Gentrification, Displacement, and Dispossession

In Spring of 2018, a seminar at UCLA School of Law brought together a group of graduate students and law students to trace the current manifestations of the U.S. property law system to its historical origins. From it emerged this collection of pieces, in which students, professors, and practitioners examine the present-day effects of gentrification, displacement, and dispossession in and surrounding Los Angeles.

California’s housing crisis is a concern for many—and a devastation for some. It manifests in various ways, from a daily homelessness count of over 134,000 to gentrification and the displacement of long-time residents and communities as neighborhoods change in character and affordability.

In light of this crisis, this inaugural online series by UCLA Law Review Discourse grapples with the current approach to urban development and its role in the historically ongoing displacement of low-income residents and communities of color from their homes, one of the most essential aspects of human livelihood.

It also attempts to answer how we—as lawyers, community members, and fellow humans—can do better: to acknowledge the devastating consequences of the privatization and commodification of land, to look for creative solutions in the burgeoning crisis, and to honor and center the communities that have experienced or are now experiencing the effects of displacement and dispossession.

We hope this series by student, professor, and attorney authors will make you think about property and development from a new perspective, feel the tangible effects of gentrification and displacement, and work toward creating an improved relationship to land—whether as an advocate or local politician—that is equitable and humane.