Damien Goodmon published Black Community Responds to Wiener's Failure to Discuss SB 827 in South LA in SB 827 is a Declaration of War on South LA 2018-04-16 11:06:24 -0700
April 11, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act, the Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance, an alliance of Black leaders in Los Angeles, sent a letter regarding Sen. Scott Wiener's failure to accept the group's invitation to attend a forum in South Los Angeles so that the Senator could hear directly from the Black people who would be most harmed by his draconian housing bill, SB 827. (See our previous post about his failure: Scott Wiener Refuses to Discuss SB 827 with South LA Community)
In addition to stating their firm opposition to the bill, which has been labeled as "Urban Renewal 2.0," the Black alliance calls on Wiener, Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Transportation and Housing Committee Chair Jim Beall withhold any hearings on the bill until "Wiener attends a forum hosted by the Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance and the broad coalition of groups in South Los Angeles we’ve been working with to speak directly to the residents bearing the great burden of the housing affordability crisis, who would be most adversely impacted by his bill SB 827."
The full letter is attached. Here are just a few excerpts:
"Sen. Wiener’s refusal to meet with our Black alliance and impacted South L.A. community members is a particular affront since he frequently asserts that SB 827 is a remedy to racially discriminatory housing policy. If one truly believes that, then why would he not seek to meet our Black alliance to solicit our support and hear from our Black community members? Members of our Steering Committee were on the front lines of the civil rights movement and continue to hold the line today. Members of our Steering Committee literally put their lives on the line facing down racist cops, crazed mobs, dogs, firebombs and water hoses as we struggled in the Jim Crow South to desegregate public spaces and communities. Others may talk about this history, some may even write books about it, but we actually lived it."
"Despite the corporate media’s inexcusable failure to report it, the fact is the chief sponsors of the morally bankrupt bill, SB 827, are the leading perpetrators of the racist policies and agenda of displacement and gentrification. Despite the well-documented discriminatory practices of banks, developers, real estate speculators, realtor associations, and apartment owner associations, which continues to this day, without blushing Sen. Wiener asserts that unleashing these forces on urban communities of color throughout the state through SB 827 is a step towards racial progress. We do not for a second believe that our long-time oppressors are now our liberators. It is an insult to your own intelligence and to our history of struggle to suggest that the powerful financial interests that every day evict us, engage in predatory lending, and rob us of our limited wealth is suddenly in favor policies to break up their lucrative system that profits from our continued oppression and exploitation."
"[T]here is nothing courageous, new or innovative about advancing land grabs and economic exploitation. For America, it is a long road that began in 1492 and sped up in 1619."
"Unfortunately, the sad truth is that Sen. Wiener is not the first to misappropriate the history of Black suffering to push an agenda specifically intended to harm Black people."
Damien Goodmon published SB 827 is a Declaration of War on South LA in Stop Gentrification 2018-01-05 09:26:24 -0800
You'll be hard pressed to find a bill in the state legislature proposed by a Democrat that is a bigger threat to the stability of our community than SB 827, authored by the State Senator from San Francisco - Scott Weiner.
SB 827 would MANDATE that every inch of land within a 1/2 mile of a rail stop or a bus stop that has a bus line that comes at least once every 15 minutes during rush hour allow buildings as high as 55 to 85 feet with no parking requirements and no density limitations.
SB 827 would impact almost all of Los Angeles south of the Santa Monica mountains, but especially the communities most vulnerable to gentrification and displacement like South LA and East LA.
SB 827 would usurp all of the recent South LA's community plan updates - those years of conversations, workshops and hearings that we engaged in - to replace it with a vision concocted by a pro-gentrification, pro-displacement, real estate industry puppet in Sacramento who goes by the name of Scott Weiner.
Scott Weiner is to gentrifiers, what Donald Trump is to racists.
In many respects, like some of the corporate Democrats who sell out working class people, Weiner is worse than Trump, because on issues that don't effect the bottom line of his political campaign backers, like gay rights, he and elected officials like him sound quite progressive. He uses his support of some progressive issues to maintain credibility among liberals. However, the unfortunate reality is that Scott Weiner is a modern-day Andrew Jackson, pushing a legislative agenda to enact a 21st century Trail of Tears.
Like President Jackson's Indian Removal Act, SB 827 seeks to exile low-income people of color who currently live in the urban centers of commerce, culture and community that WE have built, to far-flung places that go by the name of Victorville, Lancaster, and Palmdale, or even worse onto the street.
