‘Black Beverly Hills’: View Park Battles Gentrification

View Park residents walk to Monteith Park for a twilight showing of the movie "The Wiz." (Photo: Luis Sinco/ Los Angeles Times)

View Park residents walk to Monteith Park for a twilight showing of the movie “The Wiz.” (Photo: Luis Sinco/ Los Angeles Times)

Angel Jennings of the Los Angeles Times is reporting that a recent proposal to place predominately African American View Park on the National Register of Historic Places has catalyzed a controversial battle between residents in Los Angeles. View Park is nestled between LaBrea Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. Commonly referred to as the ‘Black Beverly Hills,’ View Park along with Baldwin Hills, LaDera Heights and Windsor Hills make up the West Coast’s highest concentration of black affluence.

Many homeowners in the View Park neighborhood are opposing the move to name View Park as a historic site because they feel it is a ploy to promote white gentrification in the 84% African American populated neighborhood.

Once a predominately white neighborhood, View Park, has become a haven for African Americans doctors, lawyers, professionals, and their families since the lifting of housing covenants that restricted nonwhite ownership in the neighborhood in the 1960s. At a time when it was clear that African Americans were not welcome in other neighborhoods, such as Bel-Air or Brentwood, View Park became a center for affluent African American families, particularly after white flight. Residents including Ray Charles, Debbie Allen, Ike & Tina Turner, and Loretta Divine have all called View Park home.

According to the 2010 census, half of View Park’s residents have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and the tract that contains most of the neighborhood has an average family income of $90,000, which is tens of thousands of dollars above the countrywide average for white families and 21/2 the median income among Los Angeles County blacks.

Opponents of the proposal believe that an influx of another group will destroy View Park’s cultural and economic continuity, as well as alienate potential African American buyers from the neighborhood. The author writes:

“According to a recent Zillow study, blacks are denied home loans at twice the rate of whites, and so it is more likely that banks, flippers and non-African American buyers will grab those foreclosed properties. These and other forces have contributed to an overall drop in Los Angeles’ black population, from 17% in the 1970s and 1980s to 9.6% in 2010.”

A group of residents who are in favor of the proposal state that their shared concern of outsiders moving in and altering the cultural and architectural character of View Park is what inspired them to band together as the View Park Conservancy and nominate their neighborhood as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. This move would also add value to the homes in the neighborhood. Those in favor also add that growing diversity and an influx of young people in the neighborhood is healthy.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

This post was written by Reginald Calhoun. He is a senior Mass Media Arts major at Clark Atlanta University. Follow him on Twitter @IRMarsean and on Instagram @Les_geaux_jawn.

 

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