The difficult politics around housing was on display recently as Councilmember Gil Cedillo was booed and heckled at a public meeting in Lincoln Heights to discuss transforming five of the neighborhood’s city-owned parking lots into housing. The exact type of housing is not yet determined, but the city’s main goal is to provide housing for the homeless and low-to-moderate income tenants.
Chanting and holding signs that said “five’s not fair,” the crowd objected that the number of lots earmarked for development in Lincoln Heights is larger than in other neighborhoods. They laughed when a representative from the city said that the lots in question were “underutilized.” They applauded in agreement when a comment card was read from a resident who said that the new housing would attract pedophiles and drug addicts.
Some of the audience members became interested when Channa Grace, one of the developers hired for the project, explained that the housing could include apartments for low-income seniors and families. They wanted to know what the typical rents would be and how to go about applying for those apartments.
Occasionally, some of the audience chanted in favor of housing for the homeless.
At the next meeting on the parking lots – on May 9 at the Sacred Heart Auditorium in Lincoln Heights – the developers will hold a listening session to get input from the community.
What about the lots in Eagle Rock?
The Boulevard Sentinel emailed questions to Councilmember José Huizar about the possible fate of two city-owned lots in Eagle Rock. Rick Coca, a spokesperson for Mr. Huizar, wrote back that the city has already deemed the lot at 5063 Caspar Ave. (at Merton Ave.) unsuitable for development because of its relatively small size and its importance to the businesses on Colorado Blvd. and Eagle Rock Blvd.
Another large lot, at 2239 Fair Park Ave. is not really a parking lot, but rather a working yard for the Bureau of Street Services and the Department of Water and Power (DWP). The city has put that lot “on hold” for development, but Mr. Coca wrote that Mr. Huizar would be open to considering the location for housing if the city can find an adequate replacement site in NELA for the Bureau of Street Services and DWP. “It is imperative that we don’t lose the support services that are currently there,” he wrote.
What about the lots in Highland Park?
Three of 10 city-owned lots in Highland Park have been entangled in lawsuits, making it unclear at this point if they will ever be developed. In response to questions by the Boulevard Sentinel to Councilmember Cedillo’s office about possible development of the other seven lots, Fredy Ceja, a spokesperson, replied that “the direction to develop lots does not come from our office, but from the [City Administrative Officer],” adding, “I am not sure what their plans are.”
T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel, and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times. Hendrickson is committed to local news reporting and to finding a way forward for local news outlets in today's challenging media markets.