Wyvernwood Protests Pick-Up, Push Anti-Profit Message

Neighborhood Council to vote on supporting or opposing project later this month.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

The fight over a proposed Boyle Heights area development is heating up again, with opponents to the project stepping up their protest with a rally yesterday where they demanded rental units be “for people, not for profit.”

The proposed redevelopment of the Wyvernwood Garden Apartment community could be up for final approval by the city later this year.

Backers of the project, which includes a number of community groups and local unions, see the proposed development as a way to bring needed jobs and improved housing stock to the working class neighborhood located just east of Downtown Los Angeles.

Residents and Community members for the preservation of the privately-owned apartment community gathered for a rally in February. (Photo courtesy of Paulo Freire Lopez)

Opponents see the “New Wyvernwood” as the tearing down of a community for increased profits and as adding more density in an already dense area.

The spacious green lawns of the residential community have become a battlefield of sorts, with supporters and detractors each holding rallies there to draw attention to their respective positions.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Actividades en Wyvernwood Aumentan, En Contra y A Favor del Proyecto de Reurbanización

On Wednesday, it was the opponents attempting to gather support for their efforts to block the project that would dramatically alter the privately owned 70-acre community by more than doubling the number of housing units and the construction of high-rise buildings. They claim approval of the redevelopment would result in the loss of affordable housing in an area where much of the population is low-income.

Wednesday’s “Take Back Wyvernwood” rally was just one of several planned protests being orchestrated by the Frente de Apoyo al Comite de la Esperanza (FACE a coalition of community-based organizations supporting the Comité de la Esperanza (Committee of Hope), which has been leading the opposition to the project.

An online petition to “Save Wyvernwood” — which opponents have started comparing to the forced evictions at Chavez Ravine in the 1950s to make room for the construction of Dodger Stadium — is another of the tools being used to gather opposition to the demolition of what is often referred to by supporters as a small village located within a larger city.

Wednesday’s rally was also in support of the national  “Homes For All” campaign being promoted by the Right to the City Alliance (RTTC), a coalition of 45 organizations and headquartered in New York, according to El Comité President Leonardo Lopez and spokesman Roberto Mojica. The campaign seeks to draw attention to the housing crisis being faced by low- and extremely low-income people of color in urban and suburban settings and, according to the groups website, call for the creation of one million new affordable and public housing units that are free them from the “grips of corporate and market-driven interests.”

Mojica told EGP that FACE is ramping up its efforts to inform the community about what they claim are the project’s drawbacks, such as the loss of rent-controlled units.

Wyvernwood was designed to foster a sense of community and open spaces where children can play, Lopez told EGP. It’s worth fighting for, he said.

Redevelopment would bring gentrification and displace low-income working class Latino families, some who have lived at Wyvernwood for generations, opponents claim.

Fifteen Group’s plan calls for a mixed-use community, demolishing several buildings and increasing the number of apartments from 1,187 to 4,400 rental units and condominiums in several new structures as tall as 18 to 24 stories high.

According to East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC) community organizer Jose Fernandez, the Post-World War II community should be preserved and apartments units fully renovated.

“The property owner claims the apartments are so worn down that the only solution is to demolish them and start over again, but since they’ve been owners, maintenance has not been at adequate standards—that’s why there’s so many issues with the buildings,” Fernandez said.

However, opposition to the project is far from universal.

One group that may not support efforts to block the development is the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, which includes a cross section of the area’s stakeholders. In January, the council voted to support  “The New Wyvernwood,” but the vote and other decisions made at the meeting were nullified over procedural errors related to a change in meeting location.

According to BHNC President Edward Padilla, when the council found it had been locked out of its regular meeting place at the Boyle Heights Senior Center, they moved the meeting to the nearby Nichiren Shu Buddhist Temple, which they did not know was a violation of the requirement that meeting location changes be posted at least 24-hours in advance. The city attorney recommended that all decisions made at the meeting be vacated, Padilla explained.

Mojica and Lopez contend, however, that the city attorney’s decision was the result of the grievance they filed which alleged only supporters of Fifteen Group were invited to the meeting where the developer would present the project. They said the council did not even place a notice on the door telling people where they had moved the meeting to, and they only stumbled upon the meeting by asking people on the street if they knew where the large group of people, whose cars were parked in the lot, had headed.

