Spectacular Blaze Destroys ‘Victorian’ Hotel in Boyle Heights

January 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

A fire that broke out inside a large 1890’s Victorian home near Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, collapsing most of the building and spreading to a nearby apartment building Sunday night before it was finally extinguished, may have been housing transients, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire inside the two-story Victorian home at 1516 E. Pleasant Ave. was reported at 7:57 p.m., fire department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.

When firefighters arrived, they found the two-story, wooden-sided structure completely engulfed, according to the department, which said additional resources were called and the status raised to that of Greater Alarm.

The flames partially collapsed the home on its southwest side, Stewart said, and into an adjacent apartment building.

Firefighters on Sunday responding to the call found the two-story Victorian style home completely engulfed in flames.
(Photo by Tim Ernst for LAFD Photo/Creative Commons.)

The blaze then spread to the attic of a next door apartment building and firefighters had to take down part of the apartment building’s ceiling to knockdown those flames.

LAFD dispatched 101 firefighters to the scene and needed about an hour to extinguish the flames, Stewart said.

The LAFD credited the quick action of firefighters in pulling ceiling and getting handlines in place for preventing the fire from running the building. Four units on the second floor had to be evacuated, but no injuries were reported. Arson investigators were sent to the scene to determine what caused the fire, which remains under investigation, Stewart said.

The Red Cross was at the scene to arrange housing for those displaced from the apartment building, she said.

The 3,443 square-foot Victorian is reported to be the site of a previous burn and possibly home to transients, LAFD said in a news release. Once a single-family home, it was later converted to a 9-room hotel, according to the Boyle Heights Beat and a 2006 listing on the real estate website LoopNet. For a time it housed local musicians and was dubbed the Mariachi Hotel, according to the Boyle Heights Beat.

Given the size of the building and the continuing collapse as it settled, firefighters remained on scene to address flare ups through the night, said the LAFD.

Information from City News Service used in this report.


Metro Takes In Ideas for Mariachi Plaza

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Boyle Heights resident Leticia Andrade last Saturday said she would like to see affordable housing built on an empty lot located behind Mariachi Plaza. Restaurant owner Armando Salazar wants a grocery store or a public parking lot, and senior Carmen Fuentes thinks a center offering services to seniors and children would be a good fit at that location.

Andrade told EGP she knows of families that have “up to seven people living in a one bedroom apartment” and building more affordable housing would help alleviate some of the overcrowding.

Lea este artículo en Español: Metro Recibe Ideas para la Plaza del Mariachi Plaza

Hers and other views were expressed during the first of two public workshops being hosted by Metro to gather input from Boyle Heights residents and stakeholders on what the transportation agency should do with two empty lots it owns adjacent to Mariachi Plaza, on Bailey Street between Pennsylvania and 1st Streets.

The design workshops are being facilitated by Metro’s urban design/architectural consultant team, with the objective of creating a project that will reflect “community goals” for the space.

Mariachi Plaza is an iconic place for Boyle Heights, Metro Director of Planning Vivian Rescalvo told EGP, explaining that Metro wants to hear directly from the community how they would like see the space used, whether it’s for housing, public space, retail or any other ideas.

This is not the first time Metro has traveled down this road. Past proposals for developing the lots were met with strong community opposition ultimately scrapped.

Boyle Heights residents and stakeholders discuss best use for two vacant Metro-owned lots behind Mariachi Plaza. (EGP photo by jacqueline Garcia)

Boyle Heights residents and stakeholders discuss best use for two vacant Metro-owned lots behind Mariachi Plaza. (EGP photo by jacqueline Garcia)

Metro is starting all over with new ideas and community input, Rescalvo said.

“We are ready to hear from the community based on what Boyle Heights has, what do they feel it needs and what do they think is the right use for these properties immediately adjacent to Mariachi Plaza,” she said.

Salazar owns the Santa Cecilia Restaurant at Mariachi Plaza and thinks the community needs a grocery store. “We used to have a market and it was demolished when Metro started building,” he told EGP. “A parking lot for Boyle Heights visitors would also be a good idea,” he added.

Saturday’s workshop kicked off with a presentation by the Las Fotos Project – a community based photography program for girls and young women— which the group said highlighted the needs of the community as captured through the lens of their cameras:

A photo of a large group of people gathered on a sidewalk on Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, showcased the need for more open spaces with benches; a photo of a graffiti covered wall called attention to the need for more recreational areas to prevent tagging of existing murals; and a photo of street vendors on a local sidewalk suggested the empty lots could be used as a place for street vendors to sell their wares.

Las Fotos Project member Jennifer Bermudez said her photo of cars parked on the street shows there is a need for more public parking.

“We live in a dense area, and especially in Mariachi Plaza and Cesar Chavez where a lot of events are going on, there’s no parking,” she said. “That’s always a struggle [to find parking] and that creates [more] traffic,” Bermudez said.

