Catching up with Council Member Huizar

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It’s no secret that the blog has managed to garner attention in the last year or so that it’s been around. I’m one of the many people covering BH events and that in itself has gotten me attention from others as well, case in point 14th District Council Member Jose Huizar. He reads the blog and through the help of my good friend WC connecting me with Rick Coca, who’s Director of Communication, I got some time in with the councilmen, who’s district also covers Downtown, Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Garvanza, Glassell Park, Hermon, Highland Park and Mount Washington, to talk about what’s going down in the hood. But since I don’t live in those parts of town, so I focused my questions more on BH because that is where I live and it’s where a lot of action is taking place.

There’s numerous projects that are going on at the same time all in different stages of planning and in November of last year, the councilman outlined some of those projects that have been completed and gave a break down about the cost and their purposes. In total, there’s been more than $1.4 billion in upgrades in BH alone, mostly because of the goldline, the new high schools and a few other multi-million dollar projects. Yeah, BILLIONS. Took me by surprise when I saw that figure. There’s a lot of ground to cover and rather than focusing on what already happened, I focused my questions on the future projects of BH and what residents can look for in the coming year.

The Goldline ~ Since the goldline is one of the major projects and Huizar is an MTA board member, I asked him about the safety issues that La browny brought up in some parts of the goldline, like deadman’s curve on Indiana and 1st, where two accidents have already occurred . Also Gloria Molina has made it a point to make a few intersections safer because technically they’re in her district and as I wrote back in my Goldline post, she gave Metro CEO Art Leahy some, “Ohh no you didn’t !? Gurl hold my earings” attitude. So, Huizar says that there have been $4.5 million set aside to address some of the safety issues with more attention being given high traffic areas, both from cars and people. He mentioned the Mendez Learning center because kids don’t really care or look when they’re crossing the street. So, some fencing will be installed there to funnel foot traffic toward the cross walks. Since he’s on the board, he mentioned that he’ll be able to get the ball rolling on these safety issues faster, cut through the legal red tape and work should be scheduled to start this year. Since each stop and intersection is different, they will all have be addressed individually.

Future Development ~ There are several development projects that are still being planned and some that need funds to get off the ground. At both stations for Mariachi Plaza and Soto, there are vacant lots adjacent to stops owned by Metro. You can’t miss them because they’re just empty lots full of dirt. Huizar says that because Metro owns that land, he’s working with them in making sure that whatever they build it’s housing or retails stores. I heard down the grape vine and THIS IS ONLY A RUMOR that on the corner of 1st and Boyle, you know where that laundry mat use to be ? They wanted to put in a Barnes and Noble. True story. Again, A RUMOR I HEARD. He mentioned that with the development plans already happening throughout First St. if housing is built, he wants to secure space for low income housing for residents and also plans of creating spaces for artist via a live/work type thing. Something A.R.T.E.S. has mentioned that they would like to see. Another big project that he is helping get off the ground is the Mariachi Hotel. East Los Angeles Community Corporation, which I love because they do such bad ass work, bought the building to fix it up and keep it as low income housing for the mariachis. La Crisis has complicated things and while they own the property, they don’t have the funds to get it off the ground. Huizar stepped up and helped get them some funding, but it’s still not enough and it’s a project he’s helping them out with. Funny story, during the opening day of the Goldline, I overheard out of towners ask when new lofts would be build and if they’re available, where the hotel is at. Hahaha see !?! No they’re not condos and they’re not for sale silly. Further down First St. there is more development planned with that other lot on Soto, which is primed for housing. On Chicago St. though, there are some big things planned. First of all, a lot of people have noticed that you have this brand spanking new police station and across the street there’s this ghetto-ass library that looks like it took a beating with an ugly stick. Great library, just ugly looking. Plans are in place to beautify and improve the library and to tear down all that fencing along the outside. Huizar said that once the fencing is down, landscaping will be done to match that of the police station, which I think is nice and a nice change of pace. This is all part of creating a BH civic center since earthquake repairs are being done on that building across the street. I forget the name, but you know which on it is, you can’t miss it. An interesting fact about the building that Huizar mentioned is that once it’s back up to speed, he wants to create a sort of legal hud, in which residents can have access to a variety of services from the city. Much in the sense that you can go pay a ticket, request new trash cans, tell public works to come fix a street light etc. One stop shopping. This Civic Center is also being pushed along with the involvement of the CRA, which is down the street, but because they roof of the building leaks when it rains, it’s not in use. It’s been like that for quite some time now.  Of course one thing I can’t forget to mention with all this development and work is that Huizar is actively trying to work with local property owners to get them on the same page of working to improve the conditions of the neighborhood, BUT with the intention of doing for the current residents and not slipping the carpet from under us with increased rents and kicking people out. He mentions that because of rent control, this will help deter La Gentrification and keep residents from getting kicked out of the community.

