April 22, 2019
April 7, 2019
Who Really Benefits From Transit-Oriented Development In LA?
Peralta is an anomaly in car-centric Los Angeles. She hasn’t owned a car in nearly eight years. Living in Koreatown, where there is easy access to the Metro and a major bus line, has provided her with all of the transportation options she needs.
“This is a very walkable neighborhood,” Peralta said. "It’s very transit-available."
Twenty years ago, Koreatown used to have some gang and safety issues but the neighborhood has cleaned up and become a popular destination for working-class families who rely on public transportation to get to and from work, she said.
Koreatown was one of the best-kept secrets in Los Angeles.
“The majority of my neighbors are Latino and Korean families and a large portion of the housing stock is rent-controlled,” she said. “People live here because it’s close to downtown and it’s not too close where the rent is so high. Rent was pretty affordable."
But in the past five to seven years she has noticed how things in the neighborhood began to change. Old buildings were being sold and getting razed. Construction cranes dot the neighborhood. Workers in orange vests are a common sight.
With downtown Los Angeles experiencing a renaissance of development, nearby Koreatown has become a popular place for transit-oriented development. At the heart of Koreatown is Wilshire Boulevard, a main transit artery that can easily take residents to downtown Los Angeles or Santa Monica in the other direction.
Luxury apartments, trendy restaurants and other types of retail joints have moved in. And more are coming.
There are more than 50 projects currently in various stages of development ranging from multifamily, office and retail to government buildings, according to Curbed Los Angeles.
Rent prices have gone up. Citywide, the average rent for an apartment is $2,371, a 7% year-over-year increase, according to RentCafé.
According to UC Berkeley's Urban Displacement Project, Koreatown is one of the most gentrified areas in Los Angeles in the past decade. Using census data, the research team examined the mobility patterns of low-income minorities in certain neighborhoods and mapped the areas that were gentrified.
Peralta said her neighbors, many of whom are low-income and lived in the neighborhood for two or three decades, are moving out.
“You see a lot of different people now,” she said. “The racial and cultural mix has changed tremendously. Today, I see people from different walks of life — African-Americans, Filipinos, Middle Eastern, Indian, a lot more Caucasian.
"Those are good things," she said. "But I feel conflicted."
Peralta said the developments that she sees are adding more units to the city's housing stock and easier access for people to get to restaurants and shop, but she wonders what happens to those who were displaced.
"Where are they going?” she said.
Though she doesn't think Los Angeles will ever become like New York in terms of transit-oriented development because too many residents rely on their cars, Peralta wonders who really benefits from these developments.
With the city of Los Angeles a year into its Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Program, which provides incentives for developers who build near transit areas and add affordable housing, she questions what happens to longtime residents in the future. She said usually developers will buy out tenants and that longtime residents aren't usually given first rights to occupy the affordable units that are getting built.
How do you build more housing for the current and future generations and keep those that have helped build the neighborhood, she asked.
“I know these developments are going to make the neighborhood better,” she said. “But whom are we making it better for? The people from the neighborhood don’t benefit because they are the ones who have to move out.”