The workshop included opportunities for the 100 or so people in attendance to meet in small groups with Metro planning representatives to discuss the ideas for the land they believe to be the best fit for the eastside neighborhood —whether taken from the photos they had just seen or based on what they see in their everyday life.

They were encouraged to “dream big.”

“A pool,” suggested one resident. “A skate park,” said another.

Rafael Chagoya is a member of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council and he thinks public restrooms at Metro’s Gold Line station at Mariachi Plaza is what’s needed.

Many other Metro stations have public restrooms, but there are none here, he told the group at his table.
Chagoya also supports creating a space where street vendors can do business in a “dignified way,” without being kicked out every time they try to sell their goods.

Andrade agrees. If new affordable housing makes it into Metro’s plan, she suggests the housing include street level retail space, which could be a good rental option for local street vendors.

At the end of the workshop, participants were given green stickers to vote for their four favorite ideas presented and red stickers for the two options they most opposed.

Among the top options were a grocery store, parks, affordable housing or public parking. Getting the highest number of no votes were proposals for commercial use, such as offices, a healthcare clinic, bank or gym, and for civic spaces like a library or city/county/state agency.

A second community workshop will take place March 9 at Bishop Mora Salesian High School from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Residents and stakeholders are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit, https://www.metro.net/projects/jd-boyle-heights/upcoming-meetings/.

Twitter @jackiereporter


Metro Recibe Ideas para la Plaza del Mariachi

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

La residente de Boyle Heights Leticia Andrade dijo el sábado que le gustaría ver un edificio de vivienda asequible construido en un terreno baldío ubicado detrás de la Plaza del Mariachi. Armando Salazar dueño de un restaurante quiere un supermercado o un estacionamiento público, y la señora Carmen Fuentes cree que un centro que ofrezca servicios para las personas mayores y niños sería un buen uso de ese lugar.

Andrade le dijo a EGP que ella conoce a familias que tienen “hasta siete personas viviendo en un apartamento de una recamara” y la construcción de más vivienda asequible ayudaría a aliviar un poco la sobrepoblación.

Read this article in English: Metro Takes In Ideas for Mariachi Plaza

Su punto de vista junto al de otras personas fueron expresados durante el primero de dos talleres públicos que están organizados por Metro para obtener opiniones de los residentes de Boyle Heights y otros interesados sobre lo que la agencia de transporte debe hacer con los dos lotes vacíos que posee junto a Plaza del Mariachi, sobre la calle Bailey, entre las calles Pensilvania y Primera.

Los talleres de diseño están siendo facilitados por el equipo de consultores urbanistas y arquitectos de Metro con el objetivo de crear un proyecto que refleje “los objetivos de la comunidad” para llenar el espacio.

La Plaza del Mariachi es un lugar emblemático en Boyle Heights, dijo a EGP Vivian Rescalvo, directora de planificación con Metro. Explicó que Metro quiere escuchar directamente de la comunidad cómo les gustaría ver el espacio utilizado, ya sea para vivienda, espacio público, negocios al por menor o cualquier otra idea.

Esta no es la primera vez que Metro ha viajado por este camino. Propuestas anteriores para el desarrollo de los lotes se encontraron con una fuerte oposición de la comunidad que terminaron finalmente siendo desechadas.

Residentes de Boyle Heights plantean sus ideas para posibles proyectos que podrían construirse en los lotes baldíos adyacentes a la Plaza del Mariachi. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Residentes de Boyle Heights plantean sus ideas para posibles proyectos que podrían construirse en los lotes baldíos adyacentes a la Plaza del Mariachi. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Metro está empezando de nuevo con nuevas ideas y sugerencias de la comunidad, dijo Rescalvo.

“Estamos dispuestos a escuchar a la comunidad basado en lo que Boyle Heights tiene, qué es lo que sienten que necesitan y qué es lo que piensan que es el uso correcto de estas propiedades inmediatamente adyacentes a la Plaza del Mariachi”, dijo.

Salazar es dueño del restaurante Santa Cecilia en la Plaza del Mariachi y piensa que la comunidad necesita un supermercado. “Antes teníamos un mercado y fue demolido cuando Metro comenzó la construcción”, le dijo a EGP. “Un estacionamiento para visitantes de Boyle Heights también sería una buena idea”, agregó.

El taller del sábado se inició con una presentación de Las Fotos Project—un programa comunitario de fotografía para niñas y mujeres jóvenes—donde el grupo dijo que a través del lente de sus cámaras recalcó las necesidades de la comunidad:

Una foto de un grupo de personas reunidos en una acera de la avenida César E. Chávez, mostró la necesidad de más espacios abiertos con bancas; una foto de una pared cubierta de graffiti llama la atención acerca de la necesidad de áreas recreativas más para prevenir el graffiti en los murales existentes; y una foto de los vendedores ambulantes en una acera local sugirió que los lotes vacíos podrían ser utilizados como un lugar para que los vendedores ambulantes puedan vender su mercancía.

