Evicted South Central Farmers protest land vote

imageIn a 4-0 vote, the Los Angeles City Budget and Finance Committee approved Councilwoman Jan Perry’s request to make changes in a land deal that would release a developer from allocating land for a park. It’s now up to the L.A. City Council to make a final decision on the future of that land.

Monday’s vote prompted harsh criticism from South Central Farmers spokesman Tezozomoc, whose sustainable farming group was evicted from the property in 2006 and has been cultivating land in Bakersfield since then.

“I think Jan Perry needs to own up to the fact that she got caught making a back-room deal,” he said.

Councilwoman Jan Perry helped broker the deal in 2003 in which the City of LA sold the land to real estate developer Ralph Horowitz, requiring him to donate 2.6 acres for use as a park.

Perry is now advocating for the Libaw-Horowitz Investment Company, which owns the lot at the corner of 41st and Alameda Streets, to keep that land, which had been previously designated as green space. Instead, she’s proposing the company pay $3.6 million to renovate existing facilities such as the Pueblo Del Rio Housing Development, Fred Ross Park and Ross Snyder Park.

In a written statement, Perry told Intersections South LA that the site is not a safe or healthy location for park space due to its industrial zoning and location along the heavy-traffic Alameda corridor.

She also specified that renovations would “include a running track, children’s play equipment, basketball courts and programming dollars.”

Members of the South Central Farmers and community residents denounced the deal during public statements at the meeting and claimed Perry was breaking her promise in order to appease the developer.

Libaw-Horowitz is currently in escrow with a group of clothing manufacturers known collectively as PIMA Development. PIMA wants to build factories on the land in a deal Perry said would create 900 jobs in the district.

“A garment manufacturer is a good use of the land,” Perry said in a statement.

PIMA spokesman Myung-Soo Seok, who was joined at the meeting by PIMA employees and supporters, told the committee his group needs to buy all 14 acres of the land in order to “consolidate operations” at a new corporate headquarters, while also “preparing for future growth” that Seok said would enable further job creation.

Tezozomoc was skeptical of the jobs assessment offered by Perry and Seok.

“Jobs has always been a fantasy number,” said Tezozomoc. “Nobody spoke about living-wage jobs — all of these jobs are exploitive.”

Michael Feinstein, spokesman for the California Green Party, who spoke out against the deal during the meeting, said Perry’s attempt to release Libaw-Horowitz from its pledge is set against a political backdrop.

“What Jan Perry is trying to do here is show big developers that she can deliver for them, because she needs the money to raise to run for mayor,” Feinstein said.