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The Future Of DTLA: Is The Pandemic Just A Bump In The Road Or Something More Serious?

Hikers walk on a trail with a view of the Los Angeles city skyline in Los Angeles on April 20, 2020.
Hikers walk on a trail with a view of the Los Angeles city skyline in Los Angeles on April 20, 2020.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

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The coronavirus pandemic has softened the spark of Downtown Los Angeles, much as it’s done to communities all across the country.

It’s only been within the last couple decades though that Downtown LA has gained traction with residential housing, nightlife and dining options. The pandemic has temporarily shuttered social outlets along with office spaces, which begs the question: is this just a bump in the road for DTLA or something more serious?

Before 2000, Downtown could be considered a nine to five destination, as residents commuted to and from the area solely for work. Residential projects began to explode once city leaders passed an ordinance that allowed developers to transform obsolete commercial buildings into residential housing. Those projects have continued up until COVID-19 put things on hold. But the virus also paints a murky picture for Downtown’s future. How will office spaces evolve as more companies and employees make working from home the norm? What does that mean for housing? And what does this mean for homelessness in the area? Today on AirTalk, we discuss those questions and think through the possibilities. We also want to hear from you. Do you live in Downtown LA? What do you hope the future holds for the community? Join the conversation by calling 866-893-5722.


Jon Regardie, long time Los Angeles journalist and writer, former executive editor of Los Angeles Downtown News; he tweets @JonRegardie

Jessica Lall, president and CEO of Central City Association, a membership-based advocacy organization working to enhance Downtown LA and confront issues of homelessness, housing and transportation

“General” Jeff Page, skid row community activist commonly known as the defacto mayor of skid row, he’s also the chair of the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee; he tweets @GoSkidRowGo

James E. Moore, professor of public policy and director of the transportation engineering program at USC