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Gentrification: The Rules of the Row (Skid Row, LA)

by MotherJones Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2001 at 7:36 PM

A case study of the gentrification going on in downtown LA, or, how to provide more parking for brainless Land Rover drivers.



The Rules of the Row

In the shadows of skyscrapers, a battle is being fought

over the future of

Los Angeles' Skid Row -- and everyone from do-gooders to

developers to City

Hall wants a piece of the action.

by Russ Rymer

March/April 2001

In its neighborhood, which is to say in Los

Angeles, California,

near the corner of Seventh and Maple streets, the early

morning arrival of

Alice Callaghan is counted a weekday sacrament. There

are myriad others:

the dispersal of trucks from the loading docks of the

Flower District

immediately to the south, the deluge of workers

debarking from city buses

to staff the sewing machines in the high-rise sweatshops

of the Garment

District immediately to the west, the emergence of

homeless men from

cardboard boxes who fold their belongings into shopping

carts and do or

don't use the portable toilet on the sidewalk in front

of Las Familias del

Pueblo before shambling north into Skid Row. A few

minutes before 7 a.m.,

Alice Callaghan parks her Volvo, bursting with children,

in a lot behind

the hamburger stand and, fumbling for keys and carrying

her coffee high to

protect it from the bumping mob as she marches down the

sidewalk, draws

aside a security grill and unpadlocks a door t!

o let the children in. Las Familias del Pueblo is open

for another day's

business.

For 20 years, Callaghan has run Las Familias, a

community center

for the garment workers and their families. The children

accumulate in

waves throughout the day until the single room, smaller

than a Brentwood

carport, and the compact, tree-shaded asphalt playground

out back ring with

a cacophonous patois of Spanish and street English,

futbol and Barbie. The

center also serves Callaghan as a battle station for

larger concerns:

defending her adopted neighborhood from government

neglect, commercial

assault, misguided gentrification, and even from itself.

On a morning a couple of days before Christmas,

once the place was

open and the kids settled in and the playground checked

for rats, she left

the adjudication of toy disputes and bathroom privileges

to other staffers

and went out to tour the field. She walked a couple of

blocks east on

Seventh Street and turned north onto San Julian.

Callaghan is an ex-nun (Catholic) and ordained

priest (Episcopal)

with a master's degree in divinity, and she looks the

part of radical

seminarian: as outwardly cheerful and constitutionally

implacable as a

Christmas wreath on the grill of a Peterbilt diesel. She

wears her hair in

a pageboy and dresses unvaryingly in running shoes,

collarless oxford

shirts, and A-line khaki skirts that she hikes up with a

quick hand and a

hitch of her hip whenever she stands, like Bat Masterson

adjusting his

bandolier. She's only a head taller than some of the

children she cares

for. You can see over her, but you can't get around her.

No one has ever

accused Alice Callaghan, and she is accused of a lot of

things, of ducking

a good fight or being faint of heart. Still, when she

entered San Julian

Street that morning, her eyes sharpened.

The scene before her resembled the aftermath of

a catastrophe, an

earthquake or terrorist bombing. Men milled about in the

center of the

street in aimless, edgy, noisy throngs; on the sidewalks

they huddled

morosely beside shopping carts or lay with their backs

against warehouse

walls amid their piled belongings, like so much flotsam

washed up after a

distant storm. The pavement smelled of urine and

excrement. One tall man

with a melted ingot of a face -- much of it had been

shot off in a long-ago

altercation -- passed, heading the other way. "Hey,

Alice," he called out

with a clear voice and a disfigured smile. "Oh, hey,

Jerry," she said back.

"How's it going?" Others eyed her with suspicion: the

crisp shirt, the

A-line skirt. "Are you a fed?" one man asked, low, as

she reached midblock.

"You look like you might be a fed," he said. "C'mon,"

laughed Callaghan.

"They would never hire someone like me."

At the end of the block, another man caught up

with her. He was

younger than most and in more hopeful condition. On his

back was a leather

backpack. "Hey," he yelled as he ran up. "Hey, legal

lady, aren't you the

legal lady?"

The man's name was George Harrison and he

presented her with a tale

of indignity. He had been crossing the street late one

night and had been

given a ticket for jaywalking. "You can handle it

unless you ignore it,"

Callaghan instructed him. "Don't let it go to warrant."

Harrison's grimace

said that the summons date had come and gone. "Okay,"

Callaghan said.

"Come by Las Familias and we'll take down the details."

