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Historic Boyle Heights victory against gentrification: East LA Planning Commission approves appeal against Tiao Corporation development

By staff

Neighborhood posters declaring victory over gentrification in Boyle Heights. | Fight Back! News/staff

Los Angeles, CA – On March 13, organized tenants from El Apetito-Finessa Colectivo, neighborhood council members, and concerned residents appeared before a hearing at Ramona Hall Community Center in Highland Park. They were supporting an appeal against a major corporate development in Boyle Heights.

Viva Padilla, a small business owner and member of the Colectivo filed the appeal against Tiao Corporation in September 2023. After a grueling five-and-a-half hour meeting and three failed motions that ended at 10 p.m., the East LA Planning Commission passed a motion in favor of the appeal. It is a historic win for the community of Boyle Heights.

Due to this motion, the Tiao development project will not move forward. The appeal cited a list of concerns including the need to test for lead contamination and the harmful impact that gentrification and displacement would have on the community of Boyle Heights. The project proposed a six-story mixed use complex, with 45 market-rate units, five affordable units and a market hall with outside seating on the ground floor, similar to downtown LA’s Grand Central Market. 

During public comment at the hearing, 40 community members – many of them Spanish speakers – testified about their firsthand experiences about evictions, displacement and homelessness.

Broker Aaron Bellisten, Tiao’s Corporation’s representative, gave his rebuttal, stating that this project would bring housing and commercial opportunity to the residents.

Appellant Viva Padilla stated that it would dismantle the rich cultural-historic fabric of the Historic Brooklyn Avenue Neighborhood Corridor, made up of street vendors and artists like the músico nortenos and trios that busk at the corner of Chicago Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, a tradition in place for over 50 years. 

Three out of five of the planning commissioners were swayed by public testimony and also cited their own concerns about the scale and tone-deafness of the project. Commissioner David Marquez, a Boyle Heights native, said he was hesitant to let the project move forward due to its being out of date: it was applying nearly 30-year-old zoning laws under the 1998 Adelante Eastside Redevelopment Plan. He felt the responsibility to foresee how the project would affect the area five to ten years into the future. 

The Adelante Plan will soon be replaced by the Boyle Heights Community Plan Update, which is currently making its way through the city after 15 years of development. Commissioner Gloria Gutierrez presented her findings on eviction rates, rent affordability across the nation, and placed an emphasis on the lack of alignment with a category under the Adelante Project that states that new developments must “meet the needs of its current residents” and “provide units with a wide array of rent brackets.” Commissioner Lydia Avila-Hernandez tearfully shared her own testimony on her past experience with eviction and wanted to abstain from voting before she decided to vote yes for the appeal. 

The passing of the motion to approve the appeal is a historic win for the community of Boyle Heights as appeals filed against proposed developments are notoriously denied. This is a shining example of how people power and organized tenants can strategize against corporate developments in order to fight against gentrification in their neighborhood.

#LosAngelesCA #CA #BoyleHeights #PeoplesStruggles #Housing #Gentrification #OppressedNationalities #ChicanoLatino