BOYLE HEIGHTS — The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (BHNC) took a strong stance against the development of a six story mixed use building on E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, last week, with the drafting of a letter to the LA City and East Los Angeles Planning commissions (also sent to the mayor and city council) urging that all involved parties “vote NO on the approval of this development and any future developments which displaces our residents and businesses.”

In recent years, Boyle Heights has seen rapid gentrification, as pointed out by longtime resident Sammy Carrera at the meeting, “Market rate means not for us. We must ask ourselves, if it’s not for Boyle Heights then who is it for?”

The action from the BHNC came after a passionate council meeting, at which longtime members of the community spoke against the potential displacement of current tenants. The development, which is being planned by property owner Tiao LLC, would be a six story build of mostly market rate apartments and street level retail shops, at the corner of N. Chicago St. and E. Cesar Chavez. The site is currently occupied by both residential and commercial tenants including El Apetito Restaurante. 

Neighborhood councils in Los Angeles are advisory boards that can make official recommendations to the City Council and other authorities, though without any formal legislative powers — and are meant to offer a level of engagement closer to residents than the unrepresentative 15 member City Council.

The BHNC dealt with the issue in two meetings. First on June 28, where the issue was the focus of public comments, leading the NC to agendize a special meeting for Friday June 30, to discuss a final determination on the proposal — Friday’s meeting appears to have had the highest turn-out in recent memory. The crowd was broadly in opposition to the project that would have 45 market rate residential housing units and five affordable housing units (10% affordable), with only a few outliers speaking in favor of the development at the meeting.

During public comment of the Friday meeting, which was held in person and over Zoom, Guadalupe Davalos, a resident of Boyle Heights whose family has lived in the neighborhood for more than 25 years, said, “In the last decade we’ve seen countless longtime residents and businesses be replaced with people outside of our community who can afford the rising costs of living here. When market rate housing is built here [Boyle Heights] it’s very clear that it’s not meant for the folks in our neighborhood.”

The letter was drafted and sent to all relevant parties, including the District 14 Councilmember Kevin De Leon. De Leon’s office was contacted, but the councilman did not provide comment.

The president of BHNC, Jonathan Echavarria, and the Planning and Land Use chair, Shmuel Gonzales, were both glad to see the community come out in force.

Jonathan Echavarria, council president, said “I think this was one of those kind of boiling points where the community said ‘no,’ and they wanted to make their voices heard.” 

Amanda is a journalist born and raised in SELA, where you can find her playing tennis at a local park or taking her cat out for a walk.