July 14, 2016

Business Owners Fight to Stay In Boyle Heights

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Locals are being evicted to make way for ‘higher end developments.’

By Jacqueline Garcia, EGP Staff Writer

Long time Boyle Heights residents and activists continue to accuse developers and real estate investors of carelessly changing the character of their neighborhood to accommodate higher-income residents moving to the area due to its proximity to downtown Los Angeles.

In one of two recent cases, the owner of OK Market on the corner of Whittier Boulevard and Hollins Street reached a settlement in court Tuesday with his landlord/agent Brian Neman of Hyde Property Management LLC. The agreement comes after three-months of fighting to nullify a 30-day notice to vacate the retail site, despite not being in violation of the terms of his lease, according to the market owner’s sister, Maria Ramirez.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but it’s expected OK Market will leave.

It comes one day after supporters, led by Union de Vecinos, a network of local Boyle Heights residents fighting gentrification—gathered outside of the market and delivered 300 petition signatures to the building in support of allowing the market to stay.

A few blocks away, owners of Carnitas Michoacan, a popular restaurant open 24-hours a day that has been in the neighborhood for 33 years, recently received a notification they have until the end of this month to move.

A sign on the window of Carnitas Michoacan alerts customers the 33-year business will soon be closing its doors. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

A sign on the window of Carnitas Michoacan alerts customers the 33-year business will soon be closing its doors. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

A sign on a window reads, “Forced to close soon by my landlord because Panda Express wants this location to sell Chinese food.” The long-time restaurant owners say they are worried about the future of their business.

Co-owner Richard Raya told EGP he couldn’t say much about the issue since they are in litigation with the property owner.

Raya said, however, that people should be allowed to decide which restaurants or stores they want in their neighborhood.

Union de Vecinos says that the displacement of these businesses is another sign of the non-stop gentrification movement in Boyle Heights.

“The rebuilding of the 6th Street Bridge, (a block away from the market), the proposed 1,000 units of luxury housing on the Sears site (3 blocks away), and the influx of galleries located around the area are causing real estate prices to rise,” the group said in a statement.

Union de Vecinos said investors and developers are coming into Boyle Heights with their vision of what they think the neighborhood needs, ignoring the struggles many in the predominantly low-income Latino community face to make ends meet.

“We need laundromats to replace what was burned down and torn down,” the group said, referring to a laundromat on the corner of Whittier and Boyle Avenues that burned down a few months ago.

“We need child care centers and places for seniors. We don’t need or want the same old box stores that can be found anywhere.”