residential uses
2. The establishment of a new relocation credit for industrial businesses
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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3. The facilitation of area planning to identify individual IBZ solutions
4. An IBZ marketing plan (to new, expanding, or relocating businesses)
In 2006, the NYC Office of the Mayor created 16 Industrial Business Zones across
the City that provided expanded business services for industrial and manufacturing
firms. The program offers small manufacturing and industrial firms a relocation tax
credit of $1,000 per employee for electing to relocate within the Industrial Business
Zones. In addition to several business tax credits, these firms are also eligible for jobtraining grants and other customized governmental assistance.
•
Why it works: The tax incentives are presumed to be a major advantage (as seen in
successful examples), particularly since the City implemented them as a direct
response to issues not sufficiently resolved by the IPIP program. The IBZ program
primarily provides tax credits to firms who instead relocate to a designated IBZ so as
to: 1) assist and retain industrial companies for whom lease renewal or expansion at
the current location is not feasible (surveys have shown that as residential
development prices out many of the small firms who lease, these firms tend to
relocate outside of the city boundaries but within the state); 2) attract and keep
industrial companies within IBZs (and the Brooklyn Navy Yard); and 3) help
industrial companies recoup relocation expenses.
•
How it applies to LA:
The fact that the IBZ program represents an updated version of the IPIP program
fosters the understanding that this endeavor requires continuous review so that
policies are updated to reflect emerging trends in the manufacturing industry and to
address issues and problems that current initiatives inefficiently address. In addition,
with the City of L.A. currently at the crossroads of deciding which course of action to
take, the IBZ program’s halt on further residential development in industrial zones
and establishment of a tax credit takes proactive steps toward taking a specific stance
in support of industrial retention and expansion. It establishes a formal policy to
expand industry, which remains a significant provider of jobs to local residents and
prevents market forces from effecting the City’s composition in the manner that
occurred previously before the City made a commitment to create and enforce
industrial retention zoning, policies, and regulations.
In-Place Industrial Parks (IPIP) Program
•
What it is: A precursor to the Industrial Business Zones Initiative, the In-Place
Industrial Park Program (IPIP) was established in 1980 to designate geographic
boundaries in which manufacturing firms located within these boundaries could be
targeted with a host of technical assistance services and resources from the city. This
strategy endeavored to create state-of-the-art industrial parks that addressed the
causes that were motivating many manufacturing firms to leave the city. The program
involves a partnership between the City’s Economic Development Corporation
(EDC), the firms and businesses that operate within the IPIP boundaries, and
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Page 4-55
nonprofit Local Development Corporations (LDCs). For the current eight IPIPs,
LDCs assist the EDC in managing the parks, operating business assistance programs
(for manufacturers within the designated IPIP boundary), and coordinating on-site
management, infrastructure improvements, and security. In addition, all of the IPIP
areas, with the exception of one, also benefit from the support of other underlying,
geographically based programs, such as New York State Empire Zones, Federal
Empowerment Zones, and local Economic Development Zones.
•
Why it works: The City of New York leverages the various community-based
organizations that serve the manufacturing population, in which the IPIP program
exemplifies this. The relationship that the city has with the Local Development
Corporation and the management and service provision charge of the LDC serves as
the primary advantage of the IPIP program and the primary benefit of a firm being
located in an IPIP area. Firms benefit from an expedited handling of issues and
problems because the local IPIP managing LDC is knowledgeable and networked in
the City’s infrastructure for managing such problems.
•
How it applies to LA: This program suggests the importance of involving local
community development corporations in the process of industrial retention and
expansion. Furthermore, this program reveals such involvement as crucial to the
success and efficacy of an IRE strategy. The City of L.A. could benefit from such a
strategy in that it alleviates some of the burden of management, service coordination
and delivery, monitoring, and processing, and relinquishes it to a local authority that
is knowledgeable in the needs and issues that their local manufacturers face. In
addition, it lays the foundation for coalition and relationship building with existing
industrial advocacy organizations. It has also opened the door for the creation of
others and enables the City to leverage resources by working in coalition with other
organizations and by not having to address the problem on its own.
The New York Industrial Retention Network (http://www.nyirn.org/)
•
What it is:
NYIRN is a citywide economic development organization established to strengthen
the manufacturing sector and save manufacturing jobs. NYIRN provides services to
400-500 companies each year, such as helping them find space, reduce energy
consumption, and apply for city and state programs. More than 100 organizations
participate in NYIRN’s network to help identify at-risk companies and provide them
with services to relocate, improve technology, find employees, access financing to
increase their competitiveness and strengthen their commitment to New York.
•
Why it works: Within its first three years of operations, NYIRN helped more than
500 companies by providing information and provided more than 700 referrals to
city, state and local programs. These referrals helped the companies find the services
they needed, and helped the network participants fulfill their missions, whether that
meant finding jobs for dislocated workers, providing financing for new businesses or
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Page 4-56
attracting companies to an industrial park. The program also serves as a source of
research and advocacy, producing such reports as the “More Than a Link in the Food
Chain,” a study commissioned by the Mayor’s Office for Industrial and
Manufacturing Businesses, that revealed food production as one of the City’s most
robust manufacturing sectors, with 900 local food manufacturers supporting jobs for
33,800 New Yorkers and resulting in $5 billion in sales annually. The program also
provides a resource database, which makes it easy for manufacturers to search and
find resources in their geographic area for everything from business planning to
financing to relocation incentives are available to manufacturers.
•
How it applies to LA:
The NYIRN helps to leverage a community-based approach and advocacy for
industrial retention and expansion. A technical assistance organization such as
NYIRN assists with the implementation of industrial retention and expansion
strategies, helping companies obtain the services they need to grow and remain in the
area, and making available the research skills and assistance to assess the efficacy and
success of implemented strategies and in the collaboration with the City of New York
on new initiatives. With the City of Los Angeles leaning towards industrial retention
and expansion, finding key leaders, business and labor representatives, and advocacy
organizations in support of industrial retention proves essential. Such an organization
can help garner support for industrial retention, involve a contribution of experts,
laborers, and business owners, and assist in the on-the-ground coordination,
management, resource sharing, troubleshooting, and technical assistance needed for a
successful IRE program. The City of L.A. has the opportunity to bring these parties
together to create a formal network such as NYIRN that can assist in the
implementation, maintenance, and sustainability of the City’s IRE strategies.
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4.9 RECOMMENDATIONS
The objective of our paper is to share knowledge with a wider audience of constituents
who have a stake in the City’s industrial land. We firmly believe that this matter is
relevant to all residents, businesses and workers in Los Angeles because the fate of
industrial land is closely linked to the livelihood of our communities, the local and
regional economy, and the overall vitality of our city. To that end, we would like to
reassert our position that this is an issue of the Right to the City. The bottom line is that
preserving industrial land is a start to prioritizing and securing the right of residents and
their children to have access to local quality jobs.
Throughout the course of this project we have carefully reviewed City Planning and the
CRA’s extensive Industrial Land Use Policy Project and have listened to both sides of the
debate surrounding industrial preservation. To build on that existing knowledge, we
began by researching the history of industrial land in Downtown L.A. What we found
was that the residential-industrial controversy surrounding land use in downtown dates
back to the early 1900s. The only difference with the present-day situation is that for the
first time, market forces are favoring residential uses over industrial uses.
While we firmly support development that expands the City’s housing stock, we quickly
learned that the type of residential development encroaching on downtown industrial land
is largely inaccessible to working class families. The public debate surrounding the issue
has been framed as housing versus jobs because there is a false misconception that
inexpensive industrial land will address the City’s affordable housing shortage.
Unfortunately only 3 percent of the new units built on industrial land in the past five
years have been affordable, and as we mentioned earlier, the average loft in Downtown
L.A. is selling for $651,000 (LA City Planning Department, 2006). Developers who are
purchasing industrial land for lower prices are enjoying high returns to their investments.
Property owners wishing to cash in on a favorable market argue that since manufacturing
and jobs have already left Downtown L.A., we should allow developers to enter the area
to invest in infrastructure upgrades (Lopez, 2007). There is truth to the argument that the
New Economy has evolved and that traditional manufacturing is no longer the backbone
of American cities. The California Employment Development Department (2002)
anticipates the largest employment growth in L.A. County to be in Education and Health
Services and Leisure and Hospitality sectors (CEDD, 2007). This raised questions about
whether or not industrial land, at its current state, will be able to meet the city’s future
needs.
We conducted our own analysis of the industries currently housed in the Downtown area.
We posed questions to ourselves about whether or not these are quality jobs. What types
of wages do they pay? Have they experienced growth in recent years? The primary
focus of our quantitative analysis aimed to profile the manufacturing sectors because
manufacturing jobs have typically been associated with higher wages than service and
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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retail occupations. Using Economic Census data, we estimate that there are over 30,000
industrial jobs in our downtown area of focus, with manufacturing as the largest
employer. Although manufacturing employment has experienced a steady decline in Los
Angeles, the Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing, Machinery Manufacturing,
and Electrical Equipment, Appliance and Component Manufacturing sectors have grown
in recent years. Most manufacturing firms in downtown are typically small and do not
carry out smokestack activities. The largest manufacturing employer is the Apparel
sector; however given their low average hourly wages, the sector does not fit into our
description of a quality job provider.
We further built on our analysis of Economic Census data by using IMPLAN, an
economic impact assessment software system. We used the program to model the impact
of removing five percent, 25 percent, and 50 percent of the manufacturing jobs in our
geographic area to simulate how the job loss would permeate throughout the economy. If
we were to lose even five percent (n=817) of the manufacturing employment in
downtown over the next year, the result would be an overall loss of approximately 1,431
jobs throughout the local economy. Given that manufacturing has the highest
employment, output, and value added multipliers, a negative impact on manufacturing
employment is felt by other industries throughout the region.
We have combined our research and knowledge, with that of the Department of City
Planning, the CRA, and other cities facing the same challenges, to come up with
strategies to first and foremost preserve industrial land. Throughout the research process,
however, we have also become very cognizant of the fact that preservation alone will not
ensure quality jobs for L.A.’s residents. For this reason, we have also incorporated
strategies to retain and expand industrial jobs, improve industrial areas, and maximize
public benefits. The following section outlines these strategies.
A Strategy for Los Angeles
I. Objective: PRESERVATION
Strategy 1: Interim Controls – i.e. an Industrial Protection Zone (IPZ)
Currently the City is permitting conversions on industrial land on a case-by-case
basis. While this gives the City discretion over which projects to approve, a more
focused and consistent policy such as IPZs can help stabilize land values and curb
speculative development until more permanent zoning policies are implemented.
San Francisco created IPZs as a temporary measure to protect their industrial land
until their rezoning process concludes in 2008. L.A.’s current discretionary
approach to granting permits and applications may inadvertently result is scattered
development and conflicting land uses. We propose that the City adopt an interim
ordinance prohibiting uses that may be in conflict with the City’s General Plan
until they complete their final recommendations and the changes go through the
community planning process.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Strategy 2: Permanent Controls – i.e. Planned Manufacturing Districts
(PMD)/Industrial Business Zones (IBZ)
So far, City Planning and the CRA’s preliminary recommendations suggest that
approximately 83 percent of the City’s industrial land will remain zoned
industrial. We believe that the city should take this a step further by adopting
permanent, protective zoning controls to create industrial sanctuaries. We draw
on the example of Chicago’s Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMD) and New
York’s Industrial Business Zones (IBZ). These protective zoning measures place
heavy restrictions on non-industrial uses entering designated districts. By
stabilizing land values and providing a secure environment for industrial
activities, we believe there is a greater likelihood that the City, businesses, and
property owners will invest in improving the area’s infrastructure and upgrading
properties. Furthermore, by truly protecting the industrial area, we are investing
in our future economy by ensuring that future industries have the opportunity to
grow and expand in the city.
The growth and decline of certain industries represents the outcomes of
uncontrollable market forces. We fully understand that we cannot control the
forces that guide the local, regional, and global economy. However, we can
control the migration of firms due to poor infrastructure and some of the
displacement of manufacturing due to zoning changes. We can create a climate
and establish policies that help retain existing jobs and attract quality jobs.
II. Objective: RETENTION & EXPANSION
Strategy 1: Industrial Retention & Expansion Programs (IRE)
Manufacturing is one of our City’s unique assets. Although there has been an
overall exodus of manufacturing from the U.S., Los Angeles still boasts of the
strongest manufacturing base in the country (LAEDC, 2007). We mentioned
earlier that there are several industries (Plastics, Machinery, Electrical Equipment,
Appliance and Component Manufacturing) that have experienced growth from
1998 to 2003. To cultivate and nourish this growth, an IRE program could be
implemented to support these sectors. In our case study of Chicago, we found
that the JARC (who serves the metal stamping and related fabrication) was
successful in serving both the business community and the local workforce. They
worked closely with firms to address their needs and concerns to prevent
businesses from leaving the area. They also developed networks between firms to
facilitate peer learning support. Local workers gain from IRE programs because
they include workforce development and education programs. Los Angeles could
benefit from such a strategy because it increases the competitiveness of local
firms and increases opportunities for local employment.
A business retention strategy would be the next step after securing permanent
controls over zoning of industrial land. The CRA and City Planning (2007) found
that industrial land in downtown is often utilized for small business formation,
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Page 4-60
therefore, we should aim to create an environment that supports their growth and
retention. Small businesses, which account for three-fourths of all businesses in
L.A., can have a significant economic impact in our local economy if they are
provided with the necessary support to grow and expand (Klowden, 2006). IRE
programs provide a way for the public sector promote downtown’s incubator
function and to actively engage with small businesses to foster entrepreneurship
and innovation in order to secure L.A.’s role in the New Economy.
III. Objective: IMPROVEMENT
Strategy 1: Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
It is no secret that the industrial districts in Downtown L.A. are in poor condition.
Estela Lopez of the Central City East Association (2007) and Councilman Jose
Huizar (2007) have both argued that the industrial land in their districts is no
longer suitable for industrial uses. Decades of neglect from the city and property
owners have resulted in poor infrastructure and aging properties, making
conversion an appealing alternative to preservation.
Given the high cost of upgrading the industrial district, we propose that once
protective zoning measures are implemented to stabilize land uses and land
values, a financing strategy follow to raise funds for modernization. Chicago
typically couples PMDs with Industrial TIF Zones. A TIF would raise money for
the industrial district and use the funds collected from additional tax revenue to
reinvest in infrastructure upgrades, support an IRE program, or create workforce
training programs. The steady stream of tax revenues could contribute to the
stability of the district.
IV. Objective: PUBLIC BENEFITS
Strategy 1: Public Benefits Overlay Zoning
We learned about the Public Benefits Overlay Zoning strategy through our case
study of San Francisco. The Mission District Anti-Displacement Partnership
incorporated the overlay zoning to their proposal as a way for the local
community to extract benefits from new development in their neighborhood. The
preliminary recommendations proposed by City Planning lead suggest that
approximately 17 percent of the City’s industrial land will be rezoned for other
uses. If this re-zoning occurs, developers will benefit from parcels that now have
greater development potential. The city can seize this opportunity to mandate
developers to provide a public benefits package along with their project proposals.
The public benefits package will be equivalent to the assessed increased land
value as calculated by City Planning. The benefits could either be on-site or inlieu fees, which could be used for affordable housing development. Earlier we
stated that the City is facing an affordable housing crisis but the conversion of
industrial land is not alleviating the problem. If industrial land is to be converted
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to residential or commercial uses then affordable housing can be prioritized
through a Public Benefits Overlay Zoning.
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4.10 CONCLUSION
Like the proponents who support converting industrial land to its “highest and best use,”
we too share in this vision, BUT from a very different perspective. We share in this
vision from the perspective that the “highest and best use” is one that stabilizes land,
preserves a diverse economy, and most importantly, provides public benefits. Without
question, our perspective favors the welfare of the larger public and greatly diverges from
the traditional definition of this phrase, which often refers to land owners’ interest in
utilizing land for its most profitable use determined by the market. The latter perspective
largely supports parochial interests, encourages land speculation, and drives prospects for
windfall profits. The inherent difference in perspectives is what ultimately leads to
contentious battles over land and how it should be utilized. In the case of Downtown Los
Angeles, it boils down to what is the “highest and best use” for its industrial spaces and
who it should benefit. Will decision-makers be swayed by private interests and market
forces, or will they prioritize the larger public good and long-term economic
sustainability of the City? Although the question remains, decisions are imminent.
As the situation currently stands, the decision-makers who will determine the fate of
industrial land in Downtown Los Angeles seem to be leaning in favor of preserving a
large portion of these spaces. This is optimistic, but still yet to be determined.
Throughout our paper, we have attempted to build a case to support the preservation of
industrial land in the downtown area as a mechanism to increase one’s access to local
quality jobs. To ensure a positive outcome, we believe that the larger public –
particularly community-based organizations and labor unions who advocate on the
behalf of some of L.A.’s most vulnerable populations – must come forward to
support the issues at hand. Without their involvement, the contentious yet somewhat
obscure fight over industrial land will continue to go unnoticed by those who might
unduly bear the negative consequences of industrial displacement. Constituents must
begin to realize that they have a stake in this land and that it can contribute to the social
and economic health of their community and the city at large.
We end this paper by reiterating our contention that the conversion or displacement of
industrial land in Los Angeles directly threatens the people’s Right to the City. The
market forces and private interests that drive these activities have had there way in this
City for far too long. We believe that the preservation and investment in industrial land
can serve as just one step towards equitable policies and increasing levels of social
justice. We urge the City to not waver and to be judicious in their decision. Finally, we
urge the residents of Los Angeles to be aware of and fight against the stealth machine of
industrial displacement that systematically decreases people’s Right to a City that
provides access to quality jobs.
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Appendix A
Analysis Area
Preliminary Recommendations
Alameda:
Area 1
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current Central City North Community Plan;
allow industrial and ancillary commercial uses only.
y Identify and implement infrastructure plans and
investment strategies to facilitate industrial
uses.
y No new residential uses; existing residential
may remain.
y Recommend development of TOD Plan (for
area bound by Temple St., Santa Fe Ave. 3rd
St. and Alameda St.) as part of Civic Center
Master Plan.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current Central City North Community Plan;
allow industrial and ancillary commercial uses.
y Maintain and strengthen Artist in Residence
district; continue to allow live/work uses and
adaptive reuse for live/work functions.
y Allow new live/work residential construction
with requirement for public benefits and/or in
lieu fees for affordable artist housing, open
space, and/or amenities within the district.
y Maintain existing district scale.
y Recommend development of TOD Plan (for
area bound by Temple St., Santa Fe Ave. 3rd
St. and Alameda St.) as part of Civic Center
Master Plan.
y Develop strategies and programs to mitigate
potential loss of industrial jobs.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current Central City North Community Plan;
allow industrial and ancillary commercial uses only.
y Identify and implement infrastructure plans and
investment strategies to facilitate industrial
uses.
y No new residential uses; existing residential
may remain.
Alameda:
Area 2
Alameda:
Area 3
Alameda:
Area 4
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current Central City North Community Plan;
allow industrial and ancillary commercial uses only.
y Identify and implement infrastructure plans and
investment strategies to facilitate industrial
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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Additional
Info
About the
Area:
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 6 out of 44 (14%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 418 out of 738 (57%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 23%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 27 out of 228 (12%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 543 out of 2201 (25%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 34%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 56 out of 334 (17%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 1557 out of 3904
(40%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 76%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 41 out of 251 (16%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
Page 4-64
y
Alameda:
Area 5
Boyle
Heights: Area
1
Boyle
Heights:
Area 2
Boyle
Heights:
Area 3
Chinatown:
Area 1
uses.
No new residential uses; existing residential
may remain.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current Central City North Community Plan;
allow industrial and ancillary commercial uses only.
y Identify and implement infrastructure plans and
investment strategies to facilitate industrial
uses.
y No new residential uses; existing residential
may remain.
Preserve industrial zoning; allow industrial uses
only.
y Identify and implement infrastructure plans and
investment strategies to facilitate industrial
uses.
y As part of current community plan program:
reinforce Regional Commercial Center
designation in Boyle Heights Community Plan
for Sears site; study opportunities for pedestrian
linkages to LA River through design and
infrastructure improvements; and develop
design guidelines for industrial development.
Preserve industrial zoning; allow industrial and
commercial uses only.
y As part of current community plan program:
develop design guidelines for industrial
development.
Preserve industrial zoning provisionally;
ancillary commercial uses may be considered on a
case-by-case basis.
y As part of current community plan program:
recommend development of a Transit Oriented
Design (TOD) Plan to establish appropriate
zoning and land uses; and develop strategies
and programs to mitigate potential loss of
industrial jobs.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefits should be incorporated.
Preserve industrial zoning provisionally;
recommend development of Specific Plan to
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
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y
1145 out of 2059
(56%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 65%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 20 out of 117 (17%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 549 out of 1406 (39%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 52%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 130 out of 605 (21%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 3274 out of 8595
(38%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 78%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 176 out of 839 (21%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 641 out of 1342 (48%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 86%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 13 out of 123 (11%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 722 out of 1752 (41%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 56%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 10 out of 60 (17%)
Page 4-65
Chinatown:
Area 2
Chinatown:
Area 3
Chinatown:
Area 4
Chinatown:
Area 5
Downtown:
Area 1
address River node, Chinatown Gold Line station
and Los Angeles State Historic Park.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefit should be incorporated.
y Develop strategies and programs to mitigate
potential loss of industrial jobs.
Preserve industrial zoning provisionally;
recommend development of Specific Plan to
address River node, Chinatown Gold Line station,
and Los Angeles State Historic Park.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefit should be incorporated.
y Develop strategies and programs to mitigate
potential loss of industrial jobs.
Preserve industrial zoning provisionally;
recommend development of Specific Plan to
address River node, Chinatown Gold Line station,
and Los Angeles State Historic Park.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefit should be incorporated.
y Develop strategies and programs to mitigate
potential loss of industrial jobs.
Recommend change in land use designation and
zoning to reflect new State Historic Park.
y Prior to change in land use designation/zoning,
explore possible transfer of development
capacity for priority public benefits to Analysis
Areas 1, 2, and 3.
Recommend initiation of Central City North
Community Plan amendment to consider new
residential zoning.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefit should be incorporated.
Recommend initiation of Community Plan
amendment to consider change from industrial
to commercial land use designation and zoning
to allow commercial and mixed-use development
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 161 out of 537 (30%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 89%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 1 out of 5 (20%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 19 out of 61 (31%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 100%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y NA
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 18 out of 34 (53%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 52%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y ? out of 2
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 8 out of 28 (29%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 0
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y NA
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y NA
% Industrial Land Use:
y 0
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y ? out of 236
# of Manufacturing
Page 4-66
Downtown:
Area 2
Downtown:
Area 3
Downtown:
Area 4
Downtown:
Area 5
Downtown:
Area 6
consistent with existing and surrounding uses.
y Develop strategies and programs to mitigate
potential loss of industrial jobs.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefits should be incorporated.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Existing residential uses may remain.
Recommend initiation of Community Plan
amendment to consider change from industrial
to commercial land use designation and zoning
to allow commercial and mixed-use development
consistent with existing and surrounding uses.
y Develop strategies and programs to mitigate
potential loss of industrial jobs.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefits should be incorporated.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Existing residential uses may remain.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Existing residential uses may remain.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Existing residential uses may remain.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Workers:
y 190 out of 849 (22%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 0
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 41 out of 288 (14%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 305 out of 1019 (30%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 15%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 229 out of 1690 (14%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 1199 out of 4273
(28%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 4%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 242 out of 1436 (17%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 305 out of 1019 (30%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 9%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 7 out of 31 (23%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 27 out of 88 (31%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 95%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 42 out of 222 (19%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
Page 4-67
y
Downtown:
Area 7
Downtown:
Area 8
Downtown:
Area 9
Downtown:
Area 10
Downtown:
Area 11
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Existing residential uses may remain.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Existing residential uses may remain.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Existing residential uses may remain.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Reinforce Community Plan objectives and
policies to allow permanent supportive housing
and assure no net loss of affordable housing.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses.
y Reinforce Community Plan objectives and
policies to allow permanent supportive housing
and assure no net loss of affordable housing.
319 out of 727 (44%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 25%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 130 out of 938 (14%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 2855 out of 7811
(37%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 81%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 34 out of 278 (12%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 310 out of 1069 (29%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 35%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 14 out of 68 (21%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 65 out of 243 (27%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 30%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y ? out of 1296
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y ? out of 3032
% Industrial Land Use:
y 50%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y ? out of 124
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y ? out of 795
% Industrial Land Use:
y 32%
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-68
Southeast LA:
Area 1
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; support concentration of
auto related uses.
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 9 out of 64 (14%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 188 out of 1843 (10%)
Southeast LA:
Area 2
Southeast LA:
Area 3a
Southeast LA:
Area 3b
Preserve industrial zoning provisionally, which
allows industrial and commercial uses.
y Recommend development of specific plan to
determine feasibility of residential and mixed
use.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefits should be incorporated.
y Develop strategies and programs to mitigate
potential loss of industrial jobs.
y Recommend development of design guidelines
to enhance pedestrian activity along
Washington Blvd.
Preserve industrial zoning provisionally, which
allows industrial and commercial uses.
y Recommend development of specific plan to
determine feasibility of residential and mixed
use.
y If residential development is studied and
recommended to replace industrial uses, an
affordable housing component and/or other
public benefits should be incorporated.
y Develop strategies and programs to mitigate
potential loss of industrial jobs.
y Recommend development of design guidelines
to enhance pedestrian activity along
Washington Blvd.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
commercial uses only.
% Industrial Land Use:
y 63%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 52 out of 341 (15%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 367 out of 2128 (17%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 27%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 7 out of 34 (21%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 67 out of 226 (30%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 82%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 11 out of 62 (18%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 116 out of 396 (29%)
Southeast LA:
Area 4
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
commercial uses only.
y Existing residential uses may remain; no new
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
% Industrial Land Use:
y 78%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 14 out of 82 (17%)
# of Manufacturing
Page 4-69
residential uses.
As part of Community Plan Program:
recommend development of design guidelines
to enhance pedestrian activity along San Pedro
St. and Washington Blvd.; and recommend
development of specific plan to address special
conditions along Central Ave. (in conjunction
with similar recommendation in Analysis Areas
10 and 12).
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial uses and
ancillary commercial uses only.
y As part of Community Plan Program:
recommend development of design guidelines
to improve function and appearance of
industrial uses; and identify and implement
infrastructure plans and investment strategies to
facilitate industrial uses.
y
Southeast LA:
Area 5
Southeast LA:
Area 6
Southeast LA:
Area 7
Southeast LA:
Area 8
Southeast LA:
Area 9
As part of Community Plan Program: consider
change from industrial to residential land use
designation and zoning; and develop strategies and
programs to mitigate potential loss of industrial
jobs.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial and
ancillary commercial uses only.
y As part of Community Plan Program: consider
changes to land use designation and zoning,
and/or development of design guidelines that
provide a better transition between residential
and industrial uses.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial uses and
ancillary commercial uses only.
y As part of Community Plan Program:
recommend development of design guidelines
to improve function and appearance of
industrial uses; and identify and implement
infrastructure plans and investment strategies to
facilitate industrial uses.
