In 2015, ELACC was approached with a proposal from Verizon Wireless to install a cellular tower in the parking area of the historic Casa del Mexicano, which we had recently purchased and began to steward on behalf of the Boyle Heights community. At the time, we were looking for opportunities to build an operating reserve for the property. Verizon’s offer allowed us to move forward with plans to preserve and improve the building and provide much-needed services to the community. Verizon’s timeline for construction was not fully determined at the time of our agreement, and throughout the following years, residents continually requested that we expand programming at Casa del Mexicano, which resulted in a thriving community garden.
Last year, Verizon decided to begin construction despite strong community opposition. ELACC attempted to delay construction on the site and negotiate or nullify the original agreement. Unfortunately, our leadership was recently made aware after receiving a second legal opinion confirming the first, that under ELACC’s original Lease Agreement, we cannot lawfully refuse Verizon’s construction any longer, without incurring significant legal liability. Continuing to deny Verizon’s access to the property could potentially have a disastrous outcome for ELACC.
In accordance with ELACC’s legal obligations, our organization was forced to make the extremely difficult and painful decision to allow Verizon access to the site and execute the building permit application required for the project to move forward.
We delayed this decision for as long as we could, and we are proud to have stood with the community over the years to try to prevent Verizon’s construction from moving forward. ELACC continues to be devoted to building community, and we look forward to supporting the current farmers in any way we can.
ELACC is honored to have played a key role in providing community space to cultivate the beautiful garden and will continue to support its current use. We have been made aware that some community farmers plan to leave due to concerns over the tower. We are saddened to see them go but fully respect and honor their decision. We fully embrace and support any of the farmers that choose to remain and welcome the participation of new community farmers.
Any residents concerned about the future of the garden or Casa del Mexicano are welcome to contact us, and we will release information about the start of construction as soon as Verizon communicates their plans.