|Map of View Park-Windsor Hills|
Los Angeles, California
Today we are going stay on the subject of gentrification with a look at how one neighborhood in Los Angeles is dealing with the situation. The neighborhood is the Southwest Los Angeles community of View Park-Windsor Hills, called the "Black Beverly HIlls." It was here, that affluent African Americans, excluded from the city's tony neighborhoods of Hancock Park, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood, could buy a house. Angel Jennings reports in her Los Angeles Times article, "'Black Beverly Hills' debates historic status vs. white gentrification," that long time residents are facing an influx of "joggers" and "dog walkers"-a community euphemism for Caucasians with their dogs and brightly colored track suits. For one resident, Karen Martin who grew up in the community, It's like an alien sighting. For other long time residents who treasure view Park as symbol of African American affluence and a stronghold of culture, it is a disturbing situation.
|Scenic view from View Park-Windsor Hills|
Los Angeles, California
Currently, the effort to place View Park on the National Register of Historic has metastasized into a serious point of contention. Some residents see designation as an honor for this community steeped with a sense of pride in the past which makes the place feel like home. Others see designation as a way to attract white buyers in search of affordable Westside housing. Tammy Williams is one residents who beams with community pride but opposes designation.
|View Park Home|
Until the sixties, View Park was predominantly Caucasian. The Supreme Court removed housing covenants which prevented non-white homeowners, and the first group of black families, mostly upper middle class, began to move in and integrate the neighborhood. As the first wave of African American homeowners moved in, Caucasians fled, leaving spacious homes with pools and breath taking views of downtown. At one point singers-musicians Ray Charles, Ike and Tina Turner called the community home. It still has a celebrity cache. Angel Jennings writes, "By the 1970s, blacks outnumbered whites nearly 3 to 1. A decade later, the ratio was 9 to 1."
|Not Beverly Hills, it's View Park-Windsor Hills|
Currently, the unincorporated neighborhood is "84% African American, and combined with neighboring Windsor Hills, Baldwin Hills and Ladera Heights, constitutes the West Coast's highest concentration of black affluence." According to the 2010 census, "Half of View Park's residents have earned a bachelor's degree or higher...and the tract that contains most of the neighborhood had an average family income of $90,000-tens of thousands of dollars above the countrywide average for white families and 21/2 [?] the median income among Los Angeles County blacks." Some residents attribute this statistic to the collective hard work, individually and collectively, "to win a place atop this hill that they fight so hard to maintain its character."
|Tree lined street in View Park-Windsor Hills|
|MacLean House c.1928|
That federal designation could come with property tax credits for new homeowners who maintain a property's historic characteristics and limited federal protection from developments...
Some residents welcome designation as a way to add value to their homes. However, other residents point their fingers at outside developers and home flippers, accusing them of trying to snatch the home of people dealing with financial misfortune. These residents see designation as potential marketing tool to attract new, mostly white, buyers to View Park's historic homes, some of which have been built by well known architects and sell for comparatively less than homes a few miles away. Musician Reggie A. Carson told Ms. Jennings, Somebody found a gold mine and they are trying to milk it...Seniors happen to be the predominate demographic here and they are also the easiest to get rid of.
|1928 home on Angeles Vista and Deane|
My plan is to walk my dogs around...meet as many neighbors as I can , and to be seen as a friendly face...When the time comes, I'm thinking of having my wife bake some of her amazing cookies...and mention that I'd be interested in buying their homes.
Ben Kahle grew tense when he discussed his comments with Ms. Jennings, later expressing his regrets,
I definitely understand the concerns that people would feel after reading some those things. He also stated that he would not intentionally do anything that would hurt the neighborhood.
|Pictures of View Park Seville Homes c.1930|
From Washington D.C., to Oakland, working-class neighborhoods that have been stronghold for black are becoming increasingly diverse as people shun suburbs for the convenience of city living...So far, the trend has skipped many more prosperous African American neighborhoods, such as those in Prince George's County, Md., where buyers as well as sellers continue to be predominantly black.
|Olympic Village under construction c. 1932|
View Park-Windsor Hills
Some fell behind on payments and their homes ended up in foreclosure. This occurred much more frequently in black communities. Prof. Freeman is the author of "There Goes the 'Hood: Views of Gentrification From the Ground Up."
To add further injury, a recent Zillow study found that African Americans are denied a home loan "at twice the rate of whites, and so it is more likely that banks, flippers, and non-African American buyers will grab those foreclosed properties."
|Pictures of housing construction in View Park c.1928|
We have so few areas...So little turf we can call our own. This is yet another invasion by another group coming in to destroy both the culture, the lifestyle and economic continuity of our areas.
Nevertheless, View Park Conservancy co-founder Andre Gaines notes that the organization's roster of 476-strong is an indicator of community support. Angel Jennings writes, "It took the group less than a year to its fundraising goal $100,000..." Mr. Gaines told Ms. Jennings, Some of that money,...will pay for the firm Architectural Resources Group to complete the documentation needed for National Register nomination, including maps, photos, and description of each property. In the interest of full disclosure, ARG principal Katie Horak was one of bloggers professors at the University of Southern California.
Pictures of View Park Seville Homes c.1930
We are long-time residents of View Park and Windsor Hills, who are diametrically opposed to any goals or plans to turn View Park in to a historic district and/or Historic Preservation Overlay Zone...Historic preservation has been transformed into a real estate gimmick to start the gentrification process...(Ibid)
On the social media pages, one opponent told the conservancy, in no uncertain terms, View Park will not be colonized...I'm coming at you with FULL FORCE. Okaaay. This white hot anger forced the conservancy to hire security for their next fundraiser.
|Homes in View Park c.1927|
You make the black people disappear and its breaks the legacy for the next group who earned their way back to this community...Those pushing for historical designation...are only interested in the real estate. They are not looking at the people.
However, View Park Conservancy member Cookie Parker has different point of view. Ms. Peters told Ms. Jennings, The neighborhood's growing diversity, including an influx of young people, is healthy for everyone,...There's a vibrancy. Every place needs life and new blood