A Los Angeles Times editorial on Sunday asked for Councilman José Huízar to act on a planned homeless housing development project in Boyle Heights that has been held up for over a year in a council committee.

The project at Lorena and 1st streets has been approved by the city’s Planning Department and nonprofit development company A Community of Friends has been working with landowner Metro to bring affordable housing for homeless people and veterans to the plot of land.

The LA Times editorial writes that that project fell out of favor with Huízar when early plans for the project cut the retail space from an originally planned 26,000 square feet down to 5,000. The project has since been revised to double that. The Times writes that Huízar did not want to have any “dead space,” and having more retail space would help avoid that.

Huízar’s aides told the Times that the councilman also wants the housing development to “complement and creates synergy with,” neighbors El Mercado.

Owners of El Mercado appealed the city’s approval of the homeless housing project saying the development would adversely affect area schools and libraries and that it lacked parking. Huízar, as chair of the Planning Committee, now has the power to either recommend that the full city council either reject the appeal or recommend that A Community of Friends conduct an environmental analysis. Huízar has not yet scheduled a hearing for the project so no determination has been made on the project.

The Times’ editorial board writes that Huízar’s objections are not valid enough to hold up the project as it has been. The Times point to how Huízar campaigned previously to help pass ballot measure HHH in Los Angeles that would set money aside for building housing for homeless people. The Times says they would like to see Huízar help come up with a proposal that compromises with El Mercado or put it before the council as it is and let both sides state their positions.

As of right now, nothing is scheduled to happen but Huízar’s spokesman previously said a hearing should come in May or June. A Community of Friends has until June 30 to finalize the plans or else Metro can find another company to develop the land.

Kyle Garcia

Kyle García is a former web editor with Boyle Heights Beat.

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