Tenants at Marmion Royal Apartments in Highland Park have been undertaking a rent strike for weeks, fighting off the impacts of gentrification in their neighborhood. Things have gotten so tense that the landlord has turned bright spotlights on the apartment building in the evening to rattle the tenants.
Skya Ventures, a Tarzana investment company, has plans to renovate Marmion Royal Apartments — and increase rents 50 percent. Working-class tenants fought back, starting a rent strike.
With its rents and real estate prices rising dramatically in recent years, Highland Park has become the latest front in the wave of gentrification that has swept nearby communities such as Echo Park and Atwater Village, uprooting working-class Latinos from neighborhoods they have called home for decades.
“Highland Park is now ground zero, not only in L.A., but in the whole country,” said Peter Dreier, professor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College in Eagle Rock.
“Hedge funds and private equity firms are gobbling up properties all over the country,” he said. “They buy buildings for speculation. There’s enormous pressure on landlords to get rid of tenants.”
The L.A. Times notes that the Marmion Royal Apartments rent strike marks “a flashpoint in L.A.’s slow-burning drama over income inequality, cultural identity, housing affordability and neighborhood preservation.”
L.A. City Hall politicians, however, have been doing next to nothing to substantively address such important issues, and instead have been giving developers free rein to do whatever they want, which contributes to the type of gentrification taking place in Highland Park and many other neighborhoods in L.A.
The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, the reform measure that’s been placed on the March 2017 ballot, forces City Hall to plan and deal with the effects of gentrification instead of staying in the dark and letting developers run things.
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