Lead Story West Edition

Coalition takes aim at state legislation on rent control

CRENSHAW — Support for state legislation that would allow rent control to remain in the city of Los Angeles was one of the main targets of an emergency gentrification meeting Jan. 11 called by the Crenshaw Subway Coalition.

An estimated 200 people attended the meeting at Christ Temple Cathedral Church in Southwest Los Angeles to hear Damien Goodmon, head of the coalition call for universal rent control as a way of preventing the gentrification of South Los Angeles and other minority communities in Los Angeles.

Goodmon said AB 1506, a bill that would repeal the Costa Hawkins Act of 1995 that severely limited rent control in Los Angeles, was coming up for its first legislative hearing in Sacramento Jan. 11.

“We want people to call their legislator and support that measure,” Goodmon said.

While Goodmon voiced support for AB 1506, he was stridently opposed to SB 827, a bill by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, that Goodmon said would “gentrify every urban community in Los Angeles and the state.”

The bill would spare new housing developments from certain restrictions if they qualify as “transit-rich housing.”

It would override local zoning regulations that limit building near transit, including areas within a quarter-mile of transit stops with bus or rail lines that come every 15 minutes.

Wiener believes the restrictions on development have worsened the housing shortage, which have led to high rent in California.

About 200 people attended the anti-gentrification meeting Jan. 11 at the Christ Temple Cathedral Church in Southwest Los Angeles. Residents were urged to contact their state legislators on bills that are being heard in Sacramento. (Photo by Jacqueline Fernandez)

“We are going backwards, we are losing ground economically and culturally,” said Estuardo Mazariegos, a facilitator at the meeting. “In terms of gains, its superficial, no systemic changes. At best we are at a stalemate, at worst we are going backwards.”

Mazariegos is part of ACCE, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

“I’ve been part of the movement my whole life,” he said. “I was born in it.”

He grew up in Hollywood and experienced the changes in his neighborhood when the Red Line was being built. He said he couldn’t walk anywhere without police asking him questions.

Goodmon showed examples of local gentrification with the major developments planned in Boyle Heights, Inglewood, Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, downtown L.A. and South L.A.

The meeting wasn’t only a moment to speak about politics, but more personal stories the community is facing.

Joyti Chand and Michael Wilson spoke about their fight, what they called the battle for Baldwin Village. They accused City Attorney Mike Feuer of trying to evict Baldwin Village residents from a 425-unit apartment complex Feuer says is a home to a street gang called the Black P-Stone. Feuer filed a lawsuit in November targeting the property’s owners and managers to repress crime in the complex.

However, Chand and Wilson said they are seeing mothers, grandmothers and aunts becoming the victims of the evictions.

“There was a raid done last year, who knows about the raid?” asked Chand. No one in the room responded.

The Los Angeles Times covered the Baldwin Village raid that occurred the morning of March 2, 2017. The LAPD arrested 15 people and seized guns, drugs and more than $12,000 in cash. It was an undercover operation that spanned a few months before.

In an effort to help their neighborhood, Chand and Wilson give out clothing, diapers, fresh food and information on tenant rights and legal assistance.

“Everyone in here should try to uplift each other, because we are fighting next to each other,” Wilson said.

The presentations ended with Dr. Amee Chew discussing her health impact assessment. It is similar to an environmental impact review, but instead its looking at the development of people — seeing how many people are being displaced and what might be the source of it.

To continue the conversation, the audience was split into breakout groups and facilitators asked questions on what would be steps to resolve the complex problems.

Large easel pads surrounded the room with topics like housing, culture, services, jobs and accountability written on top. Goodmon asked attendees to grab a post-it and write their thoughts on each topic.

One under housing said: “Demand universal rent control immediately after Costa Hawkins is repealed.”

In the end, Goodmon was satisfied with the turnout at the meeting and the results.

“It’s hard for me not to look at a summit that was put together in a month, it was the largest gathering of people on [gentrification] and see this room where over 200 people came through with just four days notice, and not think we are on the cusp of a moment, we are building a movement and that we can make tremendous strides for housing and human rights,” Goodmon said.