No L.A. park for former site of South Central Farm
In a 12-0 vote, the City Council approved a revision of an earlier deal with real estate developer Ralph Horowitz that required him to donate 2.6 acres of the 14-acre plot for use as a park. The revision allows Horowitz to keep that section of land and instead pay roughly $3.6 million for renovations at existing parks and a housing project in nearby.
In 2003 the city sold the parcel to Horowitz, who had been previously owned the land but lost it to the city in 1980 through eminent domain. After reacquiring the land, Horowitz evicted the hundreds of farmers who had been gardening on the land for years -- a dramatic incident that spurred an outcry and an Oscar-nominated documentary, "The Garden."
Tuesday’s decision was met with loud protest by some of the farmers, who said the promise of a park had been a silver lining. After the vote, several dozen supporters of the farm erupted in shouts and chants of “Shame on you” and “No more warehouses.” Horowitz is currently escrow with four apparel companies who want to build clothing factories that would require all 14 acres of the property.
Among the protesters was actress Daryl Hannah, who camped out in a tree on the farm in 2006 to protest the eviction. She called Tuesday's action, which was backed by City Councilwoman Jan Perry, an example of “shocking and even joyous corruption.”
Perry, who is running for mayor in 2013, said the neighborhood where the plot of land is located, a heavily industrial stretch of South Los Angeles, is not an appropriate place for a new park.
She said Horowitz' $3.6 million would go a long way to improve two nearby parks and a housing development, Pueblo del Rio. Some 40% of the residents at Pueblo del Rio are 17-years-old or younger, she said, and the development hasn't seen improvements to its recreational facilities since 1986.
-- Kate Linthicum
PHOTO: In August, activists demonstrated in support of a creating a Los Angeles city park on part of the site of the former South Central Farm. CREDIT: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times