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Here's How Frogtown Wants Its Inevitable Gentrification To Go

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Frogtown, a quiet residential neighborhood sandwiched between the LA River and the 5 Freeway just south of Atwater Village, has been discovered: it's now bracing for impending live/work spaces, mixed-use condos, and hipster flips, and it knows it has to come to terms with its creeping gentrification. In recent years, the predominantly Latino community has already seen an influx of artists and designers, and displacement has only increased as developers have bought up lots in the wake of the announcement of a $1-billion plan to revitalize the LA River. In anticipation of all the changes to come, the community group LA-Mas has just released an 80-page report, the cumulation of six community meetings about residents' concerns, needs, and wants for their .79-square-mile neighborhood. Of particular concern are the potential displacement of long-time, working class residents, as well as new developments inappropriate to the character of the bungalow-and-warehouse-filled neighborhood. As Helen Leung of LA-Mas tells NextCity, they sought to answer the question "What are some ways that we can shape a future, especially with so much money coming in?"

The report found:
· Between October 2011 and December 2014, 39 commercial/industrial properties have sold in the neighborhood; 10 of those are on the river (and five of those properties sold just in 2014).

· Residents generally see themselves falling into one of two categories: part of the creative class or the working class. The creative class members were generally most concerned about how developers could ruin the character of the community, while longer-term, working class residents worried about the impact on affordability.

· Both groups oppose changes to existing building regulations in the neighborhood. Those in the creative class expressed concern that modififcations could create a denser neighborhood; long-time residents wanted to make it clear to regulators that they did not want new construction in their neighborhood.

· Both groups support adaptive reuse (e.g., old warehouse buildings turned into housing), but for very different reasons. The creative class supported the creation of new live/work spaces, while long-time residents were persuaded that such reuse could receive government subsidies and create more affordable housing; however, they only supported such projects if they were provided to current residents.

· Residents want more investment in community infrastructure, which included a range of things, such as public restrooms, overhaul of the electric grid, and parking.

In response, LA-Mas offers a few suggested strategies for city officials when evaluating regulations for development:
· Modifying regulations to align with community interests. This could mean reducing building height, specifying commercial as the primary use for buildings in the neighborhood, and placing a temporary moratorium on development until the plan is clearer.

· Develop new approaches to affordability. For example, new affordable housing within the neighborhood could give preference to local residents, or investigate other means of subsidizing ownership for residents.

· Provide avenues for residents to formalize the informal economy, like making business licenses more accessible for residents and susidizing rent for the community in new commercial development.

· Build and improve upon current infrastructure, which could be accomplished by earmarking property taxes for local improvements and requiring new developments to pay into an infrastructure fund.

· Enhance community connections with residents and new development. For example, new developments should prioritize residents when they hire for construction and new businesses. Leonard Hyman
·Frogtown Industrial Site to Become 117 Small Lot Houses and Condos, Plus Retail [Curbed LA]
·Frogtown's First Big Gentrification Meteor Could Be About to Hit [Curbed LA]
·Futuro de Frogtown [LA-Mas]