The Future

SpaceX is coming to gentrify LA

SpaceX just received approval to build its BFR in an area of Los Angeles that’s already been increasingly gentrified.

The Future

Elon Musk is coming to town

The Future

SpaceX is coming to gentrify LA

SpaceX just received approval to build its BFR in an area of Los Angeles that’s already been increasingly gentrified.

SpaceX is coming to Los Angeles, and it could be bringing gentrification with it.

The company just got written approval to use a 19-acre plot in the Port of Los Angeles for to build the Big Fucking Rocket, which Elon Musk will supposedly use to take people to Mars by 2022. However, the SpaceX construction facility will located in a part of Los Angeles that’s experienced some serious gentrification and displacement issues in recent years.

The Port of Los Angeles, located in San Pedro, is in the middle of a $100 million renovation project to redevelop its Waterfront District. The project involves the creation of new public spaces and the construction of the San Pedro Marketplace. Recently, the development of this marketplace necessitated the demolition of a local restaurant. The project also lead to a series of evictions from the local marina in 2016.

Los Angeles is already facing massive gentrification issues. As illustrated by an account published in the Los Angeles Times last year, some working class people are forced to commute for as long as six hours each day just to balance a well-paying job with affordable real estate.

Tech-driven ventures have also earned a reputation for accelerating gentrification. In San Francisco, property prices are out of control, the city is facing a homelessness crisis, and venture capitalists and new-money tech bros continue to flood into the city for high-paying jobs.

And Elon Musk doesn’t exactly have a worker-friendly reputation among his ventures. Notoriously, Tesla workers can’t unionize and advocate for better pay and working conditions. Just the other day, Musk posted a mystifying tweet about using dirt from boring private tunnels under Los Angeles to build affordable housing. The tweet may have been a joke, but it highlights a serious empathy gap between Musk and low-income people.

It’s not obvious exactly how SpaceX will affect the neighborhood in the end. On one hand, the facility will bring 700 construction jobs to the area. But some people in San Pedro have already expressed concern about how the port renovation project is accelerating gentrification in the area.

Over the past few decades, San Pedro has managed to remain relatively resistant to the forces of gentrification compared to other areas of Los Angeles. But with a public-private contract with SpaceX that involves a $40 million rent credit and $3 million annual lease, it’s not clear how longer that will last.

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