It's hard to find a neighborhood north of the 10 freeway and south of the hills in the city of Los Angeles that hasn't been gentrified.
Boyle Heights has been a holdout, although some would argue that it, too, has seen plenty of gourmands and house flippers.
The historic immigrant community that has been home to people of Jewish, Japanese and Mexican descent is up in arms over a real estate agent's “gentri-flyer” offering a bike tour of the neighborhood for those interested in paying less for monthly mortgages than the cost of some rents in L.A:
Nothing about the flyer was outwardly offensive. Nor was there any code for white people, Westsiders or gentrifiers.
But it hit a nerve at a time when, yes, sky-high rents and some of the most expensive real estate in America have drawn folks closer and closer to the inner-city streets of Latino L.A.
Silver Lake, Echo Park, Koreatown – all heavily Latino neighborhoods dominated by working-class immigrants – have been invaded. And now this?
Boyle Heights is about as close to the heart of Mexican L.A. as you can get without crossing the county line and going into unincorporated East L.A.
On top of that, some in the community are already sour over the use of the term “Eastside” to describe Silver Lake and Echo Park, which are technically west of downtown and devoid of the true Eastside roots that Boyle Heights can claim.
But the real estate agent in question, Bana Haffar of Adaptive Realty, says people are misinterpreting her intentions. And we sort of believe her.
She's an immigrant herself. She's Palestinian.
“I'm of Palestinian origin,” she told us. “If anyone knows about displacement, it's me. My family was displaced a number of times. People are accusing me of wanting to displace people. No one is asking where I'm coming from. I want to work with community members in Boyle Heights and help them become homeowners.”
The flyer calls Boyle Heights “charming, historic, walkable.” Enraging! Boyle Heights citizens tore into the agent on Twitter.
The thing is, Haffar says she meant what she wrote on the flyers she designed. She has lived across the border – in East L.A. proper – and now she works just across the river, in downtown.
“I'm sorry for offending anyone,” she says. “It was not my intention. I want to offer services within the community. I'm not going to racially profile clients. I'm going to do my best as a real estate agent to help people find property. I'm just doing my job.”
For Haffar, we think this is just a case of too soon.