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KPCC to Host Gentrification Forum--Let's Talk About It

With KPCC gentrification forum only a few days away, let's have a chat about the g-word's impact on the community.

What does gentrification mean to you?

That question will be the topic of discussion during a KPCC-hosted forum at Aldama Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 28 from 7-8:30 p.m. 

The panel discussion will be moderated by CSU Long Beach Associate Professor of Sociology Oliver Wang. The panel will also include Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, WORKS(Women Organizing Resources Knowledge Services) President Channa Grace and Occidental College Professor of Sociology President Jan Lin. 

Admission for the forum is free, but attendees must RSVP here.  

Highland Park is surely a neighborhood in transition. 

In January, real estate brokerage Redfin projected that Highland Park would become the nation's hottest real estate market in 2013. An influx of new residents have been drawn to the community for its affordable craftsman homes and the new shops and galleries on York Boulevard. 

At the same time, Highland Park remains by and large a working-classic Hispanic neighborhood--and that still shines through in everything from its values, to its food to its street art. 

The transition hasn't always been easy for Highland Park. In the comments section of Patch, anecdotes of longtime community members feeling overlooked are just as common as newcomers feeling unwelcome. 

Meanwhile, the struggles of local public schools remain a major challenge for Highland Park that too often doesn't factor into conversations about gentrification's potential benefits. 

Before the forum, which I'll be attending, I'd like to hear from readers what they feel about gentrification. Has it made your life any better? Any worse? How would you steer the ship, if you could?

Longtime residents, what would you like newcomers to know about your Highland Park? 

Newcomers, what would you like longtime residents to know about you?

Tell us in the comments. 

