When President Obama announced yesterday that he was setting LA up with $500 million to combat poverty in Pico-Union, Westlake, East Hollywood, Hollywood and Koreatown—by designating the area a Promise Zone—we wondered "Koreatown?!" As commenters pointed out, the most seriously poor and blighted areas of the city (anywhere in South LA maybe? Skid Row?) were mysteriously absent from the Promise Zone. Meanwhile, the area chosen is one that's already able to attract private investment on its own, even in the poorer parts like Westlake. Hollywood and Koreatown in particular are pretty well-gentrified already; do they really need more government investment? Councilmember Curren Price Jr., whose district includes much of South LA, released a statement saying that he was disappointed with the exclusion of his district, an area where "more than one out of three households [are] living below the poverty rate – a rate nearly 10 percentage points higher than any other region in the city." It makes you wonder how this Promise Zone was even chosen in the first place.
The Promise Zone area needed to meet certain population and average poverty rate requirements—it had to have between 10,000 and 200,000 people and an average poverty rate of 20 percent or higher— but it also, for some reason, had to be a "a contiguous region that included a neighborhood that had received a related grant before," Mayor Garcetti says in the LA Times, and since Hollywood had received a grant before, that was the starting point for the Promise Zone outline. So it looks like all the places that might come to mind when thinking about where to put millions of anti-poverty money were just in the wrong part of town.
· Some officials dismayed that 'Promise Zone' excludes South L.A. [LA Times]