Eastside gentrification redraws the urban political map

A story in the Planning Report newsletter describes how a slower growing or declining population in some urban portions of Southern California has been a big driver behind the redistricting at the federal, state and local level.  For example,  the population of Congressman Xavier Becerra’s old 31st Congressional District fell to 611,000 in the 2010 census from 640,000 a decade earlier.  The former 45th Assembly District  represented by Gil Cedillo reported a drop in population to 406,000 from 423,000. In addition, the city’s 13th Council District held by Eric Garcetti and the former 22nd state Senate District represented by Kevin DeLeon fell far below population targets that determine boundaries.

Management consultant Larry Kaplan, who authored the story, notes that these districts included all or portions of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Glassell Park, Mount Washington and Silver Lake.  The drop in population should come as no surprise, Kaplan said:

Anyone who follows real estate trends, or is a student of L.A.’s development patterns, or who reads the Planning Report regularly, knows that these are some of the most dramatically—one could even say aggressively—gentrifying neighborhoods in all of Southern California.

So what happened between 1990, 2000 and 2010?  Large working-class, mostly Latino, families moved out and small upscale households moved in, as property values and housing costs skyrocketed with the real estate bubble.  Instead of multi-generational families with several children, you saw hipster and gay or lesbian couples, or empty nesters as mom and dad stayed while the kids set up their own family households in other parts of the region (many of those offspring went to the Inland Empire, which saw large increases in its overall population and in the number of Latinos).   As one observer wryly observed, “there are cars in all those garages again.”


  1. Is anyone else rolling their eyes at a management consultant using the word “hipster” in his professional analysis?

  2. i agree with cristi… i mean, “really?”. a ‘management consultant’ professional talks about ‘hipsters’ in a report? i seriously question this persons credentials. i, for one, am tired of this perjorative – and i’m guilty of using it myself. it seems to me that it’s become a word that has such negative intentions. i’m doing my best to excise it from my vocabulary. i’m making my own self sick using it! bleaaaaaccccch!

  3. Im with Christi…. I really want to slap this womans face for being so ridiculous and offensive at the same time.

  4. I wrote that story referenced in this blog and I stand by my reference to hipsters. The lady doth protest too much—you guys sound awfully defensive about it. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 35 years and have seen profound changes, which inspired me to write the piece. I should know since I was one of the original gay hipsters who began the slow gentrification process in the late 70’s.

    The numbers don’t lie—there have been dramatic demographic changes in the community in the past two decades. Why don’t you read the whole article, which goes into a lot of detail (perhaps too much) about the changes and what it could mean for public policy. And if you want to know about my professional credentials, go to my website and you will see my track record.

  5. that’s actually a really interesting article (it’s an article not a report). as for the word hipster, I think the author uses it in a “creative individual, willing to put up with a bad neighborhood so they can get a good deal on property” way; as opposed to the typical “PBR swilling loser who pees in my yard” definition that one see’s here on the eastsider.

  6. A perjorative?? Really?? Loosen up.

  7. oh man. I bet these first three people didn’t think Larry would come on here and call them out. lol. good story.

  8. I have lived here for 46 years , all my life .
    The people that get defensive about the use of the word “hipster ” are the hipsters
    that moved here because it was “cool” etc…
    They do not notice the demographic changes because they have not lived here long enough to notice it .

    Get over it , you are a hipster .

  9. Yo Larry,

    What is your definition of a hipster? And is it Hipster or hipster. Proper noun?

    And by your own wording I’m guessing a hipster is straight unless noted as a gay or lesbian hipster. Am I correct? So if I say…”ahh another darn lesbian hipster moved in next door, there goes the rent” is this correct? Or should I just say hipster? or Lesbian? Throw me a line. Im drowning here.

  10. Leaves me wondering if the proper term is “faggot” or “Faggot”? what do you think Larry? there’s a lot of contempt behind the word hipster, as there is behind faggot. I hope this post is not censored because i mean no hate, bigotry, or homophobic-ness or whatever, but I too am tired of that hipster word thrown around in such a judgemental way… it only divides. – one love and all that jazz.

  11. use of the word hipster too describe complex demographic changes is simply evidence of lazy thinking. People are offended because you are lumping everyone into a single category that may not fit them. Nobody liles being unfairly classified. And the classification used here does little to promote understanding.

  12. can’t believe people are so focused on being called a ‘hipster.’ you know you take it as a compliment being called a hipster so stop your whining trust fund kids. place those black rimmed nonprescription eyeglasses back on, loosen those skinny jeans a tad, and sit back and enjoy a brewski–I mean PBR, and then go outside and smoke your parliament–I mean, american spirits. that’s what I’m gonna do, all except the trust fund part cuz i’m broke

  13. It was shorthand because my editor put limits on how long the article could be. I was talking about people who generally, although not exclusively and certainly not inclusively, fall into the following demographic:

    Younger, say between 25 and 45
    Educated, mostly with a college degree or more
    May or may not be married or partnered
    Probably no kids, or at most one
    Middle-income, perhaps more with significant disposable income
    Professional or artist
    Urban, urbane and sophisticated with relatively demanding tastes, meaning they insist on good stores and restaurants and are more focused on quality and selection than price
    No ethnicity in particular, but I would bet that this demographic is less Latino than the one it replaced
    Could be LGBT—again, I was using my original wording as illustrative shorthand

    The point is this: by all measurable factors, neighborhoods like Echo Park have seen profound demographic changes since 1990, primarily fitting the textbook definition of “gentrification.”

