The Re-Development of Monterey Park

Or should I say gentrification?

I was talking to a friend about the city that we both grew up in: good ol’ Monterey Park, and how changes have been in the wings ever since we left for college. And this conversation got me curious, so I went to Monterey Park’s official website, and looked up the redevelopment projects currently underway.

And damn, I couldn’t believe the number and the magnitude of these redevelopment projects; if all of them go through, and all the retailers come, Monterey Park will not be the same city that I grew up in.

I mean, we are talking about building movie theatres, luxury condos, retail franchises, and even possibly a Cheesecake Factory (*shudders*). If all of this go through, then Monterey Park will look like pretty much any other second-tier suburban city in America. And good god, not to even mention the possibility of yuppies coming en masse to spend their money and time in the new “it” place to be.

That is the last thing I want to see happen to Monterey Park, because as parochial as I thought it was when I lived there, I do not want it to lose its characters: which is a quiet little town for and by Asians running their own businesses. Sure, there isn’t a lot to do for people my age–no bars, no trendy nighclubs, no fancy ethnic-fusion restaurants–but then again, people my age do not live in suburbia just yet. We are mostly congregating in the cities and downtowns.

I understand why the City Council is pushing for this, because one it’s more revenue, and second, the developers see the formation of a solid middle-class in its nascent stages in Monterey Park, and there is money both to be made and spent in the near future.

But one thing’s for sure, Monterey Park as I’ve known it throughout these years will not be the same in 10 years. And I never really understood why people feel nostalgic about the place they grew up in, but now I do. Perhaps it is something that comes with age. Did I want to get the hell out of Monterey Park while I grew up? You bet your ass I did? But even as I have gotten out, I knew that a community of people depended on Monterey Park, and that if the city were to change, then the community would no longer be the same community.

In the end, I think it is the prospect of the dissolution of a community, its history, its customs, the very ecology it has formed with the city, that really saddens me.

But then again, maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age.

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