Not since the "Urban Renewal" projects of the 1960s (most appropriately characterized as "Negro removal" by James Baldwin) has something so radical and detrimental to the stability of urban communities of color in California been proposed. It will undoubtedly lead to the massive demolition of the limited affordable housing stock we still have in L.A. (rent-controlled apartments, like the two-story buildings that line King Blvd and Leimert Blvd, and almost all of Baldwin Village, which are increasingly being bought by Wall Street investors) to be replaced by 5-8 story market-rate housing, where the average rent will go for $3,500/month or more. It will undoubtedly make land values in South LA skyrocket to make new affordable housing construction infeasible and home purchases by the working-class impossible, as investors and flippers operating in coordination with banks that have been engaging in predatory lending, take back the land.
And out the window goes smart planning or any concept of neighborhood character as these 5-8 story buildings would be permitted in the middle of single family home neighborhoods, and SB 827 has no requirements that the new developments be accompanied by investment in our neighborhood schools, parks, transportation infrastructure, or fire services.
It should come to no one's surprise that the one part of the state where there actually is a severe imbalance between housing production and employment centers (the suburban cities of Silicon Valley) is not the focus of Weiner's SB 827 or legislative efforts in general. Rather Weiner's focus are the parts of the state that actually has lower rents and land values: rent-controlled historically Black and Brown urban centers like South Los Angeles - places that are already plenty dense and have high transit ridership.
Like the Colonizers before them, YIMBYs claim the 'Hood as Theirs!
The bill is backed by group that calls themselves YIMBYs, which stands for "Yes in my backyard." Like the colonizers whose agenda they seek to replicate, it takes a certain entitlement/supremacist mindset to call a community they didn't grow up in, don't live in or are new to as "theirs." It's NOT their backyard - it's ours. And we're not about to give it up. WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED!
YIMBY groups are the very definition of "astroturf" - fake grassroots organizations backed by a corporate industry. The overwhelming white 30s-somethings-led groups push to remake our community of established institutions and organizations led by people of color. They aren't long-time residents of places like our South Central.
That's why they could care less about the predatory lending that led to the greatest evisceration of Black wealth in decades - it wasn't their grandma whose mortgage became unaffordable overnight.
They don't talk about or prioritize legislation to address modern-day redlining (Blacks are being denied home loans and refinancing in our community that are being granted to Whites with the same credit score and incomes), because they're not the ones being discriminated against.
They never discuss the role of foreign money, Wall Street investors and rampant speculation in driving up land values that has made the communities our parents bought into completely unaffordable to even working middle-class Black people today.
They never propose solutions to fight the expansion and rise of Wall Street landlords like Blackstone, the largest private equity firm in the world, which in one day bought up 1,400 homes in Atlanta, because YIMBYs are largely funded and supported by the real estate investor industry.
YIMBYs are completely indifferent and nowhere to be seen on the strategies of protection and preservation of our dwindling affordable housing stock, because they're not being asked to move-in their cousin who makes less than $30K a year and was harassed out of their $850/month two-bedroom in Baldwin Village by the new corporate landlord who can now collect $2,200/month for the unit.
As just one example, not a single major YIMBY group has expressed strong support for what will be the biggest mobilization of housing justice groups in Sacramento this year - next week's Assembly Housing Committee hearing on AB 1506 - the bill to repeal the horrible Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which all housing justice groups in the state consider the top legislative goal for 2018.
Scott Weiner's SB 827 is a declaration of war on every urban community in California - and especially our urban communities of color.
It is time that we put our war paint on soldiers. SB 827 is bill that must be killed.
After five sessions of Gentrification 101 that involved much study and discussion to help us better understand the subject and alternative forms of economic development, the leaders of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Hyde Park Organizational Partnership for Empowerment and Uplift Inglewood, began a process of identifying principles of community development. It is our hope that these principles will create a lens upon which to evaluate all proposed and current development and help us as we work to articulate a vision for a better and just future for our community.
Crenshaw Subway Coalition presents these draft seven principles for consideration by Crenshaw community residents. Our principles are highly inspired by the mission of the Right to the City Alliance, Cooperation Jackson, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and one of the country's leading resources for community wealth building the Democracy Collaborative.
Let us know what you think.Read more
STATEMENT ON THE CRENSHAW MALL REDEVELOPMENT PLAN
Primary Author: Damien Goodmon, Executive Director
12 July 2017
Gentrification is the greatest threat to the stability of the Crenshaw community. The biggest gentrification project we face is the proposed renovation of the Crenshaw Mall. If this project is built as currently proposed, it would rise up a gentrification tsunami that will push out Crenshaw’s tenants, low-income residents and vulnerable homeowners. Accordingly, Crenshaw Subway Coalition opposes the Crenshaw Mall Redevelopment Project as currently proposed…and if you care about the community you should too.
