Why are some of Southern California’s most expensive properties left completely empty?
It’s a question that goes back to the first decade of the 1900s, when Southern California’s richest city, L.A., was in the throes of what we now call gentrification. Those of us who live here today know the neighborhood by its Spanish name, El Pueblo. El Pueblo, a hodgepodge of apartment buildings and single-family homes, was among the most expensive in the nation.
The first major Los Angeles project to attract buyers was a six-story brick building called the California Plaza in 1928. By the mid-1930s, the Los Angeles Housing Commission built nearly 800 units of public housing in El Pueblo. But these homes also became a magnet for the city’s criminal element: The houses were considered “hotbeds” for illicit drug sales, and in the years before the 1960s, El Pueblo saw some of the most violent episodes of the City’s notorious riots.
In 1965, the Los Angeles Times described an area now known as Koreatown as “a city of crime and vice” plagued by gangs, prostitution, prostitution, and dope. This neighborhood was, in the words of the Times, “the major drug market in the city, and the major source of income for the Mexican gangsters that control the major drug trade in Los Angeles.”
In Los Angeles in the 1960s, a man could buy a six-bedroom home for $10,000 — $4,000 more than an identical one in an affluent neighborhood that was home to mostly upper-middle class people.
As Los Angeles began to shed its historic identity and become more urban, real estate values went up. L.A.’s economy and tax base grew, becoming more affluent, more affluent, and more affluent. Then, in the 1970s, the real estate market crashed. The city was left with a huge housing shortage. There simply were not enough apartments for the demand.
The price of housing also fell, as we’ve talked about in this column before. The median cost and number of available apartments in the city of L.A. fell sharply during