Public workshops for the Boyle Heights community plan

I attended one of the workshops held by the city to, and I quote, “share preliminary draft recommendations with stakeholders and to seek public input on the Boyle Heights Community Plan - this is your opportunity to help shape the physical future of Boyle Heights!” And believe you me I did. I ended up meeting two other people who wanted to share their two cents in what the future of Boyle Heights maybe and what planners are thinking of turning BH into. Shout out to reader Rob who was there and offered some nice company. 

I was totally surprised, but glad to see the East LA Community Corporation out and about helping residents at the workshop by translating and helping them understand the proposed changes coming to BH. That’s because the majority of the information and city planners on site only had information in english. Out of the entire room only two maybe three city planners there were able to speak spanish fluently. While they answered all of my questions and jotted down notes about what I said, how can you not have english to spanish translators and other info in spanish in a predominantly spanish speaking neighborhood ??

While I won’t regurgitate my thoughts and opinions about the workshop, I will say that the planners are enthusiastic about hearing what BH residents have to say about the proposed drafts and what it means for BH future. As you can plainly see, I put a red sticker, which means bad, over a starbucks. The city planner got a good laugh outta of it 😉 Other people expressed the same feelings about bringing in stores like that, but one solution I liked was that I wouldn’t mind having a coffee shop or healthy super market, but one that isn’t name brand and maybe more along the lines of a mom and pop store that fulfills the needs of the residents who have to shop outta BH for those kind of necessities.   

All of the people there contributed a lot of great input that included preserving BH history and essence and that includes the street vendors and taco trucks. At the same time I saw plans that would include mixed income housing that pretty much open the door for “outsiders” to come in and change things to their needs rather than what the community needs. I highly encourage other BH residents to attend the next to workshops being held that are closest to them. Your input is greatly needed and it’s also a great way to know what the city is doing about the future of BH. 

WORKSHOP #3: SATURDAY, FEB 7TH, 2009: 10:00AM – 2:00PM 

Costello Recreation Center (Gymnasium)

3141 E Olympic Blvd, LA CA 90023  

WORKSHOP #4: MONDAY, FEB 9TH, 2009: 6:30PM – 9:30PM

Hazard Park (Gymnasium)

2230 Norfolk St, LA CA 90033

Rogelio Flores, City Planning Associate

Boyle Heights Community Plan Program

Department of City Planning, City of Los Angeles

200 North Spring St., City Hall Office #667

Mail Stop 395

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Phone: 213.978.1478

Fax: 213.978.1477

7 thoughts on “Public workshops for the Boyle Heights community plan

  1. I like how the last two pictures show renderings of 1st street – and the curbs are gone and sidewalk pavement is extended out further into the street.

    Boyle Heights have been literally choked with the city’s desire to help everyone drive – while a lot of its residents walk, ride bikes, or take transit. I’m glad that at least that this appears to be already taken into account with amenities to discourage profligate car driving and support these other modes – but we’ll see what happens.

  2. That last picture has a big yellow building on top of the laundromat. I take it they’ll be passing out washing machines to the neighbors? Or do they plan to install washboards in the LA river? 😉

  3. Like everything, there’s an upside and a downside to urban development in BH. I moved to BH a year and a half ago after I got priced out of Highland Park. There are some serious needs to be addressed; lack of grocery stores with a variety of fresh foods, no bookstores, an overabundance of predatory businesses. Most apartments are one bedrooms, in a community that desperately needs affordable, subsidized three bedroom units. The most serious issue to me, as a teacher, are the local schools, which seem to be total disaster.

    Development doesn’t necessarily mean depriving the current population of anything- rent control insures that people won’t be forced out. However, an influx of creative professionals might be what brings attention to the lack of basic services by the city in this area. Schools in areas where the average income rises get better- a bonus for everyone. We have a higher income than average for the neighborhood, and we patronize local restaurants and stores, rather than leave the area.

    Don’t get me wrong, starbucks is the devil. But it’d be great to have an indie coffee shop on Cesar Chavez.

    Chain or not, I’d love a Trader Joe’s that didn’t necessitate going to Pasadena.