Preserve industrial zoning consistent with
current community plan; allow industrial uses and
ancillary commercial uses only.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Workers:
y 161 out of 451 (36%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 44%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 40 out of 189 (21%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 753 out of 2279 (33%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 91%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 5 out of 17 (29%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 34 out of 99 (34%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 69%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 12 out of 45 (27%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 345 out of 877 (39%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 74%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 9 out of 49 (18%)
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 205 out of 763 (27%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 71%
# of Manufacturing Firms:
y 2 out of 14 (14%)
Page 4-70
y
As part of Community Plan Program:
recommend development of design guidelines
to improve function and appearance of
industrial uses; and identify and implement
infrastructure plans and investment strategies to
facilitate industrial uses.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
# of Manufacturing
Workers:
y 43 out of 108 (40%)
% Industrial Land Use:
y 70%
Page 4-71
Appendix B
Ethnic Population in Los Angeles
White
6%
Other
2%
African American
9%
Asian
14%
Latino
69%
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
Highest Educational Attainment for Persons 25+
re
e
to
ra
te
de
g
eg
re
e
D
oc
ld
si o
na
r's
de
gr
ee
Pr
of
es
re
e
as
te
M
el
o
r's
de
g
eg
re
e
Ba
ch
oc
ia
te
d
ol
le
ge
A
ss
eC
So
m
ho
ol
g
ra
d
ua
te
oo
l
Sc
h
h
sc
ig
h
So
m
eH
to
N
ur
se
ry
H
ig
N
o
sc
ho
ol
in
g
co
6t
h
G
ra
de
m
pl
et
ed
90000
80000
70000
60000
50000
40000
30000
20000
10000
0
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-72
Number of Male Workers Employed by Industry
Type of Industry
Male
Workers
27415
10297
Manufacturing
Arts; Entertainment; Recreation; Accommodation and Food Services
Professional; Scientific; Management; Administrative; and Waste
10090
Management Services
Construction
9816
Retail Trade
9748
Accommodation and Food Services
8239
Educational; Health and Social Services
8211
Wholesale Trade
6929
Other services (except public administration)
6883
Administrative and Support and Waste Management Services
6503
Transportation and Warehousing; and Utilities
5528
Transportation and Warehousing
5249
Educational Services
4282
Health Care and Social Assistance
3929
Professional; Scientific; and Technical Services
3582
Finance; Insurance; Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
3314
Information
2753
Arts; Entertainment; and Recreation
2058
Finance and Insurance
1724
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
1590
Public Administration
1449
Agriculture; Forestry; Fishing and Hunting; and Mining
327
Agriculture; Forestry; Fishing and Hunting
320
Utilities
279
Mining
7
Management of Companies and Enterprises
5
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-73
Number of Female Workers Employed by Industry
Type of Industry
Female
Workers
16196
15461
9640
7371
6556
6442
5791
Educational; Health and Social Services
Manufacturing
Health care and Social Assistance
Other services
Educational Services
Retail Trade
Arts; Entertainment; Recreation; Accommodation and Food Services
Professional; Scientific; Management; Administrative; and Waste
5664
Management Services
Accommodation and food services
4850
Finance; Insurance; Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
3460
Administrative and Support and Waste Management Services
3344
Wholesale Trade
2654
Finance and Insurance
2432
Professional; Scientific; and Technical Services
2301
Public Administration
2165
Information
1450
Transportation and Warehousing; and Utilities
1370
Transportation and Warehousing
1276
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
1028
Arts; Entertainment; and Recreation
941
Construction
407
Agriculture; Forestry; Fishing and Hunting; and Mining
151
Agriculture; Forestry; Fishing and Hunting
151
Utilities
94
Management of Companies and Enterprises
19
Mining
0
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-74
to
$2
;
$2 499
;5
o
00 r lo
ss
$5 to
$
;0
00 4;9
$7 to 99
$7
;5
;4
$1 00
0; to 99
00 $9
$1 0 to ;99
2;
9
50 $12
$1 0 to ;49
9
5;
00 $14
0
;
9
$1
7; to $ 99
50
17
;4
$2 0 t
0; o $ 99
00
19
$2 0 to ;99
2;
9
50 $22
$2 0 to ;49
9
5;
00 $24
$3 0 to ;99
9
0;
00 $29
;9
$3 0 t
5; o $ 99
00
34
$4 0 to ;99
0;
9
$
00
39
$4 0 to ;99
9
5;
00 $44
$5 0 to ;99
9
0;
00 $49
;9
$5 0 t
5; o $ 99
00
54
$6 0 to ;99
5;
9
00 $64
$7 0 to ;99
9
5;
00 $74
0
;
9
$1 to $ 99
00
9
;0 9;9
00
9
or 9
m
or
e
$1
Transit Uses for Workers Age 16+
Walked
6%
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
Bicycle
1%
Public transit
23%
Auto
55%
Carpool
15%
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
Average Income for Female Workers Age 16+
14000
12556
12000
10000
8000
6000
4000
2000
0
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-75
to
$2
;4
$2 99
;5
o
00 r lo
ss
$5 to
$
;0
00 4;9
$7 to 99
$7
;5
;4
$1 00
99
t
0;
00 o $9
0
;
9
$1
2; to $ 99
50
12
$1 0 to ;49
9
5;
00 $14
$1 0 to ;99
9
7;
50 $17
$2 0 to ;49
9
0;
00 $19
0
;
9
$2
2; to $ 99
50
22
$ 2 0 t o ;49
9
5;
00 $24
$3 0 to ;99
9
0;
00 $29
0
;
9
$3
5; to $ 99
00
34
$4 0 to ;99
9
0;
00 $39
$ 4 0 t o ;99
9
5;
00 $44
$ 5 0 t o ;99
9
0;
00 $49
0
;
9
$5
t
5; o $ 99
00
54
$6 0 to ;99
9
5;
00 $64
$7 0 to ;99
9
5;
00 $74
0
;
9
$1 to $ 99
00
99
;0
00 ;999
or
m
or
e
$1
Average Income for Male Workers Age 16+
20000
19741
18000
16000
14000
12000
10000
8000
6000
4000
2000
0
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
Workers in Poverty by Gender
72000
69000
66000
63000
60000
Male Workers 16-64
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Female Workers 16-64
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
Page 4-76
Ratio of Poverty to Income
250000
203923
200000
150000
100000
50000
0
Under .50 .50 to .74
.75 to .99
1.00 to
1.24
1.25 to
1.49
1.50 to
1.74
1.75 to
1.84
1.85 to
1.99
2.00 and
over
Source: (US Census Bureau 2000, Summary File 3)
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-77
Appendix C
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-78
Appendix D
Name
Address
Zip
Price
Building
Size (SF)
Price/SF
Property
Type
618-620 E. 1st
Street
618-620 E.
1st Street
90012
$1,495,000
3,780
$395.50
Industrial
Flex Space
1460 Naud Street
1460 Naud
Street
90012
$5,600,000
56,500
$99.12
Industrial
Flex Space
Spring & College
924 N.
Spring Street
90012
$20,000,000
729 E. Temple
Street
729 E.
Temple
Street
90012
$7,850,000
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
Industrial
Land
67,807
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
$115.77
Industrial
Warehouse
Property Description
Prime Artist District Location Available For 1st
time - Artist Lofts - Retail - Office - General Use Walk to All. Now Leased approximately 70%
bringing in income of $3400.00 a month NNN (for
50% of the building) and an additional 3000.00 per
month modified gross. 30% not Leased and being
remodeled! Great Opportunity.
HIGHEST QUALITY BUILDING FOR SALE IN
THIS SIZE RANGE - ROOF TOP PARKING FOR
OVER 50 CARS - BONUS LOT OF 10,000 SQ.FT.
INCLUDED
4.9 Acres (213,444 square feet) Prime Chinatown
Mixed Use Development Land - Proposed
Chinatown Station Transit Village comprising a
transit oriented, mixed use site located in the
Chinatown Redevelopment Area, across the street
from the famous new Gold Line Chinatown Transit
station. Situated in one of the hottest Downtown
revitalization areas. Vibrant energy and many
substantial benefits from new civic improvements,
residential construction and commercial
developments including LA Live, Staples Center,
Disney Concert Hall, the Cathedral of Our Lady of
the Angels and the 35 Acres Cornfields Project
promise to revitalize the community and insure a
new era of growth. Thousands of new loft &
housing units have recently been completed and are
attracting a diverse and dynamic population. This
site can provide for a dense mixed use project and
presents a strong opportunity for federal, state &
local development incentives and Adaptive Reuse
subsidies.
67,807 sf Available for Sale or Lease. PLEASE DO
NOT DISTURB TENANT! APPOINTMENT
ONLY. Potential Owner/User or Development
Property. Also Includes Parking Lot on Center
Street
Page 4-79
Source
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
Barn Lofts
E2 Lofts
Artisan on
Second
Barker Block
215 S. Santa
Fe Avenue
90012
940 E. 2nd
Street
90012
941 E. 2nd
Street
148 S.
Hewitt Street
4th Street
and Molino
Street
$850,000
2088
$407.09
Condo
Condo Unit. Built in 1907, renovated in 2001. 21
matching units at this address. Last sold 10/24/2006.
Adaptive reuse, brick building, former Spreckels
Brothers sugar beet warehouse, 40 market rate
condos
zillow.com
cartifact.com/dtnews
90012
Convert two story brick warehouse
cartifact.com/dtnews
90012
118 Condo complex. In high 400,000s. Art District
Development
cartifact.com/dtnews
90012
297 units, mixed use, galleries and restaurants
cartifact.com/dtnews
6th and Los
Angeles Street
533 S. Los
Angeles
Street
90013
$7,750,000
81,373
300 E. 5th Street
300 E. 5th
Street
90013
$3,299,000
25,216
811 Traction
Avenue
811 Traction
Avenue
90013
$4,700,000
22,046
423 S. Stanford
Avenue
423 S.
Stanford
Avenue
90013
$2,300,000
9,250
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Industrial
Distribution
Warehouse
$130.83
Industrial
Flex Space
Multifamily
Garden/LowRise
$248.65
7 Story Multi-Use, Currently Occupied with
Garment, Textile & Wholesale Tenants, Central
Downtown Location, Possible 41 Unit Mixed Use
Condo Conversion or Creative Work Space
Development Potential, Penthouse & Basement.
Fully Sprinklered Building. Rear Alley Access. 18 ft
Ceilings. 1st Floor Retail Stores. 2 Upper Floors
Vacant & For Lease - Current Rent Aprrox.
$29,000/ Month - Rent Upside
OWNER IS WILLING TO CARRY A 1ST TD
LOAN FOR A QUICK, CLEAN DEAL!! PRICED
BELOW MARKET!-----------ONLY $130.83 PER
SQUARE FOOT. RARE BUILDING IN TOY
DISTRICT. Possible uses: Whse, Retail, Office,
Medical, Residential. BUILDING HAS
SPRINKLER SYSTEM. EARTHQUAKE
RETROFIT WORK COMPLETE. SECURE
GATED PARKING LOT FOR
APPROXIMATELY 12 VEHICLES.
ARTIST LOFT BUILDING, HEART OF ARTIST
LOFT DISTRICT, IDEAL FOR LIVE-WORK
CONDO CONVERSION, VALUE ADDED
INVESTMENT - SHORT TERM LEASES, RENTS
ARE BELOW MARKET, RENTAL INCOME
WHILE CONVERTING TO CONDOS, CLOSE
TO SCI-ARC, SAVOY, ARTISAN ON 2ND ST, &
ROSE STREET LOFTS, 2 RETAIL UNITS ON
GROUND FLOOR =3,766 SF, 8 RESIDENTIAL
UNITS
Industrial/
IndustrialBusiness
Park
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
Page 4-80
Major corner lot of San Pedro and Boyd. Near Little
Tokyo, Toytown, Civic Center, Old Bank District
and Artist District. Rare large property for sale in
Downtown with parking. Next to large
developments such as Little Tokyo Lofts and several
new residential and retail construction projects
within blocks. In addition to the included 52 parking
spaces, over 200 parking spaces are available for
rent across Boyd St and also across Omar Ave.
Downtown L.A. Artist District,
Little Tokyo
300 S. San
Pedro Street
90013
$10, 900,000
49,050
$222.22
Office
Building
Little Tokyo
320 S.
Crocker
Street
90013
$1,600,000
5,500
$290.91
Office R&D
Seaton Street
Lofts
1101 E. 5th
Street
90013
$6,950,000
91,512
$75.95
Industrial
Warehouse
Cold Storage
Warehouse
516 Alameda
Street
90013
$4,500,000
15,250
$295.08
Industrial
Warehouse
90013
$2,849,000
9729
$292.84
Industrial
zillow.com
90013
$3,485,000
20821
$167.38
Industrial
zillow.com
90013
$1,312,000
14496
$90.51
Industrial
zillow.com
90013
$1,401,000
14496
$96.65
Industrial
zillow.com
Mura
Fourth &
Alameda
Brewer's Gallery
549 Ceres
Avenue
544 San
Pedro Street
560 Stanford
Avenue
560 Gladys
Avenue
629 E.
Traction
Avenue
353 S.
Alameda
Street
800 E.
Traction
Surrounded new loft projects in Little Tokyo.
Potential for loft development. 5,500 Sf building on
the land.
Multi-Tenant Artist-in-Residence/Industrial
Building. Ten large AIR spaces and five industrial
units. Approximately 91,512 sq. ft. on
approximately 45,720 sq. ft. of land. All tenants are
month to month with low rents. Great opportunity
for an investor, developer or owner/user. Los
Angeles Arts District location. Adjacent to Little
Tokyo, Barker Block Lofts, Molino Street Lofts and
all the other new developments in the Arts District.
Near the Civic Center.
State of the Art Cold Storage Warehouse with 6,750
SF of Cooler/Freezer and processing. 24' clear, Built
2004, 3 DH Positions. 28 Parking Spaces. Fenced
Yard for Trucks. Perfect Food Distribution
Building. ***Please ask about LA Empowerment
Zone Tax Breaks***
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
90013
5 story condo project in Arts district. 190 residences
cartifact.com/dtnews
90013
50 Artist in residence lofts. Artist District. Retrofit
cartifact.com/dtnews
90013
75 seat beer restaurant
cartifact.com/dtnews
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-81
Avenue
653 S. San Pedro
Street
653 S. San
Pedro Street
90014
$1,135,000
4,368
$259.84
Industrial
Distribution
Warehouse
Downtown LA Flower District
Opportunity
700 S. San
Pedro Street
90014
$4,200,000
10,000
$420.00
Retail - Free
Standing
Building
217 E. 8th Street
217 E. 8th
Street
90014
$10,800,000
81,484
$132.54
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
829 S. San Pedro
Street
829 S. San
Pedro Street
90014
$3,900,000
12,697
$307.16
Industrial
Warehouse
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
7th & San Pedro - Heart of the Wholesale District Clean Smaller Building - Divisible into 2 Units Existing New Retail Glass Store Front - 2 Entries - 2
Separate Bathrooms & Electric Meters - Flower
Mart - Textile - Retail Uses - Recently Remodeled Loft Conversion Possible. Also for Lease.
Great owner user with 10,000 sq.ft. of building
5,000 sq.ft. shed and 2,000 sq.ft. parking. Also an
excellent opportunity to develop a flower retail mall
in the bustling Downtown L.A. Flower District
where retail rents for newer space can exceed
$3.00/sf. Site has month-to-month tenant and high
corner visibility. State enterprise zone benefits for
tenants.
OUTSTANDING ADAPTIVE REUSE
OPPORTUNITY, APPROVED TENTATIVE
TRACK MAP FOR UP TO 77 LIVE WORK
UNITS, 12 STORY BUILDING PLUS
BASEMENT, UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE /
ABUNDANT WINDOWS, GARMENT CAPITOL
BUILDING, EXCELLENT LAYOUT FOR NEW
LOFTS/OFFICES/INDUSTRIAL, FUNCTIONAL
FLOOR PLAN WITH 3 ELEVATORS, BUY FOR
LOFT CONVERSION OR KEEP AS
INVESTMENT AND RAISE RENTS, ADJACENT
TO SANTEE COURT DEVELOPMENT, GROSS
ANNUAL INCOME: $552,092
EXCELLENT USER OR INVESTOR
OPPORTUNITY, RARE SAN PEDRO STREET
FRONTAGE, TWO STREET ACCESS ON SAN
PEDRO ST AND SAN JULIAN ST, POTENTIAL
FOR WHOLESALE, SHOWROOM,
WAREHOUSE, MANUFACTURING.
Page 4-82
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loopnet.com
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OUTSTANDING ADAPTIVE REUSE
OPPORTUNITY, 13 STORY BUILDING PLUS
BASEMENT, MAXFIELD BUILDING,
EXCELLENT LAYOUT FOR NEW
LOFTS/OFFICES/INDUSTRIAL, FUNCTIONAL
FLOOR PLAN WITH 3 ELEVATORS, BUY FOR
LOFT CONVERSION OR KEEP AS
INVESTMENT AND RAISE RENTS, NEAR
SANTEE COURT DEVELOPMENT, GROSS
ANNUAL INCOME OF $358,647. BUY FOR
LOFT CONVERSION OR KEEP AS
INVESTMENT AND RAISE RENTS.
Price reduced from $8M to $6.1M! Excellent
owner/user property. 3 story warehouse with ground
floor retail/wholesale. Many possible uses: great
potential! Zoned LA R5. Sprinklered, 2 ground level
loading doors, 800 amps power, 10-16 car interior
parking, 1,000 sq.ft. of office area, 14' ceiling
height, 5,000 sq.ft. of total is basement, 1 freight
elevator.
819 Santee Street
819 Santee
Street
90014
$10,950,000
93,379
$117.26
Industrial
Warehouse
401 E. 6th Street
401 E. 6th
Street
90014
$6,100,000
55,548
$109.81
Industrial
Warehouse
90014
$555,203
2275
$244.05
Condo
Built 2005
zillow.com
90014
$552,000
2275
$242.64
Condo
Built 2005
zillow.com
90014
$522,000
1010
$516.83
Single
Family
Renovated 1990
zillow.com
Santee Village
1726 Pico
808 Maple
Avenue
804 Maple
Avenue
315 E. 8th
Street
315 E. 8th
Street
1726-1740
Pico
Boulevard
90014
90015
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
cartifact.com/dtnews
$3,800,000
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
17,103
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
$222.18
Industrial
Distribution
Warehouse
Metal beam, bow-truss, brick construction. Rare
Industrial Opportunity Close to Downtown Los
Angeles. High visibility location
Page 4-83
loopnet.com
Pico and Olive are both zoned: C2-2D-O. Located
on the SWC of Pico and Olive in the South Park
district of downtown Los Angeles. Close proximity
to the Staples & Los Angeles Convention Center,
Embassy Auditorium, Hotel Figueroa, Mayan
Theater and Trans America Tower. For most of Los
Angele's history, South Park was dominated by
industrial, automobile dealerships, and residential
hotels. However, the area has begun to rapidly
gentrify with luxury apartments and condominiums
being built from the early 2000' s onward. This has
made it an attractive living area for young
professionals. Construction activity includes several
loft conversions and new projects in close proximity
to the property. Adaptive Re-use Area, City Center
Redevelopment.
Zoned M2. 20% Down Seller Financing - Bow
Truss Ceiling - Store Front Divisible to 2 Units Great Access to 10 & 110 Fwy - Electronics Wholesale - Retail - Apparel.
Southwest
Corner: Pico &
Olive
312 W. Pico
Boulevard
90015
$3,800,000
22,749
$167.04
Industrial
Distribution
Warehouse
1814 S. Grand
Avenue
1814 S.
Grand
Avenue
90015
$1,900,000
6,250
$304.00
Industrial
Distribution
Warehouse
Pico Near Staples
1417 W.
Pico
Boulevard
90015
$1,350,000
6,100
$221.31
Industrial
Distribution
Warehouse
CLEAN CLEAR SPAN BUILDING RECENTLY
REFURBISHED, Set Up For Sewing Contractor,
Immediate Occupancy.
loopnet.com
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
FANTASTIC ADAPTIVE REUSE
OPPORTUNITY, 10 STORY BUILDING PLUS
BASEMENT, UP TO 100 CAR PARKING
AVAILABLE ON 25 YEAR LEASE, UNIQUE
ARCHITECTURE / ABUNDANT WINDOWS,
PLANS TO CONSTRUCT 61 LIVE WORK
UNITS WITH GROUND FLOOR RETAIL,
FUNCTIONAL FLOOR PLAN WITH 3
ELEVATORS, BUY FOR LOFT CONVERTION
OR KEEP AS INVESTMENT AND RAISE
RENTS, ANNUAL GROSS INCOME OF $441,552
loopnet.com
1060 S.
Broadway
1060 S.
Broadway
90015
$11,500,000
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
83,600
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
$137.56
Page 4-84
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loopnet.com
This property is improved with an 8,900 square foot
industrial building and is an excellent owner/user
opportunity. Additionally, the property has three
grade-level loading doors on Marco Street.
Currently, the property has three tenants with two
leases that expire in November of 2006 and one
lease that expires in December of 2007. Gross rent
is $93,000/yr. The property is located just moments
from Staples Center and has excellent frontage on
Grand Avenue. Because of its location this property
offers enormous visibility for a potential owner in
the emerging area of South Park.
Also includes 413-415 E. Washington Blvd. 3
buildings on 26,093 sq.ft. of land. Prime Fashion
District location in Downtown L.A. Perfect for
owner/user or developer. 22 car parking, 4 ground
level loading doors, built 1947, brick construction,
2,450 sq.ft. office area. Zoned M2. Prime Fashion
District Location
8,900 ± SF
Owner/User
Opportunity in
South Park
1320 S.
Grand
Avenue
90015
$2,800,000
8,900
$314.61
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
1700-1734 Maple
Avenue
1700-1734
Maple
Avenue
90015
$5,400,000
19,817
$272.49
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
Store+Warehouse
in Prime Staples
Center location
214 W. 14th
Street
90015
$1,499,000
6,000
$249.83
Industrial
Warehouse
6,000 Square feet of warehouse, with three Store
front/offices in the front. Within walking distance
from Staples Center. Zoned C2.
loopnet.com
1416 S. Flower
Street
1416 S.
Flower
Street
90015
$2,175,000
7,250
$300.00
Industrial
Warehouse
Prime Downtown Residential/Commercial
Development Site. ** R5 Zoning **.
loopnet.com
Industrial
Warehouse
2 Story Rehab Opportunity - Divided into 4 Units CRA Development Area - Retail, Creative Live
work Space - Office Showroom Uses - Contract
Parking Available - Month to Month Tenants - #110
& 10 Freeway Access - Near Staples Center
Development
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
1801 S. Olive
Street
1801 S.
Olive Street
90015
$2,000,000
11,427
$175.02
240 W. 18th
Street
240 W. 18th
Street
90015
$1,900,000
2,522
$753.37
Industrial
Warehouse
Small 18ft Clr. Ht. M-2 Warehouse Showroom Santa Monica Freeway Exposure - Possible Loft
Creative Workspace Conversion - Seller may Carry
80% 1st Trust Deed - 1801 S. Olive Street & 1814
S. Grand Avenue Also for Sale - Upstairs Office
Included in Sq/Ft - Contract Parking Available State Enterprise Zone - Located in CRA
Development Zone
1506-1522 W.
12th Street
1506-1522
W. 12th
Street
90015
$5,800,000
25,048
$231.56
Industrial
Warehouse
Beautiful design, showroom, production offices.
Three connecting clear span buildings
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-85
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loopnet.com
308 E. Ninth
Street
Maple Union
308 E. Ninth
Street
944 S. Maple
Avenue
Diamond Walnut
Building
1737-1745
E. 7th Street
1950 Santa Fe
1950 S.
Santa Fe
Avenue
Bay & Mateo
1931 Bay
Street
90015
cartifact.com/dtnews
90015
cartifact.com/dtnews
90021
90021
90021
$10,000,000
$3,500,000
$1,500,485
101,788
26,030
15,050
$98.24
Industrial
Distribution
Warehouse
Classic Multi Story Concrete Deco Building Suitable for Loft Conversion Ideal Asset for
Multifamily Investor Seeking to Capitalize on the
Surging "For Sale" Housing Market in Downtown
Los Angeles, "Low-Risk" entry point into the
rapidly developing Downtown marketplace. Q2
2005 condominium sales prices in DTLA are
averaging $505/sf - Movie Filming Venue, Dynamic
Penthouse Living Space, Spectacular Downtown
Skyline View -
$134.46
Industrial
Distribution
Warehouse
Prime Location After Completion of Alameda
Corridor Project and Adjacent to CRA Prison
Development Site, Can Be used as Multi-Tenant
Rental Spaces or Single User, Currently used as
Garment Mfg., Cutting & Textile, Power & Parking
loopnet.com
$99.70
Industrial
Flex Space
Prime Artist Loft Conversion/Development Area.
Perfect Owner/User, or Investment Use. Ideal for
garment manufacturing, textile, warehousing of
imports and related use
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
Globe Tire
Building
2323 E.
Olympic
Boulevard
90021
$4,550,000
32,975
$137.98
Industrial
Flex Space
Great opportunity for an investor, developer or
owner/user. Multi-tenant, Artist-In-Residence/Day
Studio Building with high, wood ceilings. The
building totals approximately 32,975 square feet,
including mezzanine space, on approximately
24,700 square feet of land. There are a total of 14
units, 9 of which are Artist-In-Residence studios and
5 are day studios. The tenants are almost all month
to month with very low rents. Included are
preliminary drawings for redevelopment.
Downtown
Wholesale
District
950 E. Pico
Boulevard
90021
$2,196,000
4,880
$450.00
Industrial
Flex Space
Superb Los Angeles location, adjacent to the apparel
wholesale district. Ideal for store conversion.
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-86
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Engine Company
No. 17
710 S. Santa
Fe Avenue
90021
$2,575,000
8,721
$295.26
Industrial
Flex Space
Buy a piece of history, ENGINE COMPANY NO.
17. Work, live and own a historic two story fire
house. Two unique, creative buildings with parking.
Two work spaces on the ground floor and two
Artist-in-Residence units on the second floor. There
is also a patio and parking for over 20 cars. The 1st
floor of the main building is leased for $5,304.50
per month through 1/31/2008.
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
I.G. King
Building
821 Mateo
Street
90021
$2,350,000
7,200
$326.39
Industrial
Flex Space
Hidden behind a gritty store front in Downtown LA'
s Warehouse district lies this extremely special and
stunning Live/Work Space with the hard to acquire
"Artist In Residence" designation. With its charming
original bow truss ceilings, sliding glass walls,
numerous skylights, photography studio, makeup
room, living room, 2nd story bedroom, stainless
kitchen, and tons of flexible space this is the
ultimate downtown artist warehouse, perfect for
fashion designers, photographers, architects,
production companies etc.. This space has been used
for filming by some of Hollywood's Hottest artists
like P Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Usher, the hit TV show
as well as many other National Commercials,
deriving a monthly filming income averaging $4000
(per owner). Mere blocks from the Toy Factory
Lofts and Biscuit Company Lofts this neighborhood
is changing quickly
768 S. Stanford
Avenue
768 S.
Stanford
Avenue
90021
$4,500,000
20,004
$224.96
Industrial
Flex Space
RARE INDUSTRIAL DOWNTOWN PURCHASE
OPPORTUNITY/ FEATURE-RICH BUILDINGS
loopnet.com
1543-1545
Newton Street
1543-1545
Newton
Street
90021
$5,375,000
49,120
$109.43
Industrial
Flex Space
Ground Floor Space - Loading On Two Streets Can Divide - Ready For Occupancy - Building
Completely Refurbished - Fabulous Creative Office
Buildout - Fenced Parking Lot For 22 Cars Included
loopnet.com
Santa Fe &
Washington
2065 S.
Santa Fe
Avenue
90021
$3,500,000
21,560
$162.34
Industrial
Flex Space
Major Industrial Route located at the N.W. Corner
of Santa Fe & Washington in the Heart of the
Alameda East Redevelopment Zone
loopnet.com
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-87
Modernica Downtown LA
Redevelopment
Site
2118 E. 7th
Place
90021
$12,900,000
67,966
Light Industrial
Warehouse in
Downtown LA
1701 E. 7th
Street
90021
$4,888,000
24,500
$199.51
1161 E. 12th
Street
1161 E. 12th
Street
90021
$2,040,000
4,800
$425.00
1005 Mateo
Street
1005 Mateo
Street
909-915 S. Santa
Fe Avenue
909-915 S.
Santa Fe
Avenue
746
Washington/Indu
strial and Office
640 & 660
Alameda Street
746 E.
Washington
Boulevard
640 & 660
Alameda
Street
90021
$7,600,000
33,236
Multifamily
Garden/LowRise
Ideal for wholesale distributors, importers/exporters
or light industrial manufacturing. Currently, 10,500
sq. ft. leased through July 2007. 3 showrooms. 8
loading docks. 10 offices. 7,000 sq. ft. built in 1989
loopnet.com
Great Downtown Property. Newer block building
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
$228.67
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
One block from loft-converted buildings on Santa
Fe Avenue. Great proximity to downtown, artist
district, all the major highways. Great retail
potential with great street exposure on Santa Fe
Avenue.
$1,825,000
10,000
$182.50
90021
$1,482,000
7,200
$157.58
90021
$13,800,000
75,000
$184.00
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
loopnet.com
EXCESS LAND, CLOSE TO PRODUCE
DISTRICT AND TRADE MARTS, M-3 ZONED, 5
BLOCKS NORTH OF 10 FREEWAY, 3 STREET
FRONTAGE, ENTERPRISE ZONE &
EMPOWERMENT ZONE INCENTIVES, METAL
BUILDING WITH LARGE DOCK FOR
LOADING
90021
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
Industrial/In
dustrialBusiness
Park
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
The Modernica mixed-use community is a
collection of 7 buildings totaling 67,966 sf and
includes 11 live-work units as well as
commercial/industrial space that is ideally suited for
an owner-user or conversion into additional livework units. With Downtown live-work
condominium prices averaging nearly $600 psf, this
property is an ideal candidate for condominium
conversion. Alternatively, an owner-user may utilize
the existing industrial space and continue leasing the
live-work units. The Modernica property is directly
across from a 78-unit live-work condominium
development (2121 Lofts) that was converted from 8
industrial buildings very similar to the subject.
