From the closed-cornered familial restaurants, to the rough, jagged texture of streets, and overbearing traffic due to construction; Inglewood isn’t the same as it used to be.
By many definitions, gentrification can be defined as the act of renovating urban neighborhoods by means of the influx of affluent residents, something that many people in the city of Inglewood are experiencing.
For years, the city of Inglewood has been a sanctuary for those a part of the African-American community, a place many call home.
Gentrification isn’t anything new; its presence has monopolized many urban cities, often transforming them into places of no unique value. Among the most renowned cities being reconstructed are San Francisco, along with regions such as Silicon Valley, Boyle Heights and Venice, while lesser recognized cities such as Inglewood are underway for fresh and new touches.
July 14, 2016, was the beginning to to an abrupt ending; it was announced that there was a new stadium underway. Located directly south from the Forum, previously home to the LA Lakers, currently a venue used for concerts, carnivals, and community events, would become the home for the “LA Rams”, who were founded and formerly known as the “Cleveland Rams”.
As gentrification builds many notable transformations, it can serve as an inconvenience for many individuals and families with housing displacement.
“I believe the city of Inglewood needs to do a better job as it relates to rent control. Since the news of the stadium being built landlords have made the price of rent out of reach, ” a former eight-year displaced resident of Inglewood who would like to remain anonymous mentioned.
With the new renovations that come with gentrification comes the increase of rent; Inglewood doesn’t have rent
control, a system that prohibits landowners from unfairly raising rent prices. Since the process has begun landlords have begun raising the prices due to property values increasing, pushing out the African American residents, who, according to DATAUSA: Inglewood, CA (see graph below), makeup 41.9 percent of the city.
In cities like Pasadena and Glendale, residents are currently experiencing the disadvantages of rent control.
In an interview with 89.3 KKPC, Patti Tippo of the Pasadena Tenant’s Union explained how renters have continuously seen their monthly rents go up hundreds of dollars.
“It’s displacing people, it’s causing a general anxiety among renters,” Tippo said. “And it’s not right.”
According to an article from LA Weekly, Inglewood holds the highest price to living, with not only the construction of the stadium but the $2 billion Crenshaw/LAX metro line, there was a median rent increase of 14.5 percent in the last three years.
Over the years, gentrification and its unremitting effects such as displacement and economic hardships on low-income residents has been perpetual.
“For me and my family we were paying $1495 and it was increased to $1595, since we were paying the lowest amount in the building we received a notice to move because we were no longer under a lease. The same unit is now $1995, ” Lopez added.
A former eight-year resident of Inglewood, Gwen Rogers, feels as that the additions to Inglewood is “cool”, but feels that “it’s taking away the culture and things that we all know as home.”
“In the 15 years of me staying here (her previous home), my rent had never been raised or lowered, it has all stayed the same, until now,” Rogers said.
“I guess once my landowner found out about the Rams stadium, the increase of his property, and how much he could possibly gain, he raised my rent like it was nothing,” Rogers announced. “I couldn’t afford an extra $1,000 a month, which is why I relocated.
Currently under construction, the underdeveloped Los Angeles Rams Stadium, also referred to as City of Champions Stadium, will be an open-air stadium and entertainment complex district, which broke ground November 17, 2016.
This project is being built and overseen by the Turner Construction and AECOM, “an American multinational engineering firm that provides design, consulting, construction, and management services to a wide range of clients.”
With this newfound fame that the city of Inglewood has acquired through its very own stadium and its neighbor, the Forum, comes a newfound reputation that has to be upheld.
“In the blink of an eye it was like a Starbucks was on every corner, and traffic, due to the construction that seems like it’s on every street you turn on, started to take over the city,” Tonette Jenkins, resident of Inglewood for over two decades explained.
Jenkins goes on to explain how she has a “love hate” relationship for Inglewood and the process it’s going through.
“I feels as if Inglewood has always had a lights shined on it, due to the ‘world’s famous’ Randy’s Donuts and the negative connotations that are portrayed in various of movies,” Jenkins continued. “What I will say is that the stadium is finally shining a true light on Inglewood, meaning showing all of its layers.”