Jennifer Bermudez, miembro de Las Fotos Project dijo que su foto de vehículos estacionados en la calle muestra que hay una necesidad de más estacionamiento público.

“Vivimos en una zona densa, y especialmente en la Plaza del Mariachi y Cesar Chávez donde ocurren muchos eventos, no hay estacionamiento”, dijo. “Eso es siempre una lucha [para encontrar estacionamiento] y crea [más] tráfico”, dijo Bermúdez.

El taller incluyó oportunidades para que las mas o menos 100 personas que asistieron se reunieran en pequeños grupos con representantes de planificación de Metro para discutir las ideas que ellos creen sería la mejor opción para el terreno en el barrio del lado Este—ya fuera tomando ideas de las fotos que acababan de ver o basándose en lo que ven en su vida diaria.

Se les animó a “soñar en grande”.

“Una piscina”, sugirió una residente. “Un parque de patinetas”, dijo otro.

Rafael Chagoya es miembro de la Junta Vecinal de Boyle Heights y piensa que se necesitan baños públicos en la estación de la Línea Dorada de Metro en la Plaza del Mariachi.

Muchas otras estaciones de Metro tienen baños públicos, pero no hay ninguno aquí, le dijo al grupo en su mesa.

Chagoya también apoya la creación de un espacio donde los vendedores ambulantes puedan hacer negocios de una manera “digna”, sin ser expulsados cada vez que tratan de vender sus productos.

Andrade está de acuerdo. Si la nueva vivienda asequible se aprueba en el plan de Metro, ella sugiere que la localidad incluya  espacios de ventas al pormenor en el primer piso, lo que podría ser una buena opción de alquiler para los vendedores ambulantes locales.

Al final del taller, los participantes recibieron stickers verdes para votar por sus cuatro ideas favoritas presentadas y stickers rojos para las dos opciones que menos deseen ver en esa localidad.

Entre las principales opciones estuvieron un supermercado, un parque, vivienda asequible o un estacionamiento público. El mayor número de votos con stickers rojos o no votos en general fueron para el uso comercial, tales como oficinas, una clínica de atención médica, banco o un gimnasio, ni para espacios cívicos como una biblioteca o agencia de la ciudad/condado/estado.

Un segundo taller de la comunidad se llevará a cabo el 9 de marzo en la escuela preparatoria Bishop Mora Salesian de las 6:30 a 8:30pm. Residentes e interesados están invitados a asistir.

Para obtener más información, visite, https://www.metro.net/projects/jd-boyle-heights/upcoming-meetings/.


Twitter @jackiereporter


Special Olympics Arrive in L.A.

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Seven thousand athletes from 165 countries, 2,000 coaches and thousands of volunteers and fans are getting ready to make history at the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world this year: the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

Opening ceremonies for the international competition are Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum, with athletic events taking place daily through Aug. 2 at venues across Los Angeles, host city for the World Games.

Lea este artículo en Español: Los Juegos Mundiales de Olimpiadas Especiales Llegan a Los Ángeles

Patrick McClenahan, president and chief executive for the 2015 World Games, said Monday he’s been impressed by the “remarkable” and “incredible community engagement” he’s seen preparing for this “circle of acceptance and inclusion” in Los Angeles. It’s most inspiring, said the 20-year Special Olympics volunteer and proud father of a 28-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.

As thousands of athletes from all over the world began to arrive in Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, the organization on Monday celebrated its 47th Anniversary with a cake and the singing of Happy Birthday. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

As thousands of athletes from all over the world began to arrive in Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, the organization on Monday celebrated its 47th Anniversary with a cake and the singing of Happy Birthday. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Founded in 1968 by Eunice Shriver Kennedy and first held in Chicago, the Special Olympics World Games give athletes with intellectual disabilities — like Down Syndrome or Autism-related disorders — the opportunity to showcase their athletic skills in Olympic-style events, including swimming, track and field and cycling.

“Nothing is impossible, that’s my personal motto,” Special Olympics gold medalist Debbie Anderson said Monday at a news conference.

The thirty-seven-year-old Orange County resident has been involved with the Special Olympics for 17 years, competing in bocce, bowling, track and field and gymnastics. Today, she represents Southern California as a 2015 World Games board member.

“It is so amazing to see so many athletes showing the world what they can do,” said Anderson, explaining to EGP that years ago she was afraid to take part in gymnastics and other sports, but today is excited to show she can do “almost anything.”

Special Olympics estimates there are approximately 200 million individuals in the world today with intellectual disabilities and that globally, each year, about 4.4 million of them compete in Special Olympics accredited events.

Starting this weekend, athletes will compete in 25 different sport contests ranging from from sailing, to softball to volleyball, judo, soccer, tennis, equestrian, and powerlifting, among others.