Nimby pimp February 27, 2013 at 02:29 AM
Alicia, it is likely that a business and middle-class friendly neighborhood will result in higher property prices, greater tax base and political participation. These in turn will likely lead to more attention to the community's many important needs that you call attention to.
HPGringo February 27, 2013 at 02:31 AM
@la-agog - a few ways would be to give funds to places like Culebra Park, also people can volunteer their time at the Arroyo Seco Library to tutor and mentor, attend the Peace March and events to be held on May 11th, show your support by sitting in the bleachers to cheer the kids playing baseball and t-ball, suggest more kid programs for the Audobon Society at Debs Park. I think there are things we can do and resources but the adults in the community have to start prioritizing them like you say.
HPGringo February 27, 2013 at 02:33 AM
@NP I wonder what your suggestion would be? You seem to have negative things to say no matter what the topic, how does this help? Do you have any positive insights that could maybe benefit the discussion?
HPGringo February 27, 2013 at 02:35 AM
@NP Are you suggesting that only people of a certain higher income bracket are politically engaged? Could it be that those who are not financially well off have voices that just are not being heard or listened to?
Nimby pimp February 27, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Thanks for asking HP. But for the record, I have many "positive" things to say about a wide number of things. I believe, for instance, that the racial and class diversification of the neighborhood has many benefits for this area. I am encouraged by the arrival of an artistic class, and the myriad initiatives they will introduce. (I also like them here because I believe them to be shock troops for gentrification.) I'm also a big fan of Patch, which provides an intelligently brokered, open forum for residents, old and new, of this region.
Nimby pimp February 27, 2013 at 02:59 AM
That's generally the way things work. Those with more to lose or gain from the electoral process are the ones most likely to engage it.
la-agog February 27, 2013 at 03:00 AM
HPGringo - These are all things that I am aware of. I was trying to challenge Alicia (and all of us, really) to move from a state of lament to one of action! I think that you make a really good point: a mapping of current assets / resources is always a solid start. Creating better access is a close second! Agreed in that we definitely need more community involvement at the Arroyo Seco branch. Also, that Audobon Center really is remarkable.
la-agog February 27, 2013 at 03:08 AM
Nimby pimp - Complicated issue to be sure. I'm sure that you and I both agree that a conversation about gentrification (in Highland Park!) clearly must touch on race, perceptions of "other-ness," etc. Unfortunately, I don't have a way of parsing it with you within these comments effectively.
elmo February 27, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I know! Let's leverage all that "gentrification" energy and turn the gold line station and the parking lot in front of it, into a welcoming, bucolic, public garden! Get rid of that ugly barren tree "sculpture." How did all the other stations except Highland Park get nice design/personalities? Let's fix that.
HPGringo February 27, 2013 at 03:13 AM
@NP I guess I don't follow the logic of your posts but let me try... those with more money have more to lose or gain from the electoral process, because of this they are the only ones who are involved politically . Poorer people have nothing to gain or lose from the electoral process and do not need to be involved because they are unimportant and will only gain importance when they hit a certain income level. Therefore why bother now with any programs that would benefit less financially fortunate people in the community because soon more financially fortunate people will move here and then they can do something for themselves and the community because by that time with the property values increased the poorer will no longer be able to afford to live here. ?
HPGringo February 27, 2013 at 03:15 AM
@np what do you mean by artistic class? if you mean just artists, I'd say there have been artists living in this community for many many years. still would love to hear your suggestions.
Nimby pimp February 27, 2013 at 03:15 AM
@HP. You lost me there. Try again?
HPGringo February 27, 2013 at 03:18 AM
No I think I'm done but thank you.
Alicia Vanessa Sierra February 27, 2013 at 03:20 AM
By being creative. Highland park is home to a diverse group of artist and it seems we share a lot in common, good food, beer and coffee... Businesses should and want to host fundraisers for programs, businesses should recognize their surrounding schools. If where we sit to eat and drink promoted the kids/schools of HLP... I.e team of the month or high GPA discounts... Incentives, painting a mural on a side wall... Anything really... We would have a better picture of what and who the community is about
la-agog February 27, 2013 at 03:24 AM
HPGringo - Nimby pimp is simply stating a common (though jaded) refrain. In fact, it's a criticism heard all over the city: things only get nice around here once people with money move in. I think that perhaps (perhaps!) you're seeing personal judgement where there is none. It is fair to say that what looks to be happening in Highland Park is a familiar cycle of "early adopters," rents rising, working families relocating elsewhere, more upwardly mobile / politically active inhabitants... that doesn't really seem to be a stretch, does it?
Nimby pimp February 27, 2013 at 03:38 AM
@agog. Thanks for the translation effort.
HPGringo February 27, 2013 at 03:40 AM
I just go by what comments people write and respond to that. I don't agree with the comment that "those with more(money) to lose or gain from the electoral process are the ones most likely to engage it" and I responded. Again even in your comment you mention "upwardly mobile/politically active inhabitants" which again suggests that those with less are not politically active and change can only come when people with money step in, and I find that to be untrue. So yes it does seem like a stretch to me.
