EPISODE 59 – ROBERT CHLALA ON CANNABIS EQUITY IN LOS ANGELES

In our 59th episode, we have the privilege of speaking with Robert Chlala (@robertchlala), a final-year PHD candidate at USC’s Sociology department and graduate researcher at the college’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity. Robert Chlala (shuh-ley-la) is a queer migrant, a Nichiren Buddhist, and a cannabis equity organizer from Los Angeles. We discuss Robert’s upbringing through the days of Prop 187, or the draconian anti-immigrant initiative passed by Californians in 1994, his and his family’s experience with L.A.’s regional economy for surplus laborers as described by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, his time studying under none other than UCLA’s Anyana Roy, his work in advocacy for wealth redistribution in Black and Brown communities through L.A.’s Cannabis Social Equity program, and much more. A can’t-miss session for graduate students and organizers in the LOS!

J.T.

EPISODE 58 – BELMONT HIGH SCHOOL IN THE 1960s

In our 58th episode, we are honored to chat with Karen “Kiwi” Burch, as well as her sister Cheryl McDonald. The sisters tell us about their respective careers in education through and beyond Los Angeles, their parents’ profound influence on their education, and the diverse student population of Belmont high school as early as 1963. Karen and Sheryl also describe running for the Associated Student government at Belmont high school, the once-prevalent LAUSD practice of “funneling” non-white students to separate schools, redlining’s impact on their families, and their grandparents’ cafeteria at none other than the Central Public Library. A truly can’t miss post-session for fans of our special panel series.

J.T.

EPISODE 5 – THE CALIFORNIA READER FROM PATREON THIS WEEKEND

Are you subscribed yet? Episode 5, titled “Locked Out! California’s Affordable Housing Crisis,” is based on a May 2000 report of the same name by the California Budget Project. We discuss sharp changes in California’s housing construction from the 1970s through the 1990s, as well as how the 2008 recession continues to impact the Golden State’s abysmal building rate, demonstrated most recently by the fact that in 2019, during Governor Newsom’s first year in office, the state built the lowest amount of new housing units since 2009.

Also, see our “Newsom Card” for Governor Newsom’s promise on housing, provided by the Construction Industry Research Board (CIRB), in case you spot the governor campaigning to keep his job near you one of these days.

J.T.

EPISODE 57 – RODERICK HALL ON L.A. AS THE CITY OF THE FUTURE

In our 57th episode, we hear from Roderick D. Hall (@RoderickDHall1), formerly with Abundant Housing L.A. and now at Pacific Urbanism, a research firm for community planners in Los Angeles. Listeners will remember Roderick from the Fight for Housing, our third panel for Making Our Neighborhood: Redlining, Gentrification and Housing in East Hollywood. For our conversation, Roderick describes growing up in rural North Carolina, living on his own for the first time in Los Angeles in none other than MacArthur Park, why moms love Denzel Washington, and how a non-judgmental approach towards organizing is crucial for movement-makers everywhere. Follow Roderick’s new adventures in L.A. on Twitter at @RoderickDHall1.

J.T.

Use these Maps To Show Your Neighbors the Rate of Homelessness in Your District Since 2011

In 2011, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) published a map and sheet showing homelessness rates per district in Los Angeles.

On LAHSA’s 2011 map, districts with the highest numbers of unhoused people were shaded dark-blue and included:

I. CD-9, where the historic Skid Row area was based before a change to the district map, or redistricting, in 2012. The district was overseen by Jan Perry when an estimated 5,800 people in the community were reported without shelter.

II. CD-14, where Boyle Heights was based. The district was overseen by Jose Huizar–who vacated his seat recently after being arrested on charges of bribery–when an estimated 2,200 people in the community were reported without shelter.

III. CD-13, where East Hollywood was based. The district was overseen by Eric Garcetti when an estimated 1,900 people in the community were reported without shelter.

IV. CD-8, where Leimert Park was based. The district was overseen by Bernard C. Parks when an estimated 1,600 people in the community were reported without shelter.

A list of homelessness in Los Angeles per district as of LAHSA’s count in 2011.

Nine years later, for the 2020 count, LAHSA did not publish a map showing district per homelessness, but that didn’t stop a band of looky-loos from publishing another one for the city on their behalf. The choropleth map below notes percent changes in homelessness per district in a bivariate color scheme from green to red to show proportion. Listed further below is a sheet ranking homelessness in order of highest to lowest per district based on LAHSA’s most recent count.

By 2020, a year after L.A. County reported $727 billion dollars in gross domestic product, fourteen of L.A.’s fifteen council districts, or 93% of the city, saw an increase of homelessness since 2011. As well, the districts with the highest numbers of unhoused residents actually included the same four districts from ten years earlier, though in a slightly rearranged order. These districts were:

I. CD-14, where Skid Row, along with much of downtown, was moved to after city redistricting in 2012. The district is now overseen by Kevin De Leon, and an estimated 7,600 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of more than 245% since 2011.