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
Industrial
Manufacturi
ng
loopnet.com
Potential for industrial, wholesale, loft/condo
conversion, retail
Page 4-88
loopnet.com
Ocean Jewels
Seafood Building
915 Stanford
Avenue
90021
$1,272,000
4,240
Industrial
Refrigerated/
Cold Storage
Excellent owner-user opportunity. Rare free
standing freezer/cooler building with yard. Two (2)
freezers, one (1) cooler, cooled sorting area and
offices. Possible uses - Fish, produce, garment
manufacturing & electronics
loopnet.com
$829.02
Industrial
Refrigerated/
Cold Storage
15,000 square Feet of Land Offering including a
Produce Building - 10 Truck-High Loading Doors 3,314 Sq. Ft. of Cooler Space - Modern 2nd Floor
Offices - 120 Ft. Frontage On Crocker - Very Hot
Development Area. 19,000 Square Feet Lot across
the street being the N.W. corner of 10th Street &
Crocker closed escrow for $12,000,000 ($630.00
psf) This offering is based on the land square foot
price of $600.00 psf
loopnet.com
$300.00
9th Place &
Crocker
930 S.
Crocker
Street
1634 Long Beach
Avenue
1634 Long
Beach
Avenue
90021
$4,860,000
18,000
$270.00
Industrial
Warehouse
1142. E. 12th
Street
1142 E. 12th
Street
90021
$1,875,000
5,000
$375.00
Industrial
Warehouse
90021
$8,000,000
1918 Bay Street
1918 Bay
Street
920 Mateo Street
920 Mateo
Street
90021
$1,776,600
1658 Mateo
Street
1658 Mateo
Street
90021
$4,350,000
90021
$1,500,000
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
9,650
$158.21
Industrial
Warehouse
10,152
$175.00
Industrial
Warehouse
21,750
$200.00
Industrial
Warehouse
9,481
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
One of the highest quality buildings available in
Downtown - Adjacent to the booming wholesale /
retail district - Attractive mezzanine offices, suitable
for design
RARE PURCHASE OPPORTUNITY IN THE
HEART OF FASHION DISTRICT. WALKING
DISTANCE TO ALL SHOWROOMS ON 12TH
STREET. RAPIDLY GROWING/DEVELOPING
AREA.
RARE DOCK HIGH BUILDING, CLOSE TO
PRODUCE DISTRICT AND TRADE MARTS, M3
ZONED, 5 BLOCKS NORTH OF 10 FREEWAY,
ENTERPRISE & EMPOWERMENT ZONE
INCENTIVES, METAL BUILDINGS WITH
LARGE DOCK FOR LOADING.
Clean Freestanding Building-Downtown Location Dock High Loading Via Exterior Dock - Fenced
Yard - Parking - Parking - G.L. Ramp - Excellent
Access To The 10 Freeway
Dynamic Builder's warehouse building built 1987.
25 car gated parking lot. 2 ground level loading
doors, 26' ceiling height, 400 amps & 600 amps
power, sprinklered, 4 restrooms. Tenant occupies
building until January 2008.
Page 4-89
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loopnet.com
Ceres Avenue
Warehouse
711 Ceres
Avenue
90021
$1,388,400
5,785
$240.00
Industrial
Warehouse
Excellent owner-user opportunity in a PRIME
DOWNTOWN LOS ANEGLES LOCATION!
Complete rehab in 2002 which included a new roof,
new offices and new loading doors. POSSIBLE
USE AS A MULTI-TENANT BUILDING!
Excellent parking with six (6) vehicle GATED
parking spaces! Possible uses include garment,
electronics, produce or fish.
1370 E.
Washington
Boulevard
1370 E.
Washington
Boulevard
90021
$775,000
2,028
$382.15
Industrial
Warehouse
GROWING AREA - GREAT POTENTIAL 16'
CLEAR - LARGE, PAVED & FENCED YARD GREAT PARKING
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
loopnet.com
2008 Mateo
Place
2008 Mateo
Place
90021
$999,000
4,704
$212.37
Industrial
Warehouse
MODERN FOOD PROCESSING BUILDING NEAR DOWNTOWN 1,330 SF REFRIGERATED
PROCESSING AREA, 660 SF COOLER MULT.
CHANNEL DRAINS - WATER COLLECTION
SAMPLE BOX 700 SQ FT OVERHANG (NOT
SHOWN IN PICTURE) TWO STORAGE
CONTAINERS AVAILABLE
Santa Fe Tower
1200 S.
Santa Fe
Avenue
90021
$13,400,000
93,660
$143.07
Industrial
Warehouse
3 BUILDING 4-STORY 3-STORY 1-STORY.
BUILDING JUST DOWN STREET FROM NEW
LOFTS DEVELOPMENT
loopnet.com
1828 Conway
Place
1828
Conway
Place
90021
$2,190,000
8,750
$250.29
Industrial
Warehouse
HI IMAGE PROPERTY. GREAT
COOLER/FREEZER BUILDING. 800 SQ FT
FREEZER, 2200 COOLER SPACE. FENCED
YARD
loopnet.com
1912 E. 7th Place
1912-1920
E. 7th Place
90021
$2,000,000
11,040
$181.16
Industrial
Warehouse
Desirable Los Angeles Industrial Building. Could
Be Light Manufacturing Or Warehouse.7500+
Sq.Ft. Leased Month To Month.2 Truck High Dock
Price To Sell.
loopnet.com
1811, 1905, 1907
E. 7th Street
1811, 1905,
1907 E. 7th
Street
Industrial
Warehouse
Three Individual buildings totaling 17,000 SF,
Seller financing available at market rate! 18 Car
Parking. Large Fenced Yard ±6,000 SF, 22,800 SF
Land Parcel. Owner User or Development Site Residential/Retail. Three clean open span
buildings/divisible separate meters
loopnet.com
Industrial
Warehouse
Classic multi story concrete deco building, Deluxe
executive offices with marble entry, hot movie
location, public storage or warehouse. Possible for
loft conversion, secure parking, 2 elevators, rooftop
penthouse living space with skyline view. Good
laboring area. Good location for business and good
transportation for employees.
loopnet.com
1745 E. 7th
Street
1745 E. 7th
Street
90021
90021
$2,900,000
$10,000,000
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
17,000
100,788
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
$170.59
$99.22
Page 4-90
Naomi Freeway
Distribution
Center
1600-1650
Naomi
Avenue
90021
2118-2140 E. 7th
Place
2119-2140
E. 7th Place
90021
Mill Street
1855
Industrial
Street STE
316
2214
Damond
Street
1365 E. 15th
Street
1433 E. 15th
Street
1437 E. 15th
Street
1426
Newton
Street
1414
Newton
Street
1010 E. 7th
Street
1201 E. 7th
Street
673 Mateo
Street
$3,200,000
39,372
$81.28
67,966
Industrial
Warehouse
4 Warehouse/Distribution Units - 100% Leased Land is leased from Cal-Trans
loopnet.com
Industrial
Warehouse
USER CAN OCCUPY UP TO 37.238 SQUARE
FEET. 11 EXISTING LIVE/WORK LOFTS.
GREAT DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY
loopnet.com
90021
$588,139
1479
$397.66
Condo
Condo Unit. Built in 1924. 22 matching units at this
address. Last sold 01/21/2005.
zillow.com
90021
$419,443
1106
$379.24
Single
Family
Single family unit. Built in 1895.
zillow.com
90021
$511,650
1836
$278.68
Multi Family
4 Bedrooms. Built in 1910
zillow.com
90021
$401,000
996
$402.61
Built 1917
zillow.com
90021
$417,000
808
$516.09
Built 1910
zillow.com
90021
$579,000
2340
$247.44
3 Units
zillow.com
90021
$478,000
464
$1,030.17
2 Units, Built 1902
zillow.com
90021
$1,859,000
13312
$139.65
90021
$2,616,000
13131
$199.22
Single
Family
Single
Family
Multi Family
Industrial
zillow.com
zillow.com
90021
113 unit condo projects
cartifact.com/dtnews
Sixth Street Lofts
1291 E.
Sixth Street
90021
Adaptive reuse project in the Arts District, 63 livework units
cartifact.com/dtnews
Inner-City Arts
720 S.
Kohler Street
90021
New Theatre, ceramics complex, library
cartifact.com/dtnews
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-91
Appendix E
Below is a table of manufacturing sectors in the four Downtown zip code areas and a
conservative estimate of the number of workers they employ.
Table 4-12 Number of Workers Employed by Manufacturing Sector
IMPLAN
Sector
48
58
59
60
66
67
68
69
70
71
73
74
75
82
84
85
87
92
93
94
95
96
97
100
101
103
104
106
107
108
110
111
112
119
120
123
126
135
139
140
141
150
Description
Flour milling
Confectionery manufacturing from purchased chocolate
Non-chocolate confectionery manufacturing
Frozen food manufacturing
Ice cream & frozen dessert manufacturing
Animal, except poultry, slaughtering
Meat processed from carcasses
Rendering & meat byproduct processing
Poultry processing
Seafood product preparation & packaging
Bread & bakery product, except frozen, manufacturing
Cookie & cracker manufacturing
Mixes & dough made from purchased flour
Mayonnaise, dressing & sauce manufacturing
All other food manufacturing
Soft drink & ice manufacturing
Wineries
Fiber, yarn & thread mills
Broadwoven fabric mills
Narrow fabric mills and schiffli embroidery
Nonwoven fabric mills
Knit fabric mills
Textile & fabric finishing mills
Curtain & linen mills
Textile bag & canvas mills
Other miscellaneous textile product mills
Sheer hosiery mills
Other apparel knitting mills
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Accessories & other apparel manufacturing
Footwear manufacturing
Other leather product manufacturing
Sawmills
Other millwork, including flooring
Wood container & pallet manufacturing
Miscellaneous wood product manufacturing
Paperboard container manufacturing
All other converted paper product manufacturing
Commercial printing
Tradebinding and related work
Paperpress services
Other basic inorganic chemical manufacturing
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
# of Jobs in
Downtown
5
10
110
50
15
100
10
1
75
508
112
20
10
6
81
110
1
65
103
21
1
14
342
11
17
2
11
108
9790
708
10
10
1
10
31
6
1
10
668
12
13
25
Page 4-93
153
159
167
172
177
178
179
181
199
209
220
222
229
232
235
236
239
242
243
247
252
255
262
265
266
269
270
275
278
282
287
291
292
295
301
309
318
326
335
344
350
362
364
366
368
369
371
373
376
379
Synthetic rubber manufacturing
Pesticide and other agricultural chemical manufacturing
Printing ink manufacturing
Plastics packaging materials, film & sheet
Plastics plumbing fixtures & all other plastics products
Foam product manufacturing
Tire manufacturing
Other rubber product manufacturing
Cut stone & stone product manufacturing
Primary aluminum production
Secondary processing of other nonferrous
Aluminum foundries
Hand & edge tool manufacturing
Prefabricated metal buildings & components
Metal window & door manufacturing
Sheet metal work manufacturing
Metal tank, heavy gauge, manufacturing
Spring & wire product manufacturing
Machine shops
Electroplating, anodizing, and coloring metal
Fabricated pipe & pipe fitting manufacturing
Miscellaneous fabricated metal product manufacturing
Sawmill & woodworking machinery
Textile machinery manufacturing
Printing machinery & equipment manufacturing
All other industrial machinery manufacturing
Office machinery manufacturing
Air purification equipment manufacturing
AC, refrigeration, & forced air heating
Special tool, die, jig, & fixture manufacturing
Speed changers & mechanical power transmission equipment
Elevator & moving stairway manufacturing
Conveyor & conveying equipment manufacturing
Power-driven handtool manufacturing
Scales, balances, & miscellaneous general purpose machinery
Audio & video equipment manufacturing
Electricity & signal testing instruments
Lighting fixture manufacturing
Switchgear & switchboard apparatus manufacturing
Automobile & light truck manufacturing
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing
Wood kitchen cabinet & countertop manufacturing
Non-upholstered wood household furniture manufacturing
Institutional furniture manufacturing
Wood office furniture manufacturing
Custom architectural woodwork & millwork
Showcases, partitions, shelving & lockers
Blind & shade manufacturing
Surgical appliance & supplies manufacturing
Dental laboratories
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
20
10
1
5
10
100
20
1
1
5
10
20
12
1
5
25
50
40
9
86
100
6
10
310
1
1
10
10
1
5
5
25
1
50
1
5
1
15
50
20
20
5
1
26
5
50
12
10
18
17
Page 4-94
380
381
382
384
385
387
389
Jewelry & silverware manufacturing
Sporting & athletic goods manufacturing
Doll, toy & game manufacturing
Sign manufacturing
Gasket, packing, and sealing device manufacturing
Broom, brush, and mop manufacturing
Buttons, pins, and all other miscellaneous manufacturing
TOTAL
785
10
2
8
20
50
69
16,190
Source: 2003 Economic Census
Table 4-14 Direct Losses to Output
Sector
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Jewelry & silverware manufacturing
Seafood product preparation & packaging
Accessories & other apparel manufacturing
Commercial Printing
Indirect Losses to Output
Wholesale trade
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Management of companies and enterprises
Other support services
Truck Transportation
Induced Losses to Output
Owner-occupied dwellings
Wholesale trade
Hospitals
Food services & drinking places
Offices of physicians, dentists, and other health practitioners
Total Losses to Output
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Wholesale trade
Jewelry & silverware manufacturing
Seafood product preparation & packaging
Commercial Printing
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Output Loss
-$290,011,500
-$30,691,910
-$23,720,710
-$23,200,850
-$20,656,950
-$54,322,710
-$11,832,510
-$11,713,300
-$11,593,260
-$5,854,461
-$14,641,840
-$8,764,615
-$7,632,516
-$6,843,159
-$5,970,427
-$302,678,300
-$63,087,330
-$30,835,780
-$24,895,700
-$24,440,700
Page 4-95
Table 4-15
Output Impact for a 25% Decline in Manufacturing Employment Downtown
Direct
Indirect
Induced
Total
11 Ag, Forestry, Fish & Hunting (
Industry
0
-328,170
-96,156
-424,326
19
21 Mining (AGG)
0
-683,004
-469,416
-1,152,420
30
22 Utilities (AGG)
0
-4,566,385
-2,151,101
-6,717,486
33
23 Construction (AGG)
0
-1,291,163
-689,687
-1,980,850
46
31-33 Manufacturing (AGG)
-535,110,784
-49,114,268
-13,376,349
-597,601,408
390
42 Wholesale Trade (AGG)
0
-54,322,712
-8,764,615
-63,087,328
391
48-49 Transportation & Warehousing
0
-14,241,493
-4,667,231
-18,908,724
401
44-45 Retail trade (AGG)
0
-1,895,295
-14,498,432
-16,393,727
413
51 Information (AGG)
0
-6,267,033
-5,183,218
-11,450,251
425
52 Finance & insurance (AGG)
0
-9,241,100
-13,955,237
-23,196,338
431
53 Real estate & rental (AGG)
0
-13,730,509
-8,389,129
-22,119,638
437
54 Professional- scientific & tech sv
0
-16,206,236
-6,079,392
-22,285,628
451
55 Management of companies (AG
0
-11,713,297
-1,251,605
-12,964,902
452
56 Administrative & waste services
0
-17,080,018
-3,423,466
-20,503,484
461
61 Educational svcs (AGG)
0
-530,548
-2,070,084
-2,600,632
464
62 Health & social services (AGG)
0
-6,197
-20,935,482
-20,941,678
475
71 Arts- entertainment & recreation
0
-979,784
-2,483,887
-3,463,671
479
72 Accomodation & food services
0
-3,419,108
-8,220,344
-11,639,452
482
81 Other services (AGG)
0
-7,086,618
-8,695,505
-15,782,123
495
92 Government & non NAICs (AGG
0
-4,849,003
-17,967,880
-22,816,884
1
30001
Instutitions (AGG)
Total
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
0
0
0
0
-535,110,784
-217,551,940
-143,368,215
-896,030,950
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-96
Table 4-16 Direct Losses to Employment
Industry
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Jewelry & silverware manufacturing
Accessories & other apparel manufacturing
Commercial Printing
Seafood product preparation & packaging
Indirect Losses to Employment
Wholesale trade
Management of companies & enterprises
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Other support services
Employment services
Induced Losses to Employment
Food services & drinking places
Offices of physicians, dentists, and other health practitioners
Wholesale Trade
Hospitals
Nursing & residential care facilities
Total Losses to Employment
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Wholesale trade
Jewelry & silverware manufacturing
Food services & drinking places
Commercial Printing
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Employment Loss
-2448
-213
-177
-168
-127
-424.8
-110.6
-99.9
-89.4
-50.2
-153.7
-80.7
-68.5
-65.4
-47.9
-2,554.9
-493.3
-214.0
-200
-198.8
Page 4-97
Table 4-17 Employment Impact
1
Industry
Direct
Indirect
Induced
11 Ag, Forestry, Fish & Hunting (
0
-6.2
-1
Total
-7.3
19
21 Mining (AGG)
0
-2.1
-1.5
-3.6
30
22 Utilities (AGG)
0
-6.5
-3.3
-9.8
33
23 Construction (AGG)
46
31-33 Manufacturing (AGG)
0
-14.4
-7.2
-21.6
-4,058.00
-325.8
-59.9
-4,443.70
390
42 Wholesale Trade (AGG)
391
48-49 Transportation & Warehousing
0
-424.8
-68.5
-493.3
0
-103.8
-34
401
44-45 Retail trade (AGG)
-137.9
0
-31.9
-244.5
-276.4
413
51 Information (AGG)
0
-27.9
-18.9
-46.8
425
52 Finance & insurance (AGG)
0
-51.2
-79.9
-131.1
431
53 Real estate & rental (AGG)
0
-56.2
-51.5
-107.7
437
54 Professional- scientific & tech sv
0
-144.2
-56.8
-201
451
55 Management of companies (AG
0
-110.6
-11.8
-122.4
452
56 Administrative & waste services
0
-192.6
-61.5
-254.2
461
61 Educational svcs (AGG)
0
-9.6
-44.6
-54.2
464
62 Health & social services (AGG)
0
-0.1
-264.4
-264.4
475
71 Arts- entertainment & recreation
0
-18.7
-36.2
-54.9
479
72 Accomodation & food services
0
-64
-165.8
-229.9
482
81 Other services (AGG)
0
-61.5
-138.4
-199.9
495
92 Government & non NAICs (AGG
0
-20.2
-15.9
-36.1
Instutitions (AGG)
0
0
0
0
-4,058.00
-1,672.40
-1,365.80
-7,096.20
30,001
Total
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-98
Table 4-18 Employment Levels
Industry
Employment
Loss
Post-Impact
Percent Change
11 Ag, Forestry, Fish & Hunting
8310
-6.2
8304
-0.07%
21 Mining
8819
-2.1
8817
-0.02%
-0.07%
9780
-6.5
9774
23 Construction
22 Utilities
238897
-14.4
238882
-0.01%
31-33 Manufacturing
607717
-325.8
607392
-0.05%
42 Wholesale Trade
252753
-424.8
252329
-0.17%
48-49 Transportation & Warehousing
165902
-103.8
165799
-0.06%
44-45 Retail trade
514728
-31.9
514696
-0.01%
51 Information
235078
-27.9
235050
-0.01%
52 Finance & insurance
252319
-51.2
252268
-0.02%
53 Real estate & rental
242682
-56.2
242626
-0.02%
54 Professional- scientific & tech svcs
470373
-144.2
470228
-0.03%
55 Management of companies
85391
-110.6
85280
-0.13%
56 Administrative & waste services
382305
-192.6
382113
-0.05%
61 Educational svcs
101069
-9.6
101060
-0.01%
62 Health & social services
428872
-0.1
428872
0.00%
71 Arts- entertainment & recreation
171866
-18.7
171848
-0.01%
72 Accomodation & food services
345609
-64
345545
-0.02%
-0.02%
81 Other services
395479
-61.5
395417
92 Government & non NAICs
609185
-20.2
609165
0.00%
Totals
5527136
-7,096.20
5525464
-0.03%
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-99
Table 4-19 Direct Losses to Labor Income
Industry
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Commercial printing
Jewelry and silverware manufacturing
Accessories & other apparel manufacturing
Seafood product preparation & packaging
Indirect Losses to Labor Income
Wholesale trade
Management of companies & enterprises
Other support services
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Truck Transportation
Induced Losses to Labor Income
Offices of physicians, dentists, and other health practitioners
Food services & drinking places
Wholesale trade
Hospitals
Securities, commodity contracts, investment
Total Losses to Labor Income
Cut & sew apparel manufacturing
Wholesale trade
Management of companies & enterprises
Commercial printing
Jewelry & silverware manufacturing
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Income Loss
-56,729,220
-6,777,403
-6,531,497
-4,921,506
-3,927,609
-20,757,450
-7,548,351
-3,307,910
-2,314,561
-2,113,402
-4,242,935
-3,508,975
-3,349,080
-3,326,236
-1,641,232
-59,206,980
-24,106,530
-8,354,918
-8,018,826
-6,562,113
Page 4-100
Table 4-20 Labor Income Impact
Direct
Indirect
Induced
Total
11 Ag, Forestry, Fish & Hunting (AGG)
Industry
0
-64,512
-29,406
-93,919
19
21 Mining (AGG)
0
-127,056
-87,158
-214,214
30
22 Utilities (AGG)
0
-897,028
-443,394
-1,340,422
33
23 Construction (AGG)
46
31-33 Manufacturing (AGG)
390
391
1
0
-669,472
-336,265
-1,005,737
-111,995,832
-11,020,866
-2,438,519
-125,455,216
42 Wholesale Trade (AGG)
0
-20,757,452
-3,349,080
-24,106,532
48-49 Transportation & Warehousing
0
-6,429,584
-2,096,617
-8,526,201
401
44-45 Retail trade (AGG)
0
-947,775
-6,999,632
-7,947,407
413
51 Information (AGG)
0
-2,335,320
-1,597,475
-3,932,795
425
52 Finance & insurance (AGG)
0
-3,343,813
-4,775,333
-8,119,145
431
53 Real estate & rental (AGG)
0
-1,515,067
-1,128,613
-2,643,681
437
54 Professional- scientific & tech sv
0
-8,810,931
-3,482,351
-12,293,282
451
55 Management of companies (AG
0
-7,548,351
-806,567
-8,354,918
452
56 Administrative & waste services
0
-6,515,823
-1,899,788
-8,415,611
461
61 Educational svcs (AGG)
0
-268,036
-1,334,557
-1,602,593
464
62 Health & social services (AGG)
0
-2,051
-10,710,673
-10,712,724
475
71 Arts- entertainment & recreation
0
-587,031
-1,233,397
-1,820,428
479
72 Accomodation & food services
0
-1,592,379
-3,867,457
-5,459,836
482
81 Other services (AGG)
0
-1,967,576
-3,036,529
-5,004,105
495
92 Government & non NAICs (AGG
0
-1,385,350
-1,066,128
-2,451,478
Instutitions (AGG)
0
0
0
0
-111,995,832
-76,785,474
-50,718,937
-239,500,242
30001
Total
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-101
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Page 4-105
GENTRIFICATION AND INDUSTRIAL
JOB RETENTION IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Page 4-106
Chapter 5
TRANSIT AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS: Challenges
and Opportunities for South Los Angeles
Miguel Nuñez
Enrique Velazquez
TRANSIT AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS: Challenges
and Opportunities for South Los Angeles
Page 5-1
5.1 INTRODUCTION
Much has been written of the effects that transit infrastructure investment can have on
transit systems and local residents (Boarnet, 1996; Garret and Taylor, 1999; Giuliano,
1995; Levinson, 2002; Taylor and Samples, 2002). Construction is lengthy and messy,
and subsequent use of facilities can substantially alter the functioning and character of a
neighborhood. On the other hand, capital investment is seen as a boon for economic
development and proximity to transportation infrastructure can result in improved
accessibility. A topic that is discussed less frequently is the potentially disruptive
consequences disinvestment and under-funding in facilities and properties owned by local
transit agencies can have on local neighborhoods. Maintenance yards, abandoned right of
ways (ROWs), and underutilized surface parking lots can become local junk-yards that
no one would want on their block.
As development attracts more residents, urban transportation infrastructure becomes
strained, leading to congested roads and crowded street parking. As a response to these
conditions many constituents and elected officials push for improved public transit to get
cars off the road and mitigate the environmental affects of heavy dependence on auto use
(Garret and Taylor, 1999; Giuliano, 2005; Wachs, 1989). Consequently, transit agencies
are reluctant to cede control of right of ways as they might be included in future plans,
and reacquiring urban land for transit right of ways can be very costly.
This research explores the tension between the rights of local residents to have a voice in
their community and the needs of public transit agencies to meet regional transit needs.
While transit infrastructure development is inevitable, the costs of such activities have
often accrued to low-income communities of color, disproportionately affecting their
quality of life.
This chapter will also discuss relevant players and suggest alternatives as to how these
players on an individual or collective basis can help the local nonprofits and area
residents achieve the goals of successfully reclaiming their neighborhood. Additionally,
the paper will address land assemblage possibilities within the neighborhood surrounding
the ROW; provide information and suggestions on how a section of the Metro’s right of
way i in the neighborhood could be utilized for this purpose. In support of these
arguments, information will be provided on how ROWs have been used for multi family
structures by the Cities of Pasadena and San Diego. Information will also be included on
current and past Joint Development (JD) projects the Metro has entered into with
nonprofit and for-profit entities allowing them to utilize their land for the construction of
for-rent and for-sale housing units.
Lastly, suggestions and recommendations will be made to all players mentioned, for
cooperation, entrepreneurship, and openness for the benefit of area residents. It is our
hope that this will be done to rectify the disenfranchisement this community has been
subjected to, and the many incompatible land use issues in the area, including industrial
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contamination of their neighborhood. Equally important are the questions of how this
historic effort could help to balance the industrial and residential needs in a healthy,
constructive and sustainable manner. This is an opportune time to raises these issues as
both the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the L.A. Planning Department
have new leaders who bring with them new energy, experience and open minds regarding
citizen participation in planning processes. The new Chief Executive Officer of the CRA,
Cecilia Estolano recently stated “we need to create economic opportunity for people that
live in place of projects so that they can have a better life and not gentrification, not
removal of people but removal of obstacles for economic benefits” (Estolano, 2007)
5.2 ROW BACKGROUND: LOCATION, SURROUNDING
AREA, STAKEHOLDERS AND EQUITY
A ROW is a stretch of land that is designated and preserved for transportation services
such as buses, streets, subways, and bike lanes. For example, the Century Freeway (105
Freeway) occupies a wide and lengthy ROW is a precondition for the location of the
freeway. This ROW allows for automobile, truck, and bus traffic. In addition, the
median of the Century Freeway has an additional ROW that contains the tracks, stations,
and equipment that service the Green Line (Figure 5-1). Sidewalks provide a ROW for
pedestrians and bike lanes provide a ROW for cyclists.
Figure 5-1
ROW Examples
Source: Google Earth
In transportation planning the requirements and design for right of ways can vary
substantially depending on the mode of transportation, hence the importance of obtaining
adequate right of ways. Vehicles, ROW, and terminals constitute a transit system. In the
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example of the Green Line, the trains represent the vehicles, the track in the median is the
ROW, and stations are terminals where passengers enter and exit the train. In this case
people are moved, but one might just as easily have vehicles, tracks, and stations that are
used for the movement of goods.
If a bike lane is being planned, it must be determined if there is adequate space to provide
an area for cyclists to travel. This space may be obtained by taking it from an existing
lane or removing on-street parking. By reserving that space for a bike lane a ROW is
created. Because freeways carry larger, heavier vehicles, and accommodate travel at
higher speeds, the ROW must allow for a design that can meet the transportation
system’s needs. Have you ever noticed that when you get on or off a freeway you are
almost always going up or downhill, rather than level? That is because freeway ROWs
can not interfere with the existing street network since they are designed for travel at
different speeds. Freeways have their own right of ways that are elevated or below grade.
