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Gentrification Lollipops Move LA's Poor to the Margins

MAILANDER MUSINGS - The Mayor is a lame duck, Eric Garcetti's a lame duck, it's time for nearly everyone to change seats, and land use fires are breaking out all throughout the City of Los Angeles.
Now's the time for attorneys to cash in as their boys will soon be out of office, and they are indeed cashing in, big time.  Planning chief Michael Lo Grande's offices, already a developer's handmaiden, have been even busier doling out the lollipops to big guns than usual of late.

Late last year the planning department gave the final green light to the crazy Korean 100-room boutique hotel coming to Sixth and Normandie --Koreatown, LA's Tenderloin--a civic move that will force many poor people paying modest rents out of the neighborhood.

There's been a mad late push by termed-out Garcetti and the termed-out Mayor, both anxious to demonstrate their fealty to the land use firms that control the purse-strings of so much political contributions, to surrender even more of Hollywood to even more big-development congestion via the upgrading of the Hollywood Community Plan.  

This is making for such a notable incineration of a presently modestly-priced neighborhood that even former news schlub and perennial CRA shill Jim Newton has noticed it.  The so-called opinion writer couldn't quite find voice enough to form an opinion of his own, but the fact that it emerged on his radar at all was a small victory for the contrary forces. At least Newton courteously noted that actual community input has been completely ignored to-date.

Opposition to some recently greenlit projects has been similarly ignored in Sunland-Tujunga, where all the displaced from Hollywood and Koreatown will ultimately be directed.  To accommodate the displacement, the city's junior Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who is already possessed of the Council's most paranoid staff, just this week rammed through Planning approval of a 60+ unit affordable housing displacement-plex on a street without sidewalks at a site within a soft nine-iron of Historic Bolton Hall.

This is on top of another project called Day Street Apartments, a homeless complex coming to Sunland-Tujunga that Krekorian's office similarly rammed through in a hurry, as Sunland-Tujunga is quickly evolving as the City's welcome mat for its displaced populations from less-affordable elsewhere.
Paul Krekorian is a perfect foil for the City's big development players--he's still learning the ropes and still clumsier than most.  It's well-known, for instance, that he's the local figure with the most exposure in the Kinde Durkee scandal, in which an increasing number of envelopes are presently sealing up.

As Krekorian has navigated his career often without help from local machines, there are many skeletons in the former Assemblymember's closet, and even some presently evolving ones.  

For instance, pushing for his staffer Adrin Nazarian (left) to run for State Assembly has enabled someone in the Councilmember's stable to steer city lobbyists in a direction friendly to both Krekorian and Nazarian himself whenever they want something done, and they're leaving very messy tracks while doing this.

One of Krekorian's staffers even pointedly asked me early last year if I knew where Cary Brazeman, now a candidate for City Controller but a longtime land-use watchdog, got his money from.  No question: they're outsiders, a bit amateurish, they whine and even get vindictive when they get caught with their pants down, compounding their problems and making them susceptible to be on the losing end on big Council deals, while obliged to sell what they've bought to an increasingly skeptical constituency.

The LA Times, which has largely served as cheerleader for all these civic rearrangements that benefit the basin at the expense of the outlying valleys, mostly either doesn't see or refuses to see the ramifications.  

The elected officials, meanwhile, are trying to create a vision for a future Los Angeles, one with denser housing and fewer cars, a place where people live close to their work and use public transportation to get to it.

That's the way they all sell it--the way Garcetti's been selling it for years.  Everyone knows it’s a lie.  

Of course, the last thing anyone staying in a boutique hotel or a Hollywood highrise wants to do is hop onto disease-laden, grimy public transportation.  

No, the new developments in Hollywood and Koreatown, as with most of the downtown development of the preceding decade, will be for professional people and the smug bourgeoisie, who own, lease, and rent their vehicles, just as all the developers and land-use attorneys do.  

This is what's created all the congestion in the City, as the population really hasn't increased, but the number of cars and car-trips keeps climbing in the gentrified pockets.

Alas, it's the poor displaced souls who are being forced out of the central parts of the city and into its increasingly poor margins, like in Krekorian's Sunland Tujunga--where it's cheap and easy to buy out neighborhoods and local orgs, and where--ironically--there isn't even much dependable public transportation to service the poor at all.  

But people downtown are termed out, and the gentrification of our most beguiling ghettos is proceeding at a clip.

(Joseph Mailander is a writer, an LA observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He is also the author of The Plasma of Terror. Mailander blogs at where this article first appeared.) –cw

Tags: Joseph Mailander, Eric Garcetti, Hollywood, Hollywood Community Plan, Michael Lo Grande, Los Angeles, poor, the poor, Paul Krekorian, 2nd Council District, Adrin Nazarian, Cary Brazeman, Sunland-Tujunga

Vol 10 Issue 3
Pub: Jan 10, 2012