It’s been 16 years since the World Games were last held in the United States and bringing the international event to Los Angeles is expected to be an economic win for the city.

In 2009, then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushed to bring the World Games to the city, winning the bid two years later.

With as many as 500,000 people expected to attend the World Games, stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants and to visit tourist spots and to shop, Los Angeles could see more than $400 million added to the local economy, said Villaraigosa, a member of the LA2015 organizing committee.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for this city, a city where people come from every corner of the earth,” Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa said it was a great idea to be part of this historic moment to “celebrate our diversity today.”

Los Angeles is “the city of miracles, hopes and dreams; a city like no other,” said the former mayor.

As mayor, “my job was to promote a city that I was born in and where my grandma came to one hundred years ago,” he said. “As a result, the city will lead the way for these athletes to show their talents.”

While Los Angeles is the primary host for the event, there are 85 host towns from San Diego to San Luis Obispo that will house and entertain one or more international delegations of athletes in the days leading up to the main event. The time allows athlete to acclimate to the local climate, and to experience the local culture before moving to the designated Special Olympics housing at UCLA and USC.

On Tuesday evening, Cal State Los Angeles hosted a welcome reception for the Germany delegation, whose athletes are staying in host towns Lincoln Heights, Monterey Park and Alhambra until Friday.

Today Thursday, as part of the Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run, athletes and officers running with the “Flame of Hope” will make stops at Lincoln Park (Mission and Main Streets, Lincoln Heights), between 8:15 and 9:25 a.m., and at Mariachi Plaza/Metro Gold Line station in Boyle Heights between 12:25 and 1:25 p.m.

On Friday, host towns Monterey Park, Alhambra and Lincoln Heights will hold a Pep Rally in the gymnasium at Cal State LA.

The United States’ delegation — 300 athletes strong — on Wednesday moved into dormitories at the University of California Riverside, said the delegation’s spokesperson, Leigh T. Cheatham.

However, the event got off to a rocky start Tuesday for some international delegates, with hundreds of athletes and coaches being forced to sleep on a gym floor at Loyola Marymount University due to transportation delays.

Special Olympics officials said about 1,500 athletes and coaches who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday arrived late, leading to backups at the check-in center at LMU in Westchester. By the end of the night, buses weren’t available to carry the delegations to their respective host cities.

Athletes and coaches from Norway, Mexico and England were among those left stranded. Some said there wasn’t enough food available for the people who were stuck at the university, and the Red Cross was brought in to help out.

By mid-day Wednesday, all the delegates were on their way to their host cities, according to Special Olympic officials.

With the exception of the Opening Ceremonies, all of the events are free and open to the public; parking is $12.

The Opening Ceremony will include the lighting of the Olympic Flame: First Lady Michelle Obama will officially open the games. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Gov. Jerry Brown will serve as honorary hosts.

The Special Olympics World Games will be aired on ESPN and across the world in 70 different languages.

The 2015 Special Olympics World Games is the biggest sporting event to hit Los Angeles since the 1984 Summer Olympic Games when field hockey was played at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park.


Twitter @jackieguzman


Man Charged In Robbery of Elderly Woman In Boyle Heights

June 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A man who was arrested for allegedly trying to rob an 84-year-old woman near Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights was expected to appear in court yesterday, authorities said.

Gregory Dudley, 24, was arrested on June 3 and booked on suspicion of attempted robbery in connection with the crime, which occurred as the woman was walking south on Boyle Avenue toward East First Street on April 28 around 1:50 p.m., the Los Angeles Police Department reported.

Dudley was being held in lieu of $80,000 bail and was expected to appear in court in downtown Los Angeles, according to police and the sheriff’s department.

On April 28, a suspect pushed the woman against a wrought iron fence after she was able to prevent him from stealing her purse. Then he fled.

Police said the suspect was seen running into a Metro station, and authorities released surveillance video of his image boarding a westbound train.

The victim suffered a broken nose and severe bruises to her face and right knee as a result of the assault.

Breves de la Comunidad

June 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Boyle Heights

Ricardo Ávalos, 41, de Los Ángeles fue sentenciado el martes a tres años en prisión por la muerte de José Noriega de 101 años. El 1 de octubre de 2014 Ávalos manejaba una van que golpeó a Noriega mientras cruzaba la calle Lorena en un cruce peatonal marcado a las 6am.

Ávalos huyó, pero testigos lo persiguieron—con uno cerrándole el paso y otro agarrando las llaves. Noriega fue trasladado al Hospital del Condado, donde fue declarado muertos.

Ávalos fue condenado inmediatamente después de entrar en una súplica de “no contestación” por un cargo de delito grave de conducir y huir de la escena con resultado de muerte y un cargo de delito menor de homicidio vehicular.



Gabriel Vargas Jr. 19, estaba con otras personas en un patio en 563 Via Altamira cerca del mediodía del viernes cuando un agresor no identificado se acercó y lo asesinó.

