Thanks to 1 or 2 million dollars of taxpayers’ money Frank Gerhy’s gang of experts working for the River L.A group earlier this year produced what they called an ‘Index’ of the Los Angeles River. It certainly looked like basic marketing research for real estate developers to me. (I spent over 30 years working in advertising and marketing so this isn’t an offhand observation.) And I am still shocked by the fact that Mayor Garcetti simply handed over millions of dollars from the federal government to a private ‘charity’, now named River LA, whose staff is full of people with real estate connections. River LA, by the way, is not the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), a grassroots group that espouses restoration of the river habitat. But I digress…
Over the weekend at the kayak race on the river I fell into a conversation with Alexandro of the Frogtown Residents and Owners Group (FROG) who is angry about all the changes happening in Elysian Park, aka Frogtown, including that expenditure of public money in clear support of gentrification.
Frogtown, a tiny neighborhood, squeezed between the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Los Angeles River, is filled with very small homes on very small lots with a few light industrial businesses beside the river. For decades it has been one of the neighborhoods where the working poor people of Los Angeles live. Alexandro had posted a series of signs opposing kayaking and fishing on the river near the starting point for the kayak race, but the goal of their group is larger than stopping kayakers from disrupting the habitat of birds on the Pacific Flyway. He told me they are getting together with other lower-income neighborhoods, like Boyle Heights and Highland Park, to oppose the city-wide gentrification that is forcing working class residents of those areas out of the city altogether.
The powers-that-be speak loudly about Los Angeles as a Great Diversified Community, a model for America in the 21st Century. But diversified how? If you are a rich Latino–you’re in. If you are a wealthy African American–you’re in, too. A rich Armenian, or well-to-do Ukrainian or affluent American, again you can be part of the Great Diversified Los Angeles. But if you are a poor Latino, or African American, or poor anything else…well, the actions of the L.A. City planners seem to say: find somewhere else to live.
So the gentrification has begun and I’ll let some photos speak about it.