A former member of the BHNC, Lopez said the issue is too important to be taken lightly. He emphasized that all of Boyle Heights could be impacted by the increased density and poorer air quality during the construction that could last a decade.

The BHNC recommendation is intended to inform the Los Angeles City Council about the community’s support or opposition the project.

There are many supporters of The New Wyvernwood, including current BHNC members Terry Marquez and Margarita Amador, as well as some new and long-time Wyvernwood residents who want modern facilities and amenities the market-rate apartments don’t currently offer.

Other supporters including Homeboy Industries, LA County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo, and others who support Fifteen Group’s Boyle Heights Jobs Collaborative that would prioritize the hiring of people from the local community.

As many as 10,000 construction-related jobs and another 3,000 non-construction jobs are expected to be generated by the 10-year, $2 billion redevelopment, according to Fifteen Group.

In addition to construction jobs, the project will bring modern housing, new green spaces, new retail options and public safety enhancements, Fifteen Group Principal Steven Fink previously told EGP.

Current residents in good standing will be able to move into a new apartment at the same rent, and the Resident Retention Plans will be legally binding and formalized in the project agreement with the City of Los Angeles, according to Fink.

Despite those assertions, however, opponents to the project are skeptical.

The City Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to take up the project at its May 9 meeting.

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March 14, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


19 Responses to “Wyvernwood Protests Pick-Up, Push Anti-Profit Message”

  1. Teresa Marquez on March 14th, 2013 9:22 pm

    Boyle Heights community needs homeownership, better housing for seniors and families, and this is the key for a better quality of life. According to the reports much of the designs of the structures have been taken down due to the wear and tear, those buildings would not be eligible, I would think for Historical buildings. The backing to El Comite de la Esperanza is coming from East Los Angeles Community Corporation and they have the money to organize this protest, but why ELACC is a developer, they have built so much afforable houseing that we have vacancies all over the community. ELACC will help protest any other developer that come to Boyle Heights, the current residents at Wyverwood have been promised in writting that housing is guarantee for them at thenew structures, and afforable , low income housing, and senior housing maybe less then what they are paying today. Mr Lopez accused me of taking money and benefiting for the new project, I challenge Mr. Lopez and ELACC employees to investigate their accusations, and they will not find a thing. I have volunteer my services for the People of Boyle Heights, and I never take not even a penny, and Mr. Lopez should know that. Our support is for the Community of Boyle Heights, is not what I want, and it should not be what ELACC, or vecinos Unidos want, but what is the best for the community and its future, and one consideration, this is private property, the American Dream is to be free to do what you want with your own property, as long as they abide by the law and zoning. Comite de la Esperanza should be clear, that ELACC has built afforable housing all over Boyle Heights, and you wonder why Huizar does not support the new development, why would he want this building to be left standing, when it is not safe, and the building cannot support today’s technology, the benefits offered by the 15th group is above and beyond what the law states in relocation money, and more. I worry about the Senior Citizens, I…

  2. Wrong Fight on March 14th, 2013 9:51 pm

    There are over 5,000 residents at Wyvernwood and these protests can only generate a couple of hundred people – most who don’t live in Wyvernwood. There is a big difference between this project and Cahvez Ravine where the victims were homeowners. This place is a rat hole and Boyle Heights needs new development.

  3. Carmen - I SPPORT on March 15th, 2013 11:18 am

    As a 30+ year resident at Wyvernwood Apartments …We need this Project to take place. No handicap access in apartments, No Amentities, and yet paying$1,150.00 for a 2Bdr…The project that has been presented to the tenants, Boyle Heights, and at City Council meeting has been consistant. Many of the supporters opposing this project DO NOT live here, and yet seems all they want is publicity for their organizations and stores. Intiminating residents telling them immigration will sweep the property and kick them out to the streets if this projects takes place is not exceptable. El Comite and these opposing organizations DO NOT speak for everyone who live here. Lets make it clear …Wyvernwood will not be Chavez Ravine …Having screenings of a Chavez Ravine Documentary, posting and passing out misleading information are their tactics they are using to mislead spanish speaking families/tenants. If showing a picture of cops dragging people outside from their homes is their tactic to gain support, shame on them….Boyle Heights Needs This … Weve been put in the back burner for too long… I SUPPORT!!!

  4. Teresa Marquez on March 15th, 2013 4:54 pm

    Yes the majority of the people that are protesting do not speak English, and ELACC has misinform them about fighting to keep the Wyvernwood Apartments as a historical area, why? The people are not inform, that keeping the building as a historical structure does not guarantee they will keep their apartment, and we all know that, also only one or two building would qualify for historical structures. Why isn’t ELACC

  5. tmarquez on March 15th, 2013 5:09 pm

    Boyle Heights residents deserve better housing in order to improve the quality of life. I want to know why ELACC and Vecinos Unidos do not offer housing to the people that do not want the new project? ELACC and Vecinos Unidos bring all this people that do not speak English or understand it, and they cry about that housing should be for people, not for profit, I want to see how many ELACC projects are not for profit? If they want housing without profit bo to government housing, right next door to Wyvernwood, Estrada Garden Courts Apartments, and let the LA Conservancy put those apartment as a historical site, the same architec that design Wyverwood, designed Estrada Court a few years after Wyverwood was finish. The Wyvernwood apartments have lost their design for open gardens, there is no gardens, just grass and weeds, and some of the designs on the building and windows, doors and entrances that made it unique are all gone. El Comite de la Esperanza are complaining that the apartments can be remodel, why spend money on something that is not worth it, and will not give you a return at all. . Yes, reality of life, profit is needed to continue offering apartments for rent, and housing. Why do this people believe that 15th Group should support them, what happen to this country, when you work for what you have, and if you want more, than you better make more money or work longer hours. .

  6. Pepe Boyle on March 18th, 2013 3:25 pm

    Teresa Marquez & Margarita Amador are a disgrace to Boyle Heights, to it’s rich history, it’s culture and everything Boyle Heights is and stands for.

  7. Luis Vela on March 19th, 2013 9:52 am

    Funny How When Things Dont Go Their Way, Everyone is A Disgrace…. Since they All Oppose This Project, I assume they are all making line to Rent An Apartment at Wyvernwood…. Correct?? They Complain about pollution, yet they do nothing to shut down all the factories surrounding Wyvernwood or Boyle Heights. They Will find any excuse to oppose a great project. All they are looking for is publicity for their organizations/ stores making/printing all these misleading flyers.

  8. bugsby on March 19th, 2013 9:59 am

    It is truly amazing that individuals like Teresa Marquez are so quick to paint this redevelopment as a black and white issue, when clearly there is a lot more to the story than just ELACC, El Comite, and jobs. This is about what is right – dividing a community for financial gain is never ok, regardless of its size. And as a spectator, I can say without a doubt, that El Comite – whose membership is made up entirely of Wyvernwood
    residents, were the majority of folks participating last week.

    This is an issue with a lot of grey – and a lot of misleading rhetoric. We shouldn’t forget the human impact. Residents who live there now are being promised a lot that can never be delivered, because the reality is – the developer wants everyone out so they can demolish and start over. It is unfortunate to hear of resident’s concerns about the poor amenities, sewage, walkability, and landscaping issues caused by the same developer who seeks to spend $2 billion on a full demolition. The owner/developer has the POWER to improve these living conditions, and chooses not to – because it’s bad for business. And we could never expect a Miami-based developer with a history of displacement to actually care about these concerns, they’re going to do what they have to do. That’s their role. But to hear community residents, who consider themselves leaders, bash on their fellow neighbors is despicable.
    I’m not sure what world you live in where you think its ok to put people down because they “don’t even speak english” – YOU LIVE IN BOYLE HEIGHTS. You can rant about how much you hate your heritage all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that Los Angeles is a stepping stone for folks trying to make a better life, that’s what America is all about; our country was built on the backs of immigrant labor, and it still is. Everything you and I share can be attributed to the hard work of someone less fortunate and less educated than ourselves, and it’s important we…

  9. bugsby on March 19th, 2013 10:04 am

    Everything you and I share can be attributed to the hard work of someone less fortunate and less educated than ourselves, and it’s important we don’t forget that. If it drives you so crazy, move to Kentucky.

