Mothers and their kids play in Wyvernwood. / Photo: Cinthia Gonzales

Mothers and their kids play in Wyvernwood. / Photo: Cinthia Gonzales

Nearly 400 people flooded the 10th floor of Los Angeles City Hall Wednesday to express their feelings and concerns about the proposed Wyvernwood Garden Apartments redevelopment project.

The public hearing was designed to give community members an opportunity to speak directly to city planning department officials about the massive project that would demolish the 1939 housing complex and replace it with condominiums, offices, parks and shopping centers.

The New Wyvernwood-Boyle Heights Mixed-Use Community Project promises to provide increased housing and homeownership to the residents of the Wyvernwood community.

It will include the construction of up to 3,200 condominium units and no less than 1,200 rental units, along with retail and office spaces on the nearly 70 acre site.

The advisory agency/zoning administrator meeting started more than one hour after the scheduled time of 10 a.m. and accommodated seating for only 70 in the main chamber.

Overflowed meeting rooms accommodating an additional 250 people proved inadequate as community members filled the hallways of the historic building.

Many community members took the microphone to express their views, both pro and con.

Proponents of the plan cited the desire for updated, modern dwellings that would provide residents with an improved electrical and plumbing infrastructure, cable and internet access, job creation, along with better accessibility for both emergency and non-emergency traffic.

Opponents argued the project would pose a health risk because of the dust associated with the construction, increased noise and traffic problems, increased smog, over crowdedness and the loss of the community’s identity.

In contrast to prior community meetings, today’s meeting did not feature much controversy among residents, many of who are polarized in their opinion about the plan.

This was due in part to the planning department’s repeated contention that the meeting was just an information-gathering event.

“We are just here to hear from the community members. No decisions will be made today,” said Senior City Planner Jon Foreman, adding that a staff report detailing the results of the meeting will be forwarded to the city planning department.

A sea of yellow-shirted project supporters flooded the main chamber; all in favor of the project’s advancement, while groups– including East LA Community Corporation and Comite de la Esperanza– came together to voice their opposition.

Monsignor John Moretta, Pastor of Resurrection Church, voiced his support for the project.

He spoke about the inadequate conditions that currently exist in Wyvernwood and how the community needs improved residential facilities to entice residents to come back to the neighborhood as adults instead of moving out of the community.

“It’s very frustrating to be here 29 years and see our people, who have been through college, get nice jobs who won’t come back to live in the community,” said Moretta.

He went on to say that with improved living conditions, these people may want to stay here to raise their families in the same place they grew up.

Wyvernwood property owners, the Fifteen Group delivered a PowerPoint presentation detailing the specifics of how the project will manifest itself to open the meeting.

Although the meeting was mostly free of incident, some community members accused proponent groups of being paid by the Fifteen Group to create a presence at the meeting, an allegation that was vehemently denied.

One resident who said he was affiliated with the East Los Angeles Community Corporation argued that the meeting itself created a “pro-project” atmosphere because of the time it was staged and because it was conducted in English.

Speakers for the project outnumbered those against by a margin of about two to one.

Community members will have two more opportunities to voice their opinions to city officials beginning in March when the city planning department holds a meeting, and consequently at a Los Angeles City Council meeting.

2 Responses

  1. Alberto Luqueño

    As a resident of Wyvernwood of 22 years and graduate of Roosevelt and UCLA, I find it very disrespectful that there continues to be conversations about the need for Boyle Heights and Wyvernwood to change in order to stop the so-called “brain drain” taking place.
    There are plenty of folks in the community that have had great success in their lives, even more so than other affluent communities and continue to proudly live here.
    It is unfortunate that someone associated with the community is not quite fully aware about the assets that already exist in Wyvernwood and Boyle Heights: its residents and the built environment.
    What we have here is unique and speaks to the strong culture we have built across generations. I recommend that supporters of the project take some time to really think about how it will destroy the very essence of living in this community in exchange for profits.

  2. Richard Corpus

    They have been rebuilding and redoing the Sears Towers for several years. I too lived in Estrada Courts across Grande Vista, graduated from Garfield HS and UC Berkeley. More and more residents are overcoming odds and graduating from top universities. However, many youth from the area remain unemployed, and don’t graduate.

    Why does it take proposed development project for outsiders to begin to promise jobs? It would be great for development companies to begin recruitment and training efforts for residents NOW with or without a development project happening.

    I know Housing Authority of City of LA has been known to hire residents beforehand for projects and development, and found ways to hire them permanently.


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