Downtown LA protest planned against Metro; advocates say agency displaces working class residents, small businesses

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Activists accuse Los Angeles County Metro of pushing out working class people and small business owners as the transportation agency develops land - particularly in South and East LA. They plan a Downtown LA protest march Thursday afternoon.

East LA Community Corporation is one of the protest organizers; Isela Gracian is a member. She’s concerned about what she calls corporate-driven projects that Metro’s promoting near light rail stations in Boyle Heights.

“We’re looking at seven different parcels along the Metro Gold line," Gracian said. "One of which has a proposed development that doesn’t fit into the pedestrian nature of the neighborhood.”

Gracian and others contend that the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has focused on promoting major retail chain development on those parcels. They say the agency has not done enough to protect blacks and Latinos from displacement when – as they put it - Metro “corporatizes” the land it owns.

Metro spokesman Marc Littman said that’s not true.

“We’ve done to date, including what’s under construction now, 1,222 affordable housing units. And so all these are green projects, we’ve worked very closely with the community, they’ve generated a lot of jobs,” Littman said.

Littman added that while the agency has removed some affordable housing, Metro’s replaced those units throughout LA County and will continue to do that.

“In the Boyle Heights area in East Los Angeles, we’ve got a 1st and Lorena project that’s gonna get under construction for the year," he said. "That’s going to have 52 affordable housing units plus 10,000 square feet of retail space. We also want to build a new market.”

Activists contend they want a say in the way Metro plans to develop property. Agency officials maintain that they’ve met with local people and elected officials in neighborhoods where those projects are on the drawing board.

Demonstrators plan to gather Thursday starting at 3 o’clock at Father Serra Park in Downtown LA. Dozens of advocacy groups - including the East LA Community Corporation and the Bus Riders Union - are scheduled to participate.