In 2015, ELACC entered an agreement with Verizon Wireless to install a cellular tower in the parking area of Casa del Mexicano, a beloved historical landmark of the Boyle Heights Community. Only after the proposal was unanimously approved by the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, did ELACC agree to sign the agreement. The agreement has allowed us to properly preserve the property and restore it as a community-serving space. Over the eight years since we first acquired the site, Casa del Mexicano has hosted dozens of public events and provided space for impactful resident-driven projects, including a community garden.
Last year, Verizon began preparing the lot for the tower. Construction on the site was quickly halted after neighbors, including gardeners, disrupted the construction. While we are sensitive to the concerns of our community, our organization must abide by the terms of our lease agreement and allow Verizon to begin construction.
Construction of the tower will begin on May 11, 2021 during the hours of 7am – 4pm and is expected to be completed in 4-6 months. Due to safety concerns, only Verizon’s hired construction crew and approved Verizon and ELACC representatives will be allowed to enter the lot. Our tenants that operate their businesses inside of Casa del Mexicano will still have access to the building but not the parking lot.
Unfortunately, this means that the community garden and the surrounding lot will be temporarily inaccessible to the gardeners and other community members starting today and will remain closed until construction of the tower is complete. Verizon has confirmed that the garden will be protected and watered while construction is occurring. Gardeners will be allowed to return to the garden once construction is completed. Community members currently gardening at the site will have until May 7, 2021 to remove any belongings before it becomes unavailable. ELACC is working with the gardeners to coordinate access to the lot.
We are saddened to share that the garden will be temporarily inaccessible until construction of the tower has been completed. We understand the importance of providing a space for our community to create and cultivate a thriving and beautiful garden for everyone to use and we will be bringing the garden back as soon as construction is completed.
We are determined to provide alternative spaces for the gardeners and other community members to cultivate land away from the construction site. Our Lorena Terrace property will soon be the home of another community garden. We are working closely with community residents to develop community gardens at two other ELACC sites: our proposed affordable housing development adjacent to Mariachi Plaza, and Rosa de Castilla, currently under construction in El Sereno. If anyone would like to join this group, please contact us and we would be happy to make an introduction.
For over 25 years, our non-profit organization has been devoted to building healthy communities and advocating for continued social and economic justice on behalf of families across the Eastside. Like you, we believe that everyone deserves to live with opportunity, dignity, and autonomy and we have fought hard, alongside our community, to create a more equitable Eastside. ELACC is honored to have played a key role in preserving Casa Del Mexicano and we look forward to welcoming back the group of gardeners later this year.
We will release any new information surrounding the construction of the Verizon tower at Casa del Mexicano as it becomes available. For more information regarding this project and to contact us with any questions or comments, please visit elacc.org/casadelmexicano. You may also contact Verizon Wireless directly at VerizonSoCal@verizonwireless.com, call (949) 933 – 4667, or visit their website at https://improveyourwireless.com/boyleheights/.