FACT: At 2.1 million square feet of new construction, the Crenshaw Mall redevelopment is the largest proposed development project currently being considered by the City of Los Angeles.
FACT: The majority of the new construction is NOT to renovate the mall, rather 1.2 million square feet of the new construction is to add nearly 1,000 market-rate housing apartments and condos priced at a level that community members cannot afford.
FACT: The developers can renovate the mall and add the proposed outdoor plaza on Stocker/Crenshaw without violating the zoning code. The mall's requested violations to the zoning code are solely sought to add the new market-rate housing units and erect a 135-foot tower, NOT to add or renovate the retail space.
WE MUST MAKE IT PLAIN: BLACK L.A. IS UNDER ATTACK
The gravity of what is at stake demands that we be unequivocally clear: to stand in support of the proposed Crenshaw Mall redevelopment in its current form is to stand in support of the end of Los Angeles’ Black Crenshaw community.
We must call the proposed development what it is: a part of a deliberate “urban cleansing” effort concocted by elitist leaders in the public and private sectors who seek to push out long-time Crenshaw residents to places like Victorville, Moreno Valley, Lancaster or on to the streets, and replace us with the more affluent (the "gentry").
We must acknowledge that the proposed Crenshaw Mall redevelopment project is an attack on the security of Black families, homes and small businesses, the preservation and cultivation of Black art and culture, the sanctity of Black space, the strength of Black institutions, and the potential of Black political power.
This is a seminal moment in the history of Black Los Angeles.
THIS IS NOT A MALL RENOVATION LIKE FOX HILLS MALL
Do not be confused by what is being requested by the Chicago-based developers.
If the out-of-town developers were ONLY requesting a renovation of the Crenshaw Mall, similar to that which was recently completed at the Fox Hills Mall, the issues would not be as intense. We would still take exception to their downright insulting community benefits agreement, which has a completely inadequate 10% local hire goal. But this is much more than just a bad deal and unlawful giveaway to a developer for yet another construction project that Black people won't be working on, and will overburden our infrastructure.
When compared to the Fox Hills Mall renovation, what is extraordinarily different in the proposed Crenshaw Mall plan is the requested addition of 961 market-rate apartments and condos that will be priced well above the level affordable to the vast majority of Crenshaw community residents.
“MARKET-RATE” MEANS "NOT FOR US"
Market-rate housing is priced at whatever the L.A. real estate market determines, which is undeniably unaffordable to the vast majority of local residents.
FACT: According to the City of Los Angeles’ own documentation in 2015, to afford a new market-rate housing unit, a household must make $104,360 per year. (PDF pg. 3) Today, it is surely higher as housing prices have gone up.
That is TWICE the median household income in Leimert Park, and FOUR TIMES the median household income in Baldwin Village. And those in census tracts directly adjacent to the new market-rate housing who are at the greatest risk of indirect displacement have the lowest incomes within those neighborhoods. (Leimert Park Census Tract 2343: $36,010 & Baldwin Village Census Tract 2361: $19,932). In the zip codes that surround the mall (90008, 90016, 90043 and 90018), the median household income ranges between $33,864 and $38,330. Even Baldwin Hills Estates ("The Dons"), which is a part of the so-called "Black Beverly Hills," $104,360/year is almost TWICE the median household income (Baldwin Hills Estates Census Tract 2364: $57,115).
Is it any wonder why at meetings in upper middle-class Baldwin Hills Estates, when we ask a room of 150 homeowners how many can afford to buy their homes today, only a handful of hands are raised?
Most residents who are still paying their mortgage have a note that is lower than the rent of a typical 2-bedroom “low-income” “affordable” housing unit. (Article on the 2017 affordable housing income thresholds)
This is the reality. And we have to recognize how the speculative real estate market threatens the stability and ethnic makeup of our community and city.
A failure to maintain the affordability of the Crenshaw community, which made apartment renting and homeownership possible for the vast majority of long-term residents, will drastically change Crenshaw’s ethnic makeup. It will change the character of our long-standing institutions and churches. It will weaken our potential political power at every level. It will push those who can least afford disruption to their home and to commute out to far-flung places, like Palmdale, and away from their communal and familial safety nets that are critical to living as Black people in America. It will increase homelessness.
