L.A. River becomes a hot property

Elysian Valley, L.A. River

Residential project under construction in Elysian Valley

ELYSIAN VALLEY — The reopening of the L.A. River on Memorial Day for a summer of kayaking, fishing and hiking is a reminder of the channel’s potential to create a miles-long park and recreation zone in the middle of the city. But the revival of the river has also created a giant real estate opportunity in eyes of property owners and developers. As Mayor Eric Garcetti lobbies in support of a $1 billion plan to revitalize the river between Griffith Park and Lincoln Heights, developers and brokers are touting the potential of river-adjacent property, raising concern about rising rents and gentrification, says the L.A. Times.  Joe Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, told the L.A. Times:

As things get more attractive, they get more expensive and then folks who live below the income line are impacted … Gentrification is the fundamental public policy issue that must addressed.”

Here’s a sample some of the L.A. River-adjacent properties that are now being developed or are up for sale or lease:

View L.A. River Hot Property in a larger map


  1. Isn’t the LA River the channel for all the slew, grime, dirt, debris and trash the people throw in the streets and run off from? Sure I want to Kayak in a river of garbage and walk along the water that smells like a toilet.

  2. “Gentrification is the fundamental public policy issue that must addressed” …. I’m really wondering how he plans on addressing the eHysteria over *youngish white-seeming people moving into neighborhoods with a traditionally non-white majority (the horror!)*. It really seems to me that there’s a big logical leap from a person working to live not-in-his-or-her-parents’-basement to “go back where you came from!” One of the most beautiful parts of LA is the melting-pot vibe where people from all over the world are living/cooking/dreaming together. I wish this meme would become a productive conversation about how we can have progress without creating internet-fear-mobs over gringos along the riverfront and IPAs replacing Lagers on-tap at local bars. Chill with the name-calling and let’s talk about how we can all pay our rent and feed our families.

    • It’s primarily “gringo” guilt and/or insecurity that fuels the “eHysteria” over race and ethnicity issues. Otherwise, the FACT is that there has ALWAYS been a significant population of “gringos” and Asians in the flatlands of Elysian Valley and NELA. This is primarily a class issue and resentment of wealthy newcomers displacing residents of a historically-neglected working-class community of Asians, Hispanics, and whites that is responsible for the suburban grit that so many “youngish white-seeming people” find so appealing. Imagine how you would feel after toughing out the violent hard times, contributing to the positive and peaceful change, then being excluded from the prosperous times ahead. Essentially the peaceful vision that virtually every longtime resident (including gang members) have always imagined for our community. You’re doing nobody any favors by insisting on the stale race-paradigm that consistently stalls or sabotages honest and productive dialogue and progress. You’re also distinguishing yourself as a newcomer clueless about our community’s diverse and relatively harmonious history between all races and ethnicities. It’s time to drop your parent’s moldy baggage and pick up an inclusive and positive purpose.

    • Well said!!! THANK YOU!!!

      I have been here 15 years already… and am still treated like an ‘invader’ – I live here and i ain’t leaving so lets figure out how to be neighbors.

      Change is the only constant – lets work together kids!

  3. This, in my opinion, deserves more attention than Echo Park gentrification. The reason is that tax money is funding this development, so in a very direct way, tax money is going to fund real estate speculation. If gentrification is your issue, I think you should be more concerned when tax money is funding it. Besides the obvious (renters paying taxes to eventually be priced out of your own neighborhood), there is the incentive for kickbacks and sweetheart deals.

    What’s happening in Echo Park is much less direct –that is rents rising due to individual demand. It’s not a combined city/state redevelopment project. That developer is responding to expressed demand by many private individuals.

  4. “FOLAR, or Friends of the Los Angeles River, credited with igniting interest in restoring the river to a more natural state, is voicing concern. The organization feels overshadowed by what it sees as the Revitalization Corp.’s largely pro-development efforts.
    “It’s as though they came in and said, ‘Thanks, FOLAR, but we’re taking it from here,'”

    if FOLAR had kept their focus on cleaning up the river instead of this so-called restoration back to a mythic version of it that never existed, this development/gentrification situation would never have happened. unintended consequences!

  5. Arguing about gentrification is pointless without first attacking income inequality. Cities have to grow because population grows and thus development will always be occurring. It’s just unfortunate that our over-regulating and lethargic government lives off of legalized corruption (i.e. fees tacked onto everything) which in turn result in higher construction costs and thus the creation of nothing but luxury units and highly subsidized housing for the poor.

    Focus your rage instead on poor wages and tax breaks for the wealthy, as opposed to claiming that we should freeze time and continue to live in filth and forego urban renewal. Take joy in what your city has. Make it the best it can be. I am excited about the river, though I assure you I pay very low rent for the time being in Chinatown and am surely going to get priced out at some point.

