Originally published in LA Streetsblog
Only a few days removed from protestors marching up Soto Street to demonstrate against a proposed CVS and shopping center development, people milled around a new Walgreens just two blocks from the protest.
Walgreens employees wearing “I <3 Boyle Heights” t-shirts greeted patrons on Monday for its opening inauguration, handing out vitamin samples, plastic cups, and tote bags promoting walking (the store’s first day of business was Friday). Community members are concerned that the Walgreens would drive out local businesses, specifically the mom and pop pharmacies that have served the community for more than 50 years. On Monday, residents looked at the store with curious eyes for what could be the cheapest buy. Silvia Lopez, a middle aged woman from the Boyle Heights area, said that the store is close enough to walk to and can be useful for purchasing household items such as toothpaste and toilet paper. Alfredo Castellano, a 72-year-old resident that’s lived in Boyle Heights for more than 30 years, said that he currently traveled to a pharmacy on Atlantic Boulevard to get his medicine and refills. His frequency of refilling his prescription would make the Walgreens an ideal replacement. Last year, when the Big Buy grocery market closed on Cesar Chavez Avenue and Breed Street, it was one of a handful of grocery markets in Boyle Heights. Community members organized by Corazon del Pueblo protested when news came that a Walgreens would replace the Big Buy. Maryann Aguirre, a board member of Corazon del Pueblo, argued that there were already enough pharmacies on Cesar Chavez, and not enough accessibility to fresh food. “It was taking out food access to the community who couldn’t drive to Food4Less, or take the bus (to a local market),” said Aguirre. The day before the Walgreens opened on Friday, East Los Angeles Community Corporation, a non-profit that organizes low-income communities on the Eastside, gathered its members and allies to protest against the proposed CVS and shopping center developments near the corner of Soto Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue. After failed attempts at negotiating with JSM Capital, LLC, the developer that is in line to take over ownership of the land from Metro, ELACC hopes to influence the development by voicing their opposition to Metro directly. Read the full story at lastreetsblog.org