In 2015, shortly after we purchased the historic Casa del Mexicano to preserve the landmark for the community, ELACC was approached with a proposal from Verizon Wireless to install a cellular tower on the parking lot. We accepted. The offer came during a budget deficit, and helped us move forward and continue providing much-needed services to the community. Verizon did not give us a clear timeline for construction, and as the years passed, we continued to hear the call from area residents to expand programming at Casa del Mexicano, which resulted in the community garden outside.
It’s bittersweet to know this garden will be uprooted for the Verizon tower; in the past year, we’ve seen beautiful, organic produce sprout up and feed a growing network of resident volunteers who’ve helped bring it to life. We’re proud to have facilitated its creation, in spite of it being only a temporary benefit to the vitality of the neighborhood. We hope it can continue elsewhere, and plan to work with the community to make it a reality.
As a grassroots non-profit with precarious funding sources, we admit the offer from Verizon was a tricky power imbalance to navigate: If we had more financial stability, we could have said no, but we did not. We hope other organizations can learn from our experiences here, and negotiate the tension between budget and community needs when companies like Verizon come knocking on your door.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the project at Casa del Mexicano?
Verizon has approvals to install a communications cells tower at the parking lot of Casa del Mexicano.
Who approved this project?
The City of Los Angeles granted the required plan approvals for the Verizon cell tower. East LA Community Corporation, the owners of Casa del Mexicano, entered into a lease with Verizon in 2015 which upon securing approvals from the City allows Verizon to build their cell tower.
When is Construction happening?
There is not a set start date for construction. The project construction can take place between summer and fall of 2019 and last for approximately four months. Per regulations by the City of Los Angeles, the hours of construction can only occur Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Why had we not been informed of the project?
Verizon conducted the required notification to secure their approvals.
What will happen to the garden?
As part of the work on the property, Verizon will temporarily move the garden to conduct their work. The garden can return back to Casa del Mexicano once Verizon completes their work.
Can Verizon meet with community residents?
On June 25, 2019, East LA Community Corporation sent a letter to Verizon requesting a pause on their construction planning until they host a community town hall to address the concerns community residents have raised about the cell tower. Verizon is considering hosting the requested town hall, or a smaller meeting with community leaders, or both.