FLOODING AN AREA WITH SO MANY MARKET-RATE UNITS LEADS TO INDIRECT DISPLACEMENT/GENTRIFICATION
To build a massive market-rate housing project in a neighborhood that cannot afford it is a clear message that the new development is not for existing residents – it is to displace long-time residents. It leads to what is called indirect displacement: a type of displacement that occurs when residents and businesses are gradually priced out/harassed out of the area and must involuntarily leave.
A displacement study for another gentrification mega-project, The Reef, in Historic South Central, with 1,440 market-rate housing units, was estimated to lead to a moderate to very high risk of financial strain or displacement for over 43,756 people who lived within a 2-mile radius of the project.
To deny that a similar outcome will occur in the Crenshaw community, if the mall redevelopment project is approved as proposed, is to deny that the sun rises in the East. It is to deny the on-the-ground experience and data of formerly low-income and working class communities in Oakland, San Francisco and Brooklyn. It is to deny the "urban cleansing" that took place in Hollywood, where in the name of "progress" then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti facilitated the erection of a flurry of out-of-scale luxury towers with market-rate housing, which unleashed an “economic tsunami” that in 10 years displaced 12,000 Latinos in Hollywood and East Hollywood alone.
WE RECOGNIZE THE HISTORY OF INSTITUTIONAL RACISM THAT MAKES THE BLACK COMMUNITY PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TO GENTRIFICATION
Today, we live in the city with the unfortunate distinction of having the nation’s worst housing affordability crisis and the nation’s worst homelessness/houselessness crisis. It is a moral stain that should shame our elected officials and corporate leaders.
The houselessness crisis hits the Black community particularly hard, as 47% of the people on the street are Black, despite amounting to only 9% of the overall population.
The roots of the crises are many. It is not because African-Americans have failed to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps," which, by the way, isn't physically possible. (That's the point.) Any honest examination will show that it is a product of policies continually implemented by the public and private sectors to suppress Black wealth creation and exploit Black labor that goes back to the days of Reconstruction.
Not only were reparations never paid, but during Reconstruction, while the federal government was literally giving away stolen land to White settlers through the Homestead Acts, the KKK was harassing Black farmers off their fertile lands and Black Wall Streets were being bombed.
Simultaneously, unlike immigrant populations, Black small businesses owners were being locked out of doing business with the larger economy in policy and/or practice, a trend that continues today.
To pass the New Deal, President Roosevelt adopted provisions from racist Southern legislators to prevent Blacks from participating in many programs and did not extend benefits to jobs disproportionately held by Blacks.
After embarking on a policy of “urban renewal” that was aptly labeled “Negro removal” by James Baldwin, the federal government ripped Johnson’s New Society programs to shreds and shifted investment to building a law-and-order mass incarceration state that targets, criminalizes and incarcerates Blacks in an effort that expands prison labor, and renders masses of Black citizens permanently unemployable.
And after predatory lending by banks (and the totally inadequate response to it by the government) led to a foreclosure crisis that resulted in the greatest loss of Black wealth in modern history, the biggest private equity firms in the world and real estate flippers swooped in like vultures to our formerly defined ghettos, to cash in on the “New Urbanism” movement.
This is the history. To deny its role in the modern-day Black wealth, Black housing affordability, Black homelessness, and all associated crises, is to deny the existence of institutional racism in America.
WE RECOGNIZE THE NEW TARGET ON OUR COMMUNITY
The wrecking ball of cultural erasure and cranes of displacement are making their way South of 10 freeway. Though none as big as the Crenshaw Mall project, we are tracking six other market-rate housing projects just within a one-mile radius of Crenshaw-MLK.
Former mom-and-pop owned apartment complexes are being bought by LLCs with invisible investors. Two of the world's largest private equity firms are buying single-family homes. And banks continue to engage in predatory lending, and are denying loans for home purchases and refinancing to Blacks with the same credit score and income that they are approving for Whites.
Anyone with open eyes who seeks to know history will find the target on our community undeniably clear.
THIS WILL BE AN EPIC BATTLE & THEY WILL TEST OUR COMMUNITY’S BOND
We have no illusion about how difficult this fight will be. This "ain’t our first rodeo" and we have learned much from veterans of site-fights and housing justice warriors.
We know that gentrification is a complex issue and that the many will seek to use that complexity to confuse and bamboozle residents.
We know that as we highlight the ethical bankruptcy of gentrification that the developers will attempt to convince the fortunate few stable Black homeowners to adopt a Clarence Thomas-philosophy of climbing up the ladder only to pull it up behind them, by suggesting that they advocate approval of projects and policies that push out their fellow neighbors who are low-income and renters.
