During its 2018 campaign against California rent-control laws, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) highlighted the “local resistance” of several Los Angeles neighborhoods against gentrification. Videos by left-wing activists from the Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo and Leimert Park neighborhoods were posted on the AHF/ Healthy Housing Foundation YouTube channel. These activists blasted developers who dared to buy property in their long established neighborhoods.
“URBAN COLONIAL CAPITALISM”
In the first video, left-wing activists describe their efforts to stop an art gallery complex from being built in the predominantly Mexican-American Boyle Heights neighborhood. The activists describe the neighborhood as their “cultural home.” They say it’s a “space of resistance” to preserve their “working class” roots. One activist claims rich outsiders want to gentrify Boyle Heights by using an art gallery to raise property values. According to this activist, gentrification is a “new form of urban colonial capitalism.” Another activist claims her “culture [is] being robbed from me.” Both activists vow to “fight to the end.”
In the second video, the AHF/Healthy Housing Foundation visits with activists in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles. One activist describes how property in her “cultural center” is being “bought up by different cultures.” Another activist claims “collusion” between developers, “Big Capital” and local government to displace Japanese-Americans. He claims, “we’re the last of the Japanese-Americans!” To this activist, gentrification is “ethnic cleansing” and property developers are “perpetrators.” The activists vow to “build a massive political movement.”
“CULTURAL ERASURE/URBAN CLEANSING”
In the final video, a left-wing activist talks about his efforts to stop a shopping mall from being built in the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Leimert Park in Los Angeles. Once again, the AHF/Healthy Housing Foundation highlights the demonization of real estate developers. The activists claims the Leimert Park “gentrification is basically cultural erasure, urban cleansing, a reduction of people and land into dollar signs.” The activist claims the “perpetrators of gentrification” are not limited to “global capitalists.” This activist even attacks “flippers looking to make a buck.” He says, “there is a target on every tenant” in Leimert Park.
Last month, REDBROWARD revealed the communist past of AHF CEO Michael Weinstein. In the 1960s, a fourteen years old Michael Weinstein joined a “group of activists occupying” a New York high-rise development to protest the gentrification of their Brooklyn neighborhoods. According to an April 2017 exposé in the New York Times Magazine, Michael Weinstein’s an “ex-Trotskyite” who founded one of California’s first gay communist organizations. After his move to Los Angeles in 1972, Weinstein started the “Lavender And Red Union.” In 1977, a socialist newspaper reported the Lavender And Red Union, “a self-proclaimed “communist’ gay liberation group…recently embarked upon a cautious ideological turn toward Trotskyism.” The socialist paper said the group’s call for a “permanent revolution” was “a clear break with the Stalinist/Maoist/New Left milieu from which we emerged.”
Weinstein went on to become an editor for “Young Spartacus,” the official newspaper of the Communist Spartacist League. Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Young Spartacus produced the typical pro-Communist screeds. Headlines of the Young Spartacus blasted US attempts to undermine the Soviet Union or Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, while other stories praised unions and left-wing political groups.
Fifty years later, Michael Weinstein and his Healthy Housing Foundation declared war on gentrification in California. His Prop 10 initiative to modernize rent control measures was defeated by California voters. Weinstein blamed the defeat on being outspent by real estate interests and developers.
So Weinstein set his sights on building a sixteen-story tower filled with nearly 700 “micro units” on land owned by AHF in Fort Lauderdale.
During a December press conference at AHF headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Weinstein tried to blunt growing opposition to his pet project. The press conference was a public relations disaster. Weinstein attacked residents and the media for daring to ask him to verify aspects of his proposal.
Instead of compromise, Weinstein declared war on the residents of Fort Lauderdale and the media. He said, “We are as capable of waging a fight as anyone because People living with AIDS have face more discrimination and more hate than any other group.”
When asked about putting the project in a less residential area, Weinstein said, “Further from Rio Vista, is that what you’re saying? Further from the wealthy communities?”
Weinstein filled his remarks with the political language of an experienced communist newspaper editor. He said, “Will Fort Lauderdale…and these other communities of great wealth, continue to be places that are hospitable to people of low income or will these cities become, in essence, rich ghettos.”
Weinstein promised to maintain his opposition to development in Los Angeles. He said, “We have been against granting exemptions to luxury development in working class areas.”