    • I can tell you’re not in the top 5% of earners, because if you were, you would know that the wealthy pay a disproportionate amount of tax, especially here in CA.

      From a recent LA Times article:
      The wealthiest 1% of Californians paid 50.6% of the state income tax in 2012 — up from 41.1% in 2011. It means that of nearly 15 million tax returns, about 150,000 generated more than half the revenue.

      Under Prop. 30, the top rate was jacked from 10.3% to 13.3%, by far the highest of any state. The hikes began phasing in for single filers when their earnings exceeded $250,000.

      You’d get into the top 5% of income earners at $206,000, according to the tax board. And that group — numbering 748,000 — paid 70% of the state income tax.

      • They might pay more but aren’t their effective tax rates sometimes lower?

        • In a few sensationalized cases, yes. For instance, the oft cited Warren Buffet having a lower effective tax rate than his secretary is due to two factors:
          a) the bulk of his income is from long term capital gains which is at a lower tax rate than ordinary income. This “tax break” is not for the wealthy, but for anyone who sells their stocks. However, richer people tend to have more of their income based on investment income than poor people, so it looks like the wealthy are getting a break. You could argue cap gains should be taxed as ordinary income.
          b) he gave a bajillion dollars in donations to various charities. These donations are tax deductible. I wouldn’t really call this a tax break, since he’s giving money away.

      • You may be right, but only because we’re a state/nation of haves and have-nots. I’d gladly pay more taxes if it meant that I could also afford to buy a house or a condo.

        • Boo hoo!! Quit your whining. Want a house or condo? Then get a second job and YOU make it happen.

          • Most people with a second job now use the income to pay the damn RENT, Not to buy a house or condo.

            Wake up, Grandpa Simpson!

          • Love ya, Grampa. Let’s also arm pupils and teachers with guns for their own protection.

            The irony is, I ALREADY HAVE TWO JOBS. I’m not whining, though. When I earn more later on, I’ll gladly pay more taxes.

      • The wealthy pay a disproportionate share of taxes because they take in a VASTLY disproportionate share of income, especially if you include capital gains in income.

        • I know this doesn’t fit in nicely with soundbites and rhetoric you get from some news sources, but let’s look at this objectively.. by using some good old math to get to the bottom of it:

          From the same article in the LA Times, the top 1% paid 50% of the taxes but earned 25% of the taxable income (which includes cap gains).

          To keep the math simple, let’s say the income from all Californians added up was $1,000,000 and total tax collected was $100,000 (ten percent).

          The top 1% would have earned $250,000 of that million, but paid $50,000 in tax, for an effective tax rate of 20%

          The bottom 99% would have earned $750,000 of that million, and also paid $50,000 in tax, for an effective tax rate of %6.7

          So, the wealthy (as a group) paid a three times higher tax rate.

          Given that we are dealing with proportions (a set of linear equations), you can plug in any number you want for total income and tax collected, and you’ll get the same answer…. that the wealthy paid a 3x higher tax rate.

          Try it, it’s fun!

          • So the wealthy pay a higher tax rate Aaand remain wealthy? Sounds like a Win-Win formula to me! That is until the wealthy start their pissin and moanin about only being comfortable and wealthy(?).

          • @ proper dos : I haven’t heard anyone whine about being wealthy and comfortable. The issues around tax rates, who pays what, what’s a “fair share” … is a general question of fairness, and there are many different opinions about what is “fair”. You will never find a taxation scheme that’s universally acknowledged as fair by all. So, the question really, is can you find the tax scheme that is least unfair. Again, there’s no universally accepted measure of fairness.. it’s really a matter of opinion.

            In my opinion, I think people have free will to make choices in their lives. Some people will become more successful based on these choices and sacrifices they’ve made along the way. I don’t think these people should be overly taxed to provide benefits for those who have not made good choices or sacrifices.

            To me, the least unfair income tax is a flat tax with minimized deductions. This way: everyone has skin in the game, and when increased taxes come to a vote, everyone has to think about how the taxes will hit their pocket-book. second, it’s clear to everyone how everyone else is taxed. This will remove the bad feelings many have about how others in various tax brackets are taxed relative to themselves (rich think they’re overtaxed and poor pay nothing, poor think rich don’t pay fair share.. or incorrectly think the rich are getting so many tax breaks that they pay a lower rate).

          • I am in the top 1% of income earners for California (barely) and I can tell you I am hardly rich. What irritates me is the term “fair share”. If everyone has a “SHARE” to pay and mine happens to be more than what someone in a lower income brackets paid in the last 10 years combined, how is that “FAIR”?

