'Vida' Examines Gentrification in East L.A. But Now Faces Backlash from Real-Life Protesters

A show about the impacts of gentrification in a working-class immigrant neighborhood in Los Angeles is generating controversy among those it represents.

Read Time: 2 minutes

September 7, 2018, 10:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


Public Art

jondoeforty1 / Flickr

The Starz show “Vida” is about life in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, where gentrification is an issue at the forefront. The show has tried to tackle this topic—along with hiring a slew of Latino actors and writers—but it now finds itself the target of anti-gentrification activists.

"The protests over the filming mark a new ironic twist, because producers of the Starz show said they were simply trying to honestly portray the debate about gentrification," reports Alejandra Reyes-Velarde. The group Defend Boyle Heights does not like the show's portrayal of the community, says Reyes-Velarde:

Their biggest complaint is that those involved are profiting off the struggles of those trying to stay in their homes. They also say the show pokes fun at them and stole the image of the Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade, a grassroots group of female activists who lead bike rides in Boyle Heights to combat gentrification and other social issues.

Tanya Saracho, "Vida’s" showrunner and herself an immigrant from Mexico, says she is working to keep up an ongoing dialogue with the community because she wants the Boyle Heights world she creates on the screen to accurately depict real life.

Community response to the activists’ complaints has been mixed. “One city official who declined to be named said many of the community leaders he has spoken with have reservations about Defend Boyle Heights' decision to focus on [the show] because the show's producers have generally tried to be sensitive to the community's concerns,” says Reyes-Velarde.

Saturday, September 1, 2018 in Los Angeles Times

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Aerial view of MBTA commuter rail station in Concord, Massachusetts among green trees

Massachusetts Zoning Reform Law Reaches First Deadline

Cities and towns had until January 31 to submit their draft plans for rezoning areas near transit stations to comply with a new state law.

February 1, 2023 - Streetsblog Mass

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2, 2023 - Curbed

Arizona Canal

HUD Grants Total $315 Million for Continuum of Care for the Unhoused

An unprecedented federal grant program, announced earlier this month, will support continuum of care for the unhoused in unsheltered and rural settings.

11 minutes ago - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Covered pergolas for outdoor dining line the curb on Ballard Avenue, Seattle

Seattle Historic District Could Remove Street Dining

Despite the popularity of Ballard Avenue’s outdoor dining pergolas, some district board members argue the patios don’t match the district’s historic character.

February 7 - The Urbanist

Rendering of landscaped street with street trees and pedestrian sidewalk

South L.A. Complete Streets Project Back on Track

First proposed in 2015, the Broadway-Manchester redesign would add bike infrastructure, pedestrian improvements, trees, and other amenities.

February 7 - Urbanize LA

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.