El sospechoso comenzó una discusión, sacó un arma y le disparó varias veces a Vargas y huyó en dirección desconocida. Vargas fue declarado muerto en la escena.

Los investigadores no creen que Vargas era un objetivo aleatorio, de acuerdo con un teniente de la policía de Montebello. No se han descartado motivos, incluyendo la posibilidad de que el tiroteo estuviera relacionado con pandillas, dijo.

La policía de Montebello pide a cualquier persona que sepa de este asesinato llame al detective Paul Antista al (323) 887-1249.


Boyle Heights

Gregory Dudley, 24, quien fue arrestado por presuntamente intentar robar una mujer de 84 años, cerca de Plaza del Mariachi se presentó en la corte del centro de Los Ángeles el miércoles, según autoridades. Estaba bajo fianza de $80,000.

Dudley fue detenido el 3 de junio por sospecha de intento de robo contra la mujer que caminaba por la Avenida Boyle hacia la Calle Primera el 28 de abril alrededor de 1:50pm, informó el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles.

El sospechoso empujó a la mujer contra una valla de hierro forjado después de que ella fue capaz de evitar que el robo de su bolso. Luego huyó.

La policía dijo que el sospechoso fue visto corriendo en una estación de metro, y autoridades mostraron video de vigilancia de su imagen al subirse a un tren con rumbo al oeste.

La víctima sufrió una fractura en la nariz y contusiones graves a la cara y rodilla derecha como consecuencia del asalto.


Lummis Day: Multicultural Festival Expands to Mariachi Plaza

June 11, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the Lummis Day Festival of Northeast Los Angeles expanded its programs for the first time to the city’s eastside. The three-day rainbow of multicultural expression, which took place last weekend, for the first time included musical performances and other activities at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.

Boyle Heights residents Manuel Lima and Fernando Castañeda were among the hundreds of people at the event last Friday. They said they were impressed with how different it was from other events held at the plaza, perhaps best known for the Mariachi groups that gather and play there in hopes of being hired.

Speaking in Spanish, Castañeda told EGP he’d never hear d of Lummis or the festival before last week, and he thought the event was very well done. He said the students in the Lincoln Heights-based Diavolo Institute reminded him of professional performers.

Mariachi Tierra Mexicana de Oscar Chavez performed during the Lummis Day Festival in Boyle Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Mariachi Tierra Mexicana de Oscar Chavez performed during the Lummis Day Festival in Boyle Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“This looks like the shows in Vegas,” he said, admiring the teenagers’ interactive T.R.U.S.T. (Teamwork, Respect, Unity, Solidarity and Trust) act. Jumping from ladders, couches and doors, the play’s unique movements were intended to show that “teamwork never fails.”

Eliot Sekuler, one of the founders and organizers of the event, told EGP that none of the Northeast L.A. Neighborhood Council Members who a decade ago started the festival dreamed it would be still going strong today.

“We can’t stand still and do a one day event anymore,” Sekukar said. “We wanted to expand,” to grow, he said. “This is also known as the festival of the eastside, so let’s really be on the eastside,” he said.

Atwater-based songwriter and accordionist Jessica Fichot entertained the hundreds of people gathered at the Plaza with her unique fusion of styles and languages. Singing in French and English, she transported the audience to imaginary streets of France.

Performances by the rock band Suspect, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez and CASA 0101 actors were crowd favorites.

Julio Walter traveled from Temple City to hear Mariachi Tierra Mexicana de Oscar Chavez, getting there early enough to get a prime front row seat. Practicing with his guiro (scrapper), he told EGP he took Metro to the festival. “I enjoy mariachi music and I like to play along with their rhythm,” he said.

Perhaps as a nod to the area’s strong Mariachi history, the first Lummis Day event on the eastside closed with the sounds of Mariachi music.

Unable to stop himself, Walter played along with Mariachi Tierra Mexicana, whiles others got to their feet to dance to the energetic Mexican music.

The multicultural Lummis Day festival drew thousands of guests during the three-day event. The festival is named after Charles F. Lummis who was a writer, photographer, poet and founder of the Southwest Museum, the first museum in L.A.

Lummis helped introduce the concept of multiculturalism to Southern California and was a champion of the Native American and early California culture.

His home, El Alisal—Lummis Home—was one of five sites in Northeast L.A. where festivities took place on Saturday and Sunday. Crafts exhibits, music by Dave Porter and Hector Sanchez and the sound of Native American poets filled the home with entertainment.

At the Southwest Museum, the exhibit  “Back to the Roots, A Tribute to Richard Duardo,” recognized the legacy of Artist Richard Duardo.

On Saturday, Mariachi music, opera and the works of chalk artists and a performance by Celtic Ceili Dancers were the highlight at York Park on Avenue 50 and York.

