Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gentrification, USC, & Me

Back in 2008, I had the following email exchange:

May 17, 2008:
Hello! I was reading your online blog and was curious - do you still live at 1821-1839 S. Main Street? I was looking at those apartments some time ago and thought they were wonderful,but was weary of the area. How has your experience been? Also, I remember parking was tight -- do you park at the lot across the street, and how safe has your car been? I also noticed there was a lot for LA Mart down the street - do you know if this is at all available for tenants? Thanks for all your advice!
I replied the next day:
Hi there, 
Thanks for visiting my blog! I do still live there (though I haven't been posting nearly enough lately).  
I've been here since November and the people I've encountered in and near my building have generally been either friendly or at least non-threatening. I think it depends a lot on your own comfort level. I am careful about going out at night and last night was the first time I walked farther than the market downstairs alone (I usually bike everywhere at night). I walked to my apartment from the train station on Grand at about 10PM, and there were people around. Of course I'm always cautious but I try not to let that keep me from doing things. There is a restaurant downstairs that serves beer and has somewhat odd hours, and I see a few intoxicated people around once in a while-- nothing terribly alarming though. 
It depends a lot on what you're comfortable with, really, and how convenient this location is for you. Since it's only a mile and a half from my work, and close to lots of public transit (plus downtown!), it's pretty much perfect for me. I park my car on the street near my work because it costs 50 dollars a month to park in the lot across the street. My car hasn't been broken into, but after leaving it parked in a lot behind the building (which is actually prohibited) the antenna and one of my door handles were broken in the last few months. My car is really old and beaten already so it doesn't really matter to me. There are many much nicer cars parked near and around the building, if that says anything to you. I don't know about overnight parking at the LA mart lot, but they do have a fee as well.  
I hope this helps-- let me know what you think and what  you decide!
A few days later, she responded:
Thanks for the response! I'm a student at USC, so I'm pretty familar with a high-crime area. I was looking for a studio for the fall semester, and thought the studios at this place were just so cute. I was just pretty weary of the surrounding area, seeing as I'm a petite (4'11''!!), young girl. However, I decided to take the leap and am renting a studio in the complex for fall semester. The only thing I'm really worried about is my car, so hopefully it is safe! I'll be moving in this weekend, actually :) Maybe I will see you around the complex!
So, I've taken part in gentrification, too. The difference, I think, is that I did not expect the neighborhood to mold to me; I adapted to the neighborhood. Maybe that is the difference between a kind of gentrification that destroys what is there, and a kind of gentrification in which newcomers adapt and meld and merge with existing area. Then again, as a demographic changes, it is inevitable for the needs and "market" in the area to change as well. What I hope is possible is for a neighborhood to transform in an inclusive way. I'm still imagining what that might look like.

I never did meet that woman who moved in.

Recently, I saw these new neighbors move in up the street:
Deja Vu Showgirls. 03/20/12.
Unfortunate for those who live in the building and who might have lived there otherwise.

No comments:

Post a Comment