How to Ensure That Development Benefits Minority Communities

How to Ensure That Development Benefits Minority Communities

October 28, 2020

In Los Angeles, with its long history of redlining and other racist land use policies, minority communities sorely need new real estate development. However, new development may be fraught with risks for both communities and developers. Numerous questions arise, such as who defines and weighs the community needs relative to the development opportunities? What are the real effects of “revitalization” on low-income and minority neighborhoods? How can developers and community members work together to ensure redevelopment addresses the needs of existing residents?

A supercharged real estate market has made the process of answering these questions much more complicated and the stakes higher. Developers must answer to investors seeking a financial return, and yet they must also listen and respond to the specific needs of the community, lest they motivate a backlash that torpedoes their project altogether. For communities, on the other hand, a major development may feel like a hostile takeover with the threat of gentrification and displacement.

Much of the above is currently playing out on in the areas around Crenshaw Boulevard, with the pending arrival of the new Crenshaw/LAX light rail. What would equitable redevelopment in this area look like? And more generally, what have we learned about the complex challenges in redressing the structural racism that historically and currently drives urban inequities for people of color?

Vanessa Delgado,
President, Azure Development, Inc.

Donahue Peebles III
Development Executive, The Peebles Corporation

Ben Caldwell
Founder, Kaos Network and Leimert Park Art Walk

John Heath
President, United Homeowners’ Association II
Executive Director, New Life Economic Development, Inc.

Derek Fleming
Managing Partner, of MSDG, LLC
Senior Advisor, HR&A Advisors, Inc.

Dr. Belinda Allen
Executive Director, West Angeles Community Development Corporation