McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Arthur Argomaniz

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Major and Classification

Sociology

Faculty Mentor

  • Leland Saito, Ph.D.

Department

  • Sociology

McNair Project

Right to the City: LA Live, Elegant Density, and Figueroa Corridor

More than $8 billion is currently being invested into Downtown Los Angeles development. LA Live is a $2.5 billion dollar project just south of Downtown with a key objective of attracting business for its struggling neighbor, the LA Convention Center, with a 54 story hotel/luxury residence, as well as high end retail and live entertainment. This project is a continuation of the current trend of elegant density and the re-urbanization of Downtown and the Figueroa Corridor (spanning LA Live on the north and USC on the south). As an alternative to Harvey Molotch's growth machine, the development industrial complex will be proposed as a framework allowing us to explore the psychological complex of those who see growth, more specifically gentrification, as a tool to revive blighted communities and make Downtown a place where people can "Live Work Play" (a major advertising pitch currently throughout Los Angeles). It also places it in the context of other industrial complexes (i.e. military, prison, healthcare...), in which the privatization and deregulation of industry allows corporations to gain more control. Is gentrification in LA causing the mass displacement of working class minority communities living in the area, if so why? SAJE, a progressive nonprofit advocacy organization in LA, is waging various campaigns throughout the Figueroa Corridor to fight displacement and to support tenants. One strategy is the use of Community Benefits Agreements, which have helped some major projects in the area gain community support by allowing grassroots organizations and labor unions to collectively sit down with developers to negotiate a package of benefits meant to counteract some of the detrimental effects felt by local residents. SAJE is mounting a new campaign to prepare for the wave of gentrification that is being unleashed on the Figueroa Corridor, United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement or UNIDAD.