Harrison's misdemeanor was part of a more

substantial problem for

Callaghan. She received his complaint as a portent, the

way a sailor notes

a shift in the wind. Callaghan has been walking San

Julian and the other

streets of Skid Row for going on three decades, and she

can spot a change

of season. Before she reached the end of the block,

she'd heard the same

story from three more men.

Even among L.A.'s homeless, Skid Row is a bad

address. The

prevailing wisdom holds that the panhandlers head for

the tourist-larded

beaches of Santa Monica, and the runaway kids gravitate

to the seedy,

sequin-and-tattoo glitz of Hollywood. Only the most

desperate drop off the

face of the earth onto the mean sidewalks downtown --

but then, there are

plenty of desperate. Los Angeles has the largest skid

row in the nation,

stretching across 50 square blocks.

Of its 11,000 residents, 85 percent are black

and 80 percent are

men. The fortunate among them stay in missions or

emergency shelters or

subsidized hotels. The rest -- an estimated 4,000 --

live on the street.

All night, fires burn at the curb, surrounded by ghostly

gatherings of men

who wander about or sleep on sidewalks that, according

to a recent city

study, have up to 30 times the bacterial contamination

of raw sewage. When

morning comes and the street sweepers clean the gutters,

they are sometimes

followed by vacuum trucks, lest the runoff contaminate

the storm drains.

Social service providers estimate that at least

70 percent of those

who live on Skid Row have a history of drug or alcohol

abuse and one-third

are mentally ill. Up to 10 percent test positive for

HIV. Most have a

criminal record. Disease and incarceration are

encouraged by exposure and

by the street's only recreations, which on many blocks

are also its only

businesses to speak of: prostitution and narcotics.

Outsiders driving

through perceive the area as threatening, dangerous, a

lawless expanse. And

they are right, in a way, which is why clerks in the few

dingy convenience

stores along the long, empty blocks tuck pistols under

their aprons.

But if the criminal law is often flouted here,

other laws prevail

without mercy or reprieve. They say on the Row that no

one is there by

accident, and nothing happens without a reason. From

above, Skid Row may

appear like a formless, moiling pit abandoned to the

dispossessed. In the

more intimate and accurate view, looking up from below,

it is a grid of

hotly competing jurisdictions, of government agencies,

nonprofit

organizations, and big money wrangling over a

neighborhood's fate. Skid Row

may be the most depressed part of Los Angeles, but it is

also posting an

economic growth rate among the city's highest. As

elsewhere in an economy

of dot-com bubbles and welfare reforms, the disparities

can be more

perilous than promising.

Skid row is nothing if not an intentional place;

it was designated

and nurtured by the city fathers. In 1976, the Los

Angeles City Council

adopted a redevelopment plan that included a "policy of

containment." Those

to be contained were the homeless, and the area they

were to be contained

in was the neighborhood known officially as Central City

East. The policy

did not suggest a walled ghetto, however, or a

dismissive sealing away of

the problems of the poorest. It was, instead, a response

to those problems

that ranked as enlightened compared with the policies of

most other

American cities at the time. After World War II, and

increasingly in the

1960s and 1970s, America set about tearing down its skid

rows, razing the

run-down buildings, dispersing the destitute, and,

often, offering up the

newly cleared real estate to industrial developers. Los

Angeles did its own

fair share of razing. Notoriously, it bulldozed the

entirety of Bunker

Hill, the formerly haute heights o!

f downtown whose gingerbread Victorian homes had

declined into ramshackle

firetrap tenements. The poor residential neighborhood

was reborn, beginning

in the 1970s, as a glistening spine of skyscrapers,

flagship

headquarters for megacorporations like Arco and Bank of

America. Bunker

Hill became the emblem of L.A.'s vaunted downtown

renaissance. There was

talk of doing the same with Central City East.

Then (and partly to deflect criticism that

"redevelopment" was a

euphemism for land clearing and class cleansing) came

the 1976

redevelopment plan, and Central City East was instead

"stabilized" for its

poor residents. The housing was to be preserved and

expanded, and the

"containment" was to be achieved through a dipole

magnet: the concentration

in the area of services such as shelters and detox

programs, and the

establishment of light industry that might offer some

entry employment for

those on the street.

For a quarter of a century, the plan has worked.

Dramatically, in

the accounting of many of those involved. The poor

congregated in an area

where they posed the least nuisance and had the most

available services.

