From our March 2015 issue: The L.A. Live Community Benefits Agreement: Evaluating the Agreement Results and Shifting Political Power in the City

  1. Leland Saito1
  2. Jonathan Truong2

  1. 1University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

  2. 2Vinh University, Vietnam
  1. Leland Saito, Department of Sociology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA. Email: lsaito@usc.edu

Abstract

A community coalition negotiated a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with a developer in 2001 for the L.A. Live sports and entertainment district, the largest project in contemporary downtown Los Angeles. The CBA included provisions for affordable housing, local hiring, and living wage jobs. It is a major change in the history of large development projects that result in the destruction of neighborhoods and displacement of residents, with few, if any, benefits going to the residents experiencing the negative effects of these projects. The L.A. Live CBA is significant because it is recognized as the nation’s first comprehensive CBA and has served as a model for CBAs across the country. This is the first study to provide an in-depth examination of the results of the CBA’s major provisions regarding affordable housing and local hiring. To explain why CBAs emerged in Los Angeles at this time, we use regime theory’s emphasis on shifts in the relative strength and interests of groups influencing development policies. We suggest that the fragmentation of growth interests in the 1990s, and the growing influence of unions, community organizations, and the Latino population, created a political opportunity for the establishment of the L.A. Live CBA.

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