Los Angeles East Side Sun
By Selene Rivera
EGP Staff Writer
October 14, 2004
With banners in hand and blowing whistles, members of the Boyle Heights’ organization Union de Vecinos (United Neighbors) gathered last Friday, Oct. 8 with dozens of local residents to celebrate street repairs they had fought long and hard for.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for nearly two years,” said Maria Elena Medal of Union Vecinos. “During that time we collected signatures from residents, went out and protested and talked to our community leaders. Today, knowing that at least some of our concerns for the neighborhood are being taken care of, makes me feel good, even though there are still many things to be fixed in this community, which is very humble,” added Medal.
The organization’s Director, Leonard Vilchis noted that over the last 20 years, the residents of Boyle Heights have repeatedly asked the city to repair neighborhood streets. But, according to Vilchis, it appeared the city only cared about repairing streets connecting Boyle Heights to downtown Los Angeles, or those streets that were part of redevelopment plans, such at those for the East Los Angeles Gold Line along First Street, forgetting about the rest of the area.
“The struggle is not easy, To be heard we worked on a campaign for one year and finally, the city stopped focusing on global problems and started concentrating on some of the problems in our local community. And that’s how we finally got the repairs for Second and Third Streets,” said Vilchis.
Residents in the area say conditions along the two streets were horrible. “It was hard to walk on the sidewalks, the streets were full of potholes, the pavement was broken, and large puddles of water formed making it hard for people to walk,” said residents. The biggest problems, added residents, are the lack of lighting, large puddles, and police chases.
“Its hard for people to believe in democracy, when on their block there is no sign of progress. We are marching not only to celebrate the sidewalk repairs, but also that together we can change things,” said Vilchis.
According to the director, in approximately two weeks lighting will be added along 7 local alleys, and in about three months, speed bumps will be added to control traffic headed to the 10 Freeway onramp in Boyle Heights, and there will be a new traffic light and speed bumps along State Street.
Union de Vecinos has 800 members, including many working families with limited financial resources.