The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Vacant Buildings amidst Worsening Homelessness

Feb 26, 2024

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council allocated four million dollars to remove graffiti and secure three partly-finished skyscrapers. These buildings were slated to be a one-billion-dollar luxury real estate development called the Oceanwide Plaza. But the real estate developer halted the project in 2019, leaving the buildings abandoned and dilapidated.

These three buildings gained national attention in early February when teams of graffiti artists tagged them right before the Grammy Awards, which were held across the street at the Arena at L.A. Live, which is also home to four big professional sports teams, the Lakers, Kings, Clippers, and Sparks, in addition to numerous restaurants and shops.

Of course, the only reason city officials decided Los Angeles taxpayers should foot the bill for contractors to secure the ground floors of the unfinished skyscrapers, remove graffiti, and provide security services and fire safety upgrades is that developers are turning this downtown neighborhood into an exclusive business and entertainment center.

That is, the money gets all the attention.

These giant unfinished and empty skyscrapers are symbolic of the insanity and wastefulness of the workings of the housing market in Los Angeles, which is in the midst of a worsening housing crisis, with a dire lack of affordable housing, along with the skyrocketing homeless population.

This housing crisis is not due to the lack of vacant apartments or places to stay. Along with these unfinished skyscrapers, there are more than a hundred thousand vacant apartments. These apartments are kept vacant by corporate landlords in order to boost their rents. At the same time, office buildings in Los Angeles are more than 30% vacant.

All those vacancies, all that space sitting there empty could go to people who need a place to live right now. But standing in the way of doing that is a capitalist class, for whom housing is just a way to extract ever more profits and accumulate ever more wealth.