The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (BHNC) met on Wednesday, August 28 at the Boyle Heights Senior Citizens Center to discuss, among other agenda items, the USC Health Science campus proposal to extend Norfolk Street in Hazard Park.
The BHNC had previously motioned to adopt a Community Impact Statement (CIS) opposing the proposed Norfolk Street extension with the idea that the CIS be sent to the LA City Council, while at the same time calling on Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar, who represents Boyle Heights, to oppose the Norfolk Street Extension.
Boyle Heights residents and community stakeholders have continuously opposed the Norfolk Street extension on the grounds that it will destroy the sacredness of the land, especially because Hazard Park is home to one of the few remaining wetlands in the Eastside.
The general meeting of the BHNC allowed residents the opportunity to voice their opposition. Speaker after speaker underscored the fact that USC’s proposal to destroy the wetlands needed to be placed within historical perspective.
One resident of Boyle Heights, for instance, recalled the forced removal of residents from their homes for the construction of the freeway system in the 1950s.
Another resident stated that Boyle Heights communities are neglected and underrepresented and the loss of green space is not what the people want.
The lack of transparency in the process called attention to the fact that Northeast Trees had secured $750,000 in Proposition O money to repair the storm drain and was seeking another $5 to 7 million to complete the wetlands restoration project in Hazard Park.
But as one resident disclosed the $750,000 earmarked for Hazard Park was utilized by Northeast Trees for its watershed project at Garvanza Park. Once again, the community had been deceived.
The sanctity of Hazard Park goes beyond the wetlands issue as the park has historically been a gathering site for the Chicano community, especially during the Chicano Movement.
Hazard Park was a meeting place for students who walked out in 1968. A couple of years ago, a plaque was dedicated to the Chicana/o students of 1968 by teacher Sal Castro.
The BHNC was urged not to be on the wrong side of history. The BHNC voted with a showing of hands and the final tally was 14 yes with three abstentions and one member of the BHNC recused himself on the potential grounds for conflict of interest.
In particular, one BHNC board member, Margarita Mago Amador, did not vote to support the resolution, she abstained, and she was also the one board member that previously made three motions in June to postpone voting on this matter. Margarita is the BHNC secretary who uses the term “illegals” to describe our residents while working closely with the LAPD. Although she purports to represent the needs of the Boyle Heights community she worked for the Group 15 company that has worked to displace the residents of the Wyvernwood Apartments, which it owns.
The battle to save Hazard Park is not over. The CIS is now sent to the chamber of the Los Angeles City Council, and residents are urged to call District 14 Councilmember José Huizar to remind him that the community opposes the further destruction of the Boyle Heights community.