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Letters to the Editor: South L.A. is gentrifying. Selling more properties to Black owners can stop that

Community leaders speak out against the sale of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza to a large developer in Los Angeles.
Community leaders speak out against the sale of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza to a large developer in Los Angeles on May 7, 2020.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: One way to mitigate gentrification and displacement in places like South Los Angeles is to increase the income level of those in the community so they can afford to rent or buy and stay in place. (“‘We may lose this.’ Despair over gentrification reaches new depths in South L.A.,” column, Sept. 24)

In the purchase of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, the group Downtown Crenshaw Rising proposed a community wealth-building strategy as part of its redevelopment plan. The plan by Harridge Development Group, which had the winning bid for the mall, is mute on this topic.

Another issue along the Crenshaw corridor is that Black developers are being shut out by the likes of CIM Group, Watt Companies and Harridge. The logic of network hiring suggests that Black employers hire Black workers, and white employers hire white workers.

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A cruel joke could be that Destination Crenshaw, the open-air cultural museum under construction, may become a totem demarking that “Black people used to live here.”

Philip S. Hart, Los Feliz

The writer is an urban planner and developer who has worked in South L.A.

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To the editor: As a Black resident of Los Angeles who has lived in the same home for almost 50 years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the changing demographics in my neighborhood.

The pace of change as well as the price to buy has picked up exponentially in the last couple of years. Today, I couldn’t afford to buy my own house. The reality is that Black families, which once dominated my street, are becoming extinct.

Our homes are our best chance of creating generational wealth and pushing back gentrification. Instead, we sell and move out of state; refinance continually until all the equity is sucked out; refinance to lower mortgage payments, thus resetting a 30-year mortgage to year one; or obtain a reverse mortgage, essentially selling the house at half its value while still living in it.

Instead of passing on our biggest assets to our heirs with little or no mortgage, we load the houses so heavily with debt that our children usually cannot afford to keep them.

The answer to your gentrification dilemma is in the mirror.

Rod Lawrence, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Since 2016, L.A. County voters have approved a series of tax measures to make the area more livable.

The lion’s share of those revenues should be reinvested in South L.A. — where the need is greatest — to build and maintain public parks (Measure A, 2016), create free and affordable transit options (Measure M, 2016), clean and capture scarce rainwater (Measure W, 2018) and erect very affordable housing (Measure H, 2017).

Government leaders need to set down the terms so developers have predictability. That any new housing built in South L.A. would bring only 10% affordable units is unacceptable at this point in time.

Manal Aboelata, Los Angeles

The writer is deputy executive director of the nonprofit Prevention Institute.


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