The biggest festival venue was at Sycamore Grove Park where four stages were setup to accommodate performances by Buyepongo, Stand Easy, Trio Ellas, Ballet Coco, Sirenesque, Flamenco and Hip Hop performers.

Lincoln Heights-based Diavolo Institute students perform the T.R.U.S.T. act at the Mariachi Plaza on Friday. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Lincoln Heights-based Diavolo Institute students perform the T.R.U.S.T. act at the Mariachi Plaza on Friday. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Activities also included food vendors, puppet shows, balloons, mini field soccer matches and other family- and kid-friendly activities.

“We felt we definitely had to be part of this event to honor the legacy of Charles F. Lummis,” Chris Morris, a spokesperson for the National Trust for Historic Preservation told EGP. “That was originally his vision, celebrating the native history and culture of the Arroyo,” she said.


Twitter @jackieguzman


Save the Date! Lummis Day 2015: June 5, 6, & 7

May 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Alternative Latino Rock band Cunao, pictured, will perform on Sunday, June 7 at Sycamore Grove Park. (Lummis Day Community Foundation)

Alternative Latino Rock band Cunao, pictured, will perform on Sunday, June 7 at Sycamore Grove Park. (Lummis Day Community Foundation)


Lummis Day, the prized Northeast Los Angeles Festival that draws thousands of people for a celebration of the famed author it’s named for as well as other local treasures turns 10 this year.

It’s also growing to include more sites – including Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, and tributes to other great contributors to local culture.

Three Days in 5 Different Location: here’s a sample of what’s going on:

     —Friday, June 5, Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, 4:00pm-8:00pm (in cooperation with the Boyle Heights Farmers Market). Music, dance, poetry and theater.

     —Saturday, June 6, Southwest Museum in Mount Washington, 10:00am-4:00pm  (in partnership with the Arroyo Arts Collective). Art exhibits, a tribute to the late artist, mentor and printmaker Richard Duardo, poetry and music.

     —Saturday, June 6, York Park in Highland Park, 2:00pm-6:00pm.  Opera, dance, jazz and rock music.

     —Sunday, June 7: Lummis Home in Montecito Heights, 10:30 am-5:00pm: Poetry, music, crafts exhibits.

—Sunday, June 7: Southwest Museum in Mt Washington, 12:noon-5:00pm: Art exhibits, music.

     Sunday, June 7: Sycamore Grove Park in Sycamore Grove/Highland Park., 12 noon-7:00 pm. Music, dance, puppets, storytelling and other family activities.

A complete schedule of events for all sites, parking information, and the location of shuttle bus stops and bicycle racks will be available at  www.LummisDay.org/.

Protesta para Retrasar Proyecto de Metro de Complejo Habitacional

March 19, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Un grupo de activistas comunitarios quieren que Metro detenga o retrace la construcción de un desarrollo mixto de viviendas asequibles planeadas en el área de la Plaza del Mariachi en Boyle Heights.

El viernes por la tarde llevaron su protesta hasta la esquina de las calles Primera y Boyle donde un grupo pequeño de residentes, estudiantes y activistas a favor de la vivienda asequible amarraron alrededor de 600 listones en la malla de alambre que rodea el lote vacío—creando las palabras “Save BH” (Salven a Boyle Heights)— lugar conocido por locales como Plaza del Mariachi Oeste donde se desarrollará el proyecto.

Read this article in English: Coalition Calls for Delay of Mariachi Plaza Housing Project

En cada uno de los listones estaba escrito un comentario de algún residente o partidario indicando qué es lo que les gustaría ver construido en el lote, y ahí se pedía desde más espacio verde abierto, una cancha de fútbol o un estacionamiento público.

Esta es la segunda vez en los últimos meses que grupos protestan planes de desarrollo de Metro en propiedades cerca de la estación de la Línea Amarilla de Metro en la Plaza del Mariachi.

La manifestación del viernes fue organizada por la Coalición para Salvar Mariachi Plaza y estudiantes de la escuela charter CALO YouthBuild en Boyle Heights. Ellos dicen que Metro y el desarrollador del proyecto McCormack Baron Salazar no involucraron a la comunidad en el proceso de planificación y quieren que haya más comunicación con la comunidad antes que comience la construcción de los Apartamentos Santa Cecilia.

“Hay mucha preocupación porque estos grandes proyectos llegan y la comunidad en realidad no tiene voz sobre qué o cómo se deberían ver”, Mynor Godoy, Presidente del Comité de Planificación y Uso de Tierra del Consejo Vecinal de Boyle Heights le dijo a EGP.

Metro aprobó el proyecto de vivienda en el 2009, pero estuvo detenido debido a problemas financieros, según el portavoz de Metro de Dave Sotero. Estos problemas ya han sido resueltos, dijo el martes.

