Development in South LA: A Threat or an Opportunity?
October 27, 2015
South Central L.A. in Bloom: Community Benefits Proposal for the Reef Development
March 29, 2016

Fast-Tracked Project Threatens South LA Community

Mayor Garcetti and Council Member Price Refuse Community More Time for Input.

MEDIA ADVISORY | LOS ANGELES, CA, OCTOBER 26, 2015 – Community residents and stakeholders are sounding the alarm on the severe impacts expected from a $1 billion development – known as “The Reef” – that is being fast-tracked by local officials. According to a new study, the gentrification caused by the proposed mega project in South Central LA would harm the health of local residents and risk displacing thousands.

Dr. Holly Avey, Ph.D., of Human Impact Partners said “Our study showed that thousands of residents near the project site would be at high or very high risk of financial strain or displacement due to the proposed Reef project.” The study further found:

  • Over 43,000 residents living within 2 miles of the project could be at risk of financial strain or displacement as a result of the Reef development project.
  • Gentrification causes both mental and physical health impacts occur among residents experiencing financial strain.
  • The effects of gentrification are already happening for small businesses in South Central LA.

Area residents and small business owners are shocked and disappointed that Council Member Curren Price and Mayor Eric Garcetti would deny requests for more time for community input on the future of their neighborhood. “We have requested a meaningful community process and have been denied,” said local resident and business owner, Cynthia Bryant. The UNIDAD coalition and area neighborhood council groups have requested 45 more days to review the more than 3,000 pages of technical environmental impact documents. More time is needed to understand the full impacts, especially since initial analysis is troubling.

Developers of the Reef have proposed a massive mixed-use development consisting of 1,444 units of luxury housing in two 30-story towers, 162,000 square feet of commercial space, a 208-room hotel, 2,733 parking spaces and 234,067 square feet of digital billboards. “The Reef Project will cause several significant environmental impacts that will seriously affect the surrounding community,” said Danielle Leben of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There are concerns about the air quality and traffic impacts, as well as health impacts that will result from indirect displacement caused by the Project,” Leben added. The project site is located within 1,000 feet of three schools and the homes of hundreds of residents who would be especially susceptible to the worsened air quality during the estimated 5 years of construction at the Reef.

“The Reef Project will cause several significant environmental impacts that will seriously affect the surrounding community.”

Gentrification from the project has many local residents worried about displacement.  Anayetzy lives near the Reef site and reflected, “I keep thinking, ‘What am I going to do if this doesn’t work out? Where am I going to go? Am I going to see my neighbors again? Where am I going to find this kind of community again? Going to have to start over. Going to be homeless, without a family.”

Members of the United Neighbors In Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD) coalition are calling for “equitable” development that is driven by the community, invests in local residents and prioritizes anti-displacement measures. Benny Torres, of local non-profit CDTech, explained what’s at risk: “This is a vibrant community of residents, students and small business owners. We want investments that will strengthen the existing community, not lead to its displacement. Build with us, not on us.” And Joe Donlin, of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy added, “This community will not survive the gentrification the proposed Reef project would cause. If we want to avoid the mental, physical and social harm caused by displacement, we have to change how development is done and that begins with investing heavily in anti-displacement programs and policies first.”


Links to Report:

Reef Development Health Impact Report Executive Summary English (PDF)

Evaluación del Impacto del Proyecto de Urbanización Reef en la Salud y Equidad en el Sur de Los Ángeles Resumen Ejecutivo Español (PDF)

Reef Development Health Impact Report Appendices English (PDF)

Reef Development Full Health Impact Report English (PDF)


Behind the Report:

About HIP:

Through research, advocacy, and capacity building, Human Impact Partners helps organizations and public agencies who work with low-income communities and communities of color understand the effects of current or proposed projects and policies on community health. Learn more at


The United Neighbors In Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD) is a coalition of residents, students, small business owners, community-based organizations and faith-based organizations who work in South Central LA for community-serving development without displacement. Learn more at


Updated Links to Full Report, Appendices, & Executive Summary in Spanish 11/30/15