Entertainment

AyAyAy Witness News: Episode 1

Too Much Coconut Water

Between sexual jabs, co-anchors Benito Camelo and Dolores Delano report on Argentina’s latest economic collapse. In response to the default, Argentina implements a new currency, the Mara-dollar, named after famed soccer player Diego Maradona and only good for the purchase of cocaine, tattoos and one-legged hookers. Next, Scoop on the Stoop segment reporter Alba Bossa reports on the inundation of coconut water in gentrified areas of the city. Herman Teca takes it away to confirm if Uncle Ramiro actually paid for a meal. Back at the newsdesk, one of the anchors gets slapped with a restraining order.

WATCH: AyAyAy Witness News: Episode 6

Mexico City Is The Latest City To Fall Victim To Airbnb’s Gentrification

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Mexico City Is The Latest City To Fall Victim To Airbnb’s Gentrification

Instagram / nurifergar

When we think about Airbnb, we usually think about holidays. Who hasn’t used an Airbnb? Or, at least, who hasn’t at least thought about using an Airbnb? After all, there are so many benefits to booking an Airbnb: you can reserve a spot that suits you – all through an app – and you can directly communicate directly with the owner of your temporary home. Heck, you can even opt in to living with said owner, and getting to know the real niche, hidden gems of a new location. The fact that your feedback on the accuracy of their listing hangs over their head means that Airbnb owners generally have to be accountable. But, not all is well when it comes to the world of Airbnb. Or, should we say, Airbnb is what’s not right, in some places of the world.

Mexico City has really been feeling the impact of gentrification at the hands of Airbnb.

Instagram / @2kadin1sohbet

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about gentrification. Because to be honest, it mostly sounds like a fancy word real estate agents use to convince people to buy up property. And, that’s not too far from the truth. Gentrification is the process where an area – most commonly neighborhoods – become more pricey. This can happen through the introduction of local amenities, property refurbishment and development, or even just simply an increase of demand for housing in a particular area. Most of the time, it’s a combination of these things that feed gentrification. And while this is great for people who own property in gentrified neighborhoods, this is less great for the poor, who eventually get pushed out of the place that they call home.

Local tenants are finding that they’re being pushed out of their homes, while property owners make room for vacationers.

Instagram / @kirstiwinnberg

Where Mexico City is concerned, this has meant that those fortunate – or, wealthy – enough to own property and land have seized on the opportunity that is Airbnb. Local tenants are finding that they’re being pushed out of their homes, while property owners make room for vacationers willing to pay multiple times the average rent price. “Here in the historic center, we are aware of dozens of buildings that used to be social housing or middle-class housing that have now been completely converted into Airbnb. The biggest apartment buildings are being converted into hotels, but when it isn’t possible to change the legal land use, they are converted into Airbnb,” a local resident said in a recent interview with Truthout. 

But Mexico City isn’t the only city suffering from the rise of Airbnb.

Instagram / @arisoiko_photo

If you thought that this was a problem just for Mexico City, you’d be wrong. Protest posters in Amsterdam read things such as, “Stop the eviction of Amsterdam!” during a December march against the changes Airbnb had brought to the city. Reports from The Guardian say that in 2018, Barcelona received 32 million tourists – which is approximately 20 times the residential population. The city now boasts graffiti saying, “Tourists go home, refugees welcome.”

What’s frustrating locals a lot goes beyond gentrification, into social and cultural shifts.

Instagram / @nurifergar

Locals are seeing their neighborhoods turn into transitory destinations, rather than a community built on strong relationships. “Before Airbnb, you had neighbors you could depend on. They looked out for you. If you went out of town, they’d get your mail, your paper,” New Orleans resident, Janice Coatney, said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “You just had more of a neighborly neighborhood.” 

However, not all is doom and gloom.

Instagram / @riot_code_23

A few countries have introduced legislation in order to curb the socio-economic changes Airbnb has brought to cities around the world. Barcelona authorities placed a moratorium on new hotels in 2015 – and Airbnb hosts are required to hold a license to operate. It’s now illegal for entire apartments to be rented out for less than 30 days in the city of New York. Amsterdam has a cap on the number of nights that Airbnb hosts can rent out their apartments, having reduced that number from 60 to 30. So, policy-wise, these cities are trying to preserve their sense of community, without completely sacrificing their tourism industry.

Another alternative can be found in the aptly-named Fairbnb.

Instagram / @italianembassyinlondon

It’s essentially Airbnb, but with a twist: 50 percent of the revenue made from hosting a visitor is donated to local community projects. Fairbnb has sought to protect neighborhoods by also establishing a “real homesharing” policy – where hosts may only place a maximum of two houses on the Fairbnb market.

Ultimately, though, while we can see the buds of change beginning to blossom, it may be a while yet before it takes root in these gentrified neighborhoods. Here’s hoping that Mexico City won’t suffer too much from the strain of both migration and tourism.