Weinstein mocked residents who opposed his project because, “I see cranes everywhere. If the drawbridge goes up as soon as it involves poor people, it doesn’t speak well for the community.” He said, “Why is the luxury building going up? I see them everywhere.”
Weinstein tried to paint the opposition as bigots. He repeatedly said residents referred to not wanting “those people” living nearby. Weinstein refused to give specifics.
So why does Michael Weinstein support attacks on the rights of California property owners to develop their land in working class neighborhoods?
Weinstein’s Healthy Housing Foundation proudly boasted of the support it received from a “broad coalition” of fringe groups like the Democratic Socialists Of America while demonizing developers like the Blackstone Group.
Last month, Weinstein joined Sen. Bernie Sanders at The Sanders Institute Gathering to discuss his “radical” plans to change Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and other U.S. cities. Once again, Michael Weinstein’s ideas were filled with the coded language favored by the far-left activists featured in the AHF/Healthy Housing Foundation videos.
Michael Weinstein proposed putting micro houses (aka granny units) in everyone’s backyard. “Our nation is filled with backyards,” he said.
He called for the end of “speculative building” as well as a “crackdown on AirBnB that’s taken away a lot of housing stock.”
Weinstein said we must secure “housing for Americans” and not foreign investors “who are moving their money from one despotic country.”
Weinstein admitted this “sounds radical but it’s doable.”
Is Michael Weinstein proposing his own left-wing version of gentrification in Fort Lauderdale? He attacks “rich ghettos” like the Rio Vista neighborhoods of Fort Lauderdale. Does Weinstein believe they have no right to launch a “local resistance” like the residents of Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo and Leimert Park?
Michael Weinstein lives in California but he supports attacks on “foreign” property owners and developers from “outside cultures.” Isn’t Michael Weinstein the outsider in this local issue? How does he know what Fort Lauderdale residents want? At his press conference, Weinstein admitted his view of Fort Lauderdale residents was shaped by election night coverage of Florida elections.
Local government types and elected officials are backing off of their support of the massive AHF project. But, why did they support it in the first place? A simple Google search reveals Michael Weinstein’s ideology and political goals. Do our elected officials perform any due diligence before meeting with investors or developers?
On Thursday, Mayor Dean Trantalis told the Sun-Sentinel how he learned of the AHF project. “[Trantalis] said he was involved early on, after his occasional ‘plus-1’ date and campaign consultant Jason King, then working for AHF, introduced him to CEO Michael Weinstein. Over Greek dinner one evening, Weinstein relayed his vision, and Trantalis, a city commissioner at the time, encouraged him.”
“Any community would welcome someone who would want to help with affordable housing and homelessness,” Trantalis said, “but nobody really felt this was going to be the final outcome.”
Why would the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance support the AHF project. According to its website, taxpayer-supported Alliance is a coalition of business and community leaders which acts as the “primary economic development organization for Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance focuses on creating, attracting, expanding and retaining high-wage jobs and capital investment in high value targeted industries, developing more vibrant communities, and improving the quality of life for our area’s citizens.” Did the Alliance do any research before lending its name to the AHF project? When Weinstein announced the project last June, the Alliance logo was prominently featured on a banner behind him. Didn’t anyone Google the developments Weinstein and Healthy Housing Foundation were starting in California? Does the Greater Fort Lauderdale support rent-control in Broward County? Does the Alliance agree with Weinstein’s attacks on foreign ownership of local property? If so, that might come as a surprise to our friends from Canada and South America. What about Weinstein’s plan to use private backyards to house the homeless and senior citizens? Does the Alliance back putting these “micro houses” in Victoria Park or Coral Ridge neighborhoods? Does the Alliance share Weinstein’s opposition to AirBnB and similar groups operating in Broward County?
On Thursday, the Alliance also backed away from its support of Weinstein’s “Trantalis Tower.” According to the Sun-Sentinel, “Bob Swindell, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, which was listed in an AHF email as a supporter, said he was ‘deeply disappointed in the lack of receptivity shown by AHF in building a strong base of local support.'”
Why didn’t Mr. Swindell or Mayor Trantalis speak to local residents before giving their support to Michael Weinstein of California? Why did it take Weinstein’s declaration of war on Fort Lauderdale residents to get these men to act?
Broward residents deserve answers, right?