Cuando se construya, el desarrollo de Santa Cecilia Apartments LLC incluirá 80 unidades de vivienda asequible y 4.000 pies cuadrados de espacio comercial en el primer piso. Sotero le dijo a EGP que el proyecto sería 100 por ciento de vivienda asequibles, y señaló que Metro es uno de los mayores proveedores de viviendas económicas en el condado de Los Ángeles.

Miembros de la Coalición para Salvar la Plaza del Mariachi protestaron para demandar que Metro detenga proyectos que no han sido consultados con la comunidad. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Miembros de la Coalición para Salvar la Plaza del Mariachi protestaron para demandar que Metro detenga proyectos que no han sido consultados con la comunidad. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

“La agencia tiene más de 1.700 unidades de vivienda asequible completados, en construcción o en negociación en sus proyectos de desarrollo a nivel condado”, dijo Sotero.

Sin embargo, la coalición se pregunta que es lo que Metro y los urbanistas consideran “asequible”.

Algunas personas mayores y algunos jóvenes no podrán cumplir con el requisito de bajos ingresos para calificar, dijo el residente de Boyle Heights Baldomero Capiz.

Los propietarios de varios negocios locales dijeron que están preocupados por el nuevo proyecto que hará más complicado el estacionamiento en el área.

Erika Gómez es dueña del restaurante Yeya’s, situado al cruzar la calle de la Plaza del Mariachi. Ella le dijo a EGP que la mayor preocupación para los negocios de la calle Primera es la grave escasez de estacionamiento.

“Sólo tenemos dos espacios de estacionamiento [de frente] a la calle; uno es de 20 minutos y el otro es [sólo] para descargar”, dijo. Ella piensa que el vecindario estaría mejor si el lote se convirtiera en una estructura pública de estacionamiento.

Sin embargo, Vivian Rescalvo, directora de Planificación y Desarrollo del Condado con Metro, le dijo a EGP que los planes para el proyecto se han finalizado y la construcción de los Apartamentos Santa Cecilia en 1750 E. 1st Street comenzará a finales de marzo y tomará unos 16 meses para completarse.

La protesta del viernes pasado viene de la mano con los foros públicos donde la ‘gentrificación’ y la necesidad de más viviendas asequibles en la zona han sido el punto de atención.

Rescalvo dijo que el complejo habitacional se enfocará en familias que ganan del 30-60% del ingreso medio en Los Ángeles. Por ejemplo, dijo, una familia de cuatro con un ingreso de $16,000-$24,000 pagará alrededor de $550 de renta al mes por un apartamento de dos recamaras. Una familia de cuatro que ganan entre $33,000-$48,000 pagarán alrededor de $1,100 por el mismo apartamento, explicó.

Las solicitudes de los nuevos apartamentos no estarán disponibles hasta que “el edificio este listo o casi listo”, dijo.

Sotero dijo que los urbanistas tomaron en consideración el problema de estacionamiento y han incluido 88 estacionamientos en el desarrollo habitacional y siete para el espacio comercial.

Robert Zardeneta, director del CALO YouthBuild y miembro de la coalición, dijo el viernes que su objetivo es no oponerse a este proyecto específico “porque los miembros de la comunidad tienen sentimientos encontrados acerca de la propuesta”, pero esperan retrasar el comienzo hasta que haya participación de la comunidad con Metro y el desarrollador.

Ya han pasado varios años desde que se aprobó el desarrollo de la vivienda y “muchos de nosotros no teníamos idea de que este proyecto ya estaba listo para su construcción”, dijo. La gente necesita saber que habrá durante y después de la construcción”.

Mientras que la parte de vivienda del desarrollo no se pueden cambiar, el desarrollador McCormack ha acordado entablar reuniones públicas para obtener la opinión de la comunidad en cuanto a los tipos de negocios que les gustaría que ocuparan los espacios comerciales, según Rescalvo. Las reuniones se hacen  debido al “nuevo proceso para involucrar a la comunidad” antes de comenzar una construcción de desarrollo de Metro, dijo.

La oficina del Concejal José Huizar participará en las reuniones públicas, que deben tener lugar en una o dos semanas, según dijo a EGP el portavoz de Huizar, Rick Coca.

Él dijo que Huizar apoya el proyecto Santa Cecilia ya que el 100 por ciento de las unidades de vivienda serán asequibles “y el concejal es un campeón en este asunto”.

Coca agregó que el desarrollo propuesto por Metro para la Plaza del Mariachi Este estuvo “mal manejado por la agencia de Metro” y “eso no es lo que la comunidad quería”.

En ese caso, frente a una fuerte oposición de la comunidad, Metro acordó detener el desarrollo Plaza del Mariachi Este y llevar a cabo reuniones públicas en los próximos seis meses para obtener aportes de la comunidad.

Godoy dijo que Metro no sólo puede tener comunicación con los urbanistas e ignorar la comunidad.

“Si ellos están dispuestos a decir que están empezando desde cero en la Plaza del Mariachi Este, deberían hacer lo mismo aquí”, finalizó.


