LA City Council votes to name Boyle Heights street for Vicente Fernández

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to rename a Boyle Heights street, east of Mariachi Plaza, after Mexican singer Vicente "Chente" Fernández, who died at the age of 81 on Dec. 12.

Councilman Kevin de León introduced the motion on Jan. 12 to begin the process of having Bailey Street, from First Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, changed to "Vicente Fernández Street."

The councilman called Fernández a "cultural icon," adding that his "music and talent impacted generations of Latinos, not only in his native homeland of Mexico, but across the globe."

David Silvas, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council's vice president and chair of its Planning and Land Use Committee, submitted a letter to the City Council's Public Works Committee on Feb. 7 to oppose the motion to name the street for Fernández, citing a comment Fernández made during an interview in which he said he refused a liver transplant because he didn't know if the donor was homosexual or addicted to drugs. Silvas also noted reports of Fernández being accused of inappropriately touching women.


In his letter, Silvas said naming the street for Fernández would be "insulting and denigrating to the LGBTQ+ community and anyone facing the struggles of addiction" as well as "victims of sexual abuse."

De León's communications director Pete Brown told City News Service after Tuesday's vote that the councilman has received "an outpouring of support" from the Boyle Heights community for renaming the street.

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The motion also received support from the Mariachi Plaza Festival Foundation, the nonprofit that supports Mariachi Plaza.

During his more than six decades playing music, Fernández was recognized with three Grammy Awards, nine Latin Grammy Awards and 14 Lo Nuestro Awards. He also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and sold more than 50 million albums worldwide.

"He is one of the best selling Mexican artists, one of the best artists of all time, period. His legacy is not only the music that he made, but the memories that we all were able to make listening to the music he created and shared with us," de León said on Jan. 12.

Fernández retired from the stage in 2016. He died in December in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he was also born. His death followed months of health issues and an August injury at his ranch in Guadalajara.

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