After A Film Crew Went Into Boyle Heights And Began Towing Cars On Labor Day, A Local Artist Confronted Them

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After A Film Crew Went Into Boyle Heights And Began Towing Cars On Labor Day, A Local Artist Confronted Them

nico_avina / Instagram

For many in Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood in East Los Angeles, Labor Day was to supposed to be a relaxing stress-free day. However, on Monday afternoon, local residents living next to Hollenback Park were dealing with Blank Slate Pictures, a film production company, that was towing their vehicles. The messy ordeal was something that Boyle Heights resident and artist Nico Aviña had previously seen before but never on a national holiday like Labor Day when many in the working-class community have the day off. 

The predominately Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights has become a popular area for filming movies and television shows. Yet quite often, the production crews that come into the area haven’t had good communication with local residents when it comes to things like moving their vehicles.

According to L.A. Taco, Aviña saw the situation unfold right before his eyes as he was doing yard work in front of his home. He noticed that neighbors across the street from the park began alerting each other about their vehicles being towed. Upon checking out the scene, Aviña saw a tow truck begin taking cars away and a parking enforcement officer placing tickets on cars windshields. 

That’s when Aviña took things into his own hands and began to ask members of the production crew why they were doing all of this. 

In a series of four Instagram videos, Aviña shared his confrontation with members of the production crew asking them what business they had coming into the neighborhood and towing away residents vehicles. Since this wasn’t the first time he’s seen this happen, Aviña began questioning the motive behind crew members calling city parking and promptly towing away cars.

Aviña made sure that David Mandell heard his frustration about outsiders disregarding community members in Boyle Heights.

Credit: davidmandell / Instagram

“So this is what happens when people from outside of the community come into our community. They use the city against the community, towing cars,” Aviña says as Mandell, a co-founder of Blank Slate Production, argues back. 

In the series of videos, you can hear Aviña begin to get frustrated with crew members as they dodged questions about why they were towing cars and why they didn’t give notice to residents about parking restriction before the weekend. Speaking to L.A. Taco, he said that many of the families in the neighborhood were out town due to the holiday weekend and might have not seen a notice about the production crew and possible parking restrictions. 

“In the video, you hear one claim the signs went up Friday. Kids didn’t go to school on Friday. So if people took a four-day trip how were they going to see the signs?” Aviña told L.A. Taco

Aviña took exception with the production crew as he asked them why there was no alternative to calling a tow truck on residents cars.

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“This is a working-class community. On Labor Day, you’re towing cars. Are you for reals? Did you guys think about that? Did you guys think about this is a working-class community and you guys are towing cars on our day off and we have nowhere to park? Aviña says in the video. “Where’s the alternative parking that you guys offer?”

Aviña and Peter Vogel, co-founder of Blank Slate Production, discussed the parking situation at hand. “You may park in that parking lot over there,” Vogel told Aviña. “It’s open.”

“No. You just said that right now, but you know it’s closed. I just told you it was closed,” Aviña responded. 

“No, you didn’t,” Vogel said.

“You’re going to act like that? Are you going to act like that?” Aviña replied.  

Ironically, the film that the production company was filming is about a woman who is “forced to raise her son in her car” as they “attempt to find a way out of homelessness.” 

Credit: @elrandomhero / Twitter

Blank Slate Pictures was in Hollenbeck Park to film the upcoming movie “Like Turtles,” which according to IMDB is based on a mother who “is forced to raise her son in her car and attempt to find a way out of homelessness all while never letting her son realize the severity of their circumstances.” Some on social media found irony in the situation that a film crew doing a movie about a person living out of their car while at the same time towing away residents cars. 

Parking tickets have become a notorious problem in the neighborhood as there are limited spaces for residents to park their vehicles. With the addition of weekly street cleaning, many residents are forced to move their cars and shuffle spaces to avoid getting a ticket. Those tickets come at a steep price, according to the LA Times, retrieving a towed car can cost close to $290, this includes a $133 charge for the tow, an additional $115 to release the car and $46.56 for each following day the car is in city storage. 

For Aviña, this issue goes beyond just towing cars but is a perfect example of when outside forces come into the neighborhood and don’t bother to reach out to the community.

Credit: @avalonsensei / Twitter

Aviña brings up the issue of privilege and gentrification that has affected the working-class neighborhood for the last decade. He points to the production crew as an example of this and them not reaching out to the local community. Boyle Heights has been ground zero in LA when it comes to gentrification as many longtime residents have lost their homes and businesses due to rising rents and development. 

“You see what I’m talking about, the privilege? You could’ve easily knocked on doors, man. You could’ve easily warned the community. Instead, a working-class neighborhood that is barely affording the effects of gentrification that pays the rent. […] A working-class community that can’t afford the rent because of the exploitation, because of what’s going on with gentrification. And instead of knocking on their doors, what do you do? You get their cars towed away,” Aviña says in the final video to the production crew. “So now they got another fine. Now they got a parking ticket, plus get their cars out. You know I’m making sense. You know it’s the truth. It’s our reality. We live this shit every day. You’re not the only ones that come and film here. We gotta deal with this daily.”

READ: This YouTuber Thought It Would Be Funny To Dress As A Mexican In Boyle Heights But Didn’t Get The Response He Wanted