Los Angeles

Highland Park Construction Sign Sparks Social Media Outrage

A contractor working on a Highland Park home fed up with neighbors complaining about noise put up a sign over the fence with a message that has enraged residents and sparked a social media debate over gentrification.

"Please be patient. We are almost done. Instead of complaining you should be thanking Nikki and Jeremy the owners of this house for bring [ing] up your property value," the sign read at the home on Hayes Avenue. 

The following conversation on social media infuriated users who say it's a sign of gentrification, and contributes to the trend of making SoCal areas unaffordable to lower income Angelenos.

Roger Scalise, contractor for R&R Construction, said he put up the sign after being frustrated as nearby residents complained about the noise. 

"I'm sure this means a lot to renters," said one Twitter user. "Demanding gratitude is great way to endear yourself to neightbors. #yikes"

The outrage forced the owner of the house to ask Scalise to take the sign down, but not before leaving a scathing comment on the Eastsider website.

"When you don't know - don't judge and don't assume. Walk a mile in my shoes or my wife's shoes and then talk to us," Jeremy Buchanan said. "We're not hipsters - we're hard working middle class people who just want our house finished and are tired of people complaining for one reason or another."

Highland Park is an area primarily inhabited by working class, Latino families, but recently, it has become a talking point for a larger discussion about the impact of gentrification in Los Angeles.

Nikki and Jeremy Buchanan said they inherited Nikki's grandfather's house and decided to tear down the old structure to build a modern home.

They say they are now wrongly wrapped up in the gentrification debate. 

"It is offensive. It's not the way I would go about it," Ruth Quintana, who grew up in the area, said.

She said that on one hand, construction and improvements to the area have brought more businesses and less crime to the area.

The improvements come with drawbacks, however. Property values have increased $200-300,000 in just a couple of years, according to real estate sites. Others say it's going to force rent way up, making the area affordable to lower income residents.

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