Landlords in Highland Park are rehabbing units and raising rents, causing many residents to be priced out of the neighborhood. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
LA River School

‘Gentrification coming soon to a neighborhood near you!’

About a couple years ago I remember driving past a run down building on York and Figueroa. The sign read “Starbucks coming soon.” At the time, I felt joy because there never was a Starbucks in Highland Park. That joy quickly dissipated. With the arrival of a Starbucks brought unwelcome “hipsters” into the area.

The Chicano culture was being replaced with art galleries and high-priced clothing shops. The property rates raised in Highland Park forcing many families to relocate due to greedy landlords raising rent. This economic takeover, usually by Caucasians in neighborhoods with people of color is known as gentrification. Gentrification is an ongoing problem in Los Angeles with many families having to leave neighborhoods they grew up in because of the rise in property value and those families usually don’t own the apartment or house they live in.

Many stores on Figueroa have had to close down and sell out because rent in some places is being raised by 200 percent.

A local typewriter repair shop on Avenue 58 and Figueroa is going out of business because of gentrification.

I asked Jose Sanchez, owner of Typewriter Repair Shop, how gentrification has affected him.

“The moving in of these upper class people and the changing of this neighborhood [it] has caused my landlord to raise the rent due to the rise of property value,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez is just one of the many business owners who has had to close up and relocate due to gentrification.

Many people are being pushed out of the neighborhoods they grew up in by people who have never lived there. However, many are welcoming to the change and don’t mind the “beautification” of the area.

My grandma Synthia Partida, a current Highland Park resident, has grew up in the area for more than 50 years and when asked about gentrification she says she doesn’t mind.

She said, “Over the past years I’ve seen this neighborhood change and to me it’s been for the better, Highland Park is transforming into a safer neighborhood where you’d want your children and grandchildren to grow up in.”

With new apartment complexes and fancy coffee shops have brought a lot of attention to Highland Park. Property value has given many residents the opportunity to sell their house for twice as much. Gentrification has its good sides and the negative sides but which may outweigh the other and can affect many residents in the area.

Sanchez typewriter shop will soon be bought out and changed with a clothing store or will be turned into another art gallery on Figueroa. Growing up in Highland Park and being a resident here for almost 17 years, a lot of things have changed and what scares me now is that I’m starting to see the Chicano culture I grew up with disappear and many things that made Highland Park into what is is now.

Gentrification is spreading and once the old Highland Park is gone, the hipsters will move on to the next neighborhood.

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