Gentrification has not only shown the world its beauty, but brought in a variety of different newcomers.
“Before the stadium, Metro, and the renovation of the Forum, Inglewood was looked at as a criminalized city full of black people, now there are an array of different backgrounds seen,” Jenkins clarified.
The Crenshaw Imperial Plaza, a shopping/eatery plaza is a prime example of this as it has been renovated and transformed tremendously. Located on Imperial and Crenshaw in Inglewood, it has been used as a tool to attract and market gentrification in Inglewood.
“I haven’t been to their post office since they made it all nice and pretty,” states a current resident in the Inglewood area. “Everything is changing so fast around here due to these shiny new businesses, that you could get whiplash.”
Although not overtly acknowledged, in the photo above, it is clear that this plaza was renovated with only the idea of white/affluent residents and customers in mind.
If observed closely, one would recognize that the prospective customers and bypassers in the are of a white or “affluent”, as it is hard to interpret whether one is wealthy or not, background.
Alexis K. both resident and customer in the area shared how her visit in the new Chipotle restaurant went during her lunch break. While she was waiting for her order, a homeless guy came in to stand in line and order, “which for locals is nothing out of the ordinary, and when [she] looked over to the side there was a caucasian guy eating his meal, and minding his business.”
She then goes on to say, “he had on what a [she] could tell was a fairly expensive suit with name brand shoes and an extremely nice watch to complete his look, which totally stuck out in this neighborhood and once he noticed the less fortunate man you could tell in his facial expressions and change in attitude he became uncomfortable.”
“[She] was taken aback, by his reaction and [her] first thought was how Inglewood may be getting an upgrade but y’all are not going to get rid of us that quickly,” Alexis states.
Over the year, there has been a constant debate over best to deal with gentrification and its unremitting effecting. It has been shown to brush over the social tensions, focusing solely on the economic impacts.
“It’s almost as if when you stand next in line to a white counterpart who is ‘dressed to impress’ in the grocery store, we feel out of place,” Shony Williams, resident of Inglewood explained.
There are two sides of this debate: one side consists of those who argue that gentrification is a natural part of urban development, as it contributes to the city’s well being, while others say local governments should do more to regulate rent control and housing market, as that would solve the problem in itself.
In the midst of the change that Inglewood, suddenly being preferred to as “IWood”, is going through, there is one question that has not been answered many evaluate changing neighborhoods: Are they prepared to decriminalize them?
In the past, Inglewood has had a misconceived history of extreme violence, but mysteriously these assumptions have changed due to the visual changes in the community. Behind the beautiful additions to the city, it may be fair to say that the city is going through social reconstruction.
Antoinette Bell, a resident within the Los Angeles area for more than 25 years accounts that, “I have been living in Inglewood all of life and the areas that were full of overgrown grass and graffiti has been painted over and cut down.”
“Although small, I have noticed small changes that’s made a big impact,” she continued.
Along with the cultural ramifications and displacement of incumbent residents, many business, both corporate and family ran, are badly affected.
“Many of the business owners in the small business [communities] were forced to relocate or go out of business because of the rise in the prices because of gentrification and the entrance of big chain stores, like Starbucks and Subway,” Trenessa L. Williams and Charles R. Needham mentioned in their journal “Gentrification’s Influence on the Small Business Owners”.
Due to gentrification, the change in demographics and taste have had a significant impact on “how small business owners operate their businesses”; whereas, “small business owners [often] cannot compete with the changes in the demographics brought by gentrification”, forcing the inevitable, the shutdown of their business.
A local business owner of Sweet Red Peach, located in Inglewood, Karolyn Plummer, shows the opposing end of this argument expressing how “gentrification has not only increased business, but made [her] more versatile than ever.”
Although the change in demographics affect many business owners customer base, Plummer said “it all begins with a solid foundation.”
Inglewood is definitely changing, either for the worst or the best; the gentrification within the city of champions has not only changed the surface of the city but its cultural fabric as well.