In defense of gentrification

We spent the last 3-4 years on the front lines of gentrification in East Hollywood, Silver Lake and Echo Park. We’ve paid around 65 tenants to move out of rent controlled apartments so that I could renovate and raise the rents. When I tell some people this, I can see from their facial expressions that this bothers them.

Well, here’s the net result of our efforts over the past few years:

  • Gave a bunch of relatively poor people serious nest-eggs of between $10-35,000 each, some of whom blew the money but others of whom used it to buy homes of their own, pay for colleges for their kids, etc.
  • Employed the equivalent of probably 10 construction workers through the worst construction bust in living memory, all of whom were supporting families who would have been in big trouble without that money coming in;
  • Employed several other independent contractors in maintenance, book-keeping and property management;
  • Bought probably a million of dollars worth of appliances, flooring, paints, etc. from suppliers big and small, helping them survive the construction melt-down;
  • Gave more than 100 tenants (some of the buildings were vacant when we bought them) new, wonderful apartments to live in;
  • Supplied neighborhood bars, restaurants, boutiques, etc. with new customers to patronize their establishments (believe me, the prior tenants weren’t drinking $4 ice teas at Intelligentsia);
  • Generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions for local real estate brokers who helped us buy and sell assets (yes, I often work with other brokers!);
  • Increased the city’s property tax base, since property taxes go up when values go up;
  • Paid a bunch of income and capital gains taxes and fees to the state and federal governments;
  • Made money for our investors;
  • Made money for ourselves.

I’m very happy and proud of what we’ve done for the people and communities we’ve worked in these last few years. We’ve created a lot of positive change. And we’re going to keep moving forward, because we see nothing but opportunity in Northeast LA.