L.A. Tenants Link Planned 'Design District' to Displacement

Community leaders say a design district in Westlake could pave the way for the erasure of L.A's Historic Filipinotown.

1 minute read

February 7, 2018, 12:00 PM PST

By Elana Eden

Los Angeles Planning

North Westlake Design District [pdf] / Los Angeles Department of City Planning

Design standards recently drafted by the Los Angeles Planning Department are meant to promote mixed-use and pedestrian-oriented development along four major corridors in the Westlake area.

But community leaders worry that new aesthetic guidelines will encourage the sort of speculative investment that, without tenant protections, they say can lead to rising rents and evictions of low-income residents. The Coalition to Defend Westlake, led by the LA Tenants Union, called the proposal an entrée into "fancy galleries and expensive micro pubs and over-priced lofts."

Already, the Westlake/MacArthur Park area—recently thought to be gentrification-resistant—is anticipating a slate of high-profile projects that the coalition believes could jeopardize the community of Historic Filipinotown, whose official recognition was hard-won by local leaders in 2002.

The design ordinance is still subject to revision. But it "gets very detailed," Bianca Barragan notes, "going so far as to prohibit certain types of signs" and to require that large walls feature original murals or green coverings.

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