II. CD-9, where historic South Central is still based. The district is now overseen by Curren D. Price, in which an estimated 4,900 people were reported without shelter as of last year, a decrease of 15.5% since 2011.

III. CD-8, where Leimert Park is still based along with the Crenshaw Corridor. The district is now overseen by Marqueece Harris-Dawson, in which an estimated 4,400 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of 175% since 2011.

IV. CD-13, where East Hollywood is still based. The district is now overseen by Mitch O’Farrell, in which an estimated 3,900 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of 105% since 2011.

A list of homelessness in Los Angeles per district as of LAHSA’s count in 2020.

Also note that while our choropleth map shows that District 9 was the only district that didn’t see an increase of homelessness since 2011, the lack of an increase did not change the district’s status as the second of the four areas with the most pronounced homelessness in Los Angeles over the last ten years.

Sick of it? You’re not alone. As of today, voters in Los Angeles have less than 397 days to pick eight new City Council Members, a new Mayor, City Attorney, and City Controller. But with over thirteen months to go, these races have already seen up to $2.5 million in campaign donations, more than a few of which ring peculiar.

Special thanks to Mehmet Berker, L.A.’s local cartographer, for this report’s map.

J.T

EPISODE 56 – GRAND PARK’S L.A. VOICES WITH SAMANTA HELOU-HERNANDEZ & J.T.

In our 56th episode, the LIVE recording of Samanta Helou-Hernandez and I’s special talk for Grand Park’s L.A. Voices, an annual festival celebrating L.A.’s prolific arts and culture scene with the city’s talent. Samanta and I interview each other to discuss “behind-the-scenes” notes for Making Our Neighborhood: Redlining, Gentrification and Housing in East Hollywood, including where we drew our inspirations for the event, watching the series transform into a multilayered project, and our many discoveries along the way. We also take some great questions from digital audience members for a lively session like no other for yours truly during this extraordinary year. Shout out @grandpark_la on Instagram for the special opportunity to connect our series with the rest of Los Angeles, as well as the friend, neighbor and collaborator @thissideofhoover!

J.T.

J.T. Supports the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) Coming to L.A.

At the same time that calls increase on our public officials to support not luxury, but humane housing in Los Angeles, a growing number of people are also calling for more Community Land Trusts (CLTs). CLTs maintain community ownership–or shared stewardship–over land and housing, committing to permanently affordable housing options for community members.

According to Matthew Vu, a resident of South Central Los Angeles and student at L.A. Trade Tech’s Community Planning and Economic Development department, CLTs require participation from homeowners and tenants, as well as other members of the community in their governing board meetings or governing structure. Vu also notes that renters in areas covered by CLTs can work with local CLTs to acquire a property together, facilitating the process of acquisition for tenants as well as the non-profit stewards..

The first modern Community Land Trust was born in the late 1960s in Southwest Georgia, when Black farmworkers and civil rights leaders, including members of the famed Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, founded New Communities Land Trust, turning nearly 6,000 acres of land into homesteads and agricultural area, as well as providing affordable housing for Black farmers and their families on the land. As of 2019, New Communities turned 50 years old and is still operating in partnership with Black farmers.

There are now up to 225 CLTs in the United States, twelve in California, and five in L.A. County. In June 2020, the city of San Francisco passed the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, providing local CLTs there the first opportunity to purchase buildings and take them off the market once they’re on sale. At least six buildings in the Bay area at risk of being purchased by speculators have been saved by local CLTs since the law’s passage, keeping them affordable for low-income residents there.

Now, in an effort to create more for Community Land Trusts across Los Angeles County, which at 10 million residents is the largest in the U.S., CLTS in Los Angeles have formed a coalition and are urging communities to learn about the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act. The L.A. Community Land Trust Coalition (LACLTC) is an organization of L.A.’s local trusts, “committed to the preservation of low-income communities of color by decommodifying housing, promoting education, community empowerment, the conversion of tenants to owners, and making housing a human right.”

The Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) is a proposed law that would give tenants in unincorporated areas of L.A. County the first opportunity to buy the building they live in if and when a building’s owner decides to sell the property. The five Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in L.A. County advocating to bring TOPA to L.A. include: Beverly-Vermont CLT (BVCLT) along the East Hollywood and Koreatown areas, El Sereno CLT (ESCLT) in the El Sereno community, T.R.U.S.T. in Historic South Central, Fideicomiso Comuntario Tierra Libre (FCTL) in the Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles area, and Liberty Community Land Trust for the Southwest and Mid-City communities.

Want to learn more? Check out the TOPA Town Hall hosted by the T.R.U.S.T. and Liberty Community Land Trusts this past February.

J.T.