We know that as we bring residents together to affirm our right to place, our right to self-determination, and the necessity of a good job with benefits, that the out-of-town developers will suggest that we betray our ancestral values system in favor of access to $6 cups of coffee provided by companies who seek to extract our limited dollars to increase the wealth of their rich shareholders.
We know that as we advocate for a new just and fair economy and real community benefits, as we advance the principles of community ownership, as we demand local hire/participation in construction and operation, and as we work on tangible projects such as cooperatives and land trusts, that the developers, privileged/elites and their agents will request neighbors reject these community wealth building models.
DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT DISPLACEMENT. DEVELOPMENT FOR US. DEVELOPMENT THAT IS COMMUNITY-DRIVEN.
As we have done on transit, we will engage in continuous community/political education and opportunity for conversations with policy experts, lift up the stories of residents and communities that have been victims of gentrification, keep the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors at the forefront of our discussions, and combat the myths and unproven theories with facts.
We will point to community-driven planning models and uplift efforts waged by true Black leaders in Black communities like the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston’s Dorchester community, and Mississippi’s Cooperative Jackson, led by Choke Lumumba and continued by his son, the new Mayor.
We will not quietly submit nor subscribe to the selfish morally-bankrupt economic system that many of our ancestors paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting.
We will constantly point out how America’s neoliberalism has and continues to exploit the masses and in particular Black people.
WE ARE READY FOR BATTLE
This is unfortunately but another site fight in Los Angeles. However, we find that due to the massive scale of the project, and the historical, cultural and ethical context that it has a particular importance.
We have found ourselves in the middle of a battle against economic inequality that is being waged in every major urban area of the Global North, and a battle against racial inequality and racial exploitation that is as American as apple pie.
At no stage will we apologize for advocating for long-term residents, tenants, the houseless, the poor, the working class, and maintaining the integrity of Los Angeles’ last Black cultural center.
We at the Crenshaw Subway Coalition are ready to struggle.
We have put our war paint on.
We are rising up a banner to build a movement in the wondrous tradition of our ancestors, ever mindful of our duty to future generations.
We will, in the words of Amílcar Cabral, "Mask no difficulties. Tell no lies. And claim no easy victories."
("Gentrification In Progress" crime scene tape comes from the "Define Progress" project of street artist golf! a.k.a. Ann Lewis)
Damien Goodmon published It's the displacement, stupid in Yes on Measure S 2017-02-26 23:44:13 -0800
In the 1992 presidential contest between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, colorful campaign strategist James Carville coined the phrase, "It'sthe economy, stupid," in an effort to focus the campaign on what voters found most important in a time of a recession.
Well in this election for our South L.A. community I’ve been telling the media: “It’s the displacement, stupid.”
When a displacement study finds that just ONE rule-breaking luxury housing mega-development in South L.A. - The Reef - is likely to push out 43,756 people, how can one suggest any differently?
43,756 residents GONE from their homes, from their neighborhood, from the place they grew up in – because of JUST ONE rule-breaking mega-development with rents deliberately priced above the level affordable to the local residents.
Folk, we have MULTIPLE massive luxury-housing rule-breaking developments proposed in our historically black and brown South LA community.
Understand what is at stake: we are in an epic fight to save our neighborhoods.
It is why organizations like the Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance, Eviction Defense Network and LA Tenants Union are passionate supporters for Yes on Measure S.
Download, read and share widely the LA Tenants Union statement on Measure S, which calls out the top false claims made by opponents to Measure S. Here’s just one excerpt:
"The principal financial support for the No on S campaign comes from luxury real estate developers: Miami-based Crescent Heights (owned by a billionaire), Australia-based shopping mall builders Westfield Corp., and several other notorious Trump donors. Eli Broad, who made his money building sprawling suburbs and now has his own museum, has donated tens of thousands. It’s insulting to think that these corporations somehow represent the communities of Los Angeles, or have our best interests at heart. The whims of real estate are, for better or worse, huge factors for nonprofit developers and housing services groups. Such organizations tend to follow the status quo and build their fundraising around it."
To be clear we’d like to see new development in South LA, but we want it without displacement.
We have a right to demand an end to the corrupt system at City Hall, and to have our voices heard about the future of our community. That’s what Measure S does. And it is why the defenders of the status quo are pulling out all of the tricks and lying to voters to try to stop its passage.
Damien Goodmon donated 2013-12-31 07:36:17 -0800
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3818 Crenshaw Blvd., Ste. 314, Los Angeles, CA 90008
"Civil disobedience is not our problem....Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty." -Howard Zinn