The Rise of “Gentrification” in Downtown L.A.

Abcarian: In that racist leaked recording, L.A. sees its true reflection — and it’s ugly

L.A.’s real face is not the one with the perfect smile, and it’s not the one with the perfect dress. That’s what “cities” are, right? It’s more like a mirror into which we see ourselves.

A short piece published in the Los Angeles Times last month by Mark Binelli about the rise of gentrification in downtown L.A. was an eye-opening document about the way the city is changing. We were a city to be envied and hated in equal measure, he wrote, and we were losing our identity as a result.

We were being replaced with a more diverse and homogenous group, a group of people who were not just rich, they were rich to the point that they, like everyone in downtown L.A., were in need of a new apartment, a new haircut, a new car, a new apartment, a new haircut, a new car.

The rich, meanwhile, were driving up the prices of everything, from parking to dry cleaning to the subway. “Gentrification” was, in part, about the gentrification of things that people had to work and live for, things that required money and effort. That process of gentrification — as Binelli called it — was a result of the economic downturn, too.

I’m a fan of the L.A. Times, and in the wake of the Binelli piece, the newspaper published a follow-on piece of its own, by its city department of economic and business journalism, titled “Why downtown L.A. is changing.”

It’s written by reporter John Greenhouse. It examines the rise of gentrification in downtown L.A., which he suggests is the result of a lot more than one factor, namely, the economic woes of the region. But in the piece, Greenhouse focuses on what he calls the “social” factors of gentrification — namely, those related to housing costs and a growing population of �

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