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The Truth Behind Inglewood’s Transformation From “Ghetto” to “Glam”

By Celine Salazar-Stevens, Blake Johnson, Litzy Martinez and Milana Hale

Left to right: The Kia Forum, SoFi Stadium, the construction site for the future Intuit Dome. (All photos by Celine Stevens)

To sports fans and concert-goers driving through Inglewood, the area looks like a city post transformation. However, just across the street from all the action reside residents who have lived in the city for years, who don’t get to leave when the fun ends.

The first thing Yazmin Castro Moreno noticed was the dust while visiting her family that lives near the construction site for the Intuit Dome.

“It literally looked like you were on the construction site,” she said.

Left: Dust coating the streets behind the Intuit Dome’s construction site. Right: Construction site and map of the site’s layout. (All photos by Celine Stevens)

It’s no secret that the city of Inglewood is quickly changing, with stadium constructions and incoming big businesses becoming a common sight. While some are excited about this new Inglewood, these changes are also altering the lives of residents, and not everyone is buying into the vision of a new and improved City of Champions.

(All photos by Celine Stevens)

With new and existing attractions like SoFi Stadium, the Kia Forum and the Intuit Dome, rent prices have skyrocketed.

This is one of the reasons Inglewood resident Elizabeth Castillo prefers the “old” Inglewood.

“It was better living in Inglewood before because of the commotion that these places has caused. Also the addition of these places has increased the cost of living in Inglewood,” Castillo responded.

She was one of several individuals who replied to a survey our group sent out to obtain responses from community members about their experiences related to Inglewood’s changes.

Although Inglewood does have a rent cap, many residents are still struggling.

According to Apartments.com, the average rent for an apartment is about $2,000, and the apartment size is typically 772 square feet. This has led to some lower-income residents having to relocate, while wealthier outsiders move in.

Long-time resident Ashante Clare isn’t a fan of the changes. Clare explained the increasing rent around the area has provoked many tenants to move, including his neighbor.

“My African Americans neighbors are mostly retired and own their home. They were offered to move and sell their house,” he said. “Now I see a lot of different ethnicities in the neighborhood and it can be different since they tend to look at long term residents as the newcomers,” he said.

The Census Reporter states that 50 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic, while 40 percent is Black. Although the majority of the city is still dominated by Black and brown individuals, residents are noticing the city’s racial demographic has started to change, and it’s a foreign experience to some.

“I haven’t been pressured to leave, but the sudden influx of white people has made me uncomfortable,” responded Inglewood resident Alex Bonilla.

“I’m not familiar with them, and they’re the ones who usually give me funny looks when I’ve lived in the community longer than they have.”

Many hotels and apartments within close proximity to SoFi Stadium have been remodeled and renamed within the last few years, making the area more appealing to outsiders than it used to be.

However, residents like Castro Moreno think some of these changes didn’t need to happen.

“When you hear Inglewood, you know how people would say, ‘oh, Inglewood’s up to no good,’ or something like that. Like it wasn’t even like that anymore,” she said. “I don’t really think we needed the stadium, or any of the stadiums. And it wasn’t like a bad community to live in.”

From left to right: Renamed and remodeled Stadium View Apartments, partially renamed street called Touchdown Drive in front of SoFi Stadium, and the renamed and remodeled Sonder Lüm Hotel. (Celine Stevens)

For many residents, traffic and parking issues are additional factors that play a role in these residents’ frustrations.

The stadium construction has forced the city to improvise ways in which to improve traffic and resident commute times. According to the Santa Monica Mirror, a new project called the Inglewood Transit Connector (ITC) is scheduled for completion in 2028, but residents are forced to deal with the chaos until then.

Left: Photos of traffic during a concert at the Kia Forum backing up Manchester Avenue, and a man selling his parking spaces for $40. Right: Businesses and empty lots have transformed their space into parking lots on concert or game days. (All photos by Celine Stevens)

During SoFi Stadium’s construction, Inglewood resident Jhamar Sanders alluded to the increased commute time he experienced getting to and from work. “The commute could take 25 to 30 minutes from a location only five minutes away,” he said.

For some residents, the traffic is so discouraging they simply leave the city when they need to get things done.

“They like try to come home later, or…they also try to like, shop outside the city and stuff like that, because it’s just not worth sitting in traffic anymore,” Castro Moreno said when discussing what her family and friends do to avoid the chaos. “They just don’t go out, they’re like, no, we’ll just wait until tomorrow.”

Other residents like Shaina Williams share similar feelings regarding traffic. Williams works in the area and due to the increase of traffic because of these venues, she said traffic is a nightmare. Although she said doing business is better because of the increase of foot traffic, she also said it’s harder to live within the community due to the traffic.

Furthermore, she‘s taken to shopping outside the community to avoid traffic.

“Living in the area is almost impossible for those who were already there or grew up in the area. I tend to shop further out since there are more options and less of a crowd. Also traffic makes it hard to enjoy the area. I work in the area and my commute has increased. What would usually take 15 minutes can now be up to 30 minutes, sometimes more during the events,” she said.

The solutions to gentrification are easier said than done. Circumstances beyond residents and community members’ control dictate where people shop, work and conduct day-to-day business and activities.

Jhamar Sanders even alluded to the changes he foresaw the community going through while reminiscing. “I am 29-years-old and have lived in Inglewood for 25 years,” he said.

“This place is extremely different from what it was even just 15 years ago and it came as no surprise to anyone in the neighborhood. We all knew this was going to happen.”



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Celine Salazar-Stevens

Celine Salazar-Stevens

I am a fourth year Broadcast Journalism student minoring in Popular Culture Studies at Cal State Northridge.