The Gold Line light rail between Pasadena and downtown, frequented by dozens of riders daily, is beginning a dramatic expansion thanks to an influx of federal funds appropriated in SAFETEA-LU (pronounced ?safety-loo? and standing for ?Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-Legacy for Users? ? has there ever been a worse acronym? Ever?). Of the $1 billion coming to LA County, $400 million will fund expansion of the line 6 miles from Union Station through Little Tokyo to East Los Angeles.
Will light rail service trigger a wave of revitalization for East Los as it has for downtown Pasadena? Hilly neighborhoods like Boyle Heights are packed with early-century bungalos and apartment buildings, otherwise known as heroine for gentrifiers. Proximity to downtown LA and real estate economics may make a shift in population inevitable. Yet current residents of the vibrant Latino neighborhood are not likely to trade their pupusarias for Pottery Barns without a battle.