Going out to find out what is happening to the community helps us understand and get a better perspective on the gentrification topic. It’s better than just studying the issue and not actually knowing what’s really going on. We walked up sunset boulevard from our school to check out some of the local businesses in the area and ask questions about their perspectives
EchoInk is a local tattoo shop owned by Jorge Olvera and his son, his shop has been around for 9 years. He seems pretty aware of the drastic changes in businesses because he’s lived in Echo Park since he was a kid. He’s noticed an increase demand to have a business in the area. He said his shop is located in Echo out of convenience, since he grew up and still lives in the neighborhood. There was an spot open and he took it.
Business is good, customers keep coming, but he rents from a building that seems to be changing. While the owner has stayed the same, there have been three different building management companies in the past year. Jorge says that each new company comes with a different set of ideas and requirements. The latest management is “restricting change” meaning, they have cracked down against modifications being made to the inside of the space. Also, they had painted their business with a mural, and the new management company made them paint over it saying it was not the “look they were going for”.
They are also very slow to make repairs even though they have increased rent prices. In the coming year, the management company has suggested that they might increase the rent by 20% or more. Jorge says that if this happens it is likely that he will have to move his business to either a cheaper building or a different community. What will replace Jorge’s business? We can probably guess: something that the building management company expects will be able to pay more for rent meaning a business that’s more profitable or a business who serves people that have more money to spend.
We have heard about rent control when it comes to houses, but no such thing exists for businesses that rent commercial space. What would the advantages and disadvantages be of a rent control policy for businesses? Add your thoughts below.
by Carlos Machic and Alejo Pascual