Metro owned empty lot on corner of 1st and Lorena where a nonprofit developer plans to construct a mixed use residential and retail project. Photo by Antonio Mejías-Rentas

The owners of El Mercado have won an appeal of the city planning department’s environmental clearance of a housing development project for mentally ill and veteran homeless in Boyle Heights.

The appeal deals another setback to a project that would build 49 housing units and some commercial space to an empty lot owned by Metro on the corner of 1st and Lorena Street. The controversial project  being developed by nonprofit A Community of Friends earned support of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council after several revisions.

But the family that owns El Mercado –which is next to the empty lot– has long complained that the housing development would adversely affect area schools and libraries and that it lacked parking, among other objections.  The Los Angeles Times reported that at Tuesday’s planning committee meeting,  all of the points of of the appeal were rejected by the city’s Senior City Planner,  who said there was no merit behind any of them.

In spite of that, approval of the appeal was announced without going to a vote. Councilman José Huízar  –who chairs the committee and has long opposed the project– asked if there were any objections to the appeal and the panel remained silent.

The appeal now goes to the full city council and if approved it would require an environmental analysis which could further delay, if not outright derail, the housing project.

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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