What’s more scary for Eastside homeowners? Gangs or recession?

Matthew Debord and his family had just moved into their new home in Glassell Park when they heard a sound familiar to many Eastsiders: the drone of a police helicopter. The sounds of LAPD choppers and screaming sirens were part of a nearby gun battle between police and the Avenues gang. After a couple of more surprise visits by the SWAT team to Glassell Park, Debord, in a first-person story in the LA Times, wonders whether the combination of entrenched gangs and a sinking economy will snuff out the Eastside revival and slow down gentrification:

“Most of us are smart enough to connect rising unemployment statistics to the very real possibility that our gang problems may get worse before they get better. And if the economy stays stalled, will the cafes and art galleries stick around?”

Perhaps. The music scene, stores and real estate of Silver Lake, for example, seemed to start taking off during the recession of the early 1990s. Many recall the giant LA Times headline from the 1990s declaring: “Silver Lake is on Fire!

Then again, many Eastsiders banking on gentrification instead got years of gang wars and economic decline. One Angeleno Heights resident recalls how the renovation of Victorian mansions on Carroll Avenue inspired him and his partner to buy a nearby fixer-upper in anticipation of major change. That was in 1980. “It seemed like the ball was rolling, and then it came to a stop for a very long time.”

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