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Resolved: Los Angeles is the "Least Gentrified Major City"

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Howard Ahmanson, Jr., multi-millionaire son of philanthropist financier Howard Ahmanson, Sr., recent Democratic convert, and major backer of Proposition 8, wrote in New Geography last week that gentrification is "rarer in Los Angeles than in almost any other American city." Here's what he means by gentrification: "the phenomenon of Anglo 'gentrification' – what used to be 'yuppies' or their more contemporary counterparts (original 'yuppies' are now in their 50s) upgrading a formerly 'bad' neighborhood by pushing up rents and squeezing out existing relatively poor folks." (This might be countered by those who believe those "poor folks" are also cashing in by selling their homes during the boom--and moving on up.) Ahmanson, who lives in Orange County, argues that LA lost most of its potential gentrifiers to Irvine and Newport Beach in the sixties and seventies as a result of planned communities, the Watts Riots, and pollution. Los Angeles "ultimately recovered" from this "with the help of immigrants on the one hand, and the entertainment industry on the other." As for the state of gentrification now, he writes that "Pasadena and Santa Monica, both singularly uncool places 40 years ago, have become among the coolest parts of the city," and that "In contrast, downtown San Diego feels a lot like downtown Denver...Both of those downtowns fill up on weekends at night with hard-partying young Anglos, not exactly to be seen on Broadway in LA at any hour." The contrast must be that the Anglos in Pasadena and Santa Monica don't party as hard. [Pictured: a still from the 1970 gentrification film The Landlord]
· LA THE LEAST GENTRIFIED MAJOR CITY? [New Geography, via Planetizen]