Lincoln Heights activists run for neighborhood council to stave off gentrification

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A view of the Los Angeles skyline from Lincoln Heights, where a group of local activists joined their neighborhood council to try to prevent gentrification. Photo by By Nick Fox/Shutterstock.

Lincoln Heights Intel (LHI), a group of residents and organizers, was spurred into action by Avenue 34, a five-acre, 468-unit apartment complex featuring lots of retail space. Residents were concerned about being displaced and inhaling toxic fumes potentially emitted by the complex’s construction. 

LHI believed the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council didn’t do enough to fight the development, so they put together a slate of 11 progressive candidates to replace all members of the council. After voters cast ballots in April, all 11 candidates won.  

A neighborhood council mostly advises its LA City Council member, but that influence can be powerful.  “They can make it [development] more likely to happen, or less likely to happen by their support or opposition. And that's why even without formal power over land use, [neighborhood councils] are potentially going to become players in some of the land-use politics in the city,” says Raphael Sonenshein, who directs the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA.