The fallout from the Cedarwood Apartments’ transformation into the deluxe Coronado complex sure has been something, hasn’t it? And not just that it sparked this Nexus/A.S. feud, but because it brings to our little community what may well be the future of Golden State life. I’m talking about gentrification, folks. Coming soon to a California community near you. Right here in Isla Vista, it’s already knocking on our door. So what’s going on exactly?

Part of it has to do with the reclaiming of urban hellholes by yuppies sick of suburban commuting. Any city with a growth spurt following the introduction of the automobile has suburbs that go on for miles and miles. If you live in Agoura Hills – heck, if you live in Malibu – and your job is in downtown L.A. or Hollywood, you have a bitch of a drive, wealthy community or not. Ergo, why not make downtown L.A. nice enough so nobody has to leave? Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Indeed, part of the deal with the Y-people’s invasion of the ‘hood is that their presence will theoretically clean up the community. Look at what’s happening with Oakland. Incessant violence and poverty depletes the population every year, so what does former mayor Jerry Brown do? He dumps millions upon millions of dollars into sprucing up West Oakland and the area around Lake Merritt and Jack London Square. Those are now very nice places to live, like a budget San Francisco.

Isla Vista is most certainly not Oakland, but I’m guessing this is the same reasoning Conquest Housing is applying. Let’s face it, I.V. is kind of a dump.

The situation reminds me of my own run-in with gentrification. When I left La Crescenta back in sixth grade, my neighborhood was a bunch of tacky-looking apartment buildings from the ’70s with poop-colored carpets, a 7-Eleven at the end of the street and a Yugo parked along the sidewalk. And now? In the place of all those sleazy old apartments are extravagant luxury condos named with some combination of the words “hills,” “estate,” “gables” and/or “glen.” The cars parked along the sidewalk are alphanumeric models of technologically extravagant makes from der Faderland. Impressive.

But obviously gentrification has its drawbacks, the chief one being, what happens to the lower and middle classes once the rich move in? Perhaps the problem is not that gentrification kicks people out, but that it keeps people in.

You see, I think we might be protesting the wrong issue. According to studies in USA Today back in December of 2005, what happens more often than not with gentrifying neighborhoods is that the original residents stay put and reap the benefits of the increased development and funding that’s arrived into their community.

It’s funny – my former apartment building is the only thing left from the “old” neighborhood these days. Yes, there it still stands, lodged between “Glen Valley Gables” and “Hill Glen Estates,” as inconspicuous as Dennis Kucinich at a Focus on the Family rally. Although I wondered at first why the bulldozers hadn’t gotten to it yet, something eventually clicked for me. When one gentrifies a neighborhood, where are the original residents going? Where can they go? The condo next door starts at the “special low price” of $2,400 a month. So guess what? They stay put.

That said, it’s certainly unfortunate that the Cedarwood tenants were evicted, but I wonder as well about the aftermath of Coronado. Gentrifying Isla Vista is a tricky situation, because the vast majority of the tenants will not “stay put” – they’re gone in two years. That means each new batch of students gets more and more screwed, eventually point-pricing out the middle class altogether, just as it happened on my street in La Crescenta. How many middle-class families can afford to pay $2,400 a month? In 1998, rent on my street was $800 a month.

I think places like Coronado are inevitable, as they’re a reflection of our state’s shifting demographic toward a wealthier upper class, while the middle class continues to disappear into Phoenix. But hell, as long as rent is going to go up in I.V anyway, it might as well be for an apartment that isn’t a dump.