Sunday, June 8, 2008

Straight Into Compton

Pssst...Downtown/Hollywood condo prices too ridiculously expensive for you? Looking for a new-construction, 2 bedroom, 2/12 bath townhome...for under $300K?

It can all be Compton.

The big hubub in The Hub City is not only its new wave of community revitalization, but its new housing boom and affordable existing properties.

An operative of the Militant, who is a longtime resident, even says that the formerly- predominantly white suburb might be regaining a lost demographic.

"I see them driving around town all the time," said the operative. "So whenever I'm watering my lawn, I look at them and go, [wagging his index finger, half-jokingly] 'Nah-uh!'"

The operative said its primarily the large lot sizes -- one can buy a huge residential property for under $400K -- as well as Compton's relatively centralized location between Downtown and the harbor.

But the civic leaders of this 120-year-old municipality are banking on new retail and residential development, such as Olson Homes' Willow Walk townhouse development, located right next door to the Martin Luther King Jr. Transit Center and directly across the street from the Compton (M) Blue Line station in the city's civic center (pictured right)

So the Militant, armed with his TAP card and Militant Cam, rode the Blue Line down to the city of Venus and Serena Williams and N.W.A. (speaking of that video, since when did the LAPD have jurisdiction in the city of Compton?) on Saturday to see the place for itself and perhaps gather some additional perspective from the Comptonians.

After stepping off the train, he found a relatively quiet, laid-back, yet rugged place as his fellow passengers dispersed into various directions: walking due east to the transit center, due southeast to the shopping center, due north to the residential areas or staying put to wait for a connecting bus along the east side of Willowbrook, which, right at the train station's bus plaza, ironically appears dry, dusty and with dead landscape vegetation.

It was certainly a late-afternoon streetscene that was slightly different than what he's accustomed to: the relative lack of SUVs and luxury cars passing on the street, for one. But in his observations of the locals, Comptonians appear to be good users of public space who like to talk.
He saw people chatting by the Blue Line tracks, people on opposite sides of a street conversing at a loud volume, and people hanging out on a bench in the vacant civic center plaza area - an area which includes the Compton Post Office, its city hall, the towering courthouse and the angled spires of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial.

As the Militant snapped a picture, pityingly, of the Compton public library, with a banner reading, "LIBRARY CLOSED," he heard the voice of one of one of the two dudes hanging out nearby yell over to him:

"You're taking pictures? You must work for the po-lice!" said the male in his early 20s, holding a skateboard.

"Now why would the police want to take a picture of the library?" The Militant replied.

"I thought you might be with the police or something," said the young man.

"The Militant is just a writer, that's all...So what happened to the library?" said the Militant, assuming some shameful city budget crisis that would deny such a resource to Comptonians.

"It's gonna open in July," said the young man. "It's having a...what's the word?"

The Militant proceeded to fire off various words pertaining to budget crises, but right after the reopening registered in his head, he suggested, "Renovation?"

"Yeah, that's it," said the young man. "It's being renovated."

The Militant was somewhat relieved to hear about this, which meant that this "New Compton" thing was serious business.

"Aite, thanks man," said the Militant.

"Yo, you take care, dawg!" said the young man.

Further down Compton Blvd., the Militant spotted the supermarket, the Wells Fargo, the Circuit City and other retail chain establishments that were all built in anticipation of the rapid transit line built 18 summers ago, but he had to hop back on the Blue Line to continue his Militant mission, while still yearning to absorb more of the Hub City history and vibe.

Fortunately, on the station's platform was a series of murals and related art pieces (pictured right) that depicts the town's history from Spanish conquistadores to late 19th-century white pioneers to African American families to Latino youths. Personal perspectives of local residents reminiscing the mom and pop stores of yesteryear to an image of rapper Ice Cube holding a microphone to an honest account of Black and Latino racial tensions -- written over 10 years ago -- decorate the platform.

Though not nearly the hell-on-earth warzone many imagine it as, Compton still lacks the aesthetic beauty many seek in a desired livable environment. Yet underlying it all is an unyielding faith and pride that its civic leaders and longtime residents alike share that drives this potential urban renaissance.


Anonymous said...

Nice post! Compton deserves a come up.

Anonymous said...

Requesting backup on this guy talking smack on Los Angeles:

Anonymous said...

Yo Militant it was cool to hear you took a ride down here to Compton and used your TAP card. Yup, I see little by little Compton trying to make a comeback as the slogan from City Hall cries, "Birthing a new Compton."

I'm like a 10 minute bike ride from the retail center you're talking about... its own Compton Creek Bike Trail. BTW, if you're interested they're having a meeting next week at the M. L. King Transit Center regarding bike and pedestrian related issues like the one they had last in the San Fernando Valley.

Militant Angeleno said...

anonymous #2: Lol, you know, high-school aged kids from the sheltered suburbs shouldn't be writing blogs, especially about conventions and such. He does have a valid point about the dearth of convenient hotels close to the Convention Center, but they're already working on that. They'll have those LA Live hotels up and running by the time he's old enough to vote.

Doña Junta said...

It would be nice if Compton could have a new birth, but it is definitely a ruff place I ll tell you that from experience and family living there,and having to go to that dam Compton court house not good! lol
but there is always hope!