    Secondly, Teresa Marquez, and the other “crazy 8” have ranted and complained (almost to the point of psychosis) that you hate any new density in Boyle Heights. You’ve also sent lengthy (and very poorly written, I might add) emails to your fans about “boyle heights drowning in liquor”. Now, these two points (too much liquor, and too much density) I am in total agreement with. But I notice that the only time you bring up the density issue is when it means building neighborhood-serving density – and you attack developers like ACOF, ELACC, MBS, AMCAL, and even Metro. You even opposed it when it meant the construction of affordable housing for SENIORS!!! LOL. So let me get this straight – you support density as long as it doesn’t serve poor “non-english speaking” residents? Cause the record shows you opposing it when only when it relates to affordable housing construction.

    And those liquor licenses? Ya’ll decided you like those as well? Well, this project wants to add 8 new ones to that area. I’m happy to see our Boyle Heights “leaders” are really thinking through the stuff they put out into the universe, it only hurts their cause.
    Don’t bother attacking me, cause I wont resond.

  10. Carmen on March 19th, 2013 10:07 am

    Boyle Heights City Council, LA Planning Department, should questions the tactics and Information these organization are informing all speaking spanish people. They claim to be residents of wyvernwood at these meetings, ID Check them all before they speak and the truth will be told. Mr Huizar is laying low now, doesnt know how to back track his support for El Comite…. lol The Truth should come out how he was approched, recorded and cornered at Leonardos House Pleading for his support to oppose the project,,,,Leonardo has not been 100% honest to wyvenrwood residents, and its time he does.

  11. ricardo montiel on March 19th, 2013 2:58 pm

    All of the issues that everyone seems to be concerned about seem like maintenance issues that should be addressed to the 15 group. The 15 Group has been a neglectful slum landlord for many years to the residents of Wyvernwood. The 15 Group has done so intentionally. Why not fix and maintain the place instead of demolish? Why? Because the 15 Group can care less about the community of Boyle Heights or any other community. Look them up people!!! They have a horrible track record. They have NEVER actually build anything! They just wipe out communities and $ell. It is ALL about the BIG $$$$. Or do you honestly think that these out of state “re-developers are such kind people that they are going to give a new apartment just because? It’s not that complicated. You ether stand with community or with these corporate greedy developers who’s only interest in Boyle Heights is BIG $$$. Wyvernwood is home to thousands of community members who deserve their homes to be maintained, preserved, and NOT demolished. Save Wyvernwood!!!!http://vimeo.com/59047155

  12. daN on March 21st, 2013 10:04 am

    ELAC and Maria are nothing more than poverty pimp. They play to the emotion of all the poor people making promising of pennies to the million she and her organization make off the project.

    Everyone in Boyle Height should realize that real devil in our community is ELACC. Maria pretends to care about the poor people of Boyle Heights but yet lives in big beautiful house in Eagle Rock. She pretends to be the mother Theresa of BH, so why does she not open her home to the same poor people she pimping.

    Everyone involved with the Wyvernwood Project should make sure that ELAC is not involve in the project period. She is only stakeholder of greed and not because she cares.

    Everyone should look into the Boyle Height Hotel and see how much each unit cost to build out. Then everyone should look into her role of bring mental housing care to Boyle Heights on 1st and Lorena, 1st and Soto, and she would argue that ELACC has nothing to do with those project. Lair-lair you sit on the board of the organization that were awarded the projects.

    For all the blind smart, poor, and dumb people who believe ELACC “BS” the reason she never will push for home ownership is simple she wants to be the landlord of Boyle Heights while you will always be the renter, and at the end she will be The Richest Poverty Pimp on the Hill.

    I will challenge ELACC to an adult conversation regarding my posting anywhere and anytime including in Eagle Rock. ELACC is lucky I am to old to fight or I would knock her booty out.

