Southern California is world-renowned for its natural beauty. The year-round sunshine, the long stretches of beautiful beaches, and the ability to savor snow, sea, forests, and desert without driving for more than two hours in any direction make the region an ideal destination for both travelers and people looking to lay down roots. But despite all the attractions and points of interest, small neighborhoods that sit adjacent to the wonders of Los Angeles are still grappling with the repercussions of redlining.
One such neighborhood is Pacoima — one of the oldest towns in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley — that through years of redlining housing policies and neglect from the city and county has kept the neighborhood from enjoying the splendor that the region is known for.
“I definitely don’t think it’s an accident that Pacoima’s streets aren’t filled or lined with trees,” says Dora Frietze-Armenta, planning director for Pacoima Beautiful, an organization that has taken the neighborhood’s revitalization into its own hands. “It’s definitely not an accident that it has three freeways that bisect it, along with so many other toxic facilities. Those aren’t accidents because that’s the byproduct of redlining.”
Through the 1940s, Pacoima was one of the few places African Americans, Japanese Americans, and Mexican Americans could become homeowners. But neglect, nearby toxic facilities, and its proximity to the Whiteman Airport — which has a history of devastating crashes in the neighborhood — have left the neighborhood a less than desirable place to call home.
That’s why Pacoima Beautiful is showing up where the county and city have failed the people, organizing, holding workshops, providing resources, and bringing public art and greenery to the neglected neighborhood in an effort to make it a point of pride for the people living there.
In the latest episode of Uproxx’s Show Up, meet the people and learn the story behind Pacoima Beautiful and what you can do to help this inspiring community of self-starters.