Businesses moved in on Skid Row's fringes, and the

derelict housing was

spectacularly rescued. What looks to outsiders like a

plague zone is

actually a crowning achievement of L.A.'s urban

construct. "Fifth and San

Julian Street is intense," says Jim Bonar, head of the

Skid Row Housing

Trust, "but it's not what it was 20 years ago."

Bonar's organization, known simply as "The

Trust," can take much of

the credit for the jewel in that civic crown: a

proliferation of renovated

Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels as clean and modern

and architecturally

stylish as anything in Beverly Hills. The hotels are

relics of a venerable

heritage of male transiency: Built to house the seasonal

agricultural

workers, ambitious adventurers, and layover railroad

personnel who filled

downtown Los Angeles in the early years of the 20th

century, they weren't

considered disreputable at the time. But their standard

layout -- small

rooms with a bed and a dresser, communal bathrooms down

the hall -- made

them convenient dormitories for despondency when Central

City East became a

dead end instead of a way station.

By the early 1980s, half of the hotels in

Central City East had

been torn down (many for parking lots) or had burned. Of

the remaining 63

SROs, 18 have since been bought and rehabbed by the

Trust, and another 19

by a sister nonprofit, the SRO Housing Corporation.

Between them, the two

organizations own more than a third of all the

residential rooms in the Row.

SRO Housing is the elder of the two; it was set

up in the late

1970s by the city's redevelopment agency. The Trust was

the creation of

Alice Callaghan. She incorporated it in 1988 and still

sits on its board.

"We set up the Trust as a complement to SRO

Housing," Callaghan

says. "We're not competitive." Her professional courtesy

is echoed by Bud

Hayes, executive director of SRO Housing. "On many

issues, Alice and I see

things the same way," he says. "We agree the housing has

to be saved." The

two recognize that the bugbear of redevelopment anywhere

in the country is

how to spruce up a neighborhood without displacing the

poor. "The reality

is, if you do economic development before you get the

housing, then you

will bring in the people most antagonistic to the people

on the street,"

Callaghan explains. "In the end, if you own the housing,

you win. But only

if."

The rehabbed SROs are in this way strategic

redoubts against a

dilemma intrinsic to the policy of containment. Just as

envisioned by the

plan's authors, a new class of entrepreneurs has set up

shop in the Row,

and the neighborhood's economic growth rate has

skyrocketed as a result.

But instead of offering jobs, the businesses have

increasingly militated

against the jobless. They have used zoning regulations

to chip away more

than half of Skid Row, carving out industrial districts

in which no new

SROs can be built without special permission. And they

have demanded

tougher police action to disperse the very people the

city sought to

concentrate in the area. The more Darwinian business

climate has combined

with an erosion of public sympathy for the homeless to

rattle the city's

commitment to Skid Row.

"We believe in the city's redevelopment plan,"

Callaghan told me

one day in Las Familias del Pueblo. "That's all we're

trying to do, is be

faithful to that plan." Her declaration was odd only in

the context of the

question it was trying to address: What had put her so

fiercely at

loggerheads with City Hall and the police, with

businesses on Skid Row, and

ultimately even with fellow service pro-viders like SRO

Housing and Bud Hayes?

The general answer was that Callaghan believes

that the 1976 plan is

being callously abandoned. The abandonment is to some

extent overt, and in

other ways the result of the shifting dynamics that are

altering the rules

of the Row. Whether or not they spell the end of L.A.'s

old plan, those

shifts are making Central City East a battleground, and

San Julian Street a

legal line of scrimmage, in a contest over how America

should treat the

most troubled and intractably destitute among its poor.

On a morning early last October, I met Bud

Hayes and SRO Housing's

associate executive director, Geoffrey Gilbert, in front

of a hotel on

Fifth Street near the corner of San Julian. SRO Housing

had recently

purchased the dilapidated building, which was named the

Southern. "This was

the hellhole of down-town L.A.," Hayes told me proudly.

He is a large man

with an easy, rolling demeanor, wearing a baseball cap,

his expansiveness

contrasting with Gilbert's compactness and quiet but

spring-loaded

intensity. "It was a den of iniquity," he continued,

"the kind of place

where you could pay for drugs by the front desk and

they'd drop them to you

out the back window. They had several shoot-outs in here

over the years."

The Southern's brick facade still bore the grime

of long neglect,

but today that was obscured by scaffolding. Construction

crews bustled

about and the front door through which Hayes and Gilbert

led me revealed an

old entry hall being refashioned into a suave, modern

lobby. Beyond, long

hallways were being reframed into tiers of open-air

balconies, through

which 55 small rooms would face a central, palm-shaded

atrium.

