“Gentefication,” a term used by Boyle Heights bar owner Guillermo Uribe, has for some come to mean the arrival of upwardly mobile Latinos into the primarily low-income neighborhood. But whether it is Latinos or Whites, the arrival of new residents, business owners and house flippers has some Boyle Heights activists worried and conflicted about what gentrification means for the Eastside community that has traditionally served as a home for low-income immigrants, according to a New York Times story.
Latinos might be more sensitive to preserving the neighborhood character and culture even as they raise property value and rents, according some business owners. Says the Times:
Mr. Uribe and others see change as inevitable — and say that if they do not take advantage of the opportunities, somebody else will. For years, he wanted to open a bar that would appeal to people like him: native Angelenos and the children of Mexican immigrants who listened to performers like Morrissey as well as mariachis. Unable to find a place he could afford downtown, he jumped at the small spot in Boyle Heights. Now, hundreds pack the bar for karaoke nights that also feature songs from David Bowie, Juan Gabriel and Selena.
“If we want to preserve the cultural integrity, the pride we have, the only shot we have is to do it ourselves,” he said. “My grandmother here covered everything in plastic because there wasn’t extra money to go buy another couch if one of us messed it up. That’s something we should celebrate now. I want to be amongst people who understand that and get it.”
Even Maria Cabildo of the East Los Angeles Community Corporation, a Boyle Heights nonprofit that has campaigned for more affordable housing and the rights of street vendors, “sees the benefit of more young college graduates moving into the area.” Some of her employees are among those college-educated newcomers.