Mariachi Plaza is a beloved center of social and cultural capital in Boyle Heights. It has undergone many changes over the years, some that made it more difficult for mariachis and vendors to work and led to their displacement. With every new project on or surrounding the plaza, there are fears that the integrity and specialness of the space will be compromised, and ELACC’s proposed affordable housing development has, unfortunately, been recently met with skepticism. I want to assure everyone who cares about the future of the plaza that our objective is to give community members more reasons to visit and offer more opportunities for performers, small businesses, and street vendors to showcase their talents and share their work.

ELACC’s proposed project, Lucha Reyes Apartments at Mariachi Plaza, will include 60 units of desperately needed housing that is affordable to low and moderate-income families in Los Angeles. Our team met with hundreds of residents during 11 community meetings to design the site, determine its features, and explore functions beyond housing, including adding a community garden and hosting a mariachi cultural center on the ground floor. The result is a project designed to embrace and uplift the contribution of cultural entrepreneurs to our community, not limit their access to the plaza or prevent residents from patronizing their services

Lucha Reyes Apartments will not encroach on Mariachi Plaza. In fact, it will have a five-foot gap between the plaza and the new development. The current conceptual rendering—a product of community feedback from our outreach—does add shade structures as a public benefit for the mariachis and others who often spend all day in the sun, but this is not final. ELACC has no plans to demolish any existing buildings. We do not own those properties and have worked extensively with small business owners on the plaza to ensure their visibility and financial viability.

I know that because of ELACC’s recent restructuring and budgetary setbacks, many residents and friends of the Eastside are concerned about our future and the work we have been committed to for the last 25 years. Our organizational finances are in a much better place, and our team has the resources necessary to complete Lucha Reyes Apartments at Mariachi Plaza that residents envisioned successfully. We will continue to develop the site with the community and host a new set of community meetings over the next three months to ensure everyone who wants to contribute or observe the process has an opportunity to do so.

Thank you to everyone who showed their support last week when the Metro Board voted to extend our Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) by three months. I look forward to working with Metro and the Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis to advance our project and bring more affordable housing and vibrant community spaces to Boyle Heights.

Manuel Bernal
East LA Community Corporation