            Do I use more of the streets, sidewalks, freeways, social services than others? Of course not, not even close. So again how is it a fair share?

            I’m sure you will understand what I say but I will not get sympathy from people who have been brainwashed to believe that this is a good system. Just one question for you though:
            What will you do when I and my fellow 1%ers (as you so affectionately named us) leave? How will you fill in the colossal gaps in your budget without our taxes?

            Do not fear the 1%ers. Fear this unsustainable tyranny you have created.

            “Tyranny of the majority”

    • @Matthew: You say “…I pay very low rent for the time being in Chinatown and am surely going to get priced out at some point…”

      I used to spend some time in Chinatown before the gallery scene there got really frothy. When the art-gallery night had tour buses (literally!) coming to be part of the fun, you knew something was out of whack. Last time I was there, I was noticing how many of the galleries have closed. Do you think that Chinatown has cooled off? What’s your feeling about the aftermath of the brief flowering of galleries there (before they all moved to Culver City, or went out of business)?

      • I love Chinatown, despite the loss of many of its galleries. I think rents must’ve gone up on Chung King, so the neighborhood has been in a bit of a limbo, though that’s quickly changing. It’s gentrifying quickly, which you’ve seen with the gaggle of de rigueur seven-story stucco apartment buildings going up (which are stylistically “meh”, but at least they’re bringing new life to the streets), as well as businesses like Via Cafe, Melody Room, 643 North and…dare I say it…Starbucks. I think the neighborhood has a lot to offer thanks to its proximity to two Metro stations, its narrow streets, Echo Park, everything downtown (as well as amazing views of it), the freeways and Elysian Park. It may not have the prettiest architecture, but the buildings aren’t that different from the 60’s and 70’s stucco boxes of West Hollywood, and we’ve all seen how much more aesthetically appealing those have become with sufficient investment.

        • Thanks for your perspective. I agree that the neighborhood has a lot to offer, and was ignored for no good objective reason. If there was a way to keep it from being a cut-thru to downtown, it would be even better. I know the residents have been making efforts in that regard (hence the signals and brick-bordered crosswalks).

    • I think there is some irony in complaining about income inequality and gentrification in the same sentence since as new more upscale businesses and new residents with higher incomes move into a neighborhood, higher paying local jobs will follow. This effect can be seen in downtown LA where there is all of a sudden new economic opportunity for residents of Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, etc. The situation is not perfect but nothing is.

  6. If you want to stay in LA in the future it will be more expensive. This is not about race, it’s about being displaced by folks of many different races who have more education, more investments, more wealth. If you don’t keep up then you will be banished to Nevada or Lancaster as many poor and low income folks have to do. It’s as simple as that, more people will come to LA who are more educated, who are smarter and will make more money and displace older residents who are not as smart or educated. Plain and simple, it’s called progress and the new reality of any major city.

  7. For Lisa:

    The wealthy have a “disproportionate share of wealth” for one reason: Because they earned it. You didn’t. There are so many people like you stating cliches like what you said. It is especially funny and ridiculous when such cliches are stated by middle aged, tattooed drug users. Had they not spent the last 30 years wasting their money on drugs, tattoos, and general partying, they would be financially ok at this point. They are not however, and their time in L.A. is coming to an end. Next stop, the IE. Good.

  8. I guess I fall in the top 5% of earners in California (but with our cost of living it sure doesn’t feel like it), One thing I notice in all of these discussions is that those who are living comfortably have done so because they “earned” it. Well, I’ve earned it too, by working my ass off, but that has come at the expense of time away from doing other things, things that may be more important than my money earning work in the end. But what’s really striking is that no one who “earned” it ever mentions the role of luck and opportunity. Twenty years ago, through a friend’s suggestion, I got an opportunity to enter the field I’m in. Once there I showed I was capable, smart and willing to work hard and I have thrived. But before that, my opportunities were shite, even with a good education. But I almost didn’t even go to college because my parents couldn’t afford it and no one told us about scholarships (crap high school counselors) even though I had straight A’s in college prep classes. Luck definitely played a big role in my success. Some are lucky enough to be born to capable supportive parents who will have their back when things get rough. Some are born with no sense of a safety net at all. That affects one’s choices, lessens the appetite for risk and seizing what may or may not be good opportunities. But the rich, no matter how much was given to them, how much help they got, only ever focus on the work they put in. Well, the poor work just as hard or harder, they often don’t have as good of a luck, or base or opportunity or don’t get the good job because of a subtle racism no one will admit too, etc. (there are a bazillion factors — hard work and “earning” it is just one).

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