  13. PreserveWyWood on March 21st, 2013 1:01 pm

    I’d like to add a couple of points that will help clarify why this proposed project is a problem. Year after year, the City of Los Angeles continues to make promises of bringing in funds for affordable housing. Yet, during those same conversations we have the loss of affordable housing increasing. Wyvernwood’s demolition would mean the loss of affordable housing (via the elimination of the protection by the City’s Rent-Stabilizing Ordinance) on a mass scale. We are talking about thousands of working class residents losing the only home they’ve had since arriving to Boyle Heights. With rents increasing throughout the city, these families would have very limited options for affordable housing.
    Well, what about the projects Resident Retention Plan? What about it? It is being sold as a solution to all of the problem by the developers. What folks may never want to admit is that it is in fact more harmful than helpful. Imagine this: You are told that if you decide to stay you may get a new comparable unit to your current unit and pay the same rent you play now. Well the premium in that is that you will need to suffer through 15 years of constant construction, breathing in all the contaminants and hoping you don’t develop harmful respiratory problems such as asthma. Worse yet, imagine children and elderly folks having to deal with these issues. Oh but it doesn’t stop there. Say the resident decides that her health is not worth jeopardizing for a new unit. Once that resident leaves with a relocation payout that is not nearly enough to support the cost of moving in Los Angeles, the unit that she once lived in, that was protected by RSO, will now be available at market rate. So while she was paying 800-900/mo for a two bedroom, the new tenant will now have to rent at a value that is closer to 1200-1400/mo. Thus, the resident leaving meant that 1) the unit she left behind is no longer affordable and 2) the new tenant, if he decides to live through the construction,…

  14. Carmen on March 22nd, 2013 10:58 am

    Dan …. You have made great points . I highly recommend you attend the BOYLE HEIGHTS NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL Meeting on Wednesday March 27th ( location: TBD) but will post location soon…and speak your mind. We would like to know what ELACC and Maria are really about.

  15. Eddie on May 7th, 2013 9:53 am

    I’ve lived in Wyvernwood for 3 years now and im going to post only my views. First security, man does it need improving. I’ve had 3 break ins in my time here. So I feel saftey is lacking and something that I feel would improve with the new buildings. Parking is another major issue. There just isnt enough of it and theres no lines defining the spots. Its bad enough we dont get designated parking.  There has been more than one occasion that I havent been able to stay at my apartment because of no parking , not even on the street. Yes I could of possibly parked a couple of blocks down the street but at 2 am ,when i get out of work, who’d feel safe ? As far as maintenance I cant complain. I mean these buildings are very old and when I do call for maintenance its usualy handled quickly. So in my opinion I feel all these points would be greatly improved with the new buildings. Plus the apartments would be modernized who wouldn’t want that? Of course this wont hold a drop of water if the fifteen group defaults on promises made to current residents if they decide to stay.

  16. john on July 16th, 2013 1:26 am


    Boyle Heights, CA July 15, 2013: Wyvernwood wants to convert their apartments into condos and they’re not taking no for an answer. Wyvernwood has a long history of evicting those that stand in their way according to Leonardo Lopez of El Comite De La Esperanza, the tenant’s union. Some estimates are over 300 illegal evictions have been committed under the auspices of these current kings. “We found our 3-day notices in the trash and we were almost wrongfully evicted four times.” Flyers go out that are not on company letterhead and unsigned. It’s full of promises that residents will get 18K to move, & to maintain the family environment here. “Yes, you also get a free pony too,” states Zaybastian, a long time tenant that has filed several discrimination charges against them. They are very slick PR people and two separate attorneys agree, “Such documents are legally meaningless.” If Wyvernwood is serious about these promises, they need to sign their contracts with authorized corporate representatives and hand one to each & every tenant. But there’s no way they’re going to do that, it’s just more smoke and mirrors. “In my opinion-” states Zaybastian “the tenants won’t get anything, they’re just going to pick us off 1 by 1.” Wyvernwood is known for hiring fake residents to come to rallies and political meetings. They want to create the bogus impression that residents support the project when internal numbers says they don’t. There was a vote submitted to Council Member Jose Huizar that was beyond the total population of actual residents. Simply there was way more votes for the project then there were tenants. How is that possible? When Wyvernwood says they ‘have spirit’ they mean it literally and the ghosts and the dead are clearly on their side.

