Gentrification In Echo Park — Exception To A Rule?
August 16, 2011, 04:33 PM
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I’m trying to think of exceptions to my Do Barrios Ever Gentrify? post below: One might be Echo Park / Elysian Heights near Dodger Stadium overlooking downtown L.A. has been gentrifying.

From a 2008 LA Times article on vicious politics in races for Echo Park neighborhood council,

Earlier this month, after two years of rancor, leading candidates in the latest neighborhood council election divided themselves into two slates. Both made a variety of promises to voters. But there was no escaping the awkward fact that one slate, with Sigala at the top of the ticket, was made up almost entirely of Latinos; the other, with Peters at the top, challenging Sigala for the presidency, was almost entirely white.

Peters lost to Sigala, and her slate lost almost every race. Nine of the 10 people on Sigala’s slate won their races. In two election cycles, the Latino community went from a single representative on the neighborhood council to a dozen, Sigala said.

Echo Park has a long and proud history of liberal politics; candidates on both sides considered themselves progressives committed to diversity and the working class. The caricature painted of those who lost, Peters said, was unrecognizable.

“People here seem to believe that because they are angry they don’t have to be civil,” Peters said. “From my perspective, we’ve lost a sense of community.”

At this point, it is difficult to see how the two sides could come together.

But Echo Park is an extremely high value location due to easy commutes, views, and the L.A. notion that movie stars live in the hills. Personally, I find living on flat ground much more convenient than living on a winding mountain road where it’s hard to walk anywhere, but then I’m not a movie star. There’s an old apocalyptic meme in Los Angeles culture that suggests that when the hammer comes down [e.g., in Niven and Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer], you’d better have some defensible topography to work with. The traditional L.A. thinking is that the inevitable mobs of zombie looters will be slowed if they have to stagger uphill. But unlike everybody who is anybody in L.A., I like living on flatland with sidewalks, wide streets, plenty of parking, and a library and a liquor store on the corner.