  4. I think the sugestions that both Jenn and ubrayj suggested are spot on in terms of what is needed in BH. An influx of wealthier citizens can be a good thing if managed properly and the needs of existing residents are prioritized and complemented. A lot can be said about various quality of life issues in the community. I like meeting slike this because they introduce many community members to planning and can lead to empowerment and community leadership manifestation.

    My problem with these meetings (and LA planning in general) is that it becomes a cart before the horse issue. Right now BH is not going to see any mixed use development given our economy, the pedestrian/public environment is neglected, and plenty of residents arent working. Considering our current administration is looking for shovel ready projects that hire folks, a program to make simple addjustments to the pedestrian environment in a community with a huge layer of degredation should be a no brainer.

    There could be homeboys/girls fixing shaved curbs (unecessary since cars dont need to turn at 25 mph) and broken sidelwaks, widening sidewalks (especially in those areas where lanes are 20 feet wide or have an extra curb lane for no reason), planting trees and cutting tree spaces in sidewalks with room, beautifying all those small sidewalk easements that become dirt or weeds and placing TONS of badly needed sidewalk amenities like benches.

    We dont need a parisian boulevard just yet, a few simple fixes orchestrated across the entire communtiy would generate a lot of work. This program could spread to all those communities thought of as “pass thru” zones (where auto commuters were more important to viejita pedestrians and schoolkids) by planners for the last half century. Lots of damage has been done here, anda it will take a lot of work to fix it. Considering the pragmatism and logic that would warrant such unsexy fixes being the crux of current revitalization of BH, I dont see it happening.

    But if local residents were actually the ones making the policy, these simple fixes would immediately come up. Its a no brainer when you view the community fromt he ground, unfortunately many of the folks in planning wont get out of their jettas.

  5. It’s just a “plan.” I’ve seen plenty of cities with nice “community plans” “specific corridors plans” etc etc etc. If the infrastructure funding isn’t in place (e.g. sidewalks, shared parking structures, redevelopment funds), simple quality of life things aren’t addressed, a lack of business buy-in, and other components…it will just be a plan.

    “Right now BH is not going to see any mixed use development given our economy” this recession thing ain’t gonna be around forever. Tis the perfect time for communities to ‘vision’ and/or smart developers to start planning out for the future and/or locking up entitlements etc. That’s what we’re doing…looking beyond 2010 (in another area)>

  6. @Jenn – the Superior on Chavez has a lot of fresh vegetables. El Super on the same street does as well. Also, what about the stores up on 4th st?

    While gentrifier businesses have some good qualities, I think they also have a lot of negative qualities.

    Mainly, I’d say that they perpetuate the “ownership society”, which isn’t going to be functional for a low-income community. What working class communities need are more public facilities, with “consumer” options tacked onto those public facilities.

    So, instead of an art gallery, you have a community art museum – with an occasional charity art sale. Instead of a bookstore, you need a library, with some ways to purchase books there (like a part-time new and used bookstore). Instead of a cafe, you have a perfomance and hang-out space, with a low-cost beverage bar.

    The gentrifiers also need to adapt, by abanoning the habit of excessive interior decoration, and picking up the habit of donating to community spaces.

    I’m not writing this as a resident of the area, but having grown up in a middle-class/lower-middle-class area, where the intellectual life centered around libraries, trips to museums, and classes at community centers.

  7. ^^^excellent points!
    We need to start thinking about our communities in new ways and move away from our (American) obsessive consumer compulsions and the desire for neighborhoods to cater to our individual needs when they don’t benefit anyone else. For instance, I will drive to buy the few products I might need from Whole Foods and that’s okay. I don’t expect one to open in my neighborhood because it’s probably not needed here and the place is way too expensive.
    Personally, I think it’s time to throw the old models out the window. Our society and economy are changing before our eyes and why not use this time to be innovative, creative and to think outside the box. I don’t want to pin all my hopes on urban professionals moving into my neighborhood to make things better.(They tend to be a finicky bunch anyways) Besides in a few years no ones gonna have any money or credit to buy anything. Time to learn how to barter ! 🙂

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