  17. john on July 16th, 2013 1:26 am

    “There is constant intimidation by 3-armed guards with bulletproof vest, police type cruisers, nightsticks and a bad attitude. They are an effective force used to keep the non-English speaking residents in check,” adds Zaybastian. Looking more like border patrol agents than the “courtesy patrol” they claim to be. “ We are not allowed to unload our laundry/groceries as they are ready to pounce demanding that “–we leave or be towed.” If they REALLY were a ‘Courtesy Patrol’ they’d HELP us get our groceries inside. To make you even more miserable, they lose your bank money orders, slap you with late fees, circumvent rent control laws, issue fake 3 day notices, make insane claims of “smuggling in roaches and playing tubas” and having an “invisible Rotweiller dog.” Ironically, Zaybastian has 2 doctors’ letters that permit him to own a comfort dog due to his disability–yet he still has no service animal. Instead, he was forced to surrender him or see his “family evicted.” 41% of the tenants here are allowed to have pets-it’s very clear the treatment of tenants is inconsistent. Just as we can’t unload our laundry in the parking lot but their friends can make auto repairs and drink beers. They harass you if you use your wheelchair and are constantly insisting they “inspect his wheelchair ramp”, thereby, instituting their own version of a “no-fly-zone” like our military does when they want to limit your movement. For him it’s become a ‘no-roll zone’, effectively instituting a ban on his access. He is forced to use his cane though its usefulness is limited. Worse, his 11- yr old son that is required to use hip to toe braces is also denied the use of the ramp. They want to make you as miserable as possible so you don’t ‘self deport’ but rather ‘self evict’ and then they don‘t owe you the $18,000. Yet, there’s plenty of rats, roaches, trash and sewage problems.

  18. jay marsh on July 17th, 2013 3:25 pm


    Boyle Heights, CA July 24, 2012; Even if you think you need medical treatment you don’t want just anyone doing surgery.

    With that logic applied the ‘15 Group’ are quacks that shouldn’t have the license to practice real estate development.

    We are all for renovating this place, we are totally against Wyvernwood, FPI Management and the “15 Group” doing it. You

    can’t trust them. We would no more go to them to renovate this place then we would go to a shoe salesmen to have our dental

    work done. “It IS a question of trust and ethics, NOT simply a matter of is it a good idea,” states Zaybastian, a long time

    resident. “Sure a good idea done by incredibly corrupt and incompetent people. That’s what’s been missing from the

    argument. Wyvernwood strategy is to harass those giving them a hard time and letting everyone else slide.” He Adds. In

    other words being a brown nose to the brown people–and once they get approved-they’ll get rid of you. They won‘t need you

    anymore. “We noticed a huge change in the policy for allowing dogs-now anyone can own one. OH–except me,” states

    Zaybastian “Since I need an assistance/comfort dog due to my disability and have 2 doctor’s letters saying so. If we get

    one I’m told my family gets evicted.” So Wyvernwood rules exist ONLY to be punitive to those they wish to lash out against.

    Nice. Seems like trustworthy folks doesn’t it? And of course the residents of Wyvernwood fall for it–“well they don’t do

    that to me.” Of course not, they are kissing your &*^%.; and we’re being good little puppets.

  19. jay marsh on July 17th, 2013 3:27 pm

    Let’s find a land developer we can trust and we’ll keep the 2 story, down home feel–we don’t need silver high-rise gilded

    cages that make them money and keep us away from one another. Breaking apart the community–divide and conquer right? We

    like knowing our neighbors even when we don’t like them or agree with them. We don’t want to live in a world full of shiny

    glossy hi-rise strangers. We need more communities like Wyvernwood, not less. Let’s us NOT confuse the owners with the

    property. If the property needs work maybe it’s time for new owners NOT a new property. Isn’t the property like a gun?

    Properties don’t kill, the owners do and make no mistake about these owners are killing us.

    They want to say ‘so many repairs need to be made that’s why we want to renovate’ –uh, who let it get this way in the 1st

    place? Wasn’t that you? Didn’t you do that so YOU could make this very argument? And have everyone so sick of living this

    way we will all be clamoring for change? Their whole divide and conquer strategy, again. Well not us folks; you want to

    renovate? We are on YOUR side–You want it to stay the same? We are on your side, too! Hmm, here’s an idea; let’s do both,

    let us renovate AND get rid of the Wyvernwood owners–let us make the changes, just not with the incompetent & the

    untrustworthy 15 group.

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