A proposed design district for Historic Filipinotown

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Echo Park might be considered a case study in gentrification, from the renovation of its lake to third-wave coffee shops lining Sunset Boulevard. Now the City of Los Angeles is looking to radically transform the neighborhood directly southwest of Echo Park, bordered by the 101 and 110 freeways. An ordinance submitted to the Department of City Planning proposes creating a "North Westlake Design District," which means approving more mixed-use buildings, adding pedestrian bridges at the expense of parking spots, and imposing regulations on everything from signage and design to the paint color of the buildings.

The only problem? The neighborhood already has a name – Historic Filipinotown – and a strong cultural identity. Activists who created the Coalition to Defend Westlake in an effort to defeat the ordinance argue that it would exacerbate gentrification and lead to the displacement of low-income tenants in the historically immigrant community. The Coalition to Defend Westlake recently hosted two community meetings to discuss how the plan will affect the neighborhood.

Reporter Jennifer Swann talks to DnA about the mixed reaction in the community, how the ordinance might change the neighborhood and why some residents, like Arturo Garcia, are prepared to “fight” a design district “up to the end.”

Historic Filipinotown