  14. Your Friend, Your Neighbor, You

    Hi Larry,
    I read over and carefully considered your comment above and I noticed that I fit smack dab into the demographic that you describe. I basically do what millions of other American families are doing: get up, send the kids to school, go to work, come home and relax with friends and family and music, pay taxes, vote, yada yada. Pretty standard stuff. No trust fund, working class parents.

    I don’t know if someone would call me a hipster or not. Don’t care. But I think that painting a whole broad demographic of people in Echo Park as hipsters gives a negative connotation that we are somehow following a trend and will leave as soon as the winds of fashion shift. For myself and others similarly situated, it’s not true.

    I think that by using the term “hipsters” it unfairly delegitimizes (see, went to college) some people’s presence in the neighborhood. As if we are temporary residents with no stake in the area or desire to understand the history of where we live – and contribute to that history. It seems that a certain segment of the population believes that if you didn’t live here in the 70s or 80s you don’t belong. In such a situation, the use of the term hipster to describe anyone who moved here in the last decade is unnecessarily divisive. As you noted, you used the term to cover a lot of ground and that appears to be the problem; by describing much of the American middle-class(or what’s left of it), you really describe nothing.

    I get that you did not come up with the term, but I think that it would be good if more writers would think more carefully about the things that they are describing rather than go with the tired gentrification narrative (which falsely claims that Latino homeowners were somehow “pushed out” rather than selling and moving to San Bernardino County) that so many use as a crutch for their thinking. My challenge would be for writers to find a term that more accurately describes the demographic, even if it is something horrible, like “new urbanites”.

  15. Both Larry and Your Friend are correct in their ways. I would suggest to both, though, that we are simply talking about class. We Americans like to do whatever we can to talk about class because we’re very sensitive to the idea of social “betters”.

    One could argue that Echo Park is now more diverse than ever, in the true sense of the word.

  16. Wow what a storm in a tea cup over the use of a completely harmless word. Besides that, its really interesting to observe this cycle of gentrification to ghettoization to keeps our cities such living, dynamic things.

  17. Your Friend, Your Neighbor, You

    Dear Suharga,
    Please delete the first sentence. It contributes nothing to the conversation. Your second one does.

    Your Editor.

  18. I did not mean to imply that the people who have been moving into Echo Park and environs are short-timers and fleeting. Definitely not. As Richard Florida points out, the emergence of the “creative class” in urban centers is a long-term trend.

    And as Kevin points out, it really is about class at the end of the day. While the changes have social and cultural ramifications in neighborhoods like Echo Park, the dictionary definition of gentrification doesn’t even refer to those things, but simply talks about the replacement of lower-income residents with higher-income residents. That is essentially what happened in southeast LA County, where the communities morphed from primarily immigrant families to their descendants, who were more assimilated, had higher incomes, more education and fewer kids. But they remain predominantly Latino.

    I was one of the original “hipsters” to invade the neighborhood—I moved to Silver Lake in 1978 because I was looking for a quiet residential neighborhood which was both close to downtown and gay-friendly. My point is that we can quibble over semantics, but the underlying premise of my piece still holds.

  19. Relax, people. Hipster is a term that has gravitated from pop culture to the wider culture–it is now in use by some professional and academic circles to refer to a member of the given population with a certain income level, certain level of education, and certain lifestyle habits. It is also a term useful in comparing groups of people, as the above-referenced study does. Whether or not you personally think the term does or does not have negative associations is sort of beside the point. If you are a person who fits the above-mentioned characteristics described in shorthand as “hipster,” and you live in one of the above-mentioned neighborhoods, you are part of the pattern of shifts in population, use of housing, consumer choices, etc, that make up your neighborhood, period. Your neighborhood is being studied, and monitored, by various people and various groups, for a number of reasons. You are part of a complex system of economic and social relationships. Whether you are comfortable with the way you think you are perceived is sort of your problem. If you live in one of these changing neighborhoods, you are part of the change, however it is described, and whether or not you want to acknowledge it.

  20. @larry: then why not use a more accurate and less pejorative term? If you mean to talk about class, then say it. If you mean to say”creative class” say that. My point is: be accurate. Hipster is for hack writers, of which you are not.

    Also, as a writer you should know that semantics is everything, so it puzzles me that you would imply it is unimportant. Similar words carry different meaningsand using the wrong one makes a very different point.

    @neighbor one: why would ypu start out telling us to relax? We are having a civil discussion. And do you have any support for what you said or is out simply your belief? If the former I would be genuinely interested.

  21. hey all, give the brother (@ Larry) a break. sheesh. he spoke his mind and whether or not he used the word hipster is irrelevant–the great thing about this country is free speech. And whether or not we all agree, at least it’s sparked some form of intellectual discussion. imma go back and roll another fatty.

  22. I have PLENTY to say about this. It has been devastating. Latino families and gays who made these neighborhoods a humble and low income eclectic mix full of friendliness were all driven out. My apartment
    was $375 when I moved in in 1999. My new neighbors pay $900 for the same size tiny apartment. The wonderful days of little latin discount stores and gay men in assless chaps being friends and coning to the special understanding of each other’s cultures are gone. The VILE “trustafarian” hipsters (and I use that world very freely) have devastated everyone. Anything gay or Latin has been GUTTED and replaced with
    an Anglo straight sports bar/coffee shop. etc. SO boring. So depressing. They could care LESS who created this once fabulous neighborhood, as they push their TRIPLETS past Rough Trade to the stupid baby shoe store a block away. This Sunday the gays are having a massive “take back Silverlake” type of festival and I wish them all the luck in the world.

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