Lanes on freeways are wider than lanes in streets to allow for safe travel at increased
speeds.
There are various reasons why the construction of rail requires a sizeable ROW. One
reason is travel time and efficiency of the network. By having a ROW that avoids streets
and intersections, rail systems avoid delays and interference with the automobile
network. Secondly, this results in safer transportation systems. It is preferable to avoid
crossing rail lines with right of ways for cars or pedestrians. This is one reason that rail is
often placed underground. It avoids having rail and automobile traffic sharing at-grade
crossings, reducing the likelihood of unsafe situations for drivers and pedestrians, and
allows for fast travel. One of the biggest drawbacks of subterranean construction, is of
course, the cost.
History of the Surrounding Area
South Los Angeles encompasses a number of communities that have been inhabited
predominately by minority populations in recent history. When the City of Los Angeles
incorporated in 1850, only 12 African Americans lived in the City (Leavitt, 1997). The
African American population steadily grew in the following years. Development through
much of Los Angeles was tied to farming, ranching, and the railroads. During the 1920s
Central Avenue was known as a cultural center of the African American community and
had a relatively sizeable black population. Still standing today is the Dunbar hotel which
was frequented by prominent African Americans. At this same time however, restrictive
covenants were often used to prevent the presence of black residents into mostly white
neighborhoods. In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that restrictive covenants on race
could be entered into between private parties, but were not enforceable. Legal actions,
coupled with demand for labor in the defense industries and the return of African
Americans who had served honorably in WWII, contributed to greater housing
opportunities for blacks. Ethnic and racial discrimination, however, persists to this day.
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According to the 1970 Census African Americans made up about 86.2 percent of the
population, by 1990 this percentage had decreased to 39 percent while the Hispanic
population had reached approximately 59 percent. The African American community
continues to be present physically and culturally in the area, particularly in the corridor
along Central Avenue. Most recent demographic trends suggest that while the Hispanic
population is growing, it has diversified to include more immigrants from Southern and
Central America (Census, 1990; Census, 2000).
Incompatibility of ROW, Zoning, and Land Uses
The 2.2-mile ROW known as the Long Beach Blue Line and Exposition Line connector
is named after a report entitled Long Beach Blue Line and Exposition Line Connector
Study (Connector Study). This report was commissioned by Metro and released in
December of 2006. It documents the history of the site and Metro’s current plans for the
property in question (Metro, 2006).
Many of the parcels adjoining the ROW are zoned for industrial use, while remaining
nearby land uses are predominately residential in nature (Figure 5-2). It is worth noting
the distinction between residential zones and residential uses in this community. Much of
the land is actually designated for industrial land use although it accommodates a
residential use (Figure 5-3). According to longtime resident, and organizer of Neighbors
for an Improved Community (NIC), there were somewhat failed attempts in the 70s by
the city to rezone this area to attract more industrial development (C. Nunez, personal
communication, 2/4/07) (see Figure 5-4).
Figure 5-2
Zoning Imposed on Aerial of ROW
Sources: Google Earth, ZIMAS
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Figure 5-3
Industrial Zone with Residential Land Uses
(Trinity Street between 31st and 32nd Street)
Source: Google Earth
Figure 5-4
Residential Use with Rear Yard Adjoining ROW
Source: Miguel Núñez
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The juxtaposition of aerial photographs and a zoning map demonstrates at least two
things. First, today, the diversity in land uses in the area continues to be incompatible as
the ROW, industrial properties, and residential properties are adjoining for much of the
ROW. Second, while the ROW is sizeable, it is a contentious assertion that the
community would be well served by installing at-grade rail in the midst of people’s
homes and backyards. Not to mention that there are likely industrial businesses that
would prefer to continue using the land they have leased or oppose the construction of
rail adjacent to their businesses.
Since Metro acquired the property in 1991 the tracks have not been used for any
transportation related use. As a result the ROW has suffered from neglect. The portions
surrounded by residential areas have been enclosed by Metro to prevent trespassing and
illicit activity, and the tracks are hardly visible under the years of dirt and vegetation that
have accumulated. Moreover, current long-range plans for Metro do not allocate funds or
make explicit plans to make use of the connector over the next 25 years (Metro, 2006).
Further east along the ROW, where industrial uses become more concentrated, some
businesses have leased the property from Metro for use as parking lots (Figure 5-5).
Figure 5-5
Leased Temporary Parking Areas Along ROW
Source: Google Earth
In sum, Metro owns a large strip of land that is in disrepair and essentially creates a
nuisance for the community in its current state. Metro’s goal to construct rail, does not in
the mind of residents, represent much of an improvement. As the figures below illustrate,
the site accumulates trash, creates an unsafe area, and diminishes the aesthetic qualities of
the neighborhood. Metro’s unwillingness to recognize the disruptive nature of the ROW,
with or without rail, is particularly concerning because they can not provide assurances
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that anything will happen on their property. They maintain that the value of the ROW for
potential transit infrastructure is just too valuable for them to cede control of the land. It
is hard to see why any community would be accepting of terms that ensured the
neighborhood would continue to bear the brunt of the non-monetary costs of the ROW,
with the prospect of very limited benefits so long as the site remains under Metro’s
control.
Relevant Players
Attempting to get rights from Metro to develop the ROW in a manner that is more
compatible with the community has been a lengthy process involving various entities and
organizations. The process has basically been one in which organizations and
community members have approached Metro about pursuing alternative uses for various
parcels near the intersection of 30th Street and Maple Street. These efforts have been
largely community-initiated and supported by local nonprofit agencies. Local political
officials and local government agencies have also become involved. The following
section will discuss the roles, motivations, and goals of entities involved in this process.
The 2006 Connector Study was commissioned in response to community groups’
requests to obtain development rights to the land, and at least an implicit recognition by
Metro that the current state of the ROW is not acceptable. Metro’s position, as outlined
in that report, is that the value of the ROW for future transit uses is too great to justify
allowing alternative developments by lease or sale of the property. It would be very
expensive to acquire right of ways in the future and Metro is considering how they will
be able to meet regional demand for transit in the future. While the report does not take
into consideration the costs the community has born to this point, or the costs of
disruption that might result from the construction of rail, it does discuss the potential for
alternative development on the ROW if it meets certain conditions.
Nonprofit organizations and community-based groups have been instrumental in
approaching Metro with different development proposals. Neighbors from an Improved
Community (NIC), is an organization of neighbors who would like to see the ROW
utilized in a manner that is compatible with the community and provides greater local
benefits. They argue that although it might be more expensive, using an alternate route
or undergrounding the rail line is preferable for the community. The Figueroa Corridor
Coalition for Economic Justice (FCCEJ), Figueroa Corridor Community Land Trust
(FCCLT), and the Strategic Action for a Just Economy (SAJE) have been some of the
local nonprofit organizations supporting NIC and working to promote development
projects that bring tangible benefits to local communities.
The FCCLT has a particular interest in obtaining land as they seek to construct affordable
housing in the neighborhood. If properties that are zoned for industrial use can be
purchased and combined with the ROW for development, greater opportunities can be
created in the vicinity than if the ROW could not be used for development. FCCLT is
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pursuing the possibility of obtaining leases from Metro to use the land from the ROW,
however Metro’s policies limit the type of development that can take place. This means
that restrictions are imposed on the FCCLT that would not otherwise be present when
acquiring land for the development of affordable housing (later sections of this paper will
directly address FCCLT’s involvement, the potential for housing development, and
examples of development near transit).
Councilwoman Jan Perry who presides over Council District 9 (CD9), where the ROW is
located, also has voiced strong support for development that is more harmonious with the
community and can provide opportunities for housing and economic development. The
Planning Department, sponsored by the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los
Angeles is currently revising a number of community plans throughout Los Angeles.
Both CRA and Councilwoman Perry have indicated that the revised community plans
would best serve the local community if the surrounding industrial uses were removed
and rezoned, and if Metro agreed not to develop the connector ROW for at-grade rail.
Councilwoman Perry’s influence has been essential in bringing the neighborhood’s
concerns to Metro.
The Planning Department and CRA have played less of a role as advocates, however they
will still be involved in the development of the area. CRA is providing funding for the
revision of the community plan which allows the Planning Department to research landuse possibilities and long-term planning for the area. A new community plan that
promotes the residential character of the neighborhood and recognizes the opportunities
that the ROW can create would be a powerful tool for the community to use in its effort
to promote rail in their neighborhood. Any future development would have to comply
with development standards related to the size, bulk, use, and parking requirements. The
Planning Department would be the agency responsible for approving entitlements and
ensuring compliance with zoning standards.
Transit Equity
The construction of rail systems is a substantial investment that has recently been taken
on by cities across the country. Before beginning a more specific discussion of the
incompatibility of Metro’s proposal, it is helpful to take a step back and look at some of
the issues and policies that have driven the development of rail in Los Angeles and other
Metropolitan areas. Political pressure, economic development, and environmental
concerns have all made rail popular among voters and decision makers. A brief
discussion of transit funding in California, political realities, and the use of transit in Los
Angeles will provide a context to better understand why investment in rail may not be the
best or most cost-effective way for Metro to meet the transit needs of this community or
Los Angeles in general.
It is important to clearly state what transit equity is and why this section is aimed at
making it a central part of this discussion. Equity can be interpreted in various ways and
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ignoring this fact can lead to a misunderstanding of what people want to see take place
with transit. For example, one example of equity is geographic equity, meaning that
different geographic areas receive the same amount of money that they collect through
taxes or fees (Levinson, 2002). Currently monies that are collected for transportation are
sent to the federal government who redistributes the funds to states, who in turn
redistributes money to local government agencies (Metro, 2006). States do not get back
exactly what they put in, some get less and some get more, therefore geographic equity is
not realized.
Others might argue that equity results when all people receive the same amount of
assistance or subsidy regardless of their location or economic situation. Some claim that
the distribution of resources should be done with respect to the needs of various groups.
The idea of transit equity is most closely aligned with the latter. Garret and Taylor (1999)
open their paper Reconsidering Social Equity in Public Transit with the claim that, “in
the United States [transit] has become first and foremost a social service.” We agree with
this claim, and submit that given current policies there is little prospect that this role of
transit will change significantly. Garret and Taylor go on to discuss why despite
intentions to deal with the above referenced problems, federal and local policies toward
the finance of transit continue to be problematic. Subsidy formulas for the transit
government heavily weight (almost 60 percent) service area coverage and capital
expenses, rather than ridership. This means an agency could get more money simply by
increasing service area size, almost without regard for the amount of people who are
actually moved. In addition, capital expenses tend to be related with rail transit which
studies have shown serves fewer trips than bus, and on average a wealthier constituency.
Metro’s local investment decisions are troubling because they have opted to invest in
attempting to attract choice riders as opposed to improving service for the majority of its
patrons. Once again, this has been done in response to the belief that this is a desirable
way to alleviate environmental ills and congestion. It is important to remember that bus
riders without access to other transit modes are usually not part of a strong political
constituency, meaning that competing interests are more likely to be heard and acted on
without any actual analyses of whether certain investments provide their stated benefits.
The importance of Garret and Taylor’s article lies in its ability to clearly identify
changing policy goals and the changing demographics of transit use. With this dynamic
in place it is possible to try and define a framework of our analysis, which can be termed
transit equity. This is a qualitative measure that we define as the presence of policies that
seek to ensure that transit investments, systems, improvements, and benefits are directed
toward those who are most in need of public transit services.
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5.3 INVESTMENT POLICIES, POLITICAL REALITIES,
AND TRANSIT RIDERSHIP IN LOS ANGELES
From 1950 to 1970 there was growth in transportation investments, mainly in the
construction of the highway system. At the time there was a commitment primarily to the
construction of roads and highways. In fact it was during this time that the 110 and 10
freeways were routed near South Los Angeles, in some ways acting as a “buffer” by
separating minority and white communities.
While much of this system was being completed into the 60s and 70s there were several
factors at work which ultimately limited the ability of transit agencies to accomplish their
original proposals within the time and budget allotted (Taylor, 1995). The construction
of freeways had negative impacts on low-income communities of color. Freeways were
opposed on the basis that while they provided benefits to users of the transit system, the
costs of this activity (construction and use of freeways) disproportionately affected lowincome communities of color. Rather than adopting the narrowly conceived rationales of
highway engineers whose goal it was to move vehicles and people from point A to point
B, planners became aware of the costs to local residents. Completed construction of
freeways, and subsequent use by autos and trucks, has increased the negative effects of
these investments on nearby residents. Thus these impacts have been felt during
construction and during the operation of freeways. Some of the most pronounced
negative impacts include displacement, pollution, noise, and aesthetic impacts.
Local opposition increased the environmental and planning costs of construction. Transit
agencies were required to invest more money in mitigation, while construction costs
increased due to the effects of improved highway design, inflation (reduced purchasing
power of gas tax and other transit fund sources), and increased material and labor costs
(high demand for goods and labor) (Taylor, 1995).
Given the context of increasing costs, large construction projects on the horizon, and
diminishing revenue, highway construction experienced a substantial decline prior to the
decision of Governor Jerry Brown and CalTrans Director Adriana Giancurto to embark
on a policy of multi-modal transit systems (Taylor, 1995). This practically worked itself
out in the following way:
•
•
•
The 50s saw widespread support for construction projects and the budget seemed
to account for such proposals.
The 60s and 70s saw an increase in opposition to freeways in conjunction with
increasing costs of construction, expansion of program commitments, and the
diminishing buying power of revenue from the federal government and gas taxes.
Subsequently, transit agencies were forced to scale down projects and/or extend
the timeline for completion so that annual budgets could lead to an eventual
completion of such projects.
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In the 70s when construction of California highways slowed significantly due to financial
uncertainty, many faulted Governor Brown and Giancurto for intentionally shifting
policy to favor multi-modal transit development, rather than recognizing funds had been
falling short before any such policy had been developed. Today, many municipalities are
competing for state and federal assistance to complete their transit projects. With limited
funds available, a common strategy is for agencies to tout the many benefits of their
projects and under report monetary costs (Hess and Lombardi, 2005; Wachs, 1985).
Most often agencies in fairly large Metropolitan areas will research the potential for rail
and claim that it will help to alleviate congestion, reduce emissions, and attract
substantial ridership at a relatively low cost. The research done by Martin Wachs (1985)
documents the exaggeration of benefits and the under-pricing of large infrastructure
projects to get approvals and monetary assistance from government agencies. Following
much in the style of Robert Moses in the Power Broker, once funds are committed to
begin, agencies will over time receive the funds needed to complete projects, although
initial information may not have been entirely truthful.
Furthermore, many transit scholars agree on several points related to these claims.
Significant increases in current transit ridership would provide negligible reductions in
emissions or congestion (Hess and Lombardi, 2005; Giuliano 2005; Garret and Taylor
1999). Most trips made by low-income minorities today in urban areas are made by
automobile and they tend to take shorter trips whether on transit or auto because of
increased costs of travel (Giuliano, 2005). Political concerns regarding pollution and a
public reluctance to construct more urban freeway has resulted in policies that are aimed
at attracting wealthier automobile users to public transit. Studies that have researched
the amount of subsidies going to bus, subway, and commuter rail have consistently
found over the last 25 years, that the least subsidies have gone to the modes where
the highest proportion of riders are poor, elderly, minorities, and women (Garret and
Taylor, 1999).
Many of the subsidies provided by the federal government and state have ignored
whether or not the money provided actually resulted in the predicted benefits. In fact,
one of the most pronounced biases in federal funding of transit is towards capital as
opposed to operating expenses. Capital expenses relate to machinery, goods, and
vehicles while operating expenses are closely tied to compensation, wages, and benefits.
There are a couple of reasons this is the case. One is that there is a belief by the federal
government that allotting money for capital expenses is more efficient because if local
agencies have to cover their own operating expenses there is a belief they will do it more
efficiently. Secondly, capital expenses tend to be large one-time purchases, unlike
salaries, which are paid regularly. It is the impression of the government that by keeping
capital funds in accounts they can accrue interest, thereby reducing the amount of money
that is collected from taxpayers to repay the funds (Taylor and Samples, 2002).
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Another reason that agencies like to promote large capital projects like rail is the belief
that it is an effective tool for job creation and economic development. The labor
intensive projects are thought to create jobs in construction and other technical service
trades. In addition, it is thought that people working in the area will spend their money in
the area, providing a boost for local economic businesses. While this may be the case, it
is also true that local businesses suffer great disruption from such projects as travel in the
area becomes more difficult during construction. One only need drive up Alameda Street
towards Union Station to get a glimpse of the disruption that the construction of rail can
cause. What is interesting is that some research suggests that the economic benefits to an
area may actually be greater from providing funding to operating expenditures instead of
capital expenditures. Taylor and Samples (2002) find that, in terms of employment,
operating subsidies tend to create greater economic benefits than capital subsidies.
Capital subsidies may not go toward the construction of new projects, and those working
on the project may not be from the area. They find that employee compensation tends to
have a greater economic multiplier effect than various other expenditures.
Thus we have a climate in which investment in rail and capital expenditures is favored
for environmental, economic, and political reasons. Meanwhile research suggests that
such trends disproportionately benefit wealthier choice riders as opposed to the greatest
number of transit patrons who tend to be low-income, minorities, women, and the elderly.
There is no doubt that if you were to board any of the rail lines in Los Angeles you would
find many of those patrons who characteristically use the bus. The point is not that
transit-dependents use only the bus. The issue is that if Metro seeks to increase ridership,
reduce congestion, and help reduce emissions there are many other cost-effective and
equitable ways to do it, for the same amount, if not less. As a quick and easy example
consider the following statistic provided by Dr. Taylor in a recent lecture: in Los Angeles
$128.1 million in operating costs on the Blue Line moved 11.3 million passengers, while
for the exact same amount of operating costs, 183.6 million passengers used Metro’s 17
busiest bus lines (Taylor “Fares in Public Transit” Lecture, 3/14/07).
5.4 METRO AND THE ROW
The tension between transit agencies, local residents, and patrons is not new. Whether it
is the construction of freeways, rail, or the provision of service, it is often the case that a
group is not pleased with the actions of Metro. Local residents in any area usually
oppose the construction of rail or roads nearby on the basis that it will disrupt their
community, create unsafe situations, or increase the amount of negative externalities that
neighborhoods are forced to deal with. On the other hand, patrons of Metro have often
criticized their practices, most notably resulting in the consent decree between Metro and
the Bus Rider’s Union (BRU). The BRU took Metro to court arguing that Metro’s
policies violated the civil rights of bus riders as fares and future projects focused on
improving rail service while very little money was being used to improve transit or
provide a relief in fares. The BRU prevailed in court and as a result the consent decree
was born.
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Some might argue that local residents have little reason to oppose development on the
ROW. Since it would be rail so there would be little in the way of pollution or auto
congestion, and some stations would be put in their neighborhood improving mobility
and accessibility, thereby reducing the cost of travel to many residents. Whether or not
this is the case seems largely irrelevant from the perspective that many wealthier
communities have been able to forego the benefits of local transit options and improved
accessibility in favor of a peaceful and harmonious residential neighborhood. Does this
community have less of a right to make that decision than other communities? Phrased
another way, does the fact that this community is comprised of low-income minorities
mean that they lack the political clout, or economic and organizational resources to have
their claims heard on equal terms? We believe the answer is NO!
As mentioned earlier, the Connector Study released late in 2006 asserts that the potential
value of the ROW for future use is too great for them to sell or lease the land for the
development of permanent structures or those that might prevent future use by Metro.
They arrive at this conclusion in their study by evaluating alternative uses for the ROW
and alternative alignments of the ROW that make no or partial use of the ROW. The
alternatives include development of the ROW geared toward pedestrian travel, bus travel,
and rail travel. These three options are compared based on the benefits to accessibility,
compatibility with revitalization, and safety (Metro, 2006).
In this initial screening portion of the report they make some questionable findings. For
instance a busway along the ROW and Jefferson Boulevard is found to create safety
concerns. However, the same report determines that at-grade rail along the exact same
path does not create any safety concerns. It also finds that a busway along the same path
as rail would provide minimal travel time improvements whereas rail would provide a
considerably greater improvement in travel time. From this initial screening, which does
not provide a written justification, but rather a matrix with boxes marked off, only two
rail options are carried forward. Thus, Metro has already determined that only rail is
acceptable based on their criteria (Table 5-1).
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Table 5-1
Evaluation of Alternatives with Initial Screening Criteria
Alternative
Minimal Travel Incompatible
Safety
Carried
Time
with
Concerns
Forward for
Improvement
Revitalization
Further
Evaluation
Pedestrian/Bicycle
P-1:
Pedestrian/Bicycle
X
X
Path via ROW
Busway
B-1: At-Grade
X
X
X
Bus via ROW
B-2: At-Grade
Bus via ROW and
X
X
Jefferson Blvd.
Rail
R-1: At-Grade
Rail via ROW
X
X
between Jefferson
and Flower
R-2: : At-Grade
Rail via ROW and
X
Jefferson Blvd
R-3: : Rail via
ROW with
X
Below-Grade
Segment West of
Jefferson Blvd.
Source: Metro
At this point they proceed to evaluate various alternatives for the alignments (routes) that
such a rail system might follow. The basic goal of this connector is to provide an eastwest connection between the Blue Line to the east and the Exposition Line (under
construction on Exposition south of USC) to the west of the connector. Without this
connector the transfer could be made by taking the Blue Line to the 7th Street/Metro
Center station, and taking the Exposition line south to the University of Southern
California (USC) where it will eventually head west to Culver City (Figure 5-6). There
are other options for Metro such as using an east-west connection along other corridors
such as Slauson Street or Vernon Avenue. In this case the rail would be near major
streets which accommodate retail and commercial uses that could benefit from increased
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customer traffic as opposed to the residential neighborhood that currently exists along the
ROW.
Figure 5-6
Proposed Expo Line and Existing Rail in South Los Angeles
Source: Metro
Metro is open to proposals for development along the portion of the ROW near 31st Street
and Trinity Street so long that the physical profile of the development does not prevent
future construction and operation of a future light rail project. Metro also has Right of
Ways Preservation Guidelines that govern what may be done with agency property if it is
not being utilized by Metro. The guidelines are meant to provide staff with direction on
how requests from nearby residents and land owners for converting agency property may
be handled. The stated goal of the guidelines is to balance local desires for improvement
while preserving the land for future transportation uses.
The guidelines basically discuss six scenarios in which requests for alterations to agency
property might be requested. They are: 1) rail removal, 2) landscaping, 3) bicycle and
pedestrian paths, 4) billboard removal, 5) use restrictions, and 6) grade crossings. The
relevant guidelines in this instance are 1, 2, 3, and 5. The removal of tracks is prohibited
unless it is to accommodate another transit use, but they can be covered with paving or
dirt. Landscaping is allowed only along the perimeters so as not to interfere with the
center of the ROW, and is required to be approved by Metro. Bicycle and pedestrian
paths are prohibited unless it can be demonstrated that it would not interfere with the
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development of a future rail project. Finally, there is a list of restricted uses which is
worth quoting verbatim:
Only temporary structures and convenience parking--not permanent--are
permitted on rights-of-way, but structures that support community
activities such as temporary churches and school buildings, public parks,
recreational facilities, equestrian trails, farmers’ markets, primary parking
and municipal parking lots are not (Metro, 2000; emphasis added).
As a result of these restrictions, Metro has effectively pre-empted many development
proposals that might come from locals. In this case a pedestrian or bike path was not
particularly desirable to the community for safety reasons, however many other
temporary structures are prohibited. It appears as though parking and housing are
precluded on the ROW, even if the FCCLT was able to assemble a large enough piece of
land.
From the perspective of a potential developer, such as the FCCLT, a lease might be just
as good, if not better than purchasing the land. If the land could be used for temporary
structures that served community purposes it is hard to see Metro getting control back
under the circumstances, specifically because the current 25-year plan does not include
use of this ROW. It would be difficult for Metro to ask for the building to be razed in
2035 after a housing, educational, or community-based development had been built and
patronized by local residents, whether it was intended to be temporary or permanent. A
lease would be more cost effective, essentially turning a lease into a sale, without an
actual purchase taking place.
Although Metro’s report states that they are willing to entertain development proposals
from the community, it appears that Metro’s policies significantly restrict the
opportunities for development that the community is seeking. The voice of the
community regarding the use of this land has been almost completely drowned out by the
policies and actions of Metro. Yet Metro’s proposals and actions have been the most
absurd to be seen. What Metro continues to maintain is that the community has to
continue to bear the costs of this unutilized piece of land because there is a prospect that
at some point in the distant future, Metro will use the land to install a rail system adjacent
to their residential properties. This simply does not make any sense for the community to
accept. Instead, they feel they should have some ability to make use of the land in a way
they feel serves the community, even if Metro were to allow only temporary structures.
The process through which Metro has arrived at the conclusions included in their report
lacks transparency and a tangible element of community participation. Furthermore, their
proposal prevents the community from exercising or enacting a method for them to voice
what alternative types of uses could provide greater benefits. And, Metro’s policies seem
to be misguided in at least two ways. First of all, investment in rail is unlikely to provide
many of the stated benefits with respect to ridership increases, reductions in congestion
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and pollution; and secondly, economic development. By improving bus service they
could make as many gains as they are making with rail at a fraction of the cost. Second
of all, their policies ignore the needs and wants of the vast majority of their patrons in
hopes of increasing ridership from discretionary riders.
5.5 HOW CAN COMMUNITY MEMBERS USE THE ROW
SECTION IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD?
In order to answer this question, different alternatives and the models have been
explored. Homeowners and renters to the area were surveyed and results of the surveys
are included in the following section. Community activists, non-profit organizations,
Metro staff and a series of writings were also consulted in the spirit of exploring the
possibilities and limitations of the use of the ROW.
According to Metro, No permanent structures will be allowed at grade level in the
ROW section that extends from Main Street to Long Beach Boulevard due to the
potential for rail construction (Metro, 2006). This information is critical for
community members as these restrictions seriously limit its possible use. Furthermore,
according to Metro documents, lease of the ROW should not be made for a public
community use. By public community use, the Metro includes structures such as
temporary churches, schoolrooms or other community buildings, park and recreational
uses (Metro, 2003). As mentioned before, only temporary structures such as construction
trailers, portable offices or other portable structures on concrete slabs will be allowed as
the Metro is non-committal regarding long term leases on this section of the right of way
because it is uncertain as to when they could need the land for transportation purposes.
Survey of Residents Regarding ROW
Families who live along two blocks of this neighborhood where the ROW cuts across
their homes’ backyards were surveyed. Information gathering was intentionally limited
to these two blocks, represented in Figure 5-3. No homes or apartment buildings exist in
the rest of the blocks where the ROW cuts across the neighborhood. Nineteen of twenty
families responded to two questions: 1) Has the ROW affected you and/or your family in
any way, and 2) If the ROW was available to you, how would you use it?
The biggest problem people noted was trespassing. They expressed great concern that
trespassing endangers the safety, security and privacy of their children since trespassers –
homeless people, gang members and school kids -- look into their homes through their
backyard windows which are next to the ROW. The second biggest concern was that the
ROW has become a dump. Residents stated that people from outside the neighborhood
come to dump items in the ROW because it is not supervised. It is easy to break in and
nobody seems to care about what happens there.
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With respect to community use, most people said they want the ROW to be used for a
community garden or park. People complained about the lack of green areas in the
neighborhood and that a green area would provide children somewhere to play and
exercise instead of watching television.
ROW Sections and Potential for Housing Construction
Metro has divided the ROW in the neighborhood segment in two sections, one section
that runs from Main Street to Long Beach Boulevard to the east and the other segment
that runs from Main Street to Flower Street to the west. Metro’s logic behind the ROW
partition in these two segments is the future construction of the Exposition Connector
which calls for the construction of at-grade rail from Main to San Pedro Streets and
underground construction from Main to Flower Streets (Metro, 2006). ii Following is a
discussion about two potential alternatives of community use of the ROW section that
takes into consideration: 1) Metro limits imposed on community members’ proposals for
housing construction and 2) People’s other aspirations for ROW use.
Metro has funding available in fiscal year 2006-2007 for fencing, landscaping, and other
aesthetic improvements along the ROW segment within this community (Draft Staff
Report: Exposition Connector ROW). Community leaders and the FCCLT may be able
to utilize these funds to fence in and improve the appearance of the ROW to prevent
further trespassing and to prevent continued trash dumping in the ROW (two of the main
problems which were mentioned by surveyed community members). Temporary ROW
improvements in the neighborhood may have positive results and encourage other
community leaders to step forward. Since neither community leaders nor the FCCLT are
certain about whether or not they will be able to use the ROW for housing production and
while that option is under consideration, an immediate and concrete possibility may be to
temporarily alleviate the problems of trash and trespassing, while exploring a more
permanent solution to the problem.
