FOX 11 News IN DEPTH: Highland Park Gentrification

- This is our 21st show and our third entirely in a community exploring local issues. This week we visit Highland Park in Northeast LA. The overriding issue here is gentrification. There have been demonstrations and a noticeable sense of tension in the community.

The community is changing.

SEGMENT ONE: We meet those on both sides laying out the concerns. John Urquiza, Celestino Castillo and Monica Alcaraz are opposed to and upset about the gentrification that's going on in this community of just under 3.5 square miles. They reject what's going on because of the impact on the poor losing their places to live because apartments are being upgraded and so is the rent. New businesses are moving in replacing the old. Cathi Milligan, Michael Baffico and Jose Retana are all in favor of the changes that are happening, but all shudder at the idea of people being priced out of their homes, apartments and businesses and being forced to move elsewhere. Urquizo, a photojournalist by trade, has been involved in street demonstrations. He calls those social conversations, but whatever they might be called they express and anger in the community. Milligan says she's a "gentrifier" who has been "gentrified". Baffico has a relatively new pet food store in the community.

SEGMENT TWO: Jose Retana, who favors the "progress" happening because of gentrification.  He ays its helped to reduce crime and he has perspective. He's owned a restaurant in Highland Park for 27 years. For him, it's a win-win with more potential customers coming into the area attracted by new trendy shops and coffee shops. But, he adds if he had the money and real estate he'd find a way to help the poor and keep them in Highland Park. LA City Councilman Gil Cedillo "change happens... life happens." He says the city has been working to help those affected by the community's changing landscape and plans to continue doing so. In this segment, Cedillo, talks about the challenges in Highland Park created by gentrification.

SEGMENT THREE: Our panel of locals talking about gentrification are not unified on the idea that talking could lead to solutions. All, but John Urquiza say they're willing to try. Meanwhile. Michael Baffico says he's doing all he can to contribute back to the community by shoping in the community and eating at its restaurants. He makes donations to the local schools and other local groups.  But, despite that, there is a divide. Rachel

SEGMENT FOUR: Final thoughts from our guests. Those opposed to the changes say they'll continue to fight for the poor who are hurt in the gentrification process. Those who support change express concern for those pushed out, but also hope those building new businesses are successful.

Credit to those who put in so much work on this show. Editors Mark Sudock, Debbie Kim, Tony Ruiz and Charlie Hickman, photographers Steve Thorp, Tommy Aragon and Kevin Takumi and, our entire FOX 11 News IN DEPTH team including Shelly Insheiwat and Jeffrey Thomas DeSocio on the FOXLA digital desk, managing editor Pete Wilgoren, IN DEPTH Producer Tim Langford and David Figueroa & Lizette Guzman on the FOX 11 Assignment Desk!

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