Evolving Los Angeles

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

By Kiara Torres

Even before the 1960’s Chicano movement, Mexican-Americans and Latino-Americans played a large role in the shaping of Los Angeles (L.A.) politically, economically, and socially due to being the largest minority.

The second wave of Latino immigration to California began in the 1980’s. In L.A., many flocked to areas like Echo Park, Silverlake, Los Feliz, and many other surrounding areas. These communities became falsely synonymous to outsiders as places of crime, danger, and the stereotypes within different cultures.

Now, these communities no longer hold the same dynamic. Due to urban revitalization, many families who lived in these communities have been displaced due to rent spikes. Small businesses that once thrived are now overpriced bars, cafes, and coffee shops. The upper-middle class who ridiculed these neighborhoods now desire the culture and history they once represented.

From murals to the elotero on the street corner, the impact Mexican-Americans and Latino-Americans have established within the city is astonishing. With the displacement of these people, L.A. loses a sense of its historical identity.

Not everyone sees this as a completely negative event, however.

“Even though I have experienced being displaced, I feel like gentrification is a positive aspect in these communities because I have noticed places like Pacoima becoming safer with less gang activity,” sophomore Marlon Cortez said.

This contribution to safety should not be credited to the wealthy, who often fuel gentrification, because poverty does not necessitate criminality. Los Angeles has actively progressed into becoming a safer city throughout the years. According to the Los Angeles Times, LA is safer than it was in the past, despite the 12.5 percent rise in crime within the last year.

The residents of these communities are becoming more active in order to protect their neighborhoods from gentrification. For example, one neighborhood that has been affected by decades of gang violence and poverty is Boyle Heights. Activists and protesters have been focusing on how to keep their community safe, while supporting the average working class resident through pop up art galleries. Developers often find these art galleries as a threat because each gallery that pops up represents a family or business that has been displaced.

While gentrification is suppose to better communities, the reason why L.A. residents are agitated with it is because it does not accurately solve the problem of poverty or violence. Instead, it simply disburse sthem into other neighborhoods and amplifies the need to provide assistance to those who are affected by these problems.

“In order to help communities who are affected by this issue, L.A. should provide public assistance to those in the area when they have plans to gentrify it like ensured rent programs and culture programs so the community remains to their roots,” junior Isaac Nava said.

Furthermore, it is in L.A.’s best interest to publicly fund programs for families affected by gentrification to protect their safety and well-being if they are misplaced. Los Angeles residents would positively benefit from housing guaranteed for low income families in order to secure a home for their children to prevent the crime Americans so fear.

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