5.6 CURRENT ROW USE
The following matrix offers information about current leasing, occupancy and vacancy
data regarding the ROW section that runs across this neighborhood. Based on our
interpretation, and consistent with Metro’s rhetoric and leasing policies, all leased out
sections are temporary. To make sure that uses are temporary, Metro has made sure that
all uses fall within the scope of parking or storage since their leases do not allow more
permanent uses. Information in this table should be useful to those engaged in this effort
as it informs them on available ROW sections throughout their community and at the
same time would help them plan more objectively.
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Table 5-2 Current ROW Use
From
To
Length Classification How is it being used?*
(ft)
Flower
Hill St.
1,540
Leased, In Use
Part of this section is
St.
empty and the other is
used by USC as parking
Hill St.
Broadway
650
Leased,
Used as parking
Vacant
Broadway Main St.
280
Leased, In Use
Used as parking by a
Taqueria and Clothing
Outlet Store
Jefferson
Maple
1,210
Vacant
Not in use – vacant
Blvd.
Ave.
Maple
32nd St.
200
Leased, In Use Not in use, fenced and
Ave.
clear
Maple
San Pedro
1,380
Vacant
Not in use, fenced and
Ave.
St.
vacant
nd
32 St.
Griffith
1,340
Leased, In Use Used for parking and to
Ave.
store truck containers
San Pedro
Naomi
1,860
Leased,
Semi used – few parked
St.
Ave.
Vacant
cars and scrap metals
Naomi
Compton
1,880
Leased, In Use
Fenced, used to store
Ave.
Ave.
truck containers
Compton
Nevin
850
Vacant
Not in use, not fenced
Ave.
Ave.
and open
Nevin
Long
550
Vacant
Same as above
Ave.
Beach
Ave.
Source: STV, Inc.; * NOTE: This column includes data collected by the author
of this section.
The Main to Long Beach ROW Segment
Regarding the ROW section between Main Street and Long Beach Boulevard, the Metro
has expressed it would be willing to lease out this section, but no permanent structures
will be allowed to be built at grade level. Only temporary structures such as construction
trailers, portable offices or other portable structures on concrete slabs will be allowed.
Clearly, Metro guidelines for ROW use do not meet local residents’ needs, but at least
provides them with funds to control the problems and improve its appearance. We
consider this an important event in their efforts as it will provide them with some ability
to change the ROW appearance albeit without, for the time being, having total control
over how to use it. Building on the idea of community gains, the Metro is open to
proposals for development above the ROW as long as the proposed development
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incorporates provisions and a spatial profile that do not preclude construction and
operation of a future light rail transit project (Metro, 2006). Under these circumstances,
if housing is to be built in any block of this ROW section, and land surrounding the ROW
is assembled, it will be acceptable to connect the building on both sides of the ROW
leaving enough air clearance for trains to run underneath the building. Examples of this
type of construction will be provided in a later section.
The Main to Flower ROW Section
In this ROW section, according to Metro, permanent structures can be built as long as site
planning, building and foundation design, and construction do not preclude the
development of a future underground rail alignment (Metro, 2006). The FCCLT and
area residents could start negotiating with Metro on possible uses of this segment of the
ROW including the construction of affordable housing or community gardens, for
example. The FCCLT and area residents need to be aware that some sections within this
ROW segment are leased and in use. It is also important to note that this ROW section is
surrounded by industrial buildings and that no residential structures are in this area.
Equally important is to think of this ROW section as the best one to assemble land on
both sides of the ROW, as that will allow its use at grade level and increase the
possibility of the construction of affordable housing on a more massive scale compared to
the ROW section to the east of this neighborhood.
5.7 EXAMPLES OF ROW USE FOR HOUSING
CONSTRUCTION
Examples of ROW use for the construction of apartment buildings are provided in this
section. These examples are provided here to inform the FCCLT of the role that city
agencies have played in the development of each of these projects. The CRAs for the
Cities of San Diego, Pasadena and Los Angeles as well as the Planning Departments for
the last two cities mentioned provided valuable documents and information regarding
how each of these Transportation Oriented Developments (TOD) iii were put together.
Equally important were documents from the Los Angeles Metro Library which provided
information on the use of city-owned land in Pasadena for the Del Mar and the Holly
Apartments, and the Joint Development (JD) projects that Metro has engaged in
throughout Los Angeles.
The Del Mar Apartments in Pasadena
This project consists of 347 apartment units, restaurants and retail space, restoration and
adaptive iv reuse of the historic Santa Fe Depot (Pasadena City Council Agenda Report,
May 20, 2002). The City of Pasadena played an instrumental role in the financing of this
project by acquiring development rights from the Metro, and creating their own Rail
Construction Authority. The City also relocated the Santa Fe Depot, and approved Tax
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Increment Financing (TIF) for Urban Partners LLC to help them in the construction of
this station. The City of Pasadena owned land adjacent to the project which was also
made part of the Disposition Development Agreement (DDA) v between the Pasadena
CRA and the developer.
Figure 5-7 Del Mar Apartments, Gold Line Station in Pasadena, CA
Source: Kike Velasquez
Pictured above is a train entering the Del Mar apartments on Del Mar Avenue in
Pasadena. The photo shows how in this particular case both the train and the apartment
building share the use of the ROW; the train is able to run at grade level while the
building utilizes the ROW air rights by connecting the two sections of the building above
the ROW. This image is useful to portray possibilities in case the FCCLT is able to
assemble land on both sides of the ROW.
Figure 5-8 Cross-Section of Light Rail
Development Above
This sketch illustrates the dimensions of the
cross section of Light Rail with Development
above, provided by the METRO as a sample
for developments above their right of ways.
The height is 25’ while the required width is
30’ across the opening in the structure to be
built and connected above the right of way.
Source: STV Incorporated
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The Holly Street Apartments in Pasadena
This project entailed the construction of approximately 350 residential units by the Janss
Corporation who won the request for proposal to develop approximately four acres of
land. The project included the acquisition and rehabilitation of the Young Men’s
Christian Association (YMCA) in Old Town Pasadena and the rehabilitation of the
adjacent Hall of Justice on Marengo Street slated for new units of housing as the main
part of the project. The developer was granted $500,000 in transportation monies for the
purpose of covering verified costs of construction of the proposed tunnel over the Santa
Fe ROW (California Transit Oriented Database, 2001). Funding for Holly Street
Apartments came from a variety of sources including bonds, grants, tax credits, tax
exemptions, multi-family bonds, and Mello-Roos. In essence, the City of Pasadena
granted the developer financing and land to make the project possible.
Figure 5-9 Holly Street Apartments, Gold Line Station in Pasadena, CA
Source: Kike Velasquez
Just as in the Del Mar Apartment complex, the building uses the ROW air rights at the
same time that the train is able to use the ROW. This model could potentially be
replicated in South Los Angeles area in the event that area residents and FCCLT are able
to only assemble land on one side of the ROW in the neighborhood.
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The San Diego Mercado Apartments
This project was partially financed by The Community Redevelopment Agency of San
Diego (CRASD) through the creation of a redevelopment plan for the Barrio Logan
neighborhood near the center of downtown San Diego. The project included the
construction of 144 units of housing for very low and low-income persons. The
neighborhood has for a long time been inhabited by low-income Latino families and had
for years also suffered from heavy economic disinvestment (DDA-Mercado Apartments).
The CRASD selected the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee (MAAC) as the
developer for the construction of the low-income units and assisted them in acquiring a
site owned by the San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E) through the exercise
of its powers pursuant to the California Community Redevelopment Law, Eminent
Domain Law and the Redevelopment Plan, (DDA-Mercado Apartments, 1992).
Figure 5-10 Mercado Apartments- Barrio Logan, San Diego, CA
Source: Smart Growth Web Site
This picture shows how a section of the apartment complex runs underneath the San
Diego Coronado Bay Bridge. This structure’s configuration was designed in order to
take advantage of available land on both sides of the bridge.
5.8 JOINT DEVELOPMENT EXAMPLES AND
OPPORTUNITIES
The purpose of this section is to provide community residents and the FCCLT with basic
information regarding agreements the Metro has entered into with private developers for
the use of their properties for housing construction or mixed use purposes. In addition to
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providing a series of Joint Development samples, this section will also include policies
and guidelines the Metro has developed to control the kinds of development allowed on
their properties.
Joint development is a real property asset development and management program
designed to secure the most appropriate private and/or public sector development on
Metro-owned property at and adjacent to transit stations and corridors (Metro, 2005).
The Soto Gold Line Station
This project includes Metro properties adjacent to the Metro Gold Line Soto Station in
East Los Angeles. This station is part of the Metro Gold Line extension and will include
the development of a mixed use project that includes a childcare center, 46 units of
affordable housing and a community-oriented retail center (Metro Planning and
Programming, 2005). The developer for the project is the 1st and Soto LLC. As with
other developments, the developer was chosen in a competitive bidding process.
The Taylor Yards
In this case the Metro negotiated with Taylor Yards LLC, a for-profit developer, for the
development of twenty-four acres of Metro owned land located adjacent to the Metrolink
Maintenance facility south of San Fernando Road and north of the Los Angeles River.
The developer has designed a mixed-use development that includes 238 for-rent units of
housing, 76 for-sale units and a local community service plus retail space. The
development includes the set aside of five acres of Metro land for a future light rail
station for the proposed Glendale Line (Metro Planning and Programming, 2005).
The Santa Fe Yards
The Santa Fe Yards case is different from the two previous examples because it is a land
lease agreement between the Metro and Polis/McGregor Santa Fe Yards. According to
Metro documents, in this case, the Metro was able to lease out this property because it did
not have plans for the properties and the properties have no role in their long term plan.
The developer will build between 270-414 student housing units for the Southern
California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arch) located immediately across the street from
Police Division 20 and will include a retail complex. The agreement between Metro and
the developer is for a 55-year initial term with two ten year options to extend the lease
(Metro Santa Fe yards, 2005).
Land Parcel Owned by Metro
A piece of land that has permanent development potential and should be considered by
the FCCLT is bounded by Jefferson Boulevard, and Broadway and Main Streets.
According to Metro officials and documents, they own this land and in the future, a rail
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station may be placed there. On different occasions, Metro has stated it is willing to
consider long term JD proposals for this site and that it will give priority to affordable
housing projects to be developed at the site (Metro, 2006). A couple of challenges the
FCCLT will have to tackle on this piece of land are: 1) figuring out how to accommodate
a project in this lot whose dimensions are roughly 7,000 square feet short of the minimum
40,000 square feet they seek for their developments. The lot’s dimension will restrict the
number of units the FCCLT could build in each of their projects; 2) designing a building
which will allow the use of ROW for future Metro rail use at the same time that the
building uses the ROW air rights, vi 3) rezoning the area from commercial to residential
use; and 4) negotiating with Metro officials site leasing terms as Metro tends to enter into
long-term leases that fall in line with their goals and vision of their long-term
transportation plans vii . We include here a site and aerial photo, as reference for
community residents and for the FCCLT visualization of the physical site location.
Figure 5-11
Land Parcel owned by METRO in South LA
In this aerial photo you appreciate the
piece of land owned by the Metro
bounded by Jefferson Boulevard to the
south, Broadway Street to the west and
Main Street to the east where the FCCLT
could potentially build affordable
housing. Presently, this land is leased by
a clothing outlet store and a Taqueria.
Both businesses and the businesses on
the south side of this ROW section
utilize the ROW for parking purposes.
Source: Google Earth
Source: Google Earth
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Figure 5-12 Taco stand in Parcel owned by METRO
This is a picture of the taco stand at the
southeast corner of Main Street and
Jefferson Boulevard. The right of way
section represented in the aerial above,
runs immediately behind this taco place.
Source: Kike Velasquez
As discouraging as it is, and after learning about the potential this site has for a FCCLT
project, we have been informed that Metro has recently renewed an “interim” 5 year lease
contract with the clothing outlet store on this site which includes a legal clause to
terminate it at any given time. viii This lease and to a much greater degree, the
Exposition’s Authority ix plan to use the ROW section in this block for a period of five
years to store building materials for the Expo-Line under construction, in practice,
eliminates immediate use of the site by the FCCLT, unless negotiations are immediately
developed with Metro toward that end. We believe that the minimum Metro can do to
start repairing the damage they have caused to this community is to allow the FCCLT to
use this site to build affordable housing.
5.9 WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO REPLICATE THE
PREVIOUS HOUSING EXAMPLES IN SOUTHEAST
LOS ANGELES?
A convergence of policy decisions are needed to make housing development possible in
Southeast Los Angeles. These include: the ability to assemble land and rezoning from
industrial to residential uses, CRALA’s use of the power of eminent domain, and the help
of the Department of City Planning. The will of community residents to change current
existing conditions in the neighborhood has never fallen short. An example of this effort
is the battle that area residents fought against Area City Council Representative Lindsay,
who, in 1987, introduced a motion in City Council to change the area’s community plan
to affirm commercial and manufacturing along the Maple Avenue corridor from 23rd to
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36th Street, (Harris, 1987). This example also serves as evidence of the insensitivity of
city politics to residents’ longstanding needs and frustrations about their desire to change
the neighborhood’s landscape.
Community Plan Update and Councilmember Support to Residents’ Efforts
The political will to force these changes in the neighborhood is currently present and has
been attained thanks to the tenacity of area leaders and nonprofits over years. An
example of this political will is the continued support that Councilwoman Jan Perry has
provided NIC and area nonprofits to rezone the neighborhood from industrial to
residential. To achieve this effort, and to show her support to area residents when
engaging Metro staff, she has assigned her Chief of Staff Kathy Godfrey and her housing
consultant and ex-Councilmember Mike Hernandez to assist residents in the effort.
Furthermore, we understand that Councilwoman Perry has made a formal request to the
Los Angeles Planning Department and CRA that their final industry retention x
recommendations for South Los Angeles do not take precedence over the ongoing
Community Plan update.
Important elements to the City’s Study on Industry Retention and to the Community Plan
update are:
•
•
•
The Industry Retention study has been completed and initial recommendations
for the South Los Angeles area have already been made. Area residents, nonprofits, and Councilwoman Jan Perry are not pleased with the result primarily
because all existing industrial zones in the area are recommended to remain as
such;
The Planning Department will conduct focus groups, they claim, to include
community input into the write-up of the Community Plan update. When the
Community Plan is complete, presentations are to be made before community
groups and then a final draft is presented before council for approval. City
Council has final say on approval or modifications.
Councilwoman Jan Perry will have great influence in the Community Plan
update content because its final version is to be approved by the entire City
Council.
An example of City agencies cooperation to make possible the development of housing
projects in the area is the 29th Street Housing Project. This is a project under current
development in the neighborhood, which could not have happened without the
intervention of the CRA and Department of City Planning and Councilwoman Jan Perry.
The 29th Street Housing Development
The 29th Street block between San Pedro Avenue and Griffith Avenue has been targeted
for rezoning from its current industrial use to residential use. According to CRA
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documents, the rezoning changes will be enacted via a General Plan Amendment and
Zone Change that the City Council is processing. Final approval of the new land use
designation is expected to occur in June 2007 (CRA Commissioners, agreement with
UHC, LA 29 L.P., 2007).
To justify the rezoning, the Council office is using the argument that industrial land use is
incompatible in the neighborhood, xi and this view is widely held in the community
which has suffered from the presence of a toxic metal plating factory on the site, which is
next door to a grammar school and surrounded by residential uses.
The housing project consists of two phases. Phase A of the development project
proposes the transition from industrial land use to residential uses, which is permitted by
the redevelopment plan, although the change requires a general plan amendment. Phase
B of the project proposes the construction of approximately 112 rental units and possibly
ownership housing with support services for residents of the area (ibid).
CRA documents detail that a $3.5 million loan has been approved to a limited partnership
for site acquisition and predevelopment purposes (architectural services, engineering,
environmental reports and legal fees). Both the City Council office and the Council
District Nine Corridors South of the Santa Monica Freeway Recovery Redevelopment
Project Area’s Community Advisory Committee have reviewed and support the project.
CRA Redevelopment Plan for Council District Nine Corridors South of the Santa
Monica Freeway–Recovery Redevelopment Project
This section is a summary of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los
Angeles, Redevelopment Plan for the Council District Nine Corridors South of the Santa
Monica Freeway–Recovery Redevelopment Project which was adopted in December 13,
1995. The sections we include here are a summary of what we consider are the most
important and relevant parts of this Recovery Plan which could play an important role in
community attempts to rezone the neighborhood.
Acquisition of Real Property
“The Agency shall not exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire any parcel of
real property within the project area for which proceedings in eminent domain have not
commenced within twelve (12) years after the adoption of this plan. This time limitation
may be extended only by amendment of this plan.” According to this document CRA
eminent domain power end in December 2007.
Industrial Uses
“Areas shown on the Map xii as industrial shall be maintained, developed and used for
industrial uses consistent with the community plan, as it now reads, or as it may be
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amended from time to time in the future”. “The Area Community Plan is under update
by the Department of City Planning and a study about industry in the area has been
completed. This study will serve as a basis to recommend what industrial areas to keep
as such and what areas to allow for residential rezoning.” xiii Due to this preference for
retaining industrial uses, it is important to provide strong arguments that these uses are
incompatible with the neighborhood.
Public Street Layout, Right of Way and Easement
“The air rights over public rights-of-way may be used for private uses, buildings,
platforms, decks and other uses subject to agency approval and activities typically found
in public rights-of-way”. This indicates that the redevelopment plan permits more
intensive uses over the public right of way than those currently allowed by Metro.
Incompatible Uses
“No use or structure, which by reason of appearance, traffic, smoke, glare, noise, odor or
similar factors that would be incompatible with the surrounding areas or structure, shall
be permitted in any part of the project area.” This clause and argument is what both
community members and Jan Perry’s office have utilized to request the rezoning of the
area, of course with different results. But we believe that community members and the
FCCLT have a good chance of succeeding by sticking to this argument and citing the
rezoning for the 29th Street apartment complex.
5.10 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FCCLT AND NIC
Our first recommendation for FCCLT and NIC is to continue with their strategy to
change the land use designations from industrial to residential in their neighborhood via
the Community Plan update process.
Our second recommendation is for FCCLT to consider smaller site sizes than the forty
thousand square feet they have determined as necessary for housing projects to “pencil
out” and remain affordable to people who earn between 30 percent and 60 percent of the
Area Medium Income (AMI). (Conversation with Sandra Mc Neill, May 2007) xiv .
However, one site that appears to provide a development opportunity for FCCLT is
owned by Metro and is bounded by Jefferson, Broadway and Main Streets. An aerial
photo of this property has been included in this paper. Negotiating a low-price long-term
lease with METRO might be an alternative way to meet affordability goals. The
argument for the low price would be the high price that the community has paid due to
years of neighborhood neglect by Metro. Through the survey process, it was revealed
that families in the area are fed up with the current status of the ROW, have good
reasons, and are willing to get involved.
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Finally, Metro presently has funds available for beautification and fencing of the ROW
section in the neighborhood. Further research and planning could help NIC establish how
to maximize the use of these funds and turning them outward, rather than simply fencing
off the site. It would be worthwhile to investigate if funds could be used to erect
playgrounds, parks, or child car centers that meet community needs, and to hire local
residents to do the work
With respect to Metro’s long-term plan, our primary recommendation is that they not
build rail in this neighborhood. If Metro is, as it seems, determined to build rail rather
than improve and expand existing bus service, we would recommend they consider
another alignment for the rail line. While the costs to Metro might be higher, the costs to
the community in terms of quality of life, property values, and safety would be
substantially reduced. We believe that equitable transportation planning requires this
more holistic view of costs and benefits. At the present time, it appears as though Metro
is narrowly basing their decision on incurring the lowest costs possible, without
considering the costs that they have imposed on the neighborhood since 1991.
5.11 CONCLUSIONS
Residents in this neighborhood have come a long way in their struggle to reclaim their
neighborhood. Unfortunately, over 30 years, residents continue to face many of the same
issues such as incompatible land uses and insensitive planning in their community. The
current political landscape has placed residents in a better position to effect zoning
changes in their community. One good way to influence what these zoning changes are
is by continuing to build leverage in the Community Plan update process. The greatest
leverage area residents enjoy is the support of their Council representative Jan Perry who
has assigned some of her senior staff to work with residents and the FCCLT.
The option to build housing on top of the ROW is limited and restricted to the section
that runs from Main Street to Flower Street, and even if this section were available for
construction, land assemblage is needed around or along the ROW itself in order to
maximize benefit and cost effectiveness. The challenge for the FCCLT is to be able to
find lot sizes that meet their criteria for their projects. Of course, their ability to
purchase land is also dictated by land prices, competition from developers for land in the
area, and availability of desired land. It has been shown in the 29th Street example that an
alignment between the community, the Council office, and a developer move Metro
towards a community-serving project. .
The ROW has been, and continues to be, a source of blight and unwelcome activity in
South Los Angeles. While Metro has obligations to transit riders in the region, they are
also obligated to act as a considerate and accountable neighbor. And, although Metro is
entitled to own and manage property for transportation purposes, in this case, the
prospects of a transportation use are tenuous at best. Further, the agency has
TRANSIT AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS: Challenges
and Opportunities for South Los Angeles
Page 5-31
demonstrated that it is unable to responsibly maintain the site in a community context for
16 years.
Finally, given all of the above, it is clear that providing opportunities for area residents to
develop the right of way marginally diminishes the ability of Metro to meet its
transportation commitments and would greatly benefit this community. It is time for
Metro to recognize this South L.A. neighborhood as the important community that it is
rather than as simply a possible route for others to pass through on their way to
somewhere else.
TRANSIT AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS: Challenges
and Opportunities for South Los Angeles
Page 5-32
References
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California: Donald F. McIntyre.
City of San Diego Redevelopment Agency, Metropolitan Advisory Committee. (1992).
Disposition and Development Agreement, Mercado Apartments. San Diego, California:
Community Redevelopment Agency Los Angeles. (2007). Authorization to Execute an
Acquisition and Pre-development Agreement with UHC LA 29 L.P. Los Angeles,
California: Cecilia Estolano.
Garrett, M., & Taylor, B. (1999). Reconsidering Social Equity in Public
Transit. Berkeley Planning Journal, 13, 6-27.
Giuliano, Genevieve. 2005. “Low Income, Public Transit, and Mobility, “ Journal of
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Harris, Scott, “A Bitter Battle on Home Turf: Garment Plant is Not Welcome.” Los
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Hess, Daniel Baldwin and Peter A. Lombardi. 2005. Governmental Subsidies for
Public Transit: History, Current Issues, and Recent Evidence, Public Works
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Levinson, David. 2002. Identifying Winners and Losers in Transportation, Journal of
the Transportation Research Board, 1812: 179-185.
Leavitt, Jacqueline. (1997). Charlotta A. Bass, The California Eagle, and Black
Settlement in Los Angeles. In June Manning Thomas and Marsha Ritzdorf (Eds.), Urban
Planning and the African American Community: In the Shadows (pp. 167-186).
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (2006). Authorize the
execution of an exclusive right to negotiate for the development of Metro properties
adjacent to the Metro Gold Line 1st and Soto Station. Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency. (2006). Exposition connector
study, right-of-way alternative evaluation and development strategy. Presentation for
Councilmember Perry and Community Members. Los Angeles, California: STV
Incorporated.
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Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency. (2006). Long Beach Blue
Line and Exposition Line connector study. Los Angeles, California: STV
Incorporated.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (2000). Rights-of-way
preservation guidelines. Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (2003). Gold Line
Ownership and Operational Control of the Transit Parking at Del Mar Station. Board of
Directors Meeting. Los Angeles, California, 2003.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Joint Development Policies
and Procedures. Los Angeles, California, 2005.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Draft Staff Report:
Exposition Connector Right-of-Way. Los Angeles, California, 2007.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Santa Fe Yards (Division
20) Joint Development, Report from Planning and Programming Committee. Los
Angeles, California, 2005.
Neighbors for an Improved Community (2001). Comments to Draft EIS/EIR for the MidCity/Westside Transit Corridor Project. Los Angeles, California: Neighbors for an
Improved Community.
No Author. (1987, November 6). Parishioners Defend Homes, The Tidings, 4.
Pasadena Community Development Commission. (2002). Transfer of Old Pasadena
Tax Increment for the Del Mar Station Public Plaza, Agenda Report. Pasadena,
California. City Manager.
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles. (1995). Plan for the Council
District Nine Corridors South of the Santa Monica Freeway Recovery Redevelopment
Project. Los Angeles, California: Community Redevelopment Agency.
Southeast Los Angeles Community Stake Holders. (2007) Letter to Gail Goldberg,
Department of City Planning and Cecilia Estolano Chief Executive Officer Community
Redevelopment Agency. Los Angeles, California: Figueroa Corridor Community Land
Trust.
Taylor, Brian. 1995. Public Perceptions, Fiscal Realities, and Freeway Planning: The
California Case, Journal of the American Planning Association, 61(1): 43-56.
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Taylor, Brian. Fares in Public Transit. Urban Planning 257. UCLA, March 14,
2007
Taylor, Brian D. and Kelly Samples. 2002. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Political Perceptions,
Economic Reality, and Capital Bias in U.S. Transit Subsidy Policy, Public Works
Management & Policy Journal, 6(4): 250-263.
Wachs, Martin 1989. U.S. Transit Subsidy Policy: In Need of Reform, Science,
244: 1545-1549.
Wachs, Martin (1985). Ethical Dilemmas in Forecasting for Public Policy, Ethics in
Planning, Martin Wachs, Editor. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Urban Policy Research. Pages
246-258.
TRANSIT AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS: Challenges
and Opportunities for South Los Angeles
Page 5-35
End Notes:
ii
A discussion about this connector and politics behind it has been addressed in the previous section of this
chapter.
iii
An economic development project adjacent to a transportation mode; light or heavy rail, or bus station
hub
iv
The conversion of old industrial buildings or hotels into apartments buildings or lofts
v
Legal documents between the City and developer that detail expectations, obligations and responsibilities
between parties to the project
vi
Pictures of possible design are those of the Del Mar and Holly Street apartments in Pasadena addressed
in a previous section in this chapter
vii
So far, METRO staff has not been able to tell me the number of years area residents would be able to
lease
the their land for, but mentioned that that is how they operate and mentioned as sample the leases for
their properties in the different Metro red line stations in Hollywood and along Wilshire Boulevard. In
this paper I also elaborate on other leasing examples on the Taylor and Santa Fe Yards and on the Soto
and 1st Street.
viii
Therman Hodgest, METRO staff in the Real State Records Management section. He is the point person
for
leases agreements in the SELA area.
ix
Legal entity created for the construction of the Metro extension to the west side of the City- commonly
non as Exposition line or Expo-Line.
x
The City of Los Angeles mayor’s office commissioned the Planning Department to conduct an study
about industry retention in the City of Los Angeles. CRALA, financed this study with the condition that
they will also have a say in the final recommendations as to what to retain as industry and what to rezone
for housing construction.
xi
Not only is this argument the same argument local residents and the FCCLT have used to request
rezoning in the area, but they have also been dismissed by the same public entities that are now using it
to rezone the block in question.
xii
Map is included as amendment at the end of this document
xiii
These asseverations where made by both Gail Goldberg – and Cecilia Estolano new heads of the
Department of City Planning and the Community Redevelopment Agency respectively in separate public
presentation at the UCLA School of Public Affairs on April 25 – 26, 2007
xiv
Sandra Mc Neill is the Planning Director for the FCCLT efforts in the FCCEJ area.
TRANSIT AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS: Challenges
and Opportunities for South Los Angeles
Page 5-36
Chapter 6
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Lydia Avila-Hernandez
Lidia Castelo
Andrea Contreras
Steve Díaz
Colleen Flynn
Sumaiya Islam
Alison Dickson Quesada
Nancy Villaseñor
Paul Vizcaino
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Tenants are facing challenging times in the City of Los Angeles. Evictions, slum housing,
and skyrocketing rents have become a common part of everyday life. A tenant’s Right to
the City is quickly eroding as more room is being made for new types of residents. These
new residents often find themselves living luxurious lifestyles in the same buildings that
once housed the urban poor. As the city continues to transform, there is a pressing need
for a solution that will allow tenants to live in communities that they have called home
for years. The following report offers such a solution.
