South Central farmers protest shuts down city council

Photo: Supporters of the South Central Farm rallying before Tuesday’s City Council meeting

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 to accept $3.6 million from real estate developer Ralph Horowitz and not require him to build a park on the site of the South Central Farm near 41st and South Alameda streets. The money from Horowitz will go into a fund for parks and recreation areas. The vote allows Horowitz to sell the 14-acre site to clothing manufacturers who plan to build office and warehouse space.

The City Council was speechless. In her five years there, the city clerk says she’s never had a meeting shut down like this.

The people of District 9 are at arms over a plot of land that could fit in the Coliseum.

It’s a classic environment versus jobs fight over the land where the old South Central Farm used to sit.

On one side, the families who were promised a park, one green spot to play and breathe in a city of smog and concrete.

On the other, families and a city desperate for jobs and the millions of dollars this factory would mean.

Pro-park people feel their council member Jan Perry has gone around their back and sold one of LA’s only green spaces.

Bernette Serrano pointed directly at Perry when she spoke in front of the council. “That was a promise you had made to the community and so you need to make sure you fulfill that promise and stop breaking them,” said Serrano.

To them, Perry is a politician who has folded to corporate greed. image

But for every person who came to shout down the deal, there were at least two more people in favor of it.

In a speech that brought most of the room to their feet, the president of what was once the community garden spoke in favor of Perry.

“The majority of the gardeners that are here are supporting Ms. Jan Perry.”

To them, jobs trump a park any day.

The session exploded with a screaming match between a mother, child in arms, and the sergeant at arms trying to quiet her.

It was so noisy that all the people were forced out of the room.

Once in the hallway, everyone was still talking about it.

Serrano and other pro-park people feel they’ve lost the case. But if that’s so, the city still has to file an environmental report before it can build.

“And hopefully there, that’s where we can hit them good.They’re going to realize they can’t really do this even if they want to”

In the long political process, there’s always another chance to intervene.

Photos courtesy of South Central Farm Supporter Ross Plesset

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