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Boyle Heights residents say no to gentrifier Tiao Corporation

By Carlos Montes

Local residents and Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council Board members.

Los Angeles, CA – On June 30, the Boyle Heights community turned out in mass at a Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council’s (BHNC) special meeting to protest and demand the neighborhood council vote no on a big market rate housing development project by Tiao LLC. Proposed in the heart of Boyle Heights on the Cesar Chavez Avenue and Chicago Street block, the six-story 50-unit housing complex would evict and displace many local tenants and businesses, one of whom is a family of four generations who have been living there for 30 years.

The special meeting was called after many residents and supporters came out to the BHNC meeting for public comment on June 28 to speak out against Tiao Corporation and their plans to destroy the neighborhood. Viva Padilla, the owner of the bookstore Re/Arte Centro Literario, is among those affected by the development and spoke against it.

“This development is clearly not for our people,” Padilla said, “I fear that the economic fabric, historical importance, and cultural heritage of Cesar Chavez Ave will be erased because of this.”

Will Tiao, CEO of Tiao LLC, was not present at this meeting. A representative of Tiao LLC went to the special meeting and was given time to present and then dozens of community speakers spoke in opposition of the development. He did not give a good argument or case for it and did not acknowledge community concerns on the negative impact the development would have. The BHNC Board then gave brief comments and then a unanimous vote to draft an official letter of opposition was passed. The project must then go to the LA city planning department and city council for approval, but the community has plans to continue their opposition to stop this gentrification project.

Tiao LLC purchased the historic block in 2020 for $2.1 million and applied to LA City for permits in 2022. The company began to harass the tenants by misinforming them that they needed to close their businesses by May, threatening their livelihoods by instilling fear in tenants. All major development projects must first be reviewed and vetted by the local Neighborhood Councils established by the LA City to promote community participation. In 2022, the BHNC Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUC) was chaired by David Silvas, a Beverly Hills real estate agent, but he neglected to place the project on the agenda. People suspect he met with the developer and intentionally failed to agendize this big project knowing there would be opposition. David Silvas finally left the BHNC board without giving proper notice.

The new PLUC Chair Shmuel Gonzales tried in early 2023 to review the project but it was never taken up to the general board agenda of the BHNC. It wasn't until outcry from the community that the project was placed on the June 30 agenda and the community turned out in force to oppose it.

The Tiao LLC development project would damage the historic character of this vibrant Chicano neighborhood. Boyle Heights has a long history of social activism where the community has fought against freeways, corporate polluters, police abuse and government neglect. The original Community Service Organization (CSO) was formed there, and many Jewish and Chicano radicals joined and organized with the CPUSA in the neighborhood throughout the 1930s and 40s.

Since 2016, Boyle Heights has faced gentrification with developers buying large apartment buildings, raising rents and evicting poor and working class Chicanos and new Mexican immigrants. With the influx of wealthy professionals moving in, landlords have increased the rent for working class tenants as art galleries, breweries and coffee shops began appearing throughout Boyle Heights and neighboring cities.

There has also been an increase in violent LAPD killings of young Chicano men. A block away from Chavez Avenue and Chicago Street is the site where LAPD killer cop Eden Medina shot and killed 14-year-old Jesse Romero, sparking outrage and large protests against police terror and demands for justice. As gentrification intensifies in Los Angeles, so does state-sanctioned violence.

A petition to “Save the Block! Stop Tiao Corporation'' is currently circulating to raise awareness in the community and eventually turned into the proper channels. Sign and share:

Carlos Montes is a member of Centro CSO: Community Service Organization.

#LosAngelesCA #HousingStruggles #gentrification #BoyleHeights #LA