As Los Angeles recovers from the Great Recession, the downtown skyline is assuming a new shape, Metro trains point in new directions, and dense, urban neighborhoods are welcoming new neighbors.
The housing crisis has pushed homeowners into apartments while renters have been forced onto the streets. Where $1 taco trucks once roamed, new businesses peddle similar fare for $4. UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs has just mapped out the places where gentrification is happening the most in town.
The project (see the map below; an interactive version is here) produced no surprises. It looks at gentrification from 1990 to 2000 and from 2000 to 2013. Areas in red became gentrified throughout the entire two-decade-plus span. Those neighborhoods include parts of Mid-City, Koreatown and Echo Park as well as Angelino Heights and the Arts District.
Most of downtown (in blue) is shown as being gentrified in the last decade or so; the same goes for parts of Venice, Playa Vista, Arlington Heights, Westlake, Highland Park and more.
Researchers concluded that areas around transit stops "are changing and many of the changes are in the direction of neighborhood upscaling and gentrification," according to a UCLA statement.
"Examining changes relative to areas not near light-rail or subway projects from 2000 to 2013, neighborhoods near those forms of transit are more associated with increases in white, college-educated, higher-income households and greater increases in the cost of rents," the university stated. "Conversely, neighborhoods near rail development are associated with greater losses in disadvantaged populations, including individuals with less than a high school diploma and lower-income households."
The neighborhoods that have seen the biggest gentrification "impacts" tend to be near downtown, UCLA's researchers found.
Is this good for Los Angeles? It's never good when residents lose their homes, especially to newcomers. But Los Angeles desperately needs new housing, and some of this gentrification is driving the development of dense, multifamily structures.
UCLA professor of urban planning Paul Ong, who helped create the map, recently said that adding units to a market that desperately needs them will ultimately alleviate high rents and help people find and keep places to live.
"Anytime you push up the supply, it makes it easier and relieves some of the pressure on the low end," Ong said. "But it's good to also have a strategy to make sure the new supply targets low-income households, too."
At the same time, he said, city officials and planners need to ensure that growth is "fair and just."
"Higher rents make it difficult for low-income households to move into the neighborhood, so we see a net decline in their numbers," he said in UCLA's statement. "They are replaced by those who can afford the higher housing cost — people referred to as 'gentrifiers.'"
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The researchers noted that long-standing mom-and-pop shops end up being displaced by relatively upscale boutiques and eateries when gentrification happens. And they found one difference between the Bay Area and L.A. when it comes to the phenomenon.
"We found that Bay Area municipalities have in their books many more anti-displacement policies than municipalities in L.A. County," said researcher Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris. "However, we do not know yet how effective these policies have been in limiting displacement."