Will the Gold Line bring the gold card to Eastside?
The Gold Line extension from downtown to East L.A. has long been hailed as a turning point for the predominantly Latino areas, "transit equity" for residents who heavily use mass transit but until now have had only one option: the bus.
But as the opening of the line draws closer, there is growing angst about how it will change development patterns in Boyle Heights and East L.A.
The construction of rail across Los Angeles over the last three decades has helped transform some neighborhoods. The area around the Red Line subway terminus in North Hollywood has become a hip arts and theater district with a growing skyline of loft and condo projects. The Red Line has also helped fuel the revival of Hollywood, with dense mixed-use developments popping up next to subway stations. The Blue Line helped foster downtown Long Beach's resurgence.
But the Eastside is different. Residents there have much more ambivalent feelings about gentrification than the neighborhoods to the west and north. Some have high hopes for the Gold Line, expecting it to bring some of the better chain shops -- Borders, Trader Joe's -- that have avoided the Eastside. Others are more suspicious, fearing that an influx of money and outsiders will change the area's character and push out the poor.
"I would love to have a yoga studio that's affordable," resident Sandra Martinez, 40, said with a half-guilty laugh. "The problem with a yoga studio is when that moves in, that's the end -- that's the definition of gentrification."
Even before the Gold Line started nearing completion, there were growing signs of change.
Photo: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times