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Artists are leaving SF for LA, but not all Angelenos are having it

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Bohemian types who used to flock to San Francisco for our beatnik-like, hippie-esque ways are moving south

Gone are the days of heading over to the Tip Top after your shift at Muddy Waters to hear your friend’s band play. No more swinging by Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint in the Castro to see Lypsinka slay. Au revoir, North Beach poetry slams. The days of finger-snapping, black-clad boho chic types living the left-brained life in SF are a thing of the past, at least according to Rory Carroll’s thoughtful Guardian piece.

Most of you already know the story: Artists and those with creative aspirations who came to San Francisco—who, in part, unintentionally helped aid in gentrifying certain neighborhoods—are now themselves the victims of the hurling gentrification snowball that they started. It had to happen, eventually. One Edison bulb at a time, one latte foam artwork at a time.

“San Francisco turned into this billionaire playground. Everything I identified with was being pushed out. The community that I loved was crumbling and disappearing,” Andrew Schoultz, a painter, tells the Guardian. “I just didn’t want to be in that city anymore. So I moved to LA.”

Other creative souls who have taken the permanent voyage down the 5 freeway are Project Runway alumna Melissa Fleis—“San Francisco is changing. It’s not the San Francisco I knew,” she says—and Jason Quever of the indie outfit Papercut.

LA neighborhoods like Echo Park, Highland Park, and Silver Lake are a few areas being occupied by artsy transplants from SF (and Brooklyn, et al.) who feel like they’re getting a raw deal.

But don’t feel too sorry for these folks. Those of you who think Los Angels is ripe for a boho-chic takeover, it’s not. What began in the late ’90s in the Mission District (our city’s Latino neighborhood now awash in tech money and upper-class attitude) might not occur in Los Angeles. Because some longtime residents are fighting back.

The role reversal comes with an ironic twist. The tech gentrification refugees are themselves part of a wave that is displacing residents, many poor and Latino, from downtown and eastern LA. Activists in Boyle Heights have staged noisy protests against perceived interlopers.

“They had scarves covering their mouths and video cameras,” said Fleis, the designer, who encountered a protest last weekend outside the Museum as Retail Space (MaRS). “People were in awe. They had to shut the gates to the gallery.”

Look, if you can’t find artistic solace within the Bay Area or the sun-kissed limits of the City of Angels, Riverside or Merced are two other California towns that, if you don’t mind the heat, are ripe for a burgeoning arts scene to explode. Contrary to practice, a budding artistic community shouldn’t be synonymous with displacement.