"The poor appreciate the investment in putting

beauty back into

the neighborhood," Gilbert said, and Hayes picked up the

thought: "The

environment sends a strong message. If we just painted

the place and left

it like it was, the message would be, 'You're not worth

very much.' But

this," he motioned around the rising phoenix of the

Southern, "this implies

something different."

From there the pair's pride in mortar and brick

bled quickly into

less tangible concerns. "We designed the common space to

facilitate

community," Gilbert said. "The men who end up on Skid

Row are social

isolates." Hayes continued: "There are a lot of burned

bridges here.

Healing comes from community. Now, mental health

advocates can give it a

lot of fancy different names, but when people feel

respected, and feel part

of a community, to the extent that translates into

feeling loved, the

community heals."

The salutary effect of ambitious architecture is

a gospel common to

both SRO Housing and the Trust. Rents are rock-bottom --

typically around

0 a month for a room -- and tied to Section 8 or

other subsidies that

keep them within reach of unemployed or marginally

employed tenants; yet

the buildings are handsome, with nicely upholstered

lounges and communal

kitchens sporting professional-grade stainless steel

ranges. The equation

seems to work: Many of the hotels are self-governed and

self-policed. SRO

Housing also employs a hefty security staff to monitor

lobbies and

sidewalks -- men like Bowie, an enormous, uniformed

monolith who escorted

Hayes and Gilbert and me every step of the way through

the neighborhood and

stood sentry at the entrance of any building we visited.

There are no security guards at buildings managed

by Callaghan's

Skid Row Housing Trust, and the difference highlights

the contrast between

two philosophies at large -- and at odds -- on the Row.

The distinction

takes subtle forms: While people seeking residence at a

Trust hotel simply

fill out an application at a storefront office, the

typical route into SRO

Housing's units entails layers of referral and reform.

Many of Hayes'

tenants ascend from emergency shelters through

transitional housing with

intensive counseling for substance abuse or mental

health problems before

graduating to the regular SROs, some of which are

"sober" facilities. "They

operate a program," Jim Bonar says, summarizing the

difference between the

two groups. "We operate housing."

The distinctions don't stop there; they are

strikingly evident on

any map of the district. The Trust's buildings are

scattered around Skid

Row like pickets posted against border incursion, as

indeed they are, for

the Trust would like to buttress as much of Skid Row as

possible against

the zoning assaults and political constrictions working

to diminish it. SRO

Housing's hotels, by contrast, are huddled in the heart

of the Row, around

San Julian and Fifth streets, for the express purpose of

liberating a

single Skid Row intersection from the social predations

of poverty,

including the bad behavior of many of the homeless

themselves. It's as

though, in attempting to defend the poor, the Trust had

envisioned the

danger without and SRO Housing, the danger within.

Alice Callaghan's morning stroll up San Julian

Street afforded an

intimate view of the recent changes many would herald as

improvements. Two

blocks north of Las Familias, at the vortex of milling,

lounging men, was a

new drop-in center where homeless people can congregate

in a concrete

courtyard or sleep in rotating shifts in a small

dormitory. Farther along

was the massive new Union Rescue Mission, five stories

tall, the largest of

the Row's five emergency shelters. At the end of the

street was a

postage-stamp lot of fenced-in green, where men played

chess and dominoes

under pavilion roofs, or lounged on the grass. San

Julian Park was once a

place where some city workers would come only if

accompanied by armed

guards. Now it was a relatively orderly Eden, still

owned by the city, but

overseen by SRO Housing.

All well and good, perhaps, but Callaghan wasn't

celebrating. Behind

such landmarks of progress, she spied an ominous shift

in attitudes toward

the homeless. The compassion people mustered for the

down-and-out even in

the dark days of the 1980s was now all but exhausted.

The new mandate was

to reform the homeless, to cast them not as people with

problems, but as

people who were the problem, and who chose to be a

problem. That perception

had become the coin of the realm among some of the Row's

service

organizations, which had retooled themselves to fit

changed expectations.

"When I came down here in the '70s, the missions

were these

hole-in-the-wall places," Callaghan says. "Now some of

them are big

corporations with headquarters off by the beach and

movie stars on their

boards, and they're invested in institutional survival."

