Residents In Boyle Heights Are Mad Over Redevelopment Of The Area Around 'Mariachi-Square'

Picture East Los Angeles packed with Starbucks, trendy boutiques and lofts housing young urbanites. It's happening, says Boyle Heights residents who've seen a metro station built right next to the Plaza where Mariachis have been passing the time while waiting for gigs for more than 80 years. But many of those residents are not happy.

Community meetings have been filled with angry neighbors, shouting at Metro representatives, who have been trying to convince the community that a shopping center would be a good addition to the community in the old Sears building, for example. Real state agents have been the target of angry protests, after attempting to bring in buyers for some of the old homes that have views of downtown Los Angeles. One trendy coffee shop found it's latte signs blocked by a home made cloth sign hung up overnight. It read, " no gentrification".

Now, Metro officials tell Fox 11 that the plans for the Mariachi Plaza commercial and residential development they had envisioned are being dropped, for now. They are going back to the drawing board after the loud outcry from residents and community groups that have stood firmly against some of the ideas.

Some of the residential units being planned, for example, used the federal guideline for affordable rent prices, based on the AMI or Area Median Income of LA County ($81,500), to get federal funding. But in Boyle Heights, for example, the median income is $33,325, far below LA County's median. Most of the area residents couldn't afford even the low rent level of those new units. They'd get priced out.

There's the issue of residents having to fix their own sidewalks from uprooted city trees. Meanwhile half a block away, in the redevelopment zone, not only are the sidewalks perfectly level, but city employees keep trees trimmed and tidy.

Metro owns the property around the plaza, so they have the final say. But area residents want to be part of whatever is decided. Those who are younger find themselves caught in the middle. One coffee shop employee who lives up the street from Mariachi Plaza says she welcomes the new stores, and improvements. Others say they just don't want to see the spirit of the place disappear, or the mariachis, for that matter.

One older man who says he's been getting mariachi gigs at the plaza since the 70's shakes his head while asking: they are going to have a mariachi plaza, and no mariachis?

Not for now. Seems Metro will start a new round of community input meetings. This is the existing schedule of meetings that existed before the Metro announcement.

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 9 a.m.
Oral Progress Report to Metro Board of Directors
One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Thursday, March 26, 2015, 9 a.m.
Metro Board of Directors - To ask Board to consider entering into phased ENAs for1st/Soto and Cesar Chavez/Soto sites, if supported by the community
One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 6:30 p.m.

BHNC Board Meeting - To consider recommendations from the BHNC Planning and Land Use Committee to approve the interim ENAs for the affordable housing projects at Cesar Chavez/Soto and 1st/Soto (see here for details on the interim ENAs). Mariachi Plaza plans may be discussed. Agenda is here.

Boyle Heights City Hall Community Room
2130 E. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 9 a.m.
Oral Progress Report to Metro Board of Directors
One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Thursday, March 26, 2015, 9 a.m.

Metro Board of Directors - To ask Board to consider entering into phased ENAs for1st/Soto and Cesar Chavez/Soto sites, if supported by the community

One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012

If you would like to get on Metro's mailing list to keep track of upcoming outreach efforts, you can contact

Vincent Gonzalez gonzalezv@metro.net or 213-922-1208.

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