Community leaders say a design district in Westlake could pave the way for the erasure of L.A's Historic Filipinotown.

Design standards recently drafted by the Los Angeles Planning Department are meant to promote mixed-use and pedestrian-oriented development along four major corridors in the Westlake area.

But community leaders worry that new aesthetic guidelines will encourage the sort of speculative investment that, without tenant protections, they say can lead to rising rents and evictions of low-income residents. The Coalition to Defend Westlake, led by the LA Tenants Union, called the proposal an entrée into "fancy galleries and expensive micro pubs and over-priced lofts."1

The city is proposing design guidelines in the designated areas
The city is proposing design guidelines in the designated areas © Los Angeles Department of City Planning

Have city planners created design guidelines that will lead to displacement in Westlake? That’s how the LA Tenants Union views a “design district” proposed for the northern part of the neighborhood that includes Historic Filipinotown.

In a statement Thursday, the Coalition to Defend Westlake, a group led by the LA Tenants Union, says its members fear the proposed North Westlake Design District“will systematically displace residents and small businesses that have thrived in their neighborhoods for decades.”

The district would be made up of commercial properties along four main thoroughfares: Beverly Boulevard, Temple Street, Third Street, and Alvarado Street. Those properties would be subject to new design standards, along with requirements for site layouts and parking. 

The city planning department has described the design guidelines as promoting “pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use corridors and neighborhood-serving and pedestrian-oriented development.”

The Coalition to Defend Westlake declined interview requests, but in an announcement about a community meeting scheduled for tonight, it said its members view the proposal as a catalyst for “fancy galleries and expensive micro pubs and over-priced lofts.”

“The name ‘design district’ in the first place is laughable,” said community organizer Cristina Lugo. “It’s this fabricated community that is intended to replace Historic Filipinotown.”