Video: A look at the changes, problems, and people in Downtown L.A.
Fresh Faces, New Places
Downtown Los Angeles, once an unpopular destination for Angelinos, is becoming relevant again. City developers have been working hard and putting money into the area to turn it into a city-center that Los Angeles can be proud of.
Led predominantly by the recently opened L.A. Live, the area is undergoing a facelift, with new restaurants, shops, and residences springing up in all directions.
The changes have brought new people into the area, both visitors and residents. The city is attempting to attract a younger, trendier crowd to the area in order to build up nightlife and bring in new businesses.
In the country's other major cities (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, etc.), downtown is the center of the action. The heartbeat of those cities is the downtown area. Los Angeles is hoping it can create the same type of effect for its downtown.
Check this out: Downtown L.A. News
- L.A. Live
- Restaurants & Bars
- Residences (mainly lofts)
- Coming soon: Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. Live
- Coming soon: Regal Cinemas (movie theater) at L.A. Live
While the gentrification of the downtown area seems to be nothing but a positive, there is a large group who aren't happy with the changes they are seeing. Most of those against the new look have lived in downtown for years. Most of them, are homeless.
When most areas get nicer, the cost of living becomes more expensive. And when people are paying more to live, they usually prefer not to have homeless people sleeping in front of their homes.
The downtown area houses the largest homeless population in Los Angeles area. Over the last two years, roughly 13,000 homeless people have called the streets of downtown their "home."
The homeless agree that cleaning up downtown is important. Once a haven for crime and drug dealing, the statistics have shown the area has become safer. However, the new projects have also eliminated much of the low income housing options for transients who had been living their life hoping to earn enough money to pay for shelter one night at a time.
Now, the homeless feel they are being pushed out with nowhere to go.
Video: Joseph Thomas - Los Angeles Community Action Network
Check this out: LACAN Website
The Stay Hotel
One of the area's major problems since the gentrification is the lack of low income residences. More homeless people are on the streets because they can't afford shelter in the newer hotels.
In 2006 the city of Los Angeles, recognizing this may be a problem, passed an ordinance prohibiting many downtown hotels from remodeling unless they continued to provide housing for low income residences.
The Cecil Hotel, one a very popular spot for transients turned into the Stay, an upscale youth hostel. The hotel is now tied up in a federal lawsuit over the issue.
Owner Bill Lanting sees no issue with the remodel but declined to comment on the issue.
However, this is just one of many similar situations in the downtown area that are making it harder for the homeless people to stay and live.
Check this out: Change checks in at a skid row hotel - Los Angeles Times
Video: Rory Thomas about the importance of low income housing
Downtown Homeless Shelters
One reason why downtown has been populated by so many homeless people is because of the many homeless shelters in the area.
For years, homeless people have been able to eat, sleep, and put the pieces of their lives back together thanks to the availability of these homeless shelters.
However, with the new downtown remodeling and the current state of the economy, homeless shelters are seeing rushes of people that they cannot accommodate.
Herbert Smith, the President of the Los Angeles Mission, explained that his shelter was seeing a rush of people that they had never seen before and they were being forced to turn people away in record numbers.
More homeless people being turned away from shelters has resulted in even more on the streets closer to Skid Row, right outside of the main downtown area. And while central downtown is beginning to thrive, shop owners and residents just two to three blocks east, are suffering.
Check this out: Los Angeles Mission Website
Video: Chen Yun about the problems she faces outside her store
The city of Los Angeles is excited about the prospects of a popular and booming downtown. The goal all along has been to make the area safer and nicer.
In order to achieve the goal, the LAPD has doubled its patrol in the downtown area. As a result, arrests have more than doubled and the number of police issued citations have tripled.
The homeless in the area feel they are being targeted. Instead of being helped, they are being hunted.
Both sides must work to find some resolution to bring a happy ending to this tale of two cities.