The main goal of this chapter is to examine the feasibility of creating a citywide tenants
union that will address the problems facing tenants. There are already several nonprofit
community organizations that have a tenant base or are organizing tenants as part of their
missions. These individual organizations find themselves struggling to improve the lives
of tenants. Meanwhile, proponents of property rights continue to profit at the expense of
the landless. A tenants union presents a real possibility for organizations to join forces
and combat the selfish interests that drive gentrification and other ills affecting tenants.
The chapter is divided into two parts. The first part establishes the context for a tenants
union. A brief problem statement is followed by an analysis of tenant demographics
including income, race, and location within the City. Next is a discussion of the political
landscape that examines how tenants’ rights have been diminished. Included is a
historical account of tenant organizing in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, and a
comparison with today’s organizing. Lastly, Los Angeles organizations that engage in
tenant issues are examined as existing resources that can jump start a tenants union.
The second half of the chapter looks at what is possible through the creation of a tenants
union. The best practices section is informed by the New Jersey Tenants Organization as
well as by a labor historian’s knowledge of labor unions and their organizational structure.
Our vision of what the tenants union might look like is also enlightened by the responses
received from tenants who responded to a survey and those who participated in a focus
group. The report ends with a summary of interviews held with executive directors of
existing organizations as they describe some of the challenges that will be faced in
creating a union.
This report finds that a citywide tenants union is within reach and the time is right for it.
We found that a good number of tenants are already affiliated with a tenants’ rights
organization. The ones we spoke with welcome a tenants union and are eager to be a part
of the process. The executive directors brought us back to reality by reminding us of the
challenges ahead, but we maintain that a tenants union is necessary and long overdue.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-2
6.1 INTRODUCTION
Despite their claim to an overwhelming majority of the City’s population, Los Angeles
tenants are losing the remaining vestiges of the political power gained during the
movement for rent control in the 1970s. Attacks on rent control and other tenant
protections, an organized and well funded opposition, fragmentation amongst tenant
organizations, and lack of a cohesive tenant movement, all serve to fuel the winning
battle landlords and developers are waging against Los Angeles tenants. Key indicators
of tenants’ decline in power can be characterized by skyrocketing rates of evictions,
substantial loss of affordable apartments, and widespread slum housing conditions.
The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) cites the filing of over 80,000
evictions in Los Angeles County each year, with many taking place in the City of Los
Angeles (LAFLA, 2007). Evicted individuals and families have fewer alternatives for
housing they can afford. The Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) records show
that approximately 9,000 rent-controlled units have been lost since early 2005, and over
11,000 housing units have been lost since 2001 (SCANPH, 2006; Cleeland, 2006). The
loss of housing accessible to working families will only increase as the LAHD estimates
that 51 percent of all affordable units (households earning up to 80 percent of the Area
Median Income, AMI) will revert to market rates by 2010 (SCANPH, 2006). The housing
available to low-income families and individuals in Los Angeles is often sub-standard
and hazardous. The 1996 Blue Ribbon Citizens’ Committee on Slum Housing
documented that over 11 percent of the City’s housing (approximately 144,000 units)
were without running water or heat, had dangerous wiring and rodent infestation, or had
other health hazards present (Bet Tzedek, 2007). Working families and individuals who
rent in Los Angeles continue to face dwindling rights to safe and accessible housing.
Political and economic power has been consolidated into the hands of individuals and
corporations who seek to change the face and character of Los Angeles neighborhoods
permanently. What we are talking about is not an affordable housing crisis – it is an all
out attack on the poor, working, and middle class segments of Los Angeles’s population.
Such an assault demands that equally strident actions be taken by organized tenants
across the City. As primary stakeholders in Los Angeles housing and economic policy
initiatives, tenants require a seat at the table and are in desperate need of a massive and
organized body to fight for their agenda. The creation of a citywide tenants union is a
necessary and logical undertaking in the ongoing fight for tenants’ rights and economic
justice.
In the quest to achieve their Right to the City, i Los Angeles tenants and the community
organizations that support them continue to struggle as displacement abounds and
working families leave the City in droves. The Right to the City framework recognizes
the human rights of those who do not own property. It calls for “equitable usufruct” ii ,
meaning that through the power of the collective, the protection of one’s rights means the
protection of everyone’s rights, especially the “vulnerable and disfavored,” which in Los
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-3
Angeles are those who rent (Miami Workers Center et al, n.d.). The Right to the City
establishes the right to a minimum standard of living for all of the City’s dwellers. This
standard shapes the process and product of urban planning. In the City of Los Angeles,
we have documented that those currently in power see property rights as more important
than human rights. Slum housing reflects the fact that building owners’ rights are
enforced much more than tenants’ rights, and that housing is seen as a commodity, not as
a human right. Therefore, tenants and organizers must shift the political and economic
winds of the City from capital to the inhabitant in order to effectively enforce the rights
of tenants. It is only by collectivizing our power as tenants that we can accomplish this
and realize our right to rent and live in Los Angeles.
6.2 TENANT DEMOGRAPHICS
Who are the Tenants?
In general, the City’s population is approximately 4 million, consisting of over 800,000
families (DiMassa, 2007; U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Los Angeles has a large Latino
population, with 46.5 percent of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino of any
race (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Housing data sources confirm that renters comprise the
majority of the City’s population. While the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the percentage
of renters in 2005 to be about 60 percent, Mercedes Marquez, Director of the Los
Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) stated in an April 2007 City Council meeting that
the number of renters in Los Angeles was in fact 68 percent (A. Quesada, personal
communication, April 17, 2007). This majority promises to increase as the population of
the City increases (SCANPH, 2006).
Poverty among Los Angeles Tenants
According to the 2005 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, 87
percent of Angelino households in poverty are occupied by tenants. iii A study by UCLA
faculty and the United Way found that more than one in four people in Los Angeles
County live in a poor household, which the Census Bureau defines as an income of
$30,000 or less for a family of four (Lee, 2007). Figure 6-1 shows that about one in three
people in metropolitan Los Angeles live in poverty. These households paid between 52
percent to 73 percent of their income for housing in 1999 (Weingart Center, 2001).
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-4
Figure 6-1 Poverty in Los Angeles
Poverty Rate in Each Region of LA County (1997)
Entire County
South Bay/Harbor
East
South
West
Metro
San Gabriel Valley
San Fernando Valley
Antelope Valley
22.1%
19.2%
21.4%
39.9%
15.5%
32.7%
18.8%
16.5%
15.4%
Source: Weingart Center Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty, July 2001
Income Levels of Residents
Since income and housing are closely correlated, it is important to understand where
tenants lie in terms of finances. Figure 6-2 shows the household income for owneroccupied and renter-occupied households between 2004 and 2005. Those in the lower
levels of the income bracket are overwhelmingly tenants. According to the 2005
American Community Survey, the estimated median household income for the City of
Los Angeles in 2005 was $42,664 a year (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). The graph in
Figure 6-2 indicates that more than half (55 percent) of the tenants have household
incomes of $34,999 or less, which is well below the median household income. When
compared to homeowners, less than a quarter (22 percent) fall into this lower income
bracket.
Households that are better off tend to be owner-occupied. While tenants still outnumber
owners in the $50,000 to $74,999 income bracket, most of the households with incomes
above that are owner-occupied households. Of those earning above $75,000 annually,
less than a third (31 percent) are tenants. In the $150,000 and above category, only 16
percent are renter households. The chart shows that as income rises, tenancy drops
dramatically (ACS 2005).
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-5
Figure 6-2 Household Income Between 2004-2005
Population
140,000
120,000
100,000
80,000
Owner
60,000
40,000
Renter
150,000 or more
100,000 to 149,999
75,000 to 99,999
50,000 to 74,999
35,000 to 49,999
25,000 to 34,999
20,000 to 24,999
15,000 to 19,999
10,000 to 14,999
5,000 to 9,999
less than 5,000
20,000
0
Household Income
Source: 2005 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau
To summarize, tenants tend to earn lower incomes than homeowners. Those households
with extremely low incomes are overwhelmingly tenant households. At the other extreme,
those households with very high household incomes tend to be owner occupied. However,
those towards the middle also tend to have high percentages of tenants. Residents in the
middle income brackets cannot afford to buy their own homes under current market rate
housing prices.
Tenant Ethnicity
We wanted to explore how tenants are distributed in terms of race. This information
allows us to understand our target population better. It is important to note that this data
has limitations. The numbers only reflect the racial identity of persons identified as
householders and does not account for the race or ethnicity of other members of the
household. Householder refers to the person who is the head of the household, or the
main bread winner. Assuming that most householders reflect the race of the other
residents of a household, the numbers are very informative. While it is not clear to what
extent this assumption is true, the data can be used to draw general conclusions about
race and households in Los Angeles.
Figure 6-3 shows the breakdown of renter-occupied households by race of the
householder. While no racial group makes up the majority of renter households, Latinos
represent the highest percentage of renters at just over 40 percent of all households. Less
than a third of renter households are occupied by a white householder, followed by black
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-6
and Asian householders at a comparable 14 and 13 percent. American Indians and those
who identify as “Other” make up a very small share of these households.
Figure 6-3 Percent Renter Occupied Households by Race of
Householder
1%
14%
0.48%
13%
42%
Black
American Indian
Asian
White
30%
Latino
Other
Source: 2005 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau
Figure 6-4 looks at the same race data a little differently. It compares renter versus
owner-occupied households for each racial category. For each racial group, the majority
of households are renters. Latinos and “Others” reflect the greatest disparity between
tenancy and homeownership. Renter households make up 71 and 73 percent of these
groups, respectively. The white population is the only one where owners outnumber
renters. However, the difference is not great. Almost half (47 percent) of white
households are renter households.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-7
Total
Figure 6-4 Occupied Housing Units by Race of Householder
350,000
300,000
250,000
200,000
150,000
100,000
50,000
0
Renter
Owner
Black
American
Indian
Asian
White
Latino
Other
Race
Source: 2005 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau
The data provided in this section is useful for efforts to organize a citywide tenants union.
If a union is successful in achieving positive results for tenants, it is not just the poor
residents of Los Angeles who will benefit. The numbers show that even among the
middle-income households there are a high number of tenants; this is less true of wealthy
households. A tenants union can help better the lives of all Angelinos by ensuring that the
majority of its residents have a Right to the City through decent and safe housing.
Where Tenants Live
Map 6-1 illustrates tenant distribution in the City of Los Angeles by 2000 Census tracts.
The darkest shades represent areas with the highest concentration of tenants which
include Downtown Los Angeles, Pico-Union, Koreatown, East Los Angeles, and the
Westlake districts. Tenants compose between 81 to 100 percent of households in these
neighborhoods. There are also sporadic tracts throughout the San Fernando Valley with
just as high concentrations. South Los Angeles, Mid-City, and other portions of the San
Fernando Valley also share a high percentage of tenant households (between 61 and 80
percent).
The Census tracts in light orange and yellow represent low percentages of tenant
households. These areas are most notable in the outskirts of The Valley and in the center
of the map where the Santa Monica Mountains and the Topanga State Park are located.
The dot density map (Map 6-2) shows that very few people live in these areas. According
to the Census data, these hillside areas tend to be populated by owner-occupied
households.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-8
Map 6-1 Percent Renter-Occupied Housing
Source: ESRI Tiger/Line Census 2000
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-9
Map 6-2 Population Density
Source: ESRI Tiger/Line Data, Census
6.3 CURRENT LANDSCAPE
It is essential to have knowledge of the current political climate in the City of Los
Angeles in order to formulate a proper approach in creating a tenants union. Since
organizing does not occur in a vacuum, it is imperative that we understand who the
stakeholders are, what interests they hold, and to what extent they influence politics and
the quality of life of tenants. The following topics are covered in this section: the legal
challenges tenants face, a power analysis of key players in Los Angeles, and the
organized opposition that seeks to dismantle existing tenant protections.
Legal Challenges
The Ellis Act and the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act represent two of the most
detrimental actions against tenant protections. Their effects have left a permanent scar on
the tenant rights movement. In Nash v. City of Santa Monica (1984), the California
Supreme Court decided that property owners do not have a right to evict their tenants if
they chose to go out of the landlording business (37 Cal. 3d 97). The court reasoned that
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-10
a landlord could go out of business by selling their building but this did not require that
existing tenants be evicted. This ruling was overturned the following year when the
California Legislature adopted the Ellis Act (CA Govt. Code § 7060-7060.7) to allow
longtime landlords to evict tenants and go out of business. It was believed that landlords
should not be forced to stay in business if they did not wish to and the Ellis Act made
sure property owners had this option. However, the Ellis Act is widely abused today by
land speculators who purchase apartment buildings, evict the tenants, and convert the
building into condominiums that are sold at market rate. As a result, property owners
walk away with enormous windfalls while evicted tenants are forced to find new homes
(Gullickson, 2005). The term “Ellised out” is commonly applied to describe what tenants
are experiencing. Tenants are being “Ellised out” of their homes throughout Los Angeles
and other gentrifying cities in California with no end to condominium conversions in
sight.
The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (CA Civil Code § 1954.50-1954.535) presents a
different challenge for tenants’ rights. It represented a major victory for landlords when it
was passed in 1995 by California legislators. Before Costa-Hawkins, a local jurisdiction
could control the amount of rent a landlord could charge for a vacant unit, especially in
conjunction with rent control regulations. Costa-Hawkins ended this practice by allowing
landlords to set initial rents and adjust (i.e. raise) rents as tenants move out. This is often
referred to as vacancy decontrol, a measure that was already in place in Los Angeles but
did not exist in other cities with rent control. With vacancy decontrol, landlords have an
incentive to evict existing tenants in order to hike up the rents for newer tenants in rent
controlled cities.
Costa Hawkins also placed restrictions on housing that could be regulated under local
rent control ordinances. With the passage of this act, housing constructed after 1995 is
exempt from rent control and new housing that is already exempt from a local rent
control law prior to February 1, 1995 is required to remain exempt. This effectively
prohibited any new jurisdictions in California from passing rent control ordinances and
disallowed Los Angeles from extending rent control to any rental units that had been
constructed after 1978. This has resulted in the disappearance of affordable units as older,
rent stabilized buildings are converted into new lofts and condominiums.
Power Analysis
The power analysis is an effective tool in identifying key stakeholders, institutions, and
power holders involved in a particular issue. The analysis engages participants in a
discussion of where these individuals fall within the political spectrum. Participants are
also asked to determine to what to extent the players are able to influence the political
landscape with their power.
On March 7, 2007, the Community Scholars class participated in a power analysis of the
tenants’ rights political landscape. We used this tool in order to gauge the potential
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-11
support and opposition for a campaign to form a citywide tenants union. Some
participants drew from their experiences as tenant organizers for this exercise. During the
exercise, a chart was placed on the wall to represent the political playing field (see Figure
6-5). On the far left of the chart was our agenda of protecting and expanding tenants
rights at the state and local level. The opposing agenda of property rights was placed at
the far right. A scale of one through ten ran down one side and measured the political
strength of key players with ten at the top, signifying strong “major decision-making
power or influence” and one at the bottom, signifying “not on the radar screen.” The
problems tenants face are represented in the blue clouds. Various communities are
embodied in red ovals. The following shows the placement of these key figures and
institutions:
Figure 6-5 Power Analysis
Tenant Rights
Gentrification
Evictions
Lack of
quality jobs
10
Active
participant
in Decision
Making
Homelessness
Poverty
Lack of
Healthcare
Criminalization
of Poverty
Property
Rights
Lack of legal
status
Lack of
affordable hsg
Lack of quality
edcuation
Lack of
political power
Ellis/
Costa
Immig.
Policy
Mayor
Condo
Conv.
City
Council
Wesso Parks
8
CRA
Garcetti
Active
participant
in Decision
Making
AAGLA
Perry
Mercedes
Marquez
RS
Huizar
Safer
Cities
CO.
Sups
LAHD
Rosen-dahl
Reyes
Eminent Prop 90
Domain
folks
Realtors
Assoc..
4
Taken
into
Account
3
Can get
Attention
2
Not on
Radar
Call to
Action
Inquilinos
Unidos
SAJE
Aff. Hsg
Preservation
CES
Healthy
Homes
LTSC
B&S
HACLA
Esperanza
CDC
ELACC LACAN
Union de
Vecinos
Collective
L.A.
So. Asian SPACE
Voice/PICO
Network
POWER Coalition LA
Tenants
Die Hard
Dept of
Planning
Active Support
HO
Assoc.
Homeless
Youth
Inclined to
Support
Chambers
of Comm.
Neigh.
Councils.
Mom&Pop
Landlords
Yuppie
Seniors
Inclined to
Support
LAPD
Homeowners
Active Support
Die Hard
We would like to acknowledge that the power analysis is an analytical tool used to gage
the political climate around a particular issue within a certain political context. It is
possible, and often desired that players who are positioned at one pole will move toward
the other side if the political climate changes. Part of the analytical practice is to examine
what it would take to make that change happen. In this example, an interesting result of
our analysis was that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, touted as one of Los Angeles’ most
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progressive politicians, was placed in the uppermost right corner of the grid along with
the opposition. During his bid to become to mayor, then Councilman Villaraigosa acted
to protect landlords at the expense of tenants by reducing code enforcement operations in
Boyle Heights. He also failed to appoint a housing deputy during much of his first year in
office. Joining Villaraigosa are Councilman Herb Wesson, the chair of the Council
Housing and Economic Development Committee, and Mercedes Marquez, the General
Manager of the Los Angeles Housing Department; both are placed on the right side of the
grid favoring property rights over the human right to housing. Wesson has consistently
used his role as committee chair to push forward the organized landlord agenda and
thwart efforts to gain tenant protections. One recent example of this can be seen in his
efforts to attach means-testing to relocation amounts given to displaced tenants, a move
many tenant advocates believe to be the first step to dismantling rent control. Despite
Mercedes Marquez’ progressive background before joining the Housing Department, her
tenure there can be described as a mixed bag at best with regard to preserving affordable
housing and protecting tenants. Her emphasis on homeownership opportunities at what
many believe to be the expense of low-income tenants has antagonized many within the
tenant advocacy community.
Placed alongside these three players were the majority of other Los Angeles City Council
Members, the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Planning Department, and the
Los Angeles Police Department. The overall placement for the City Council was on the
right side of the grid due to their unwillingness to seriously tackle the affordable housing
crisis and massive tenant displacement that is occurring. Both the Planning Department
and the Community Redevelopment Agency has historically placed business interests
before communities. Up until very recently, and only due to intense community pressure,
did the Planning Department begin to uphold a City Council directive to deny condo
conversion permits to developers seeking to destroy affordable housing in areas with
vacancy rates of less than five percent. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Police Department
has institutionalized the criminalization of poverty throughout the City and continues to
harass tenant organizers.
The power analysis demonstrates that the most supportive City Council members are Ed
Reyes, Eric Garcetti, and Bill Rosendahl. As head of the Planning, Land Use and
Management Committee (PLUM), Councilman Ed Reyes pushed for a study on an
Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance for the City, a motion which was seconded by
Councilman Eric Garcetti. Amongst his constituent base, Garcetti has consistently
championed tenants rights, though publicly, his leadership has been questioned.
Participants ranked Councilman Bill Rosendahl the most tenant-friendly area politician
because of his continued dedication and commitment to low-income local tenants,
especially those residing in his district. Unfortunately, Councilman Rosendahl enjoys
very little clout in City Council. This is apparent in the fact that Councilman Wesson has
refused to duplicate Rosendahl’s district-wide condo conversion moratorium at the City
level by failing to place it on the Housing and Economic Development Committee
agenda for over a year now.
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Community organizations are the most eager in pushing a tenants’ rights agenda.
Unfortunately, they are clustered at the bottom of the chart where there is little power.
One objective of the tenants union will be to bring together these groups so that their
combined efforts and numbers will give them a seat at the table and symbolically raise
them to the top of the chart.
Organized Opposition
The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) is the largest and most
powerful organized opposition to tenants and the tenant movement in Los Angeles.
Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, AAGLA claims to represent 90 percent of
apartment owners in the Los Angeles area. Landlords join AAGLA as members, and pay
dues to their organization in the amount of $104 a year, plus $2 per unit and a $15 one
time only registration fee. Benefits of membership include: free legal assistance on
landlord tenant issues, low cost tenant screening, free legal forms, free monthly
magazines, vendor referrals, low cost liability and health insurance plans, manager
training and placement, as well as meetings, seminars, and trade shows.
AAGLA is comprised of a volunteer board of directors and five work committees that
meet monthly. Committees include: Membership, Publications, Finance and Operations,
and Legal Affairs. Perhaps most importantly, AAGLA is involved in extensive lobbying
efforts on both the local and state levels. They operate a Political Action Committee
(PAC) that provides financial contributions to landlord-friendly candidates and
politicians. AAGLA’s political activism spans the breadth of their 90 year history,
including early defeats of rent control measures that had been in affect following both
World Wars. Their history describes how “AAGLA was able to stop the construction
here of the type of instant slums that sprang up elsewhere” (AAGLA, 2007). Regarding
the passage of rent control they write, “we were not as successful in the late 70s when
rent control spread like a disease across California, but our members fought hard against
the worst aspects of rent control, and protected us through the ‘vacancy decontrol’ that
preserved some free market aspects in Los Angeles and served as a model for the CostaHawkins protection enacted by the State Legislature that exists today” (AAGLA, 2007).
Today, AAGLA remains an active player in Los Angeles’ political scene and maintains
intimate relationships with numerous elected officials including the Chair of the Housing,
Community and Economic Development Committee of the Los Angeles City Council.
They also retain close ties with the Los Angeles’ City Attorney’s office, the Los Angeles
Housing Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department, as is highlighted in the
schedule of monthly meetings offered for members on their website (AAGLA, 2007).
On rental housing and landlord-tenant issues, AAGLA continues to wield enormous
political influence and stature in Los Angeles politics.
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Comparisons to the 1970s Landscape
Drawing from veteran housing activists Mitchell Kahn, Dennis Keating, Allan Heskin,
and writers in Shelterforce, three major lessons from the past four decades of struggle for
tenants’ rights have emerged:
ƒ
The level on which the struggle takes place is always changing. Real estate
and landlord interests are well organized. They lobby at state and local
levels. To combat this, organizing must be strong at all levels.
ƒ
Political and economic climates have an underestimated influence on the
success of rent regulations. Tenant groups should track political and
economic trends and proactively form alliances with other groups.
ƒ
Fight vacancy decontrol and the weakening of rent regulations. Vacancy
decontrol is almost as dangerous as the full repeal of rent control. Vacancy
decontrol gives landlords the incentive to pressure tenants with eviction. It
weakens the base of tenant organizing because it does not directly threaten
rent increases and it rapidly reduces the stock of affordable housing.
Lesson 1: Combat the Real Estate Industry by Organizing on Local and State Levels
Statewide Attacks: AB 3788 and Proposition 13
The following section shows that weakly organized tenants were not able to block
statewide, anti-tenant measures (AB 3799 and Prop 13). Conversely, in response to the
anti-tenant legislation, a group of tenant and housing organizers formed the statewide
network California Housing Action and Information Network (CHAIN).
In 1975, Senator David Roberti, representing a highly tenanted district in Southern
California, attempted to pass statewide rent control legislation. At this time, real estate
and apartment industries were well organized and wielded enormous power in
Sacramento. The real estate industry countered Roberti’s attempt by moving legislation
(AB 3788) to eliminate the threat posed by the 1972 Birkenfeld decision. iv While
Birkenfeld stood to allow cities to adopt rent control laws, AB 3788 prevented this by
prohibiting local jurisdictions from enacting rent control.
AB 3788 was backed by the California Housing Council (CHC), an association of the
largest corporate landlords and apartment developers. The CHC contributed $43,000 in
campaign contributions to key positions, such as the Assembly Speaker and the Housing
and Community Affairs Chairman. Ten tenant groups across the State, mostly comprised
of housing activists, public interest lawyers, and lobbyists involved in changing landlordtenant law, attempted to counter the powerful real estate lobby, but were slow to move
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(Heskin, 1983). AB 3788 passed in 1976 with the concentrated lobbying effort of the
real estate industry.
A group of housing and tenant organizations from around the state met in Berkeley
shortly after AB 3788 was vetoed by Governor Brown. Similar to discussions taking
place today among Los Angeles tenant organizers, the group of the 1970s talked about
organizing a coalition of housing rights groups and community organizations. The group
saw it had to go beyond public interest lawyers and activists if it was going to impact
Sacramento: “Tenants and low income housing consumers needed to be organized into a
strong statewide grassroots movement to counter power of the real estate lobby” (Heskin,
1983). The result was the formation of CHAIN which was “to function as an umbrella
for the organizing, education, and advocacy work of housing rights groups throughout the
state” (Heskin, 1983).
Tenant organizers of the late 1970s felt that real power in Sacramento could only be built
on strong tenant organization in local legislative districts. While local tenant organizing
grew, CHAIN served to channel its emersion into a statewide network.
Proposition 13 was a constitutional amendment approved by voters in June 1978. v Its
passage capped property tax rates throughout the state, reducing them by approximately
57 percent. This cut in local property tax revenue resulted in a drastic reduction in funds
available for local service provision. It catalyzed the Regan-era, anti-government tax
revolt (The Special Challenge, n.d.). The passage of Prop 13 infuriated tenants, who
faced increasing rents despite landlords’ windfalls in tax savings. While tenants were not
able to fight back on a statewide level, they organized and won local battles for rent
control.
Tenant organizers recognized the boost Prop 13 gave to the rent control movement. Prop
13 was the most important opportunity for tenant organizing in years. The media
attention that had incubated in the previous years began to pay off as journalists began to
label any rent increase as “unjustified” (Heskin, 1983). A tenant hotline created by
Governor Brown received 12,000 complaints a day about rent increases.
After Prop 13’s passage, Los Angeles tenants renewed their fight for rent control. Wachs
reintroduced his ordinance for the third time, calling for a six month rent freeze at preProp 13 levels. The key vote was San Fernando Valley Councilmember Bernardi, an
outspoken opponent of rent control and the leader of opposition in the City Council. In
the Valley, tenants were among the loudest on Prop 13 rent increases. The Valley Tenants
Association (VTA) had formed to bypass City Hall. Comprised of mostly seniors, the
VTA circulated a rent control initiative designed to roll back rents to January 1977 levels
and limit landlord profit from rent increases. This tenant unrest pushed Councilmember
Bernardi of San Fernando to propose to adopt some rent controls (Heskin,
1983). Although tenant organizing was not able to match Prop 13 at the state level with
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successful statewide tenant protections, organizing did contribute to the passage of tenant
protections at the local level.
Rent control was enacted in several California cities and was the subject of major state
legislative battles. Politicians increasingly began to respond to tenant political uprisings.
Then Mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, announced his support for rent rollbacks and
a rent freeze. Bradley, supported by the Council, came out against landlords and real
estate interests, stating that they were making “excessive profits” on a basic need (Heskin,
1983).
Local Battles: The Fight for Rent Control
With a high concentration of tenants Santa Monica beat out City Council’s real estate
interests with rent control. Although Santa Monica was 80 percent tenants, its local
government refused to adopt even the mildest form of tenant protections. At this time,
the City of Los Angeles was 60 percent tenants, and the County was 50 percent. One
obstacle in moving tenants rights was the Santa Monica City Council, in part because
Mayor Donna Swink was also the vice president of a bank heavily financed by the real
estate industry. Two other City Councilmembers were landlords, reflecting a council that
was devoted to the free market and property rights.
Tenants asked, “If you’re not representing the renters who are 80 percent of the city, who
are you representing?” (Heskin, 1983). The Council responded that the problem in Santa
Monica was in fact the existence of too many renters and not enough homeowners. The
Council remained hostile to renters. As a result, tenants turned to the initiative process
and introduced Proposition A.
Prop A was much stronger than the rent roll back measure the Santa Monica Fair
Housing Alliance presented to the Council. Prop A was a charter amendment that
proposed the following: the creation of a rent control board established by citizens,
annual rent adjustments, a ban on demolition and conversions into condos of any rental
unit, just cause eviction requirements; and vacancy decontrols (Heskin, 1983).
Local media repeatedly attacked rent control measures and tenant activism. The
campaign for Prop A also served to battle negative stereotypes of tenants as
lazy. Tenants asserted themselves as productive members of the community: “our jobs
and family needs dictate where we should live” (Heskin, 1983). The Santa Monica Fair
Housing Alliance, local Democrats, and the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED)
formed a coalition called Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights (SMRR). The SMRR and
CED added the resources and experience necessary to win electoral campaigns. Despite
being outspent by real estate interests ($217,257 to $38,443) the mass mobilization of
tenants was able to pass Prop A by a nine percent margin. This represented a 20 percent
turnaround from the previous year’s attempt to pass rent control in Santa Monica.
