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Save History and Green Space at El Pueblo Father Serra Park Move the Project UPDATED December 3, 2009

Diverse allies are preparing for trial to preserve history and green space at El Pueblo’s Father Serra Park. Learn more about the struggle to protect the historical integrity and green space of Father Serra Park here.

DIVERSE ALLIES SEEK ACCESS TO JUSTICE IN COURT READ THE  AP STORY HERE

A diverse and growing alliance have asked Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and city officials to demand that the City of Los Angeles cease and desist any work on a proposed project that includes a concrete, stone, brick and metal pyramid and wall (the “Project”) at Father Serra Park in El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.  The Project has not received proper legal review and approval by government agencies and the public, in violation of state and federal laws and principles, including protections for parks and the environment, historic preservation, Native American sites, equal justice, transparent government and the rule of law in a democratic society.

Father Serra Park in El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, a one acre oasis of grass and trees in the park starved heart of Los Angeles, is the rich historical site of (1) the Native American Tongva or Gabrieleño village of Yangna; (2) the birthplace of Los Angeles; (3) the Lugo House; (4) Old Chinatown; (5) the Chinatown Massacre of 1871; and (6) the first institution of higher learning in Southern California, St. Vincent’s College (which is now Loyola Marymount University).

The City has previously recognized that only historic figures who played a role in establishing the City are to be honored at the site, and has rejected other proposals to honor individuals there.  The City rejected a proposal for a statue honoring Cesar Chavez, the charismatic founder and leader of the United Farm Workers at Father Serra Park, for example, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Father Serra Park in El Pueblo is not the right place for the Project, which has no material historical ties to the birthplace of Los Angeles and which would devour priceless parkland, which includes grass and trees.

We support Medal of Honor recipients and veterans of the armed forces, who deserve to be honored in the right place in the right way.  Appropriate places to honor Medal of Honor recipients include the Western Gateway at the 16 acre Los Angeles National Veterans’ Park and the 115 acre Veterans’ National Cemetery on the mile long Veterans’ Parkway across from the U.S. Army Reserve Center on Wilshire Boulevard.  Other alternative sites include Fort Moore, Pershing Square, and the 97 acre Veterans’ Memorial Community Regional Park. “Many organizations have offered their land” for the Project, according to an El Pueblo report.

Cynthia Ruiz, the President of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, has acknowledged that an environmental impact report (EIR) is required but has not been obtained for the Project.

The City must cease and desist all activity on the proposed Project to enable proper review and compliance with applicable laws, to prevent further damage to the historical integrity of the site, to preserve priceless green space in a park poor city, to prevent squandering of public and private funds, and to prevent creating unfair expectations in members of the public.

The letter is sent on behalf of The City Project; JohnTommy Rosas, a Tongva tribal member; El Pueblo Park Association; Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles; and others.

Click here to download the Demand Letter to the City dated November 25, 2009.

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Western Gateway at 16 acre Los Angeles National Veterans’ Park alternative project site

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Father Serra Park in El Pueblo showing project wall under construction without proper authorization and review