LOS ANGELES, Calif.–After more than an hour of emotional testimony, a Los Angeles City Council committee voted unanimously today to scrap a proposed new park on the site of the famed South Central Farm in favor of a $3.6 million investment in nearby existing parks.
The 4-0 vote of the Budget and Finance Committee supports a plan to accept the money from the landowner, real estate developer Ralph Horowitz, instead of requiring him to put a 2.6-acre park on the site near 41st and South Alameda streets.
The 14-acre site was used by residents in the heavily industrial neighborhood as a community garden beginning in the mid-1990s. A court settlement in 2003 forced the city to sell the land to Horowitz, under the condition that he create a small park on the site.
Horowitz forced the farmers off the land in 2006. He now intends to sell the site to a clothing manufacturer, which says it needs the entire 14-acre site to build factories.
Councilwoman Jan Perry, who argued for the park in 2003, told the Budget and Finance Committee today that the industrial zone would make a poor location for a new park. She said the land is contaminated and heavy truck traffic would make for bad air quality.
“It’s not fit for children and families on that property,” Perry said.
Perry said the proposed deal would allow Horowitz to sell the property to a clothing manufacturer who would create jobs–300 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs in the factories. The plan approved by the committee would use the $3.6 million to improve green space and park equipment at nearby parks, including space at the public housing project Pueblo Del Rio and nearby Fred Roberts Park and Ross Snyder Park.
Dozens of residents complained to the committee that they had been duped by Perry. Some accused her of working out a back-room deal to claim job creation at the expense of health of residents in her district.
Tezozomoc, a spokesman for farmers who formally worked the site, gave the committee a petition with more than 2,000 signatures opposing the deal.
“Today is National Food Day, and it’s very ironic that we’re sitting here shutting down the last vestiges of what was the largest urban farm in the United States,” he said. “This is embarrassing to be here today and you’re still trying to shut this down.”
The proposal now goes to the full City Council for consideration.