Avila on New Affordable Housing Project in South Los Angeles

UCLA urban scholar Eric Avila provided historical context for an LAist story about a new affordable housing project that recently broke ground in South Los Angeles. The property, formerly subject to a 1906 racially restrictive covenant, is being developed to address a shortage of affordable homes, including more than 100 new apartments for low-income renters. Avila, who holds appointments in history, Chicana/o studies and urban planning, explained that racial covenants were in common use throughout the early 20th century and used extensively, accompanying booming suburban development in L.A. and across the country. “They essentially created these walls that prevented Black, brown and Asian people from purchasing property in white neighborhoods,” Avila said. A landmark 1948 U.S. Supreme Court case, Shelley v. Kraemer, made such covenants illegal nationwide, but they continued to exist in property deeds. “It’s the lasting effects, or the legacy of these policies, that we live with today,” Avila said.


Forum Explores Latin American Identity of Los Angeles

Author and journalist Daniel Hernandez and professor Eric Avila explored the Latin history, features and identity of Los Angeles at a March 14, 2019, forum hosted by the Latin American Cities Initiative at UCLA Luskin. Initiative director Paavo Monkkonen, an associate professor of urban planning and public policy, moderated the forum on “Los Angeles as a Latin American City.” Hernandez, editor and host of L.A. Taco and the author of “Down & Delirious in Mexico City,” commented on corruption and infrastructure in Los Angeles, explaining that “there are things from Latin America that we should not import, [such as] the way political offices are doled out.” He noted that Los Angeles “is developing in a way that only benefits the people who already have money,” a pattern that is all too familiar in Latin American cities like Buenos Aires, Argentina. Avila, professor of Chicano studies and urban planning, researches the intersection of racial identity, urban space and cultural representation in 20th century America. According to Avila, Los Angeles is a Latin American city “in terms of population, the built environment, present-day demography, and the regional design and infrastructure.” However, he said, “Los Angeles is not a Latin American city in regard to the historically sustained efforts to whitewash and erase Spanish and Mexican past, including informal and formal practices of racial segregation, the creation of a subordinate labor force, racial hierarchies and white supremacy as a principle of urban development.” — Zoe Day

Boyle Heights, Gentrification and Beyond

The UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy hosted a panel discussion on Nov. 1, 2017, focusing on the current state of Boyle Heights as a microcosm for a larger conversation about the rise of gentrification and the slew of other issues to which it contributes in Los Angeles. “Gentrification and its Discontents: Boyle Heights and Beyond” included Rina Palta of KPCC News as moderator; Professors Abel Valenzuela and Eric Avila, whose appointments include positions in UCLA Luskin Urban Planning; Cecilia Estolano MA UP ’91, co-CEO of Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors; and Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist. The discussion was followed by an enthusiastic Q&A that included a detailed political history of rent control in Los Angeles from Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative. Access a Flickr gallery of photos by Aaron Julian from the event below.

Boyle Heights and Beyond

Gentrification and Its Discontents

Join us for a conversation about gentrification, displacement, and sustainable community in Boyle Heights and Los Angeles-at-large.

Panelists include:

Professor Eric Avila, UCLA Luskin Dept. of Urban Planning, Dept. of History, and Dept. of Chicana/o Studies

Cecilia Estolano MA UP ’91, CEO at Estolano LeSar Perez Adviors

Steve Lopez, columnist at Los Angeles Times

Rina Palta, KPCC correspondent

Professor Abel Valenzuela, UCLA Dept. of Urban Planning & Dept. of Chicana/o Studies, Director of UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

Hosted by the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy.

The Folklore of the Freeway

Join us for an after-office-hours chat with Professor Eric Avila for drinks and discussion on the freeway revolt and how urban minority communities have used cultural expression to reclaim their place after they were divided by the interstate highway.

The event will include a short presentation by Dr. Avila and will be followed by open forum questions.

Eric Avila, Ph.D. is professor urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, history, and the chair of the UCLA Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies and a professor of Chicano/a studies.

Dr. Avila has published books and articles about the history of Los Angeles and urban America after World War II including Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles and The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City.

Eric Avila

Eric Avila’s research interests include (1) History: 20th century, United States, urban, cultural, History of Los Angeles and the U.S. West, historiography; (2) Ethnic Studies: Chicano Studies, race and racialization, spatial segregation, identity formation, Ethnic Communities – Latino American; and (3) Architecture and urban planning: built environment studies, Los Angeles/Southern California.

His research has won various awards and prizes, including the recent inclusion of his article, “Popular Culture in the Age of the White Flight: Film Noir Disneyland, and the Cold War (Sub)Urban Imaginary” published in the Journal of Urban History, within a new publication by the Organization of American Historians featuring the ten best articles in American history written between the summers of 2005 and 2005. He has begun research for a book entitled, The Folklore of the Freeway: A Cultural History of Highway Construction.


The Chicano Studies Reader: An Anthology of Aztlán
Noriega, Chon, Avila, Eric, Sandoval, Chela, Pérez Torres, and Dávalos, Mary Karen, 2001, The Chicano Studies Reader: An Anthology of Aztlán, 1970-2000 (Los Angeles: UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center).

Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles
Avila, Eric, 2004, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles (University of California Press).

Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Film Noir, Disneyland and the Cold War (Sub)Urban Imaginary
Avila, Eric, 2004, “Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Film Noir, Disneyland and the Cold War (Sub)Urban Imaginary,” Journal of Urban History (Sage Publications).