SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A plan that stabilizes communities experiencing foreclosures and abandonment and confronts the displacement of low-income, working families and small businesses is being proposed for South Los Angeles.
A neighborhood stabilization program was introduced to the City Council Feb. 28 by City Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren Price and City Council President Herb Wesson.
“Given the decline of African-American populations in Los Angeles and Southern California more broadly, we put forth this motion to say that one, we notice that, and two, that it’s not anybody’s goal to do that, and three, that we want to look for solutions,” Harris-Dawson said.
As one of the last affordable areas in the city with much undeveloped land, South L.A. has drawn attention from investors and developers over the years.
A combination of recent developments has made South L.A. leaders and longtime residents concerned about being pushed out of their neighborhoods. The rise of property values, a lack of rent control, the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Rail Line, numerous condominium expansions, and the construction of a football stadium in Inglewood are all contributing to the area’s gentrification.
On March 6, Harris-Dawson conducted a town meeting to discuss an open-air project that will see a 1.1-mile long street museum built along Crenshaw Boulevard between 48th and 60th streets, along part of the street that will feature the rail line.
Reuben Caldwell, senior planner with the Department of City Planning, said that the proposed neighborhood stabilization program comes at a time of big changes in South L.A.
“[The sense of urgency to address gentrification] has certainly always been there, but now I think there’s a great deal of momentum because the plans have been adopted. It’s been since the late ‘90s since new plans were last adopted,” Caldwell said.
Last November, city leaders voted on two new community plans for South and Southeast L.A. that will guide future growth in the areas, create new economic opportunities, protect neighborhood character and enhance the quality of life for those who live, work, visit and invest in the area.
During the 10 years it took for the plans to get drafted, community groups created a strategy called The People’s Plan that recommended ways to ensure that locals would benefit from the city plans and secure them from displacement. From their suggestions arose the community plan implementation overlay (CPIO).
“[The CPIO] has a very unique approach to what we call value capture,” Caldwell said. “It’s a strategy to increase affordability by allowing only projects that incorporate a set percentage of housing units affordable to target groups.”
But in neighborhood meetings all over the city, people are raising concerns, Harris-Dawson said.
“The urgency [to address gentrification] has been in place for a while, but I will confess it took us a minute with the legislative strategy to approach it,” Harris-Dawson said. “But literally in every neighborhood meeting … people are very concerned about this question [of displacement].”
While the introduction of the motion is a start, Harris-Dawson said that it is not the answer to residents’ concerns, but “is just to devise the platform for us to seek answers and pursue them. … Part of what the motion does is it seeks out the opportunity to get the resources to drill down on that question and to really look at a scientific-level review about what’s been done, what’s worked and what hasn’t.”
The motion, Harris-Dawson said, also supports his belief that Los Angeles is a place of inclusion.
“What’s great about Southern Californians is that we have the kind of communities that don’t just say ‘good riddance.’ We are a place where we want to be welcoming to everyone and livable for everyone and this motion seeks to affirm that.”