Town Planning Review 87.4 'Best Paper' to be OA for three months

Posted on July 07, 2016 by Chloe Johnson

The editors of Town Planning Review have selected 'Skid Row, Gallery Row and the space in between: cultural revitalisation and its impacts on two Los Angeles neighbourhoods' by Brady Collins and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris as the choice paper for issue 87.4. It will be open access for three months.

Can local actors intervene to shape the process of neighbourhood revitalization and counteract the negative effects of gentrification? Dr. Brady Collins and Dr. Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris address this question by taking a close look at the interactions and the spatial and political contestations and negotiations that occur in two downtown Los Angeles neighborhoods: the gentrifying Gallery Row and its adjacent Skid Row.

The authors conduct an ethnographic study of the two neighborhoods that includes participant observations at neighborhood meetings and local events and interviews with multiple local residents, business owners, homeless advocates, neighborhood council members, as well as external actors such as developers, investors/mortgage lenders, planners, and council district staff.

Gallery Row is a gentrifying neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles with many new art galleries, bars and restaurants, while the bordering Skid Row is an area of dilapidated streets and warehouses that is home to one of the largest concentrations of homeless population in the USA.

Most scholars identify gentrification as a zero-sum game, where gentrifiers win, while existing residents lose as they are faced with increasing rents and the threat of displacement. In the case of Skid Row and Gallery Row, however, this study demonstrates that reality is more nuanced: local politics and social interactions have to some extent mediated the effects of gentrification. Members of Skid Row have showed the capacity to employ strategies of cultural urban revitalisation to prevent projects of gentrification and reframe damaging narratives that inhibit community development. Indeed, a ‘space in-between’ has emerged that allows some room for new political engagement, a blending of different strategies of revitalisation and possibilities of forming partnerships for social preservation of existing residents. While it is important to remember that such ‘space in between’ may be fraught with power imbalances,this case study also demonstrates that it may be mistaken to perceive even the most disadvantaged neighbourhood as a powerless victim lacking agency and determination to prevent displacement and shape development.

The paper can be found here.

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