Friday, March 10, 2006

Exiled from the Garden

I swear that, here at SoCal Grassroots, sometimes we're positively psychic.

I had recently been reading about the threatened eviction of the farmers of the South Central Community Garden and thought it was something that I should bring to the attention of our readers. Just as I was mulling it over, an e-mail landed in the blog's inbox from a former regional leader of Kerry SoCal (the group from which SoCal Grassroots evolved) which talked about this very issue:
I am writing to notify you of a critical development that is taking place on Monday, March 13th. Hopefully you will be able to pass this on to your membership and regional leaders, so that the Southern Californian progressive movement will stand united for this worthwhile cause.

On Monday the South Central Community Garden will be evicted. An eviction notice was posted on the west gate of the South Central Farm by the LA County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday, March 1, 2006. In the wake of the 1992 Rebellion, local families were given permission to create a community garden on the City-owned land. For over 13 years the South Central Farmers have developed the space into a vital 14-acre community resource that feeds impoverished families and teaches horticulture and land preservation to the younger generations. The City sold the land out from under the farmers in 2003 in a back-room deal with Brentwood real estate developer Ralph Horowitz. Now these 350 families are being told to leave so that Horowitz can raze the farm and build a Walmart.

The farm is scheduled for eviction on this Monday and little has been done by the mayor's office, even though Mayor Villaraigosa campaigned at the farm in 2004 and has repeatedly issued statements supporting the development of green spaces and parks. The public needs to be aware of this critical program in a part of our city wounded by poverty and often forgotten by our elected officials. Concerned constituents can email the mayor at or call (213)978-0600.

More information can be retrieved at:

Thank you for your help.

Sam Jammal
J.D. Candidate 2007
The George Washington University Law School
According to the LA Weekly article linked in the second paragraph above, Villaraigosa has been working to get someone to buy the land:
Behind the scenes, the mayor’s administration has been scrambling to negotiate a deal that would allow a third party to buy the property from developer Ralph Horowitz. A likely deal would involve paying Horowitz $50,000 a month for the option to buy his land, while negotiations for a sale continue.

Trust for Public Land area director Larry Kaplan said the nonprofit organization has already come up with $11 million to purchase the garden, and is optimistic that it can gather the remaining $5 million to $7 million — depending on the final purchase price.

According to sources familiar with the talks, the Harbor Commission, which once owned the property and was a defendant in a lawsuit over the land, reviewed the case behind closed doors on February 15, and again on March 1. The commission agreed with the proposal to pay Horowitz over the next few months to make up for his inability to use his property during negotiations. Kaplan confirmed that the Trust for Public Land would put in $20,000 a month, while the Port of Los Angeles would contribute $30,000.
It is still uncertain whether, should the deal with Trust for Public Land and the Harbor Commission go through, the farmers will be able to retain stewardship of the contested land or it'll end up a big soccer field.

I encourage everyone to contact the mayor's office ( or call (213) 978-0600) and weigh in on this important issue.

Also check out Los Angeles CityBeat, which has been following the South Central Community Garden story for at least several months.

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