Monday, September 1, 2014

Skid row and the New DTLA

            In the heart of Los Angeles, a small group of skyscrapers form our skyline giving it a unique look from others in the United States. In between those skyscrapers, abandon buildings, refurbished buildings, condos, studios, and one bedroom apartments, is a place where culture meets the business world; one find’s the makings of a world class city. If you have ever been to DTLA, you may have remembered it as a place you either worked in or a place you drove through when the 110 freeway traffic was horrendous; forget about roaming around there after dark once the sun set, that place became a ghost town; however, the lights in those buildings were always on so it gave the illusion of hustle and bustle. Today in DTLA, the lights of the skyscrapers still twinkle bright from a distance, reminiscent of a small Manhattan, New York, the city of Angles has really cleaned up its image but at one point of time this side of town was not filled with film producers, hipsters, trend setters, style boutiques, night clubs, dive bars and bars, the streets (as it still does today but under more control) was littered with spill over from Skid row. 

Skid Row is an area in DTLA, a “popular” area in Los Angeles for the homeless. If you’ve been to Skid Row, you get the feeling of a place where one’s dreams comes to die; a place of tents and crazy homeless people, drug addicts, and anything that goes wrong in life, one can find it on Skid Row. I think everyone should take at least one trip to that side of town for a reality check  now and then. In 2004, I would take the train into DTLA every now and then and walk around the city just to see what was going on. A few months before that, I was in New York and Chicago and noticed gentrification was happening in those two cities so when I came back home, it prompt me to see what changes were occurring in my city; at the time nothing noticeable. A few new condos next to the business section of DTLA but that was fairly normal, the staples center and the Nokia center but I never considered that as DTLA( I don’t know why) but other than that, not too many huge changes. 

 As time moved on, I noticed small changes in the city and then I stopped hanging out down there; recently I have returned to my urban roots and what do you know, the city has changed. I love the new DTLA! The scene is awesome; it looks like the 80’s took a vacation down there and never left. The refurbished 1920’s building with all the original stuff still intact, the art galleries and then right up the street from Spring Street, a five-star restaurant, a Taco Mexico, LA CafĂ©, The Falls, City Lofts, a night club and some upscale bars. I’m impressed, and there are still homeless people… there was an interesting stench in the air….I smelled the rich and the dirt poor in the area when the wind kicked up; The five star restaurant had the smell of a country club, you know the smell of new furniture and buttery croissants and that other smell that screams money, met musty, smoggy, piss stained sidewalks; two smells I probably will never smell together at the same time and don’t want to smell ever again, however those two smells left me conflicted.

 Los Angeles wants to extend DTLA, make little Tokyo and Chinatown more present, there extending north into areas like Highland Park, Lincoln heights, Silver Lake,(Silver Lake is actually West but you get what I’m saying) and Atwater; they also want to extend south as well, going towards USC and making DTLA the New York of the West Coast. Oh, How lovely what that be, but what about all these homeless people and the working poor? The people who had nothing to do with gang activity and wanted it out the area? They have to pack up and leave and head to Lancaster or Victorville or areas like that? What about skid row? Where are all these homeless people going? I’m 20 minutes outside of DTLA, and I’ve noticed the increase of homeless people and that could be due to the mega bus center they just built but umm……I hope……the plan……isn’t to just move skid row further east.

 My central focus for this post was Skid Row; everything else is what lead up to this point: These are people with stories and at one point, a life that society saw as important; Some want help, some don’t, for those who don’t, what are we doing with them? Does the police secretly kill them? All of a sudden, the cops and some drug dealers set up some sting operation and have a shoot out amongst each other, but it’s just an excuse to kill the homeless yet make it look as if the police are fighting the crime; In the process, some of the crime goes to jail to make it look legit while the others stay free so they continue to move the homeless people out….that’s a farfetched idea. In my opinion, across America, I think they should take an accurate poll on why people are homeless. I mean we all assume why there homeless and for the most part, are assumption could be right but what if there is another reason as to why, the reason we could stop before kids today develop into future displaced folks.

 I feel we may not be able to stop homeless people altogether, but I think finding the problem might cut the number of homeless people down in this country. We live in a country that’s being attacked by a recession and slowly diminishing the middle class, however we have mega metropolis' that have tons of homeless people if taken care of, or forced to become a functional working part of society, the recession could leave. Hanging out in DTLA has taught me a few things in the past year. One can take an old washed up building that looks like shit, refurbish it, and bring it back to life; before you know it, the same process is repeated it and that area is seeing money it hasn’t seen in ages. So why can’t we do that to people? I know buildings don’t have the option and people do, but in this scenario, we are not giving them options, they don’t have a choice but to make something of themselves. We need to invest money back into our citizens because citizens are what make the business, and business is what makes the country thrive…what’s your opinion? I’m all for gentrifying DTLA because trust me, the area needed a makeover but what do we do with the people who are part of the removing process?

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