la-agog February 27, 2013 at 04:13 AM
HPGringo - "More upwardly mobile..." as in quantity/numbers. Nowhere did I make any mention of "change can only come..." It's not something I believe and, therefore, didn't say. My responses to you were intending to bridge possible communication gaps because I don't believe you and Nimby pimp are necessarily on opposite sides of an issue. There's an argument here that you really want to have. I'm guessing it has to do with how to better engage the community as it exists, rather than what you see as an endorsement of waiting for turnover to change things.
dee-aych February 27, 2013 at 04:31 AM
@alicia I'm all for positive programs for kids but the rest of us should not have to pick up the slack for people who can't be bothered to raise their kids properly. You know what kept me out of trouble as a kid? The fear of getting my ass whooped by my parents. We're all sick and tired of the excuses. That being said, the neighborhood is in transition. It used to be mostly white, then it became mostly latino and now it's changing again. Big friggin deal. Get used to it people. But now we need panel discussions? How about just being nice to each other on the street? It's not that hard.
Nimby pimp February 27, 2013 at 05:01 AM
@dee, I am with you on that last comment. Rather than a jargon-driven symposium, how about a little neighborliness? I've got a Spanish-language family with FMLN sympathies across the street and an English-only gay couple with good stock tips next door. I borrow a machete and lend a hand or an ear when needed. It isn't complicated at all.
El Cid February 27, 2013 at 05:08 AM
I urge everyone to consider checking out Luther Burbank Middle School. Mr. Valdez, principal, has an amazing staff. The API score of 100 points was the highest in the district. API for 2012 is 794. The LBMS has Beyond the Bell after school program, #1drum line of all LAUSD middle schools, drill team, and after school tutoring.
El Cid February 27, 2013 at 05:11 AM
Great idea! Contact Jose Gardea and get him to support it! He's trying to win this election. This is the best time to approach him and get his support.
Nimby pimp February 27, 2013 at 05:23 AM
@DQ, thanks for the heads up and the good news!
HPGringo February 27, 2013 at 05:12 PM
@la-gog nope not what I was doing. upwardly mobile means wealthier just so you know. you said things get nicer when people with money move in. i disagree. that's what i'm disagreeing with in both your and NP comments.
la-agog February 27, 2013 at 08:01 PM
HPGringo - Going by your comments, you are actively involved in a good variety of cool, community-minded projects. Let's hope we'll all have a better dialogue under another post.
Nimby pimp February 27, 2013 at 08:24 PM
@agog. Your patience and gentility are much appreciated.
El Cid February 27, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Just a thought - "Why can't HP be just about people coming to live in the wonderful, scenic community nestled in the arroyos?" For those of us who are long time residents, we love the beauty of the area, the proximity to almost everything...and the old craftsman homes that once filled this valley. It's nice to see many of the homes in the area being revitalized. We are all a community! Remember that tomorrow night!
Baird Martin February 28, 2013 at 11:30 PM
"Parents need to be accountable for their child's upbringing people need to stop pointing fingers." Diving into the shallow end of the argument pool is no way to win an argument @Skyler Morris. It's about as absurd and lazy as the "slippery slope" argument right wingers make when talking about the 2nd Amendment. The notion that business should be doing more is not something that is completely absurd. On the contrary, there is a case to be made that these businesses benefit from local patronage. Take McGibbon's auto for instance. They have been in the area for years, yet old man McGibbon and his brood take the money they make in our community and spend it in Arizona, his weekend home and official place of residence. Even when not in Arizona, they all live outside of Highland Park, so I ask what public good other than taking our dollars is he doing? I appreciate and respect anyone's right to make a living and a dollar, but you have to also invest in your local community if you want that community to thrive. It's the same argument in Washington that people do not understand, if you help people get more money, those people will spend more money at your store. What the hell is so hard to understand about that?
VDJM March 01, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Hear!! Hear!! I agree with Srta. Sierra! Support the youth!
Michael Soller March 01, 2013 at 07:21 PM
A lot of talk last night at Aldama Elementary School about preserving/expanding housing stock, great nonprofits like WORKS who are creating consensus for affordable homes and healthy markets ... and why there weren't any dang Latino voices on the panel. One place you usually hear a lot of Latino voices is at Aldama itself. Aldama's been part of the community for nearly 100 years and lately it's been a place where people are trying to bridge all kinds of gaps (achievement, language, health, etc.) through a new Dual Language Program whose lead teacher is a Highland Park superstar, a school garden directed by a senior teacher at Aldama, and programs like our first Aldama Day fair last year open to the whole community. I'm a parent of two children in the Dual Language Program, which has grown up as part of the school not in competition with it. LAUSD's school board members led by former member Yolie Flores Aguilar and current board member Steve Zimmer have given a lot of support to Aldama and Dual Language teachers and DL programs across the city. But it wouldn't have happened without parents and teachers joining forces and always pushing for schools that work for all kids. There's a lot of good faith from parents who might not have a lot in common on paper, but whose children are growing up in each other's lives. Right now LAUSD needs to create a pathway for Dual Language kids through high school so this bi-cultural experiment can keep growing. But it's promising.

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