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Coming of Age as Neighbors in L.A.

August 13, 2006|Steve Lopez

When I met with the directors, we talked about their complicated feelings regarding their move to Echo Park. They're part of a force that is changing what attracted them to the neighborhood in the first place, and yet they've been enriched by their neighbors, and vice versa.

"When we looked at one scene we were shooting, I said to Richard, 'Do you believe this is our movie? We've just shot an entire scene in Spanish, and we don't speak Spanish,' " Westmoreland said.

I told them they shouldn't feel guilty about moving to Echo Park any more than I should feel guilty about moving to Silver Lake. In both cases, we wanted some edge and diversity and, more important, something that didn't cost a million dollars.

But that doesn't mean there aren't ways to build and preserve neighborhoods that are mixed racially and economically, even though California and Los Angeles have done such a lousy job of it.

Peter Dreier of the Urban and Environmental Policy Program at Occidental College told me a good four-point plan would include a moratorium on condo conversions, stronger rent control laws, passage of affordable-housing bonds and approval of inclusionary zoning, which requires developers to build mixed-price units in residential developments.

If "Quinceanera" fills their pockets, maybe Glatzer and Westmoreland can bankroll politicians who are willing -- unlike most of the current crop -- to lead the charge. Or they can buy the condos next door and rent them to their old neighbors.

A great Hollywood ending. And Leslie Campos, who is having the summer of her life before starting her senior year in high school, would jump at the chance.

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