Twitter @jackieguzman


Coalition Calls For Delay of Mariachi Plaza Housing Project

March 19, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

A group of community activists want Metro to stop or at least slow down construction of a mixed-use, affordable housing development planned for Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.

They took their protest to the iconic plaza last Friday, where the small group of residents, students and affordable housing activists tied about 600 ribbons — spelling out “Save BH” — to the metal fence surrounding the site of the future development, an empty lot at the corner of 1st Street and Boyle known to locals as Mariachi Plaza West.

Lea este artículo en Español: Protesta para Retrasar Proyecto de Metro de Complejo Habitacional

Written on each of the ribbons was a comment from a local resident stating what they would like to see built on the lot, ranging from open green space to a soccer field or a public parking structure.

It’s the second time is recent months that groups protest development plans for Metro-owned land near Metro’s Gold Line Station at Mariachi Plaza.

Coalition to Save Mariachi Plaza rally to demand slow down of Metro’s affordable housing project.   (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Coalition to Save Mariachi Plaza rally to demand slow down of Metro’s affordable housing project. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Friday’s rally was organized by the Coalition to Save Mariachi Plaza and students from CALO YouthBuild Charter School in Boyle Heights. They claim Metro and project developer McCormack Baron Salazar failed to engage the community in the planning process and they want more outreach to the community before construction of the Santa Cecilia Apartments begins.

“There’s a lot of concern because these major projects [are] coming in and the community doesn’t really have a say on how … or what they should look like,” Mynor Godoy, chair of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council Planning and Land Use Committee, told EGP.

Metro approved the housing project back in 2009 but it was put on hold due to financing issues, according to Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. Those issues have since been resolved, he said Tuesday.

When built, the Santa Cecilia Apartments LLC development will include 80 affordable housing units and 4,000 sq. ft. of ground level retail space. Sotero told EGP that the project would be 100 percent affordable housing, noting that Metro is one of the biggest providers of affordable housing in LA County.

“The agency has more than 1,700 affordable housing units either completed, in construction or in negotiation at its joint development projects countywide,” added Sotero.

The coalition, however, questions what Metro and the developer consider “affordable.”

Some seniors and young people may not meet the low-income requirement to qualify, said Boyle Heights resident Baldomero Capiz in Spanish.

The owners of several local businesses said they are worried the new development will make parking in the area even tougher.

Erika Gomez owns Yeya’s Restaurant, located across the street from Mariachi Plaza. She told EGP the biggest concern for businesses on 1st Street is the severe parking shortage.

“We just have two street parking spots; one is for 20 minutes and the other is [only] for unloading,” she said. She thinks the neighborhood would be better served if the lot was turned into a public parking lot or parking structure.

However, Vivian Rescalvo, director of Countywide Planning and Development for Metro, told EGP plans for the project have been finalized and construction on the Santa Cecilia Apartments at 1750 E. 1st Street would begin by the end of March and take about 16 months to complete.

Last Friday’s protest comes on the heels of public forums where gentrification and the need for more affordable housing in the area have taken center stage.

Rescalvo said the residential complex will target families making 30-60% of the median income in Los Angeles. For example, she said, a family of four with an income of $16,000-$24,000 will pay about $550 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. A family of four making $33,000-$48,000 will pay about $1,100 for the same apartment, she explained.

Applications for the new apartments will not come out until “the building is ready or almost ready,” she said.

Sotero said planners took into consideration parking concerns and included 88 parking spaces in the development for housing and seven more for retail.

Robert Zardeneta, director of CALO YouthBuild and a member of the coalition, said Friday that their goal is not to oppose this specific project “because community members have mixed feelings about the proposal,” but to delay the groundbreaking until there is community engagement on the part of Metro and the developer.

A lot of time has passed since the housing development was approved and “many of us had no idea this project was ready for construction,” he said. People need to know what’s going to take place during construction and after, he explained.

While the bones of the development cannot be changed, developer McCormack has agreed to hold public meetings to get input from the community as to the types of businesses they would like to occupy the retail spaces, according to Rescalvo. The meetings are in keeping with Metro’s “new process to engage the community” prior to beginning development construction, she said.

Councilman Jose Huizar’s office will be involved in the public meetings, which should take place in the next week or two, Huizar spokesman Rick Coca told EGP.

He said Huizar supports the Santa Cecilia project because 100 percent of the housing units will be affordable “and the councilman is a champion in this matter.”

Coca said that the development proposed by Metro for Mariachi Plaza [East] was “poorly handled by the Metro agency” and “that’s not what the community wanted.

In that case, facing strong community opposition, Metro agreed to halt the Mariachi Plaza East development and to conduct public meetings within the next six months to get input from the community.

Godoy said that Metro can’t just have communication with the developer and ignore the community.

“If they are willing to say they are starting from scratch in Mariachi Plaza East, they should do the same thing here,” he said.


Twitter @jackieguzman


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