The forms that

investment takes can look ludicrous close-up: Callaghan

and Hayes both

point to the perennial fundraising gimmick -- mediagenic

holiday meals or

toy giveaways for families that, since there are so few

women and children

on the Row, have to be bused in. The ruse highlights a

problem for Skid Row

service providers: drawing money for their clients'

condition without

admitting exactly who their clients are and what their

true condition is.

"Today you can't get dollars for homelessness, per se,"

Bonar laments. "But

there's great sympathy for the mentally ill, or for

people with HIV, as

there should be, and for other groups. The legislature

will give them money."

Pursuing that money has meant, as Callaghan puts

it, talking "the

lingo of rehab," and the lingo created its own logic.

"It stigmatized the

poor," she notes. Especially poor drunk deranged dirty

men, and when the

organizations were eventually called upon to explain why

there were still

so many such men on the Row evidently unrehabilitated,

they came up with

the portrait of the "service resistant" individual who

couldn't bear the

rules and restrictions of shelters and programs.

Callaghan places the drop-in center in that

context. Built by SRO

Housing with help from the city, it offers an officially

sanctioned "high

tolerance zone" where almost any behavior is allowed.

Callaghan picketed

the 1999 opening of the center and likened it to an

internment camp -- a

hyperbole that offended Bud Hayes, who was inside the

center that day,

dedicating it. "It creates the image that anyone still

on the street is on

the street by choice and not because of a lack of

options," Callaghan says.

"It helps set the stage for a harsh response."

Maybe it was coincidence, but the response

followed. The Los Angeles

Police Department has cracked down on Skid Row in recent

months, issuing

hundreds of citations to homeless people for the most

minor infractions --

Callaghan notes instances when officers demanded

identification from

someone, then cited him for littering when he threw away

his cigarette to

get his wallet. If, characteristically, the homeless

person did not make

the trek to court, the misdemeanor led to a warrant,

turning a luckless man

into a wanted man. Citing elevated crime figures -- 4

homeless people

murdered in the Row in the last year, and 32 others

sexually assaulted --

officers from the LAPD's Central Division last fall also

began breaking up

cardboard encampments and rousting people out of the

neighborhood,

solidifying critics' suspicions that the language of

rehab and programs and

community is the velvet glove on a puritanical and

punitive fist.

On the morning I arrived to tour the Southern, I

stumbled on an

arrest in progress beside San Julian Park. The square of

green was banked

with cruisers, and police had a couple of men

spread-eagled against the

fence. "Drugs," Gilbert surmised, and Hayes credited a

general crackdown on

crime with making San Julian Street, on this morning,

uncommonly calm.

"This area was hit hard two days ago," he said. "There

was an encampment on

Sixth Street, and today you wouldn't know it had ever

existed." He

explained that area businesses had complained that the

homeless presented a

nuisance. SRO Housing, it turns out, had been among

those calling for

tougher enforcement.

The business complaints were evidence that more

has been shifting

on the Row than attitude: In recent years, the money has

switched

allegiance. In the early days of redevelopment, Skid Row

benefited from

being a fiscal reflection of prosperous Bunker Hill. The

city demanded that

funds spent to revitalize the downtown of skyscrapers

and trendy

restaurants -- the only downtown most Angelenos and

tourists ever see -- be

matched with a certain amount for the unseen downtown,

which meant Skid

Row. At the same time, the corporations whose

skyscrapers dominated Bunker

Hill prided themselves on being civic stewards and spent

large sums on Row

programs; the president of Arco was on Alice Callaghan's

board.

But then a lawsuit curtailed the redistribution

of funds within

downtown and, in the recession of the early '90s, L.A.'s

biggest

nonentertainment corporations, firms like Arco and First

Interstate, went

belly-up or merged and moved. The business establishment

that replaced them

consisted of myriad small entrepreneurs and shopkeepers

-- toy

manufacturers, garment makers, flower and fish

wholesalers -- many of whom

were too busy eking out their own survival to spend much

time fretting over

intractable social problems, especially problems camping

in their doorways.

Like other inner-city merchants nationwide, they

organized into Business

Improvement Districts, consortiums that hired "shirts"

-- guards mounted on

bicycles and dressed in T-shirts marked "Security" who

spent much of their

time monitoring and confronting the homeless.

As is her wont, Callaghan struck back. She is

feared as a political

pugilist, the more because her politics are

unpredictable. She works

closely with Los Angeles Catholic Worker, a group that

runs the popular

"Hippie Kitchen" in the Row. She also incurred liberal

wrath in 1998 when

she helped write California's proposition against

bilingual education,

after the families of her Hispanic daycare children

complained that they

were being shunted away from English classes.

