Here Comes the Neighborhood

This was the piece in the Daily News…

You used to be able to live in Los Angeles on the cheap. For struggling artists like me – it was ideal. You only needed one wardrobe (no winter coat necessary). Your heating costs were minimal. My horrible restaurant job provided health care. You could drive a crappy car. The under-two-dollar gas flowed like a river. And a listing for a squalid apartment that was affordable wouldn’t cost you $60 to find out about it.

If this is any indicator, I knew people that were in there 30’s and didn’t have to have a roommate to be able to afford cable! It sounds amazing. But it happened.

But times change and bubbles come along.

Now you know what this city needs? More luxury condos! I always thought there were a lack of spaces for those whose income tax is equal to the gross domestic product of Burundi but MUST live in a one bedroom with adjoining walls.

Where could these people go before? Sure, financially segregated neighborhoods like Bel Heir and Beverly Hills were in the price range. But housing there had yards and free standing units. It wasn’t a fit.

These folks, we’ll call them Condonians, were an underserved niche. The affluent and the agoraphobic. There will be no open spaces for these buyers. No, they stood up for themselves. And their message was clear, “I want to buy property without having to buy any land!”

The early 21st century housing boom came and for Condonians – it was a god-send.

Suddenly, luxury condos are EVERYWHERE. And now Condonians can live anywhere they chose. They can even live in old crack houses! Ooh edgy! Anywhere where average everyday people used to live, now there are more places for those that look at a $1.5 million price tag and think, “I wonder what 500 square feet is in metric?”

See, condos that used to be practical and affordable, like old jeans – suddenly are exclusively for the rich, like old jeans.

It’s a part of revitalizing areas of the city that have fallen into a slump. Hollywood and Downtown have been seedy for decades. Now there is an effort make them grand again. Pardon their dust – its on the up and up. Because people moved out of these urban areas in the 1950’s for affordable homes and today high prices are just the thing to make them move back!

It’s good that this faction finally has more places to live. It sends an important message to the rest of us; new immigrants, the middle class, the under paid masses. And lets us know that if we want to live in a below average place in Los Angeles, we need to start making more money. We should be more like Condonians, able to buy high and not worry about the resale.

Because Condonians are the perfect home buyer. They are the super hero of customers; their one weakness is just how great they are. Who could resist wanting to cater to them? Oh I understand.

What I don’t understand is why, since I make 3 times what I did 5 years ago, I can’t afford to buy a ‘market rate’ place on Skid Row anymore. And yes, I’d rather kvetch and rent then buy in Riverside…at least for now.

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