We will not be moved

My roommate, a first-year teacher at large Downtown high school, just returned from the Gentrification in LA event. Unlike 5000, she wasn’t “filled with dread” at the thought of watching a film by a high school student.

On the contrary, she was highly impressed by young Stephanie Cisneros’ documentary about an issue facing her community. My roommate attended to accompany a good friend, who is Stephanie’s history teacher at Downtown Magnet High School. Stephanie, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, became interested in gentrification about a year ago when the landlord threatened to double the rent for her family’s apartment. In response, she decided explore the reactions of other Echo Park residents and small business owners.

The 20 minute film, primarily in Spanish with English subtitles, was based on short interviews with half a dozen Latino immigrant residents and small business owners.

One of the problems the interviewees expressed is one we often hear when discussing gentrification: the increase in rents so that long-time business owners and residents are priced out.

Stephanie not only showed people who had been negatively affected by gentrification, but also showed resistance by residents. She interviewed low income and working class residents who had pooled resources together to form housing cooperatives. The objective of these cooperative is to buy property and remain in the neighborhood rather than be pushed out.

After the film a panel discussed possible solutions to gentrification. Currently the areas most afflicted with gentrification are Echo Park and Highland Park. My roommate, a native of Boyle Heights, admitted getting the shivers each time a panelist mentioned how the gentrification trend is moving to the real Eastside: Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights.

We Chicanas and Chicanos say: we will not be moved.

6 thoughts on “We will not be moved”

  1. did anyone talk about solutions to this housing mess we’re in across the city? like the possibility of in-fill housing ordanances, or waiving parking requirements for new construction near transit corridors? i believe we must fix the core issue of constrained housing supply in order to address the negative effects of gentrification.

    (one wonders what i have to type to get this though your lameness filter – perhaps if i say star wars or line up somewhere – or maybe freeway, because no one wants to hear about “affordable houseing” anymore)

  2. sorry for that last bit above – but geeze, the blogging.la questionable content filter is getting difficult to pass!

  3. This is probably a good place for a plug for the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance. If you live in multi-family housing (two or more units on the same lot, apartments, etc.) built before 1978, your unit falls under rent stabilization. That means that, with very few exceptions, your landlord can’t raise the rent more than 3% a year. We recently amended the RSO to prohibit landlords from evicting tenants based on “major rehab” work; landlords can still recoup some costs from major rehabs, but they can’t make tenants leave because they are improving the unit.

    If you believe your landlord is violating the terms of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, you may file a complaint at http://www.lacity.org/lahd/rentfrm.htm or call the Public Information Hotline at (866) 557-RENT. For more information see http://www.lacity.org/lahd/rso.htm.

    (In 1997 the Costa-Hawkins Act forbade local governments from enacting rent control ordinances which kept units at the same price even after a tenant vacated. Under the RSO, once you vacate your unit, the landlord can raise the rent to whatever the market will bear. FYI).

  4. Thanks for the report Cindy. I’m glad to hear that it was an enlightening experience for people.

    I should note that the fact that I might have dreaded watching a film made by a high school student is not at all contrary to the possibility of me being highly impressed by it. I think you’ve confused expectation with criticism. I would’ve been very happy to find my fears unfounded, if only I could’ve been here to see it.

    And thanks for the info about the RSO, Josh. I’m hoping that my neighbors might find the information useful. I doubt that they read bLA, but I’m happy to pass it on in person!

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