Last summer, she postered the neighborhood with

eye-catching signs

saying "Shirts Are Not Cops" and handed out flyers

notifying the homeless

of their right not to be pestered by the guards. When

the guards tore down

her posters, she put them back up with epoxy. To spare

the homeless the

legal jeopardy, and the indignity, of relieving

themselves on the street,

she petitioned the city for portable toilets; when the

politicians balked,

she held a sit-in that blocked the men's rooms of City

Hall. Later, when

the city moved all the toilets to one central location,

she rented a truck

and redistributed them around the neighborhood,

announcing that if anyone

touched the portables she'd be back to position them

outside any fancy

hotel where the mayor might happen to speak. The toilets

have stayed put,

and not to everyone's delight. Bud Hayes and others

complain that they are

assignation spots for drug sales and prostitution. Some

refer to the

toilets as "Alices."

The philosophical differences dividing Hayes,

Callaghan, and their

respective organizations came to a nasty head in 1999,

when the city's

nuisance ordinances were directed against the Trust's

Simone Hotel. It was

accused of being the site of occasional violent episodes

and regular

breaches of the peace, the latter for the most part

happening outside the

building and not involving Simone residents. The

allegations transfixed the

Los Angeles Board of Zoning Appeals, and then a City

Council committee,

through the first half of last year. The zoning

administrator wanted the

Trust to hire a 24-hour security force, to mount cameras

over the

sidewalks, to fingerprint and photograph all visitors to

the hotel, and to

make all films and photos available to police on demand

-- the sorts of

expensive requirements that had been used to drive

liquor stores and bars

out of the Row. The zoning board (despite testimony in

the hotel's defense

from lawyers, administrators, and 41 of the S!

imone's tenants) upheld the conditions, with the caveat

of a fingerprinting

dispensation for visiting clergy. But the Council

committee recommended

that the requirements be dropped in favor of a set of

voluntary guidelines.

The battle over the Simone left wounds and raised

fears, in part

because it was the most direct contest yet between the

advocates and

detractors of Alice Callaghan. For Jim Bonar, what was

especially galling

was the involvement of the Trust's sister organization:

SRO Housing had

provided testimony against the Simone. "That was the

most destructive thing

Bud Hayes could have done," Bonar says sadly. Hayes

eventually softened his

stance in a letter to the zoning board, expressing his

"optimism" that all

problems at the Simone were being addressed and that no

further action by

the zoning administrator was required.

Where that left the Row, or its residents, or

the fate of the 1976

redevelopment plan, is anybody's guess. SRO Housing and

the Trust find

themselves warily at odds and necessarily in league,

each facing the same

vexing conundrums of funding and politics -- and each

wishing for a new

vision that would supplant the old policy of containment

and see the Row

safely through modern realities.

The realities are growing fiercer. Recently, a

new developer has

begun renovating buildings between Skid Row and Bunker

Hill as trendy

middle-class residences. Bonar is watching the sticker

price rise on the

old SROs he'd like to buy and wonders how long it will

take before the

yuppies and the homeless find themselves opening a new

front of hostilities.

For her part, Alice Callaghan continues facing

down the reformers

and the shirts. On December 5 she won a victory: A

lawsuit she had filed

with the American Civil Liberties Union yielded a

restraining order against

the police, forbidding officers from "stopping the

homeless without

reasonable suspicion while they are simply standing or

walking on public

streets and sidewalks." She posted a copy in the window

of Las Familias del

Pueblo. When the police responded three days later with

a harsh sweep up

San Julian Street and a public statement that the

restraining order would

not affect their approach, demonstrators organized a

"Jaywalk-In," in which

homeless people paraded down Fifth Street between banks

of police armed

with rubber bullets.

The escalation of hostilities reflects the

complicated contest still

simmering over who will rule the Row. In a conversation

shortly before

Christmas, Jim Bonar offered a metaphor. Social service

providers and

businesses resembled armies vying for strategic

advantage, he suggested:

"There's land to be occupied here and a fear of

incursions, and each side

is founding parallel settlements, hoping to claim the

territory. I guess

that's one way to think of Skid Row; it's kind of like

our Jerusalem."

Read the article online:



http://www.motherjones.com/magazine/MA01/skidrow.html

Check out the latest from Mother Jones at:

http://motherjones.com







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