By Alexis Stephens.
Elysian Valley has been a sleepy town for many, many years,” says David De La Torre, current head of the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch and a resident of the Los Angeles neighborhood for 35 years. “It goes unnoticed. A lot of things go unnoticed. I’ve described it in years past as Mayberry: quiet, not on everybody’s radar, but with an amazing mix of people.”
Colloquially known as Frogtown — from the days when amphibians from the L.A. River frequented the neighborhood’s streets and fell prey to lawnmowers on a daily basis — Elysian Valley is being roused awake. The community of nearly 9,000 primarily working class and largely Latino and Asian residents is experiencing the same real estate development pressures experienced throughout L.A., but with an increased urgency because of an upcoming billion-dollar reinvention of the L.A. River.
In addition to external forces, an emerging DIY arts community is implicated in the neighborhood’s integration into L.A.’s hipsterfied ecosystem.
Amid this change, the community design organization LA-Más has a released a report, Futuro de Frogtown, which re-centralizes the goals and values of long-term residents into the future strategic planning process for the neighborhood. From the report’s executive summary: “Rather than have market forces shape the community, this project provides recommendations that would direct market forces to incorporate social and community goals into the development process.”
“The goal of the report was not necessarily to determine future real estate growth or to dictate what happens but really just to provide a cushion and to go through the neighborhood to see what people think,” says Helen Leung of LA-Más. “What are some ways that we can shape a future, especially with so much money coming in?”