Tenants followed this victory by electing all five members of the SMRR slate to the rent
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control board. Tenants saw that “suddenly civil life in Santa Monica [had] opened up to
include the excluded” (Heskin, 1983). The tenants’ victory shows that organizing on a
large scale is more powerful than the financial resources of real estate interests.
The real estate industry countered the passage of rent control in Santa Monica with
Proposition Q, as an attempt to water it down. They named it the “Fair Rents Initiative,”
a very misleading title. Prop Q excluded single family homes and allowed for vacancy
decontrol. This election also determined one of the Council seats. Two Prop Q
supporters and one tenant activist ran for the seat.
The result of this November 1979 election was that tenants defeated the real estate
industry at the polls for the third time in seven months. A tenant activist was elected to
the Council. In just over a year, tenants became a powerful political force in Santa
Monica.
The real estate industry fought back after the defeat of Prop Q. A statewide coalition of
landlords, real estate developers, and building trade unions formed to promote a statewide
initiative, Proposition 10, to stop the rent control movement. They led a misleading and
deceptive campaign, labeling their petitions with “Rent Control” (Heskin, 1983). The
Prop 10 campaign tried to capitalize on rent control popularity in order to destroy
it. However, the momentum of the tenants movement remained strong, and voters
defeated Prop 10 by a 30 percent margin, despite being outspent 80 to one by the real
estate industry.
Lesson 2: Track Political and Economic Trends and Proactively Form Alliances
with Other Groups
Phil Star of the Cleveland Tenants Organization notes that the tenants movement of the
1970s collaborated with other social movements of the time. First, organizing in public
housing was framed by civil rights struggles and as such dealt with discrimination against
people of color. Eva Gladstein of the Neighborhood Transformation for the city of
Philadelphia notes that in her city, tenant groups were based in neighborhoods and in the
political theory of the Black Nationalist movement, Saul Alinsky, and other intellects of
the time. These communities emphasized empowerment and their campaigns were
focused on social justice, particularly injustices faced by people of color and poor tenants.
Another approach to tenant organizing in the 1970s connected with consumer rights,
which emphasized limiting the profits of big business and giving a voice to the consumer,
as opposed to the fundamental restructuring of power relations that marked the social
justice movements of the 60s and 70s. This was especially the case in college towns and
with rent control campaigns. Their tactics included strikes and demonstrations, which
characterized other social movements of the time. In essence, the tenants movement used
non-housing tactics of the era to shift power towards tenants and strengthen their rights.
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Ralph Scott, community projects director for the Alliance for Healthy Homes said of the
housing movement in the late 1990s, “there has been successful collaboration between
labor and [tenants]. More recently, the connections between housers and environmental
justice have been growing and would seem to have high potential. Housers play some
role at least in anti-discrimination and immigrant rights efforts” (Widrow, 2005). These
are alliances Los Angeles organizers can consider, given the strong immigrant rights and
environmental justice movements based in the city.
Labor
In the mid 1970s, AB 3788 sought to prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting rent
control. The State Legislature passed it in 1976 with the lobbying efforts of the real
estate industry. However, the newly formed group California Renters Coalition and the
California Federation of Labor urged Governor Jerry Brown to veto the bill. This effort
was backed by the State Department of Housing and Community Redevelopment, who
also pressured Brown to veto the bill, thereby allowing cities to enact rent control at the
local level (Heskin, 1983). This is an example of a successful, albeit short-lived,
coalition of labor and housing activists.
Middle Class Tenants
In the late 1970s in Santa Monica, Prop A emerged. It was a charter amendment that
would establish a rent control board elected by citizens, oversee annual rent adjustments,
place a ban on demolition and conversions into condos of any rental unit, enact just cause
eviction requirements, and lack any vacancy decontrol mechanism. The greatest support
for Prop A came from wealthier tenants along the Wilshire Corridor. Their support was a
result of rent increases after Prop 13, the effectiveness of electoral campaigning, and the
mass demolition of rental units along Wilshire for condo conversions just prior to the
election (Heskin, 1983). Support and votes from middle class tenants proved key in this
campaign. Cleveland’s Phil Star also encouraged organizing across class lines in order to
avoid divide and conquer techniques that may be used to weaken tenant organizing
(Widrow, 2005).
Lesson 3: Fight Vacancy Decontrol and Other Attacks on Rent Regulations.
Although landlords have not been able to repeal rent controls in California, real estate
interests have weakened them significantly. In 1995, the landlord lobby persuaded the
State Legislature to impose statewide vacancy decontrols. Vacancy decontrol allows
landlords to raise rents above the allowable annual increase when a tenant vacates the
unit. This results in the loss of a rent controlled unit when a tenant moves out. The Los
Angeles rent control ordinance passed in 1979 already included vacancy decontrol
(Heskin, 1983).
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Los Angeles’ rent control ordinance was highly criticized by tenants and organizers
because of its somewhat lax rent protection. In addition to vacancy decontrol, some
criticisms included: one year rent control instead of permanent rent control, the allowance
of higher annual rent increases, landlords’ allowance for larger rent increases in cases of
landlord hardship, and the exemption of single family residences (Heskin, 1983). These
lax protections have encouraged landlords to allow living conditions to deteriorate in
order to coerce their tenants to vacate. This has created a great disparity in rents between
new and long-time tenants. This has led to difficulty in cultivating tenant unity and has
served to divide tenants along the lines of tenure and residence type (Kahn and Keating,
2001). Today’s tenant organizing efforts are shaped by issues of vacancy decontrol and
the loss of affordable units.
In the seven years (1972-1979) since the Birkenfeld decision, the tenant movement went
from a few housing activists and lawyers to a mass political movement. Through strong
organizing efforts, tenant protections such as rent control were established and condo
conversions were curtailed. It is important to note that in recent history, tenants were the
feared political opponents of the real estate lobby. It is the goal of tenant organizers to
get back the political power they once harnessed in the 1970s in order to assert rights for
tenants today. The formation of a tenants union in Los Angeles is the first step.
Collaboration has proved effective in the past, as it did in the case of vetoing AB 3788
and enacting rent control. The tenants union will draw on the power of the collective in
which the protection of one’s rights means the protection of everyone’s rights.
6.4 EXISTING RESOURCES
Tenant Organizations
In determining the feasibility of a citywide tenants union, it is necessary that we assess
the density of organizations already present in Los Angeles. Currently, we know of 13
organizations operating in the City which engage in the work of organizing and
empowering low-income tenants. These groups are to serve as the building blocks of a
tenants union. The four determining questions we asked when deciding whether or not an
organization should be included in this list are the following:
1. Does the organization maintain a firm commitment to tenants rights, rent control,
and affordable housing preservation?
2. Is the organization actively organizing low-income tenants?
3. Is the organization committed to seeking economic and social justice for lowincome people?
4. Does the organization employ leadership development methods with its tenant
leaders?
The following descriptions are of 13 organizations we have identified that meet the above
criteria and could potentially form a part of the tenants union: vi
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Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN)
According to their website, LA CAN’s mission is “to help people dealing with poverty
create and discover opportunities, while serving as a vehicle to ensure they have voice,
power, and opinion in the decisions that are directly affecting them” (LA CAN, 2007).
Their constituents consist of homeless and extremely low-income residents of downtown
Los Angeles, including the Central City East area that is commonly known as Skid Row.
Their organizing includes legal, policy, educational, empowering, and leadership
development strategies that seek to build organic leadership within the community.
East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC)
ELACC’s mission “is to advocate for economic and social justice in Boyle Heights and
Unincorporated East Los Angeles by building grassroots leadership, self-sufficiency, and
access to economic development opportunities for low and moderate income families,
and to use its development expertise to strengthen existing community infrastructure in
communities of color by developing and preserving neighborhood assets.” One of
ELACC’s most current efforts includes purchasing the Boyle Hotel (a.k.a., Mariachi
Hotel) in order to prevent the displacement of musicians living there.
Coalition for Economic Survival (CES)
CES organizes low income tenants of privately-owned rental housing units, including
both federally subsidized and non-subsidized units, whose residences are in high risk
situations due to slum conditions, proposed demolitions, illegal evictions and owners'
desires to opt-out of federally subsidized rental housing programs. CES educates, trains,
supports and empowers tenants to take action to protect their rights, housing and lives.
They also bring tenants living in threatened affordable housing together with tenants in
slums and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing to
create a powerful voice to preserve and create healthy, safe, and decent affordable
housing.
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)
SAJE improves the lives of people by seeking economic justice through community
development and popular education. SAJE criminalizes slum housing by helping place
slumlords behind bars, promotes healthy development through its urban land reform and
equitable development programs, and organizes tenants to fight gentrification in the
Figueroa Corridor. SAJE, along with other organizations such as Esperanza Community
Housing Corporation (ECHC), have established a displacement free zone along the
corridor. Another major victory for SAJE was through its involvement in negotiating
benefits for displaced tenants through the Staples Center Community Benefits Agreement.
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South Asian Network (SAN)
SAN is dedicated to empowering members of the South Asian population in Los Angeles
through education, direct service, and political reform in the fields of immigration,
violence prevention, public health, consumer protection, hate crimes, and discrimination
(SAN, 2007). Its satellite office in Koreatown assists Bangladeshi and other residents in
dealing with difficulties with management companies or landlords. Forming a residents’
committee has been instrumental for SAN in its efforts to serve tenants in this
neighborhood through education, outreach, and organizing.
Union de Vecinos, (Union of Neighbors)
Union de Vecinos was formed in 1996 after several residents of Boyle Heights received
notice from the City that their homes would be demolished. Union de Vecinos engages
low-income tenants in testifying at public hearings, lobbying elected officials, and
marches. Union de Vecinos was successful in imposing a moratorium on public housing
demolitions. The organization is especially praised for offering women a space to share
ideas and organize in their community.
Inquilinos Unidos (IU)
Inquilinos Unidos organizes tenants in Central Los Angeles in order to improve their
housing conditions. Since 1989, IU has worked to improve the quality of housing in
disenfranchised L.A. neighborhoods under the leadership of the tenants themselves.
Inquilinos Unidos’ mission is to empower low-income tenants through community
organizing, education and advocacy to fight for safe, decent, and affordable housing in
Los Angeles.
Collective SPACE (Social Power through Action & Community Empowerment)
Collective SPACE began its organizing efforts in 2004 with a mission to build an
informed and active MacArthur Park/Westlake community to bring about systemic social
change through grassroots organizing, leadership, and community development.
Collective SPACE develops the leadership capacity of local residents to improve the
neighborhood and housing conditions in the area. The organization prepares tenants to
navigate systems in order to protect themselves against illegal evictions and harassment.
Coalition LA (COLA)
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COLA works with residents of low and moderate income neighborhoods that face slum
housing, poor education, crime, and unemployment. COLA benefits the lives of these
residents through leadership development, creating cross-cultural alliances, and
encouraging civic, electoral, and collective action. The organization advocates for tenants
rights through its “No Slum Zone” campaign which has targeted three neighborhoods in
Council Districts 1 and 9. COLA is fighting to rid these areas of slums by pushing for
housing inspections and through legal action against landlords.
L.A. Voice/Pico
LA Voice is an interfaith organization that strives to solve some of the most critical
issues in the city’s neighborhoods. They have made advancements in access to health
care, improving public schools, mobilizing voters, neighborhood safety, and affordable
housing. LA Voice successfully purchased a property in Hollywood where the City will
build 60 units of housing for the homeless. The site will provide essential services such as
health care. Their efforts also include organizing tenants in Hollywood, West Adams,
Boyle Heights, and Santa Monica.
People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER)
From our list of potential organizations, POWER is the only organization that is located
in West Los Angeles. POWER builds relationships with communities in Santa Monica,
Venice, Mar Vista, and Inglewood and with other organizations in the area in order to
affect social change. Three of these organizations involve housing and tenant organizing:
Venice Community Housing Corporation, Holiday Venice Tenant Action Committee,
and Mar Vista Tenant Association. Through their collaboration with these groups,
POWER ensures that tenants have a say in their communities.
Esperanza Community Housing Corporation (ECHC)
ECHC’s mission involves community development in the South Los Angeles
neighborhood known as Maple/Adams-Hoover/Adams. One of the organization’s main
components involves the creation and preservation of affordable housing. ECHC does
this by renovating slum housing in the area so that tenants may have a safe and habitable
environment. ECHC has successfully created 154 units of housing through nine
affordable developments with more than 100 units in the planning stages.
Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC)
LTSC is a community development corporation that serves the Asian, Pacific Islander,
and increasingly, Latino communities in Los Angeles. LTSC has constructed over 300
apartments that house low-income tenants. Their Little Tokyo Residents Association
(LTRA) involves 1,200 tenants from five housing complexes and three single room
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occupancy (SRO) hotels in the Little Tokyo neighborhood. LTSC works with LTRA to
ensure that tenants have a voice in a gentrifying community.
Call to Action
The Housing Advocates Call to Action is a collaborative of organizations dedicated to
preserving, improving and creating decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing
opportunities for low-income tenants in Los Angeles. Membership is restricted to private
nonprofit agencies, tenant associations, and grassroots organizations dedicated to the
overall mission of the collaborative. The collaborative is mostly comprised of nonprofit
legal service organizations and tenants rights organizations, many of which are detailed
above. Call to Action meets monthly to discuss local and state legislative updates and
campaigns as well as local tenant organizing efforts and obstacles.
While members strategize and work together under the auspices of Call to Action, the
collaborative falls short of being a united front for the organizations involved. For
example, during the City’s November 2006 election, Call to Action failed to take a stance
on an affordable housing bond (Proposition H) because of different concerns raised by
members. Call to Action also lacks the desired political clout that could lead to important
tenant reforms. However, the idea of a tenants union was first brought up over a year ago
during a call to action meeting that was attended by several Community Scholars
participating in this report. In essence, Call to Action can and should be viewed as a
necessary starting block from where we can continue to form a tenants union.
Capacity of Organizations
One of the most important questions in regards to the feasibility of a citywide tenant
union is the number of people the union will need in its membership in order to
significantly effect change on housing policies and tenant rights in Los Angeles. In order
to provide an informed estimate about possible membership, we conducted a survey with
staff of several of the organizations mentioned above. Participants were asked about the
number of members in their organizations, their ability to mobilize, and specific tenant
issues their organizations are currently working on. The assessment of these surveys can
help demonstrate the existing untapped power of tenants and their organizations, should
they decide to unite.
We found that there are at least 12,267 tenants that are organized throughout the City. Of
that number, approximately 850 are considered activists. Activists are members who
support organizing campaigns and participate in meetings or events but are not consistent
in their involvement and attendance. There are also an estimated 295 leaders. Leaders are
members who not only support various organizing campaigns but are also very
committed to attending, planning and participating in the majority of meetings, events,
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advocacy, and other actions. In regards to their mobilization capacity, the tenant
organizations projected they would be able to turn out about 660 people for an action.
The numbers gathered through the survey demonstrate that tenants in the City of Los
Angeles do have the power to preserve and expand tenant protections if several of these
organizations unite. Individually, an organization can have as few as 25 people fighting
to win the same issue that the other organizations are also struggling with. A tenants
union can transform the power of those 25 people into a concerted action potentially
backed by over 12,000 people. However, we still have a long way to go since
organizations are currently fragmented.
Organization Fragmentation
The following map (Map 6-3) displays where the organizations mentioned in the previous
section are located. The most obvious observation is that the organizations are clustered
very close to each other. They are concentrated in parts of the City that share the largest
proportion of tenants as seen in the earlier map. However, there are no organizations
located in the San Fernando Valley despite the high percentage of tenants living there. To
be fair, some organizations extend their services to tenants across Los Angeles and not
just those near their headquarters. For example, CES organizes tenants throughout the
City despite their office being located in Koreatown.
The map shows that these organizations are physically close but reality tells another story
when it comes to working together. Each organization is doing excellent work to benefit
tenants yet there is little collaboration between them, despite the fact that some are
located within blocks of each other. A tenants union is needed in order to bring these
groups closer so that they can build off each other instead of duplicating services in the
same neighborhoods. A union can also identify areas where tenants may need some of
these services but are not receiving them, perhaps in The Valley.
There is a sense of hope for bringing the organizations together. Through the surveys, we
found that every organization is working on three common issues: gentrification,
affordable housing, and tenants rights. These three issues also happen to be problems that
have received little attention from policy makers. Great results can be achieved in the
movement if these 13 organizations work together on these three issues.
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Map 6-3 Tenants’ Rights Organizations
6.5 BEST PRACTICES
The New Jersey Tenants Organization
The New Jersey Tenants Organization (NJTO) was formed in 1969 in response to
substandard housing conditions and unreasonably high rents throughout the state. It was
formed during a time when many people were participating in militant political action.
People were not only organizing against the Vietnam War and in support of the Civil
Rights Movement, they were organizing tenants. In 1969, there were at least 67 major
rent strikes across the United States (Kahn, 1994).
Some of the NJTO’s first goals were to win protective tenant legislation, strong housing
codes and code enforcement, and rent control. In order to meet these goals, the NJTO’s
strategy in their first year was one of direct action, including rent strikes, rallies, and
demonstrations.
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These direct actions were successful in bringing out large numbers of tenants, winning
victories on the local level that sustained local organizations, and maintaining tenant
issues in the media. NJTO went onto lobby legislators and push for rent control. While
rent control failed at the state level, it was implemented at the municipal level in New
York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Santa Monica, Berkeley, and West Hollywood.
Although passed in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, rent control was repealed in
these two cities (Ceraso, 1999; Kahn and Keating, 2001).
The main problem the NJTO faced was the lack of protection for New Jersey tenants
against arbitrary evictions. Not only were many tenant activists being evicted, many
tenants did not get involved because of the threat of eviction. In response, the NJTO
helped push through the New Jersey legislature the Retaliatory Eviction Act which
prevented such evictions. The Retaliatory Eviction Act, much like a just cause eviction
ordinance, protects tenants from discriminatory or retaliatory evictions. New Jersey was
the first state, followed by Illinois, to have just cause eviction written into state law (J.
Leavitt, personal communication, March 14, 2007).
Features of the NJTO that can inform the Los Angeles Citywide Tenants Union include:
Structure
The NJTO is governed by a Board of Directors elected at annual membership meetings.
The Board is made up almost entirely of local tenant organization leaders. There are also
a small number of volunteer public interest attorneys.
The responsibilities of the Board include developing organizing strategies, drafting
legislation, and developing policy for the organization.
The NJTO has only one paid staff member, an administrative director. That person,
working out of the central office, coordinates volunteers responsible for public relations
and lobbying efforts, publishes educational materials for tenants, assists emerging groups
with organizing, provides legal support, and fundraises. Recruiting volunteer labor has
been essential to the work of the central office.
Dues
The NJTO runs solely on dues and contributions from its membership. It has never taken
money from outside sources. The NJTO keeps dues very low to encourage groups to
affiliate. The NJTO does not raise dues beyond the minimum needed to keep their doors
open. Not only do they not want to burden their affiliated organizations, they also believe
that hiring a paid staff would lead to a decline in volunteerism.
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There is a suggested donation for groups and individuals, although already organized
tenants groups are encouraged to join as a group rather than as the individuals. A
membership fee of $22.00 per individual is suggested to obtain voting rights at annual
meeting. Relying on members dues has made it difficult. There is no paid staff, and
Kahn has considered going the non-profit route. The financial situation of the
organization is described by Kahn as "dismal" and a "constant struggle" (Ceraso, 1999).
Problems
The NJTO has faced problems maintaining members. This is due in part to the mobility
of the tenant population. When people relocate, they do not always renew their
membership. Winning reforms can also be an impediment to maintaining membership.
For example, once goals such as rent control or effective code enforcement are met, many
tenants drop out of their local tenant organization.
Despite the presence of the NJTO, New Jersey is facing a number of forces that have
worn down tenants’ power. Two decades of landlord political activity at the state and
local levels have worked to reduce tenant rights. Landlord-sponsored referenda, a tax
appeal campaign, and condo conversions have drained tenant movement’s resources.
This compounded with the public’s opposition to increases in the state income and local
property taxes, and the election of conservatives throughout different levels of
government in the 1980s and 1990s made it harder for NJTO to win battles.
Organizational Structure: Examples from Labor
In order to better understand how to create an effective and powerful tenants union, we
examined the structures of labor unions. We did this to study how a union can serve to
collectivize and assert power. In addition, we addressed participatory issues involved in
forming and sustaining an effective union. To do this, we interviewed long-time labor
activist Paul Worthman who has worked with the largest and fasted growing union in
North America, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (SEIU, 2007).
Worthman, a labor historian and union leader, has worked with several unions including
the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), and the SEIU. In
addition to holding positions as Director of Organizing & Research at AFTRA, and Chief
and Statewide Negotiator for AFSCME and SEIU, he has been a labor history professor
and instructor at the Labor Center of Los Angeles Community Colleges. There are
several points Worthman made that are applicable to a tenants union. These include
differentiating democracy and power, participation, various structures used in the labor
movement, authority, organizational identity and autonomy, the importance of
differentiating an organization that services the individual versus one that works to create
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a collective benefit on a structural and political level, and issues of funding and
prioritization.
Consolidation
Worthman correctly understood the purpose of the citywide tenants union as “an effort to
consolidate tenant organizations for power” (personal communication, April 19, 2007).
He saw a divergence in where power would be exercised, first in collectivizing power in
political and economic realms and then in exercising power with landlords.
Differentiating Power and Democracy
Tenant organizers have expressed interest in creating a democratic structure for the union.
Worthman responded by differentiating power and democracy, “Don’t just have
democracy for its own sake… or power” (personal communication, April 19, 2007). He
pointed to the Labor Movement, in which not all labor activists agree that democratic
structures are powerful or that powerful unions are democratic. While he personally
believes that power can only be cultivated in a democratic organization, this is not
explicit. He reaffirmed the need to have clear goals. If the goal is to have power, then
organizers must assert an underlying principle of democracy if that is how they wish to
structure the union. In relating the issue of power and democracy to the labor movement,
Worthman noted that “a lot of democratic stuff in unions is B.S. Some unions have been
able to achieve power, (but have not necessarily been democratic)…you have to
distinguish between democracy and power” (personal communication, April 19, 2007).
Participation: Involving Workers and Tenants
In terms of democracy, Worthman posed the question, “At what stage do you involve
people, in defining goals in prioritizing and redefining?” Staff in charge of implementing
this cannot just parachute instructions into the community. He emphasized that
excluding workers in strategy building, and mobilizing workers instead of organizing
them will lead to an ineffective organization. In the case of the Los Angeles citywide
tenants union, tenant organizers have actively involved tenant leaders in the most initial
discussions.
Different Structures Within Labor
Worthman pointed out different structures within the labor organizations. Within the
American Federation of Labor (AFL) he cited power as being located within individual
unions, and almost no decision-making authority in the greater AFL. The AFL is a
confederation, and decisions are made in consultation with all participating unions. Some
decisions within the AFL were made by the most powerful unions. This led to the
discussion of the schism within the labor movement in 2005, in which five large and
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powerful unions seceded from the AFL to form a new federation, Change to Win.
Worthman noted that in this move, there was a sense among the Change to Win alliance
of AFL’s unwillingness to relinquish power.
Authority
This in turn raised questions about authority. Worthman asked in the case of the tenant
union, how much, if any, authority or power will individual tenant organizations cede to a
larger body like a citywide union. Will decisions be made by consensus or majority? In
creating a citywide tenants union with a coordinating body, will it be centralized with
locals or will it be a federation?
Examples from the Labor Movement
Worthman pointed to the models of the United Auto Workers (UAW), the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), SEIU, and
AFSCME. The UAW is a central body with decisions made at the top. Some decisions
are made by individual locals, in terms of contracts, but most decisions are made
nationally. In his discussion about the Teamsters, Worthman pointed out that prior to
Ron Carey’s presidency, there was no democracy within the union. He noted that
Teamster locals usually make decisions regarding contracts and are very top down. He
pointed to UTLA as a possible example, since they negotiate a citywide contract on a
citywide basis. UTLA also has the numbers, people, and exists throughout the vast
geography of Los Angeles. UTLA has different union representatives at each school with
the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In looking at SEIU, Worthman mentioned that there are different locals that have
individual rights to make decisions with employers on an individual basis, but this is
changing due to SEIU’s centralization. He posed these questions to consider: “Do you
need unifying action? Where is action really local? Local action and influence depends
on if a group has power- who are they linked to?” (personal communication, April 19,
2007).
Worthman mentioned AFSCME as one example of a union that does not work.
AFCSME has council structure, where every city is a different local, and every local
elects their own officers. Each local collects their own dues and bargains their own
contracts with employers. Although the AFSCME is somewhat democratic, locals are
able to make their own decisions, and smaller locals are able to have staff; some
negatives include a lack of single standard wages, hours, and staffing, and little emphasis
on unity between the locals.
While Worthman suggested our consideration of SEIU as a model, he cautioned not to be
misled by formal structures. SEIU represents many workers and deals with many
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employers. The union is financed by membership dues. He pointed to the fact that local
leaders do not make decisions other than individual bargaining agreements, and in the
case of voting on contracts, workers do have power. However, due to the centralization
of the union there is much more of a central structure being formed, which can alienate
workers. Worthman suggested that:
One model that might be helpful in forming a citywide tenants union is something
in which local tenant organizations can retain decision-making power on local
decisions like landlord issues. With issues that affect tenants citywide, tenant
organizations should be willing to argue those decisions be make collectively (by
consensus or majority). Recognize what is local is decided locally, and what is
collective needs to be agreed that it will be decided collectively (Worthman,
personal communication, April 19, 2007).
Councils
The citywide tenant union can also be set up as councils, in which tenant organizations
that have overlapping issues with large developers can make collective and coordinated
decisions. The council can take on landlords in a bigger way, much how the UniteHERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees) deal with Hilton nationally even if
the issue is locally based. Worthman continued to explain that in theory, a citywide
organization would offer every individual tenant membership as well as every tenant
organization, and officers and committees would be elected citywide. Individual tenant
organizations would each retain some autonomy and continue to be their own
organization, but would come together on citywide issues. Worthman suggested two
types of organizational models: 1) Geographic and 2) Corporate (i.e., landlord-based, or
campaigns based around a particular landlord or developer).
Connecting Individual to Structural
Worthman commented that tenants rights organizations tend to deal with local problems
with individual landlords. These organizations seem to focus on these local problems
(building-by-building basis) rather than on systemic problems, and rather than landlords
that have a wider reach. He pointed out that dealing with local problems is different than
the decisions made at the citywide level and take the two levels of decision-making, local
and citywide, into consideration.
Worthman suggested finding some ways to bring together tenants who have the same
landlords. He related this to the SEIU nurses council. This is a council in which nurses
from different locals discuss issues of particular concern due to the nature of their
profession. The nurses’ council has the authority to put forth their positions for SEIU to
consider. Worthman mentioned the possibility of doing something geographically-based
but allowing for councils that focus on a particular landlord or developer. This sort of
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structure could make it easier for court actions and other activities. He noted that most
unions would try a model like this.
Funding
Funding is not just raising money, but budgeting and organizing effectively. Funding is a
major question facing tenant organizers interested in forming a citywide union. Labor
unions are funded by membership dues. In the case of the tenants union, grants may be a
consideration. Worthman suggested creating a dues structure that reflects how much
activity is central and how much activity will be local. If a major part of the work is
central, then a major part of dues will go to the central body. He also suggested there be
a sliding scale. How dues are allocated is an important question. A budget of activities
will help with this, in terms of finding out what tenant organizations want to do, how
much it will cost, and how much would be charged for its financing.
Worthman framed the allocation of funds as a central versus local dichotomy. He asked,
“To what extent is work done centrally or locally?” (Worthman, personal communication,
April 19, 2007). He emphasized that if the tenants union is to organize centrally, to
allocate funds in that direction. If the organizing is local, fund the local bodies.
Worthman also discussed his views on the direction of organizing. Centralized versus
local organizing is a matter of strategy. Worthman suggested looking at where
organizing is needed that is, where do organizers need to work to strengthen tenant power?
Wherever that is, the union’s resources need to go there. He related this to the issue of
creating a democratic structure and organizing for long-term goals. He stated the
question of where you organize is strategic— fighting back on case-by-case, or buildingby-building basis is not enough. Individual battles may be fought but are not strong
enough to change the overarching dynamics. The union’s structure and funding must
reflect the need to change the greater power relations within the city.
