"SOLA" as a New Name for South L.A. Could Be DOA

The gentrification of Los Angeles often comes with neighborhood name changes.

South Los Angeles has been transformed since the pre-riots era when it was called South Central. For one thing, Latino immigrants have moved in en masse.

But the community still faces its challenges, including a string of recent shootings and research that suggests residents face a "food desert" free of fresh and healthy eats.

L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks thinks another new name is in order. He's proposing SOLA as an additional title for South Los Angeles.

But his motion was forwarded yesterday by the City Council to the Education and Neighborhoods Committee for its consideration. The move could be a death sentence.

City Council President Herb Wesson, however, told Parks yesterday, "I'm doing you a favor" by parking the proposal in a committee. He also vowed to bring the name up for a full council vote before Parks exits in July.

Interesting. Council members have rarely seen a neighborhood name change they didn't like. It's usually an easy, cheap and politically pain-free way of pleasing the kind of local busybodies that are the most active Los Angeles voters.

And this isn't even a full-on name change.

SOLA would apply to a vast, south-of-the-10-freeway area that's not of one mind or demographic, however. And some folks think it just plain sounds weird. 

In 2003 the city officially discontinued the use of the term South Central Los Angeles on its own documents. In proposing the move earlier, the office of then-Councilwoman Jan Perry had this to say:

Even though the area surrounding South Central Avenue is no longer predominantly an African-American community, the term "South Central" has followed the community westward and has a negative connotation following the 1965 and 1992 civil disturbances. 

In a similar vein, Parks wants the city to recognize the community as SOLA. In a recent newsletter to constituents, he explained that, once again, changing the nomenclature is about creating "distance" from a  past:

For too long, majority black and Latino communities have been blanked by a nondescript characterization of where they live. Media refer to this foreign land commonly as "South Los Angeles." Every now and again you’ll hear a reporter slip and say "South Central L.A.," which was long code for "black area" and synonymous with the 1965 and 1992 riots, drugs and violent crimes, a past that we are still trying to distance ourselves from.

Parks says this is not the "gentrification apocalypse" and adds, "'SOLA' will not be replacing the term of 'South Los Angeles,' it will just be another option for people to refer to themselves."

He admonishes folks to "not freak out at SOLA.'

Okay. But it does kind of sound like a all-natural vegan beverage. Or a tanning salon for cholas.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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