Common Field Session
Organized by Jia Gu / Materials and Applications (LA)

This topic is conceived in two parts.

Many of us in the arts acknowledge and concede the role we play in the acceleration of gentrification. At the same time, gentrification is also a problem that has come to affect artists and arts organizations who themselves struggle to find affordable spaces. The mechanisms of gentrification (including rising rents, evictions, homelessness and displacement) are so complex that they defy any single cause and therefore resist any single perspective. Often, these mechanisms are so entangled that they often appear anonymous or at the very least un-navigable, especially as one begins to unravel the layers of urban policy, zoning / building codes, and economic pressures that produces unaffordability and displacement.

PART 1: Under Pressure: On Protecting Communities, Resisting Displacement, and Servicing the Most Vulnerable
Los Angeles as a city has undergone radical transformation in the past decade, and promises to be unrecognizable in the years following. As the city undergoes rapid development and gentrification, the pressures faced by residents in Boyle Heights, Elysian Valley, Downtown and Skid Row (amongst others) follow familiar patterns: accelerated rent hikes, new evictions, fast demolitions, and market-driven development leading to financial, social, and political exclusion from communities (see the history of Skid Row Neighborhood Council).

While profit-driven development is the most evident cause of gentrification, development itself is only the last port of call for the actors and processes that motor such change. At the root of these changes are the city’s own system of planning, policy, and politics, which makes you wonder: who does the city plan for and how does it serve?

The conversation panel will explore the topic of gentrification in a neighborhood at the very cusp of displacement. While all of Los Angeles is undergoing change, Skid Row is one of the most vulnerable yet active communities engaging with gentrification in an effort to resist or redirect neighborhood change. Surrounded on all sides by luxury housing, new “arts” and “creative” districts, and mounting pressure from the city, the community is witnessing the rapid disappearance of affordable and stable housing, the demolition of single-occupancy residences (the primary residence of the Skid Row community), and increasing shrinkage of its neighborhood as new developments creep in. 

This panel invites four organizations currently advocating for a more equitable process of urban development. Through their work in the field, these four organizations are invited to share their expertise around policy and planning advocacy as it relates to protecting communities, resisting displacement, and servicing the most vulnerable. The conversation will be forward-looking as we actively address the precarity of Skid Row in light of the City of Los Angeles to rezone and redevelop Downtown Los Angeles for 2040. http://www.dtla2040.org/

In the world of creative organizing, what does planning and policy advocacy look like? How can residents and stakeholders participate in the processes of planning while it is happening, rather than when it happens to them? How can artists, organizations and networks to serve as an ally to targeted communities, and how can we engage and advocate as a field? How might we engage with these systemic problems preemptively, critically, and creatively? 
 

Resources:
LA Recode: https://recode.la/
Olympics LA 2028: https://www.olympic.org/la-2028
Downtown LA 2040: http://www.dtla2040.org/ > 2 community plans

View information for Part 2: Community (Care) Plan here.