Los Angeles just might be the most gentrifying city in the nation. It's not because redevelopment and upscale retailing haven't taken over the likes of Manhattan and San Francisco. It's just that L.A.'s transformation is happening now, before our very eyes, while gentrification in other American cities took place earlier because they are towns that often developed long before ours did.
Even San Diego's downtown transformation in the Gaslamp Quarter got a 20-year head start on the DTLA revolution.
Los Angeles in the last decade or so began a “third wave” of growth that is all about a return to the inner city, where refurbishing old structures and building skyward are key elements.
With this influx of well—let's be frank here—mostly white professionals comes an influx of their accoutrements, hipster stuff, precious, overpriced food, and plenty of nightlife destinations.
Here are the five signs your neighborhood is gentrifying:
5. The paletas-peddling, cart-pushing immigrant who rings that bell every afternoon has doubled his prices and now sells Soy Delicious-brand Rice Dream out of his ice box. Yuck.
4. The neighborhood taco truck has been replaced with a gourmet vehicle that has some double entendre of a name (like Pho Kyu). The tacos, of course, remain. But now they're filled with an exotic and unlikely protein and cost three times as much as what the Mexicans charged, causing you to travel into the nearest unmolested barrio for your fill of $1, palm-sized Michoacan bombs.
3. The friendly new neighbors down the street just tore down a cute, historic bungalow and erected a three-story concrete box that resembles a prison for six. There's hip wood fencing in front that looks like this. Of course there is.
2. Weird retailers peddling stuff you'd never thought you'd need suddenly start opening storefronts. A butcher shop sells whole, “gourmet” bull testicles. A boutique specializes in bespoke pet scarfs. The new neighborhood hardware store has no hammers but plenty of NOS (new old stock) door handles as well as rustic, used Mexican doors that look like someone found them in alley (but which are oh so hip to the homeowners, like the ones described above).
1. Whole Foods Market is all up in your 'hood, bitches! You knew this one was coming. When your new neighbors just have to have their Camembert cheese, organic kale and cranberry pistachio oatmeal cookies, the Korean-owned market down the street won't do. Whole Foods to the rescue. When Whole Foods comes it's over, your community is no longer gentrifying—it has become fully gentrified. And yes, downtown, one is coming at you on Nov. 4.