For 18 years, a number of vacant lots in Los Angeles have remained in ruin. Ruin defined as a collapse in social, moral, economic, and physical state. The lots symbolizes a point in the history of South Los Angeles where it became blatantly apparent a decline in social and economic states had been emerging for years and it finally culminated in a three day citywide rioting and looting of business that caused millions of dollars in damages and a number of deaths. The abandoned lots remain as a symbol of the lack of interest in these communities and continue to foster images of crime, violence and poverty. The lots have become embedded into the cultural and social identity of this community.
But as any form of oppression occurs there is a form of resistance that has taken to the streets. Unaccounted, socially undervalued and ephemeral are a number of unauthorized venders that line the streets everyday and explode onto the streets every major holiday. Street vending offers community residents a small opportunity to gain economic independence and gain social . While the products offered are typically low cost, typically do not meet the basic necessities for everyday healthy living. Street vending has also become a target by business and health officials. Because of the unregulated nature of street vending, this social and economic system becomes vulnerable to city regulations.
The opportunity exists to invest in a community resistance which has local and urban implications. Contemporary urban issues and the unique social devastation of South Los Angeles demand a strategy and design that provides a public, economic and environmental service to the community and the City at large. The intersection at Vermont and Manchester in South Los Angeles has been designated a Community Center as part of the General Plan Framework which is a comprehensive growth strategy that is citywide and long range. This intersection becomes the focal point in a set of design strategies to improve the quality of life in a devastated community.