Los Angeles City Beat has an article about the "gentrification" of West Los Angeles from a perspective that's largely sympathetic to the gangsters that used to dominate the formerly crime-ridden streets of my old neighborhood. I don't live in West LA anymore, but I'd like to move back some day... though the rising cost of living that's driven out gang-bangers will also make it tough for me to justify returning.

The story is the same across the Westside: The vida loca in neighborhoods such as West L.A.’s Sawtelle district, Venice’s Oakwood area, and the Culver City-adjacent Del Rey barrio has turned into la dolce vita for high-income residents who are pushing westward. Thouhg LAPD still reports more than 50,000 gang members in the city, they have been shoved east by gentrification. For the Latino and black locals who called the Westside home for decades, dwindling gang membership is the inevitable result. Many neighbors and cops, of course, say good riddance (especially with gang crimes in West L.A. down 45 percent so far compared to last year). But some veteranos lament the end of an era, a time when taco-slangin’ lunch trucks were always around the corner and eses cast authoritative shadows on the street. ...

Eighteen-year-old Julio Ruiz sits on the steps outside an apartment building in Venice’s Oakwood area on a recent Saturday afternoon, pecking his girlfriend on the cheek. He lives with his mom and three siblings in a one-bedroom, $710-per-month apartment. He says the landlord could fetch at least $1,000 for the place and would be glad to see his family leave. But it’s a good price, based on their move-in rent of seven years ago. “They’re trying to kick us out,” says the Venice 13 member. “All my homies be moving to Inglewood.” ...

He’s not leaving anytime soon, and he has plenty of animosity for the mostly white, professional newcomers in his neighborhood. “They come out here like Venice gang is nothing,” he says, “like we ain’t shit no more.”

Well, no, it's just that people don't appreciate brutal murders and drug crimes. The article portrays gang life rather romantically and doesn't interview any West LA residents that aren't current or former gang members, but it's still honest about the murder and mayhem that the "gentrified" newcomers are struggling to eradicate. What it doesn't acknowledge is that the former gang members are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the ridiculous real estate prices in the area, often becoming millionaires.



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