Starting in 2005, community residents began to question and discuss how numerous developments and projects would impact the future of Boyle Heights. Not only were local residents moving to other counties and states, but the community was also losing affordable housing units and local businesses due to new construction coming to the community.
A ‘Community Plan’ is an official city government document developed by city planners, which includes policy recommendations on future land uses and zoning in a particular area. Traditionally, community plans have been developed without input from the local residents that live in the affected areas. The City of Los Angeles is in charge of updating each of its 35 community plans every 10 years, but past community plan updates have continuously failed to include resident participation, especially of low-income residents, monolingual Spanish-speaking residents.
The Community Response
In 2006, we began engaging with local residents in the Boyle Heights Community Plan (BHCP) update process. Through meetings, forums, town halls, workshops, focus groups, marches and other actions, community members developed a list of community priorities that preserve and increase affordable housing, create jobs and economic development opportunities, and create a healthy environment with open green spaces. We’ve been successful in changing the way residents engage in the process, ensuring that the BHCP encompasses the realities of land-use on the ground, that in turn guides development.
As a result of the economic crisis and severe budget cuts in the City, the BHCP was de-funded in 2009, at which point 40% of the update process had been completed. After successful lobbying by our membership, City Council approved the allocation of necessary funding to re-start the Boyle Heights New Community Plan in October of 2012.
During the three years of the initial update process, more than 400 ELACC members came together to develop their own vision of the community plan, El Plan del Pueblo (The People’s Plan). This document now serves as the core of our land-use principles and contains the ingredients for our advocacy on a host of other land-use issues. Foreshadowing more changes and a greater impact, ELACC members continue to participate in the Boyle Heights New Community Plan update process, using the Plan del Pueblo as a tool to preserve and bring forth the changes necessary to favorably impact the neighborhood for years to come.
We’ve been successful in changing the way residents engage in the process, ensuring that the BHCP encompasses the realities of land-use on the ground that in turn guides development. However, our work continues to progress, and now more than ever, it is important that the Plan del Pueblo becomes a reality through the Boyle Heights New Community Plan. Our goals are:
- To ensure that the resident-lead El Plan del Pueblo is updated to reflect demographics and land-uses
- To develop a core group of trained and knowledgeable leaders to participate and engage in the Boyle Heights New Community Plan update process and be future decision-makers for future land-use changes in their neighborhood
How Will This Change Lives?
ELACC has successfully set a new standard for community participation throughout the BHCP and other planning processes that would have traditionally excluded low-income residents. The City Planning Department has become a key partner in working with us to improve the way they involve residents and gather information in Boyle Heights. We continue to actively engage community residents in the decision-making process for the future of their community. A future that offers quality, affordable housing, good schools, and access to services, opportunities for economic advancement, a rich cultural life, and a healthy, green and attractive environment.
For more information please contact José Fernández at 323-604-1976 or email.