Venice: How 'Progress' is Wrecking LA’s Neighborhoods

NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--A few months ago, on a Sunday morning, I drove from my house near the Venice Pier over to Abbot Kinney Boulevard to meet my cousin for a cup of coffee at Blue Bottle, which is to coffee what the French Laundry is to dinner: peak fetishization. (But yes, of course, delicious!)


I circled the block a few times, adamant that I would not pay $9 to park in order to buy a $5 cup of coffee. Fortunately, I found a spot on the street, but not before getting yelled at twice by motorists who were mad at me for blocking them as I waited for the space.

Abbot Kinney, as you undoubtedly know, was once a funky retail outpost that was forever on the verge of being discovered. Unfortunately, in 2012, GQ named it “the coolest block in America,” and pretty much everything went to hell after that.

Now you can spend 400 bucks on a pair of boots at John Fluevog Shoes, but you won’t be able to get them repaired anywhere on the street. If you don’t mind the gridlock and all the man buns (and if you squint hard), Abbot Kinney still maintains its old aesthetic: low-slung shops, coffeehouses and restaurants.

The same cannot be said for Oakwood, the residential neighborhood that abuts the east side of Abbot Kinney. The only Venice neighborhood where African Americans were allowed to purchase property during the days of restrictive racial covenants, Oakwood has been subjected to the same real estate pressures as other beachside towns. (Read the rest.)