Street Vendors ~ As many of you know from some of my postings, this is something I am actively keeping everyone updated on because it’s where my roots are. In Mexico, I was know as that mocoso that would go around the tiangis messing with peoples stands and raising all sorts of hell. Nowadays I raise a different kind of hell hehe 😉 Late last year I posted the petition to get the Boyle Heights Evening Farmers Market off the ground and Huizar says that it is making progress through the L.A. City Council. They passed a resolution and soon enough it’ll be up for discussion and a vote. Of course I’ll keep ya’ll posted so you can go down to city hall and let’em know we want out pancakes con cajeta. ELACC is working with the vendors in helping them organize while Huizar works on the bureaucratic side keeping the ball rolling. There are going to be issues because this program is with the city and that of course involves regulations and permits and legal mumbo jumbo like that. The details of those regulations aren’t drafted yet, but there will have to be some compromises in order for this to happen. Health, sanitation and location are some of those and as the program continues, those issues will be figured out in detail to accommodate not only the vendors, but visitors who’ve never had this kind of food and want to check it out. Much like all the cabrones that blabbed about Breed st. and got them TOO MUCH unwanted attention. THANKS !! He acknowledges that street vendors are part of the identity and history of BH and rather than having them be ticketed and what not from the police when they receive calls of complains of from people who can’t handle their hot dog with bacon.

Murals ~ There isn’t much going on in this issue really. The city is spending millions of dollars to clean the L.A. River, murals are still getting white washed and the laws governing murals are still in limbo. Mostly because there is no clear wording on what constitutes a mural, tagging or in some cases a mural done graff style you know ? The councilmen said they’re still working on figuring out all that stuff and whether the city has a say in private property owners doing their own thing and getting taxed by the city. One example I brought up was the Willi Herron Mural on Soto and Chavez that got tore up. I was going to write a story about this, but things happen. Anyway, what ended up happening there is that because the mural was covered with a lot of tags, the city buffer, paint guys painted over the whole thing without getting in contact with the right people. Through miss-communication on the cities part, it was all fucked up and painted pink. That corner is historical and that mural is one of the reasons for that. No where else in this city will you have three murals, literally feet from each other in one single location painted by some of the most recognized Chicano Artist of our time. Herron is in the works of restoring it and he got $60,000 from the city to fix it up. Since Herron is certified to restore murals, bringing back his piece will take some time, but at least the mural won’t be lost like so many others have.

The Balance of Generations ~ One of the last questions I asked Huizar was about the differences in our communities. I explained to him how I can walk along Cesar Chavez and see families going on about their daily routine. Shopping, buying groceries or coming home from work on the buses. By simply walking down a to First st. the dynamics of the barrio change. You have Eastside Love and El Corazon del Pueblo having all these events that draw in a younger, more hipper Latino/a generation. It’s night and day really. Our parents kick it on Chavez and at night we go down to First st. to check out some art, poetry and what not you know. Huizar himself said that he has noticed those differences and is making it a point to build and improve the lives of everyone in the community. He mentioned that improvements to the roads and sidewalks along Chavez are going to be repaired along with more renovations in the future. He mentioned that BH is under going change right now. He grew up here, got his education on, became a councilmen and came back to BH. It’s just not him that’s leaving and coming back, a lot of us are and it’s in returning to our roots that we all want to improve the conditions of our barrios not just for us, but for everyone. It’s safe to say that behind all the political drama and BS that goes around, Huizar is improving BH for the better, even if people still call him a “barrio pimp” and other shit like that. Doing is the best way of saying. You can’t please everyone. Truthfully, all the people that talk shit do just that, TALK, with exceptions of course. There are peeps out there doing some fine work and continuing to build and improve the barrio. This change is here, you can either sit there and talk all the shit you want or you can do something about it. Go to an ARTES meeting. Write a fucking blog post, you speak your mind for three minutes at the council meetings before Zuma Dog scares everyone way. Even just by writing this, I know there are going to be peeps that think I’m sucking on the councilmen’s tit. Me la pelan cabrones. I do this because I meet people who tell me that I’m the only one putting this kind of info out there you know. Letting the people know what’s up, in my own way. All of my own accord. I’m not getting anything from anyone. In fact, I need to stop doing all this community awareness stuff so I can work more and be able to stand on my own two feet, but I don’t. Like other people in the barrio, I have an interest in what is going on in BH and making sure that I look out not only for my best interest, but for others who share the same feelings thoughts about everything is going. What that being said, I can’t know about everything going on and be able to stay updated, like at my meeting with the councilmen, I forgot to ask about the round about that is already in the works to be developed on Chavez and Lorena. That’s a huge project that got approved way last year and I haven’t heard anything. So, yeah. There you have it. Stay tuned for more updates as the happen and as I hear about them.

C/S

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