The double-edged sword of gentrification has become a fact of life for long-time residents and community college students of Pasadena over the past few years.
While San Francisco, New York City and Downtown Los Angeles might get the lion’s share of media attention for the cost of renting an apartment to astronomical levels, the generally quiet town of Pasadena has come close to entering California’s top 20 list of most expensive places to rent in recent years.
Without an affordable place to live, students of PCC and their parents, whom they might often live with, could end up finding it difficult to stay in the city eventually becoming displaced and taking the community out of PCC.
There is plenty to blame for the rising cost. For one, the 2008 recession didn’t help. As the initial waves of unemployment came crashing in it became more difficult to pay rent in the already expensive city.
When combined with a stunted housing development, the situation makes for a supply-demand relationship that benefits those who have a larger disposable income.
Much of the increase can be attributed to the steady spread of gentrification throughout the city, a phenomenon that has slowly snuck into people’s neighborhoods and consciousness over the past few years.
The practice of renovating an area to appeal to middle-class taste has seen its fair share of praise and denouncement. Although gentrification is often heralded for fostering business growth, bringing in additional revenue and cleaning up cities, the side-effects of rapidly transforming municipalities has also spurred criticism.
North Pasadena and West Altadena residents have expressed feelings of alienation, devaluation and displacement when long-time businesses that use to cater to them have to shutter their doors after landowners seized on the opportunity to increase their own profit.
The basic practice of raising rent isn’t the problem. The bigger issue is that Pasadena stands as one of the few California cities to lack proper rent control. This allows for landowners to increase rent with very limited restrictions.
The lack of rent control affects both businesses and residences. When individuals with deep pockets start showing interest in the untapped Pasadena areas, the current residents are at the mercy of their landlords in hopes that they don’t try to cash in.
What ends up replacing once familiar places are new, trendier, often times more expensive, alternatives.
As students and their families are both culturally and financially pushed out of the surrounding areas, it has the potential to change the make-up of the community and by extension PCC.
If long-time community members are eventually pushed into other neighborhoods, attending PCC might not be a sure bet as other, closer community colleges might seem more reasonable alternatives.