It's the most obvious news in Los Angeles that Highland Park is in the midst of some textbook gentrification. Hip bars and trendy fitness clubs are butting up against longtime businesses and residents and young, well-off white people are moving in as long-time, lower-income residents are pushed out. In this interim period of culture clash, there is the sensitive question of how to prioritize services in Highland Park—should it be for the newbies or the largely Latino population that's lived there for decades? KPCC reports that a new LAPD foot patrol program on Figueroa Street has some residents wondering why there's so much police presence on a relatively safe main street when gang violence is a very real threat just a few blocks away.
The patrolling cops walk a beat down Figueroa, between Avenue 50 and Avenue 60 each day—the 10 blocks they walk are a stretch where new and trendy businesses happen to be replacing decades-old mom and pop shops. The beat cops do monitor for gang activity, but their main focus is on "maintaining relationships" with businesses on Figueroa.
Keeping Figueroa Street safe as it transforms into a hipster wonderland feels like a skewed priority to some long-time residents of Highland Park. While violence bubbles over elsewhere in the neighborhood, the new foot patrol could seem more like it's maintaining a successful turnover in businesses on Figueroa than protecting residents against gangs. More than two dozen shootings in two months were reported just west of the Figueroa beat. Community activist Miquel Ramos says the new foot patrols go "hand in hand with issues of gentrification." and that there's no point in putting police on the main corridor when that's not where the shootings are taking place.
The Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council has been discussing the idea of foot patrols at meetings for a while now. Initially, they wanted increased police presence on Monte Vista Street to the north to monitor gang activity, but somehow ended up with the Figueroa beat instead. The council plans on more foot patrols as resources become available, but for now, Figueroa is the priority. —Jeff Wattenhofer
·Highland Park gentrification: Police add foot patrols, but some say they're in the wrong place [KPCC]
·Three Highland Park Residents on Their 'Hood's Inescapable Gentrification [Curbed LA]
·Just How Crazy Has Highland Park Real Estate Been Over the Last Two Years? [Curbed LA]
· Meet the Woman Driving Highland Park Gentrification By Convincing Landlords to Jack Up Rents [Curbed LA]
· Highland Park's Worst Gentrification Fears Are Coming True [Curbed LA]