6.6 VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Tenant Focus Group
Nine tenant leaders participated in a focus group with members of our research team on
April 18, 2007 in Los Angeles. The purpose of the focus group was to gather ideas from
tenant leaders on creating a citywide union. Since a tenants union cannot happen without
the support of tenants and tenant leaders; we wanted to get a sense of whether they would
be on board with this idea.
The participants are members of the following community-based organizations which
three of the Community Scholars represent: Coalition for Economic Survival, Strategic
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Actions for a Just Economy, and East Los Angeles Community Corporation. Below are
their profiles:
Avelino Fernandez is a 65 year old Mexican man, living at 1605 ½ Main Street
apartments, a 19-unit residential hotel. He has lived in this apartment for the last two
years, but has been a resident of L.A. Central city for 30 years. He is an active tenant
leader for SAJE’s South Park committee, a committee run by 15 South Park resident
leaders who are extending their involvement on community issues. Avelino, in
collaboration with his neighbors, played a key role in getting their building repaired by
meeting with the landlord and demanding repairs and access to the common kitchen
during all hours when he had abruptly placed restricted hours. Avelino and his neighbors
are part of an ongoing group effort to organize the whole building and he has help in
building the South Park committee by currently recruiting two of his neighbors who have
shown impressive leadership potential.
Sandra Matamoros is a 42 year old Salvadoran woman. She has been a resident of Los
Angeles’ first Displacement Free Zone (DFZ) for over four years. The Zone encompasses
a ten-block area in the Figueroa Corridor by the University of Southern California (USC)
that consists of efforts to hold the line against displacement through weekly tenants rights
workshops, legal assistance, tenant organizing, and campaigns for protective policies,
such as No Net Loss. She is also a tenant leader of the DFZ committee, a tenant-governed
body that works together on anti-displacement strategies and policies. The committee is
on the verge of kicking off an informative campaign to bring awareness to community
residents on tenants’ rights and encourage community participation. To date the
Displacement Free Zone has stopped scores of evictions, forced significant repairs in
slum buildings, organized ten tenant unions, and coalesced the tenant unions into the
DFZ.
Maria Elena Rivas is a 52 year old Managua-Nicaragüense woman who also lives in
South Park and has been a resident for four years. She was a tenant of the Morrison
Hotel, famously pictured on the cover of The Doors' 1970 album, recently a home for
more than 112 tenants living in horrific slum conditions. Maria Elena played a key role in
the recent Morrison Hotel campaign victory where 23 out of the 111 tenants sued the
owner with the assistance of SAJE and won the criminal and civil lawsuits. After two
years, the Superior Court Judge sentenced the owners of the Morrison Hotel on criminal
charges to five years probation and ordered them to control vermin infestation or face 120
days in jail, were found guilty on 21 violations of the city fire and housing code and the
county health code, and had to pay more than $120,000 in fines and penalties. Maria
Elena’s engagement and leadership in this campaign and with SAJE has lead her to
succeed much further. She recently graduated as a Health Promoter from ECHC and is
currently interning at SAJE to bring her knowledge on health and housing and give back
to SAJE through her involvement in any way helps her community. As a core leader of
the South Park committee, her experience and leadership has been vital in engaging
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people in the work SAJE is doing and contributing to building the committee. The goal
for a strong and unified entity embodied by tenants of the community that are shown
respect and taken into consideration in anything affecting their community. She also
serves as a member of the board of directors of the Figueroa Corridor Community Land
Trust.
Ana Townsend is a 54 year old Latina who lives at the Lido Apartments, a 100-unit rent
controlled building located at Yucca and Wilcox in Hollywood. She participates in the
Section 8 rent subsidy program and has lived at the Lido for 14 years. Her life at the Lido
has been marked by one struggle after another, including participation in a lawsuit against
the building’s former owner Lance Robbins, one of Los Angeles’ most notorious and
sophisticated slumlords vii . Hollywood’s redevelopment and accompanying gentrification
have produced continued pressures for Ana and her neighbors. The Lido’s newest owner
is currently attempting to evict the remaining Section 8 tenants and other long-term
tenants who have low rents. Ana has played a key role in organizing her neighbors to
confront their landlords’ illegal actions throughout the years and has been quoted for her
efforts in Los Angeles Magazine. She was also very involved in the Yucca Corridor
Coalition of community members which had been formed in the late 1990s with the help
of Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg as a response to the rampant gang activity
surrounding the Lido.
Roy Powers, a 74 year old African American man, is also an active leader at the Lido
Apartments. He has lived at the Lido for 15 years and like Ana, has suffered the brunt of
continued harassment and intimidation from multiple managers and landlords throughout
the years. He is also a Section 8 recipient. He has been a renter in Hollywood for almost
30 years, with the exception of a year he spent homeless and living on the streets.
Dulce Peña is a 19 year old Latina who lives at the Morton Gardens Apartments, a 66unit rent controlled complex in Echo Park. Dulce lives at Morton Gardens with her mom
and two siblings, and they also receive a Section 8 rent subsidy. Just over a year ago, the
owners of Morton Gardens Apartments, one of whom is UCLA Anderson School
Professor Eric Sussman, began attempts to illegally evict the almost 30 Section 8 families
living at the property. Many of these families have called Morton Gardens home for over
20 years and have established a tightly knit community adjacent to scenic Elysian Park.
Dulce has led tenant efforts to organize against Sussman’s actions and is currently
volunteering as a part-time intern with CES.
Teresa Soto, has lived in Boyle Heights for over 30 years. She participated in ELACC’s
Leadership Academy and has participated in other organizing activities here in the
community including Mothers of East Los Angeles.
Leticia Andrade is a Boyle Heights tenant who became involved in organizing for
responsible community development to ensure that her children have a better place to
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live. She participated in ELACC’s leadership academy and has given testimony at
various actions despite her shy, soft-spoken character.
Participants were first asked if they were familiar with labor unions. This question was
asked because of the possibility for a tenants union to take on a similar structure as
traditional labor unions. Many participants were familiar with labor unions either through
their membership in one, or in one case, through participating in labor organizing in their
country of origin. One of the tenant leaders shared that she organized a labor union in El
Salvador during the war at a time when you could be executed for fighting for your rights.
Participants acknowledged that unions benefited workers because they fought for better
wages, better working conditions, and defended workers from abusive employers. They
drew a connection between the benefits of labor unions for workers and the potential
benefits of a citywide tenant union for tenants.
Next, participants were asked if they would support a tenants union in Los Angeles. This
was followed by a series of questions about their vision for a union, the governance
structure, amount of dues members would pay, etc. All the tenant leaders present had
favorable views about forming a union. For example, one participant explained that
tenants are all facing the same issues. A tenants union would allow them to consolidate
their struggles and place them in a better position to confront unjust landlords. It would
also give them a larger presence in City Hall because their voices will be heard in greater
numbers. Another participant explained that tenants face greater challengers compared to
their landlords. Landlords can generally afford to hire lawyers to protect their interests
but tenants have needs that continue to be unmet for lack of resources.
In regards to the mission of the tenants union, participants provided various suggestions.
All responses dealt with addressing the problems that tenants currently face. Some
recommendations were more service-based, such as providing tenants with information
about their rights and information on affordable housing programs. The following is a
summary of action-based recommendations:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Work towards achieving healthy habitats for tenants;
Increase the number of health inspectors to ensure that landlords are meeting
health standards;
Fight to preserve rent control for low income residents;
Lobby for new laws to protect tenants;
Push for the creation of affordable units and to keep the ones that already exist;
Prevent unjust evictions; and
Protect housing subsidies.
Participants had different ideas about what the structure of a tenants union could look like.
At first, many suggested that there should be some type of governing board that would
make the major decisions. A couple of participants even suggested having a president or
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vice president; someone who would speak on behalf of the tenants. After that, it was
mentioned that such type of hierarchical structure can be problematic because they
facilitate power dynamics that lead to top-down approaches to decision-making. Many
organizations have been ruined because of conflicts arising from internal struggles for
power. After that, several participants decided that having working committees would be
much more effective in avoiding these problems. Each person on a committee can be
assigned different roles and responsibilities. It would be a priority to have both tenants
and organizers on the committees, not just organizers. One tenant suggested that perhaps
a meeting with labor organizer Dolores Huerta could be set up to discuss best practices
and recommendations.
The last topic discussed by participants was paying dues for membership in the tenants
union. The goal was not to create a fee structure; rather it was to gather their thoughts on
paying fees. None of the participants objected to paying fees. One tenant leader reminded
the group that maintaining a union requires financial resources. It was suggested that
perhaps a portion of the fees could go towards the organizations the tenants belong to and
the rest could go towards the union’s funds. For example, $20-$25 could be charged each
year, with $5 going to support the union. There was a lot of uncertainty about a fair
amount to charge. Much will be determined by the cost of starting a union, the dues
tenants are currently paying to their organizations, and the personal value the union
would provide to tenants. Participants generally agreed that a tenants union would be a
valuable resource to tenants. One tenant leader mentioned that for the $20 she pays to be
a member of SAJE, she has access to their computer lab, copy machine, leadership
trainings, meetings, an identification card, and more. Paying dues would have the added
advantage of making members feel that they are a part of something which they benefit
from but also contribute to.
By and large, the tenant leaders who participated in the focus group think a citywide
tenants union is not only a great idea, but also necessary in order to deal with the
problems they experience on a daily basis. Their views on the union are optimistic and a
sense of urgency ran throughout the discussion. All those present said they are committed
in one way or another to the creation of a union. One tenant leader said he would begin
by speaking to his neighbors in his building about this idea.
The positive energy we observed during the focus group leads us to believe that there is a
strong potential for organizing a union because tenant leaders are on board with this idea
and ready to run with it. We could see that they are fed up with their current living
situations and are ready to do something about it. Based on their comments, a tenants
union is the right conduit and now is the right time to channel this energy and urgency
into action.
The tenant leaders’ excitement over the possibility of forming a union may in fact be due
to their positions as leaders. They know how to organize and understand what a union
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may mean for Los Angeles. However, we were curious what other tenants thought
forming a union. The following section uncovers some of the views of other tenants.
Tenant Survey
Surveys were administered to tenants in order to get a better idea of their thoughts on a
citywide tenant union. The surveys were given by organizers from CES, ELACC, SAJE,
LACAN, and SAN during the month of April 2007. Organizers administered the surveys
to both organized and unorganized tenants at a workshops and clinics.
A total of 44 surveys were completed. Of the people who answered 82 percent were
renters in the City of Los Angeles. The following table (Table 6-1) highlights the age,
tenure, and landlord satisfaction of the surveyed tenants:
Table 6-1
Tenant Background and Landlord Satisfaction
Average
Question
Minimum Maximum (Mean)
How old
are you?
(years)
16
65+
43.7
How long
have you
been a
tenant?
(years)
1
41
17.4
How is
your
relationship
with your
landlord?
(10
excellent, 1
horrible)
0
10
6
The age range of tenants surveyed was 16 to over 65. The average age was 43 years.
The range of tenancy was between one and 41 years, with the average tenure at 17 years.
Tenant relationships with landlords varied across the board. One tenant reported his/her
relationship with his/her landlord as off the scale (zero on a scale of one to ten with ten
being most satisfied). Twelve of 42 respondents had relationship of four and under,
indicating they had a more negative relationship. Conversely, several tenants reported an
excellent relationship with their landlord (seven out of 42 tenants). Surprisingly, almost
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half the respondents (20 out of 42) had relationship of seven and better, indicating most
surveyed tenants had a relationship with their landlords that was closer to “excellent”
than “horrible.” The survey respondents were both organized and unrepresented tenants.
Table 6-2
Landlord Satisfaction Distribution
Relationship with
landlord
(least satisfied) 0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
9.5
(most satisfied) 10
# of
tenants
1
3
0
6
2
5
5
2
8
2
1
7
Tenants were then asked about their knowledge of unions and if they would support a
citywide tenants union. About three out of every four tenants knew what a union was.
Some responses included:
•
•
•
Una unión es donde se junta la gente para buscar mejores arreglos a su
situación (A union is where people come together to find ways to better their
situation).
Para respeto (For respect).
Para estar unidos. Una unión es donde nos unimos a ayudamos el uno al otro
(To be united. A union is where we unite and help one another).
When tenants were asked if they supported a citywide tenants union, we received a 100
percent positive response rate. The response was taken from all respondents, including
those who did not specifically rent in Los Angeles. This information may inform the
decision on whether or not to expand the union beyond the geographical limits of the City
of Los Angeles. When asked if they would support a citywide tenants union, tenants
gave the following response:
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-38
Table 6-3
Would you support a citywide tenants union?
Yes
No Undecided
# of tenants
36
2
% of tenants
82% 5%
6
14%
From the two people that responded “no” one person stated a reason. This reason was,
“Because they have not updated themselves”. We interpret this tenant’s comment as one
that reflects a perception of unions as an outdated and ineffective model for organizing.
Up until the late 20th century, the most visible unions were typically anti-immigrant, proAmerican, sexist, racist, and corrupt. This perception of unions may be what the “no”
answer is based on. For the six tenants that were undecided in their support, the main
reason stated for their position was that they needed more information.
Almost all of the respondents stated they were in support of a citywide tenants union.
Their reasons can be categorized as the need for services and building collective power.
Individual Rights and Services
• Si apoyaría si fuera para el bien de uno (If it was for one's own good).
•
You can fight for your rights.
•
Por los beneficios de saber mas acerca de derechos de inquilinos (For the benefit
of knowing more about our rights as tenants).
•
We need it because it would create better rent control and be able to be seen more
by city departments when they come to inspect.
•
Better control on downtown Section 8, and better living conditions in Section 8
buildings.
Collective power
• Porque la Unión hace la fuerza. Por el bienestar de uno y crear mas poder .
Como los Teamsters con sindicato nos ponen más atención (Becuase the union
has power. For our well-being and to create more power. Like the Teamsters'
Union which gets more attention).
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-39
•
Va estar enfrente de todas las autoridades estatales para defendernos (It will be
in front of all the state authorities to defend us).
•
Tendremos mas poder y fuerzas para defender nuestros derechos de inquilinos
(We have more power and strength to defend our rights as tenants).
•
Pienso que seria la única manera para protegernos unos as otro. Esta es la
alternativa para los más pobres para organizarse (I think its the only way to
protect one another. It's the alternative for the most poor to organize).
•
Fortalecer y podernos todos juntos reclamar nuestros derechos como inquilinos.
Que sepan los dueños que estamos unidos. También demostrarle a otros con la
fuerza unidas sabemos cuales son nuestros derechos (To strenghten and have
everyone together claim their rights as tenants. So the owners know we are
united. We also would demonstrate that united we know our rights).
•
Tener más comunicación y estar mas unidos (To have more communication and
be more unified).
•
Hacer nueva política y prioridades para la ciudad (To have new politics and
priorities for the City).
•
No hay uno serviría para ayudar a la ciudad entera y nosotros mismo (There isn't
one, it would help the City as a whole and us too).
•
Tenants are under-represented as they do not have the money or power in this city.
Respondents were asked to select what type of services they thought a citywide tenants
union should provide. They chose from the following options and could select more than
one option: place for information/resources, organize tenants, create new policy, build
political power among tenants, lobby city departments, and all of the above. Almost all
respondents thought the union should be place for information and resources. A majority
also saw it as a way to organize tenants, create new city policy, build power among
tenants, and lobby city departments. More than half of the tenants surveyed thought the
union should work on all of these tasks.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-40
Table 6-4
The Roles of a Tenant Union
Role of a tenant
# of
% of
union:
tenants
tenants
Place for
information/resources
39
89%
Organize tenants
Create new policy
34
33
77%
75%
31
70%
31
26
70%
59%
Build political power
among tenants
Lobby city
departments
All of the above
In conclusion, there were some common themes among why tenants would support a
citywide union. They included: unity, protections for all tenants, more power to assert
tenant rights and defend against injustices in living conditions, improvement of
conditions for current and future tenants (i.e., preservation of rent controlled units, code
enforcements, Section 8 protection), building tenant power and well-being, awareness
raising, defense against owners, a place for more information on tenants rights and issues,
a place for more trainings, and the formation of a body that represents the poor and
under-represented.
6.7 ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGES
Interviews with Executive Directors
The Executive Directors of several organizations that work on tenant issues were
interviewed for this report. The goal of these interviews was to gain insight on creating a
tenants union from people who have been in this line of work for years. Given that some
of the directors have been actively involved in defending the rights of tenants since the
1970s, their expertise provides valuable information for our efforts today. They were
around at a time when the struggle for tenant protections was at a peak and rent control
was successfully established. The social and political climate may have changed since
those days, yet we still have much to learn from these veterans of the movement.
The Executive Directors interviewed represented the following organizations: South
Asian Network, East Los Angeles Community Corporation, Strategic Action for a Just
Economy, Los Angeles Community Action Network, and Coalition for Economic
Survival. Some directors felt a citywide tenants union was needed while others felt it was
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-41
highly unlikely to happen, even if it was needed. For the sake of confidentiality, no
names will be attributed to their ideas which are highlighted below.
Beginning with the positive feedback, some directors stated that a citywide tenants union
is a great idea. It could be a very important tool for protecting tenant rights in Los
Angeles. A union can work towards building the political power and people power that is
necessary in order to gain leverage within the City’s current political environment. One
director mentioned that current tenant organizing efforts are not as efficient as they could
be. There are several organizations fighting for similar causes, yet we do not see the
benefits of their individual efforts. Many organizations organize on a building-bybuilding basis, but there are only so many buildings that can be organized. Greater results
could be achieved if these individual efforts were to be combined under one organization.
A tenants union would also bring vast benefits to tenants, who make up the majority of
Angelinos. The union would provide an opportunity for tenants who are not currently
organized or engaged in a building campaign to join the movement and reap the benefits
of collective action. All property-less residents would have the option of joining an
organization that works for their best interests.
On the downside, organizing a tenants union is easier said than done. The Executive
Directors raised many questions and shed important light on the many challenges this
task will face. Some of the uncertainties rest on such questions as staffing and resources.
The question was posed: Who is going to make this happen and who is going to pay for it?
Some directors commented that negative dynamics exist between some of the
organizations. Lack of trust could potentially be a problem as well as competition for
financial resources, which are currently limited. Another problem relates to
organizational identity. How can the various organizations maintain their distinctiveness
while remaining part of a larger union? This question is complicated by the fact that the
organizations vary in size, membership, and organization. Some organizations are
considered to be stronger than others and have larger constituencies. Ensuring that each
organization has a voice and establishing a voting structure that properly represents them
could possibly lead to conflict between organizations. It may be challenging to build the
consensus that is needed to build a tenants union. However, one director explained that
buy in from all the organizations may not be necessary as long as the critical mass agrees
to be part of the union and a large number of tenants are on board. This person believes
that between 5,000 to 10,000 tenants would need to join the union in order to be effective.
This number is feasible given that more than 12,000 tenants are already organized.
Even the most skeptical of directors provided advice for the tenants union. The
suggestions gathered were as varied as their concerns. For example, one interviewee
mentioned that the tenants union should initially look for seed money from foundations in
order to establish a solid base. This suggestion could help circumvent problems that could
arise from organizations competing for money. Regarding membership and dues, it was
commented that a base of between five to ten thousand tenants would suffice to get the
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-42
union running. The union’s policy needs to be driven by the tenants, emanating from a
residents’ committee. The constituents should come from a membership base, starting
with those who are already organized and have a vested interest in seeing the union
become a reality. One suggestion was that it should not be a dues paying membership
initially, unless there is a buy in to be part of the union. Once results start to show it will
be easier to collect dues from members. Also, in terms of building faith between
organizations, it was recommended that trust building activities be conducted in the
beginning in order to facilitate unity. Finally, for organizational structure, one director
encouraged the formation of a Political Action Committee, or PAC. A tenant PAC could
serve as the lobbying body both at City Hall and in Sacramento and could provide
political contributions and endorsements to tenant-friendly politicians. Currently, most
community-based organizations are limited in their involvement in politics due to their
501(c)3 tax status.
Overall, there seems to be a sense of caution from the Executive Directors in their
approach towards a tenants union. In many ways, this reaction is reasonable considering
that except for this report, none of the organizing groundwork has been conducted. At the
same time, the enthusiasm that we observed from the tenants is lacking. It is clear that the
directors have experienced a lot in their years of working on tenant issues. Due to this
experience, they take the idea of building a tenants union very seriously from an
organizational point of view. This is disheartening, however, since they represent the
leadership of the organizations.
Even if the directors did not jump at the idea of a union right now, it seems they would be
supportive if it were to happen, although some do not see it happening at all. Nonetheless,
we feel that forming a tenants union is a worthy cause and refuse to let skepticism
prevent us from our efforts.
The enthusiasm of the tenants and organizers is encouraging. Tenants are faced daily with
the problems that a tenants union will address. For them, a sense of urgency exists in
seeing this thing through. At the same time, a new generation of organizers will help fuel
this movement with their positive energy and fresh perspectives.
6.8 CONCLUSION
Many important lessons were learned during the development of this report. One such
lesson is that forming a tenants union will be much more challenging than initially
imagined. Before compiling this study, a tenants union was considered a reachable,
almost inevitable result of the tenant abuse that has gone on for too long. The union
continues to be viewed as an obtainable dream; however, that dream has quickly been
replaced by the reality of the work that lies ahead. The research, analysis and discussion
that occurred over the past several months shed light on some critical questions, such as
those relating to organizational identity, structure, and power-sharing within a union.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-43
Questions about race relations between said groups also arose. As the tenants union
moves forth, these are questions that will need answers.
An equally important lesson is one that many assumed from the beginning: a tenants
union is possible and the time to act is now. There may be some hesitation from the
Executive Directors, but the tenants and tenant organizers are ready to take the discussion
to the next level. Moreover, the resources for a union are already in place in the form of
existing organizations, organized tenants, and support from some politicians. Timing is
also critical since tenants are facing the consequences of gentrification at ever increasing
rates. Each of these factors makes a tenants union feasible.
This report is just the first step in forming the tenants union. It is not a how-to guide;
rather, it is the compilation of thoughts, ideas, surveys, conversations, and analyses that
have been taking place for years. The expectation is that this compilation will strengthen
and further the discussion in the following months. Steps to follow include continuing to
meet with tenant leaders who will be driving this movement. We must also convene with
other organizers from the community organizations that were not represented in the class,
but who were identified in the report as pivotal figures in the formation of a tenants union.
A working group must be established in order to ensure that the momentum that this
project has gathered lives on and turns into actual improvements in the quality of life for
millions of tenants. And perhaps most importantly, we must continue daily discussions
about the union with our members and tenants that comprise the movement base, so that
this idea becomes an ingrained expectation rather than just a distant dream.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-44
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THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
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End Notes:
i
The concept of the “Right to the City” was first introduced by Henri Lefebvre in Le droit a la ville (1968),
but has since been developed by social scientists, social activists, governmental agencies and NGOs.
Lefebvre’s theory of the “Right to the City” calls for the restructuring of power relations within urban space,
and the shifting power from the state and capital to urban inhabitants.
ii
Equitable usufruct in an urban context is the idea that all city dwellers can partake in the urban space,
including the decision-process that shapes it.
iii
The ACS defines poverty as a family of three with one child under 18 years reporting a total income of
$14,000 for the past year, based on 2004 dollars (Fronczek 2005).
iv
In 1972, Berkeley tenants used the initiative process to pass a rent control charter amendment. However,
the California Supreme Court found the amendment to be unconstitutional, but stated that a city might
adopt a rent control law in the future Birkenfeld vs. Berkeley (17C. 3d 129 1976).
v
Prop 13 set real estate property value at 1975-1976 market value for tax purposes, limited real estate taxes
to 1 percent of that value, limited tax increases to 2 percent per year given no resale, and required two
thirds voter approval for any local government tax increase (Rusher, 1992).
vi
This list is somewhat limited since it does not include individual building tenant associations that have
organized themselves independent of one of the tenants rights organizations. We believe it would be
difficult to obtain an accurate number of tenants involved in such tenant associations.
vii
See Erin Hoover Barnett’s article regarding Lance Robbins entitled “A look at Disjecta, Part III,
http://blog.orgegonlive.com.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: A Feasibility Study for a
Citywide Tenants Union for Los Angeles
Page 6-48
7.1 CONCLUSIONS
From our research, students and scholars have seen that across Los Angeles, there is a
need for education about Rights to the City and available resources in order to fight for
meaningful participation by communities impacted by gentrification. As a group, we
dare to question where the City’s vision comes from and how tenants, low-income
people, women and communities of color can organize for justice. Impacted parties are
currently not part of the decision-making process in planning and we have found that
where so-called community participation does occur, it is often meaningless as it does not
equate to power. In fact, the City's institutions legitimize inequality through false
participation.
From patterns of displacement and alienation that mark the gentrification process,
community scholars and students have concluded that communities do not need to wait
for the eviction notices to arrive to start organizing against displacement. They cannot
rely on a system that does not value all people regardless of income, race, or any other
socially constructed identity. This report is relevant now because tenants, low-income
populations, women, and communities of color and their advocates are increasingly
losing the political power that is needed to protect their rights. As the City and its
institutions continue drafting and finalizing development plans for Leimert Park,
downtown, and areas of South Los Angeles, the individuals and families directly
impacted are not involved in building their own futures. Today, real estate interests are
extremely organized and powerful, and Los Angeles is seeing a rapid loss of housing and
land for low-income communities of color because of gentrification. Rightfully so, there
is a sense of urgency among tenants, home and business-owners of color, and the
working class that something has to change.
By documenting and analyzing the patterns of gentrification and the structures that
perpetuate it, scholars and students have illustrated in five distinct ways how so-called
marginalized people may achieve the Right to the City.
First, in Lincoln Heights, scholars and students developed an “Emancipatory Action
Research” project in which researchers and residents engaged in a collaborative process
to understand the realities of the community, address concerns about displacement; and
develop recommendations for relevant interventions so that existing residents retain the
right to live, work and play in their community.
Second, in Leimert Park, scholars and students identified threats to existing businesses
and to the area’s cultural identity as an African-American cultural center. They
developed ideas about ways to educate and empower the public to participate
meaningfully in the city and CRA’s development of a Master Plan for the community.
The project suggests that all citizens of the city have a right to preserve and nurture
minority ethnic enclaves such as Leimert Park, and to have a voice in the planning and
CONCLUSIONS – RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
Page 7-1
decision-making process. Their recommendations point to a planning process where one
community can reach out to another and avoid falling into mini-local traps.
Third, the students working on deindustrialization in Los Angeles deconstructed existing
plans from different public and quasi-public bodies. Their recommendations based on indepth research of existing conditions can be used to inform the general public and
community advocates, and to argue for their participation in preserving industrial
land. These students have found that the larger public, particularly community-based
organizations and labor unions, who advocate on the behalf of some of LA's most
vulnerable populations, should come forward to support the issues at hand. To quote
from their chapter, “A substantial displacement of industrial land can leave large
segments of the City’s most vulnerable populations – low income, transit dependent, and
less educated people of color – with increasingly limited economic options. Not only has
new development systematically decreased one’s Right to live in the City, it now
threatens to diminish one’s Right to a City that provides access to quality jobs and living
wages.”
Fourth, students have clarified issues surrounding Metro owned right of ways in South
Los Angeles and challenged Metro’s policies that limit uses for community benefit.
They discussed different options that community institutions, like the Figueroa Corridor
Community Land Trust and Neighbors for an Improved Community, can use in the
debates over land use with Metro. Their chapter explores the little known area of “transit
equity” and the relationship to housing and the Right to the City.
Fifth, scholars and students used the Right to the City framework to recognize the human
rights of those who do not own property. Their chapter offers a feasibility plan to bring
together tenants and organizations to transform Los Angeles into a City where tenants
can live without the fear of losing their homes (a home is not necessarily a house). While
the Right to the City includes a right for tenants to have a minimum standard of living,
the political and economic climate of the City must be changed to enforce those rights.
In the global battles between democracy and development, policy and free-market
economics, and local and regional approaches that manifest in the lives of Angelinos, we
have found that even those working for justice do not always agree on a final vision for a
fair and equitable society. However, this project has helped to gather, analyze, and share
information so that communities can discuss cooperative viewpoints and strategize on
how to break the status quo that sanctions inequality, top-down decision-making, and the
primacy of private property rights over our Right to the City.
CONCLUSIONS – RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
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CONCLUSIONS – RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
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CONCLUSIONS – RIGHT TO THE CITY – COMPREHENSIVE PROJECT
Page 7-4

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