EPISODE 31 – THELMA REYNA, GOLDEN FOOTHILLS PRESS

In our thirty-first episode, listeners meet Dr. Thelma Reyna, P.h.D., editor-in-chief of Golden Foothills Press in Altadena, California, and an accomplished author of more than ten books, including nonfiction, poetry anthologies, and more. Dr. Reyna describes her upbringing as a baby boomer, whose formative years were spent with her working-class family in the small conservative town of Kingsville, Texas, followed by her eventual journey to Pasadena, California. She also tells us about two books she published this year, including Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems,a tribute to her late husband of 50 years, as well as When The Virus Came Calling: COVID-19 Strikes America, an anthology of work by 46 different authors, including Richard Blanco, President Obama’s Poet Laureate at his 2013 inauguration, not to mention, work by yours truly.

J.T.

Meet The Anti Eviction Mapping Project in Los Angeles

Originally founded in San Francisco in 2013, the Anti Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP) was a response to the city’s hostile developments against working class families to make room for the tech and AirBnB booms there over the last decade that have kept San Francisco, along with much of the Bay Area, within the top five most unaffordable cities in the country for nearly a decade. Since then, a mix of scholars, activists, artists and working-class voices have regularly updated and expanded the reach of the AEMP to create visibility for the role of Ellis Act evictions in the manufacturing of unaffordability in the state of California.

The Ellis Act, a state law passed in 1985 that was originally intended–at least on paper–to give “mom and pop” landlords the opportunity to leave the rental business when they wanted to opt out, has since provided more and more corporate landlords the ability to evict tenants, including tenants living in rent-controlled units, substantially reducing the availability of such units from the rental market for working class families. As a result, since 2001, the city of L.A. alone has lost at least 26,562 rent-controlled units to Ellis Act Evictions.

Since 2017, the AEMP has documented this process in Los Angeles, tracing available public data on the date of evictions, as well as on how many units were taken off the rental market by their displacement. In the words of scholar-activists Terra Graziani, who co-founded the AEMP in L.A., and Mary Shi, a UC Berkeley based scholar, regarding the role of documenting such processes:

“AEMP’s Ellis Act Eviction Map visualized the city’s erased history of “no-fault,” Ellis Act evictions as a series of time-lapsed, exploding, black and red circles. By culminating in the image of a city pockmarked by eviction, this visualization served to re-signify San Francisco as a site of mass displacement and thereby counter growth machine imaginaries of the city as an unblemished terrain ripe for capital accumulation.”

– Data for Justice: Tensions and Lessons from the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s Work between Academia and Activism

If you live in the city of Los Angeles, or any of the other AEMP-documented counties, there’s no reason why you should not know how many Ellis Act evictions, for starters, have taken place in your community over the last 20 years. After a brief survey of the interactive map, in the vicinity of the Virgil Village area, which spans the length of only a single mile radius, I counted up to 84 ‘no-fault’ Ellis Act evictions of residents here. I will update the count for the East Hollywood area before too long. Check back for that update.

Meanwhile, to learn more about the AEMP, click the flyer below to check out the latest free talk held by the Anti Eviction Mapping Project in conjunction with the Los Angeles Tenants Union on how to organize for tenant protections in Los Angeles. Tune in with yours truly to learn how you can start a Tenants Union or Association within your community, if not join one nearby. And remember: at the time of this writing, in the city of L.A., more than 2.4 million people of the city’s estimated 4 million residents rent rather than own the homes they live in.

Additionally, from now on, readers can view a histogram charting the number of rent-controlled units lost in L.A. over the past two decades due to the Ellis Act at the footer of this website.

J.T.

EPISODE 30 – PROPOSITION THEY WANT TO DO WHAT

For our thirtieth episode, listeners are treated to a simple, yet succinct analysis of the various propositions on the ballot for California this upcoming November 3rd, 2020. Listen to the episode while you sit down to fill out your ballot, or while on your way to your local polling station. If you live in California, this October 19th is the final day to register to vote in the U.S. Presidential Election this year. And for a deeper dive, check out a special analysis of local elections in L.A. with yours truly at jimbotimes.com: “What’s in a Vote? How Low Voter Turnout Rewarded Garcetti, O’Farrell.

J.T.