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Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council Abandons Wyvernwood Decision, Removes Item From Agenda

A "Save Wyvernwood" banner was lowered today over an I-5 Freeway overpass.

Last week, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council's executive committee struck from tomorrow's general board meeting agenda the action item to support the Wyvernwood redevelopment project. After issues were brought up ranging from securing a proper location, to whether or not their decision would make a difference on the project, the neighborhood council doesn't appear likely to revisit the motion in the future, said Edward Padilla, president of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.

"This is probably one of the most prominent issues we're going to deal with," said Padilla in an interview. "And it's not that we don't want to address important issues . . . (but board members) are being attacked about it and it's causing division."

The $2 billion mixed-use redevelopment was originally voted for by the Boyle Heights neighborhood council at its January meeting and was approved with a 9-3 vote, the Boyle Heights Beat reported. Since the neighborhood council didn't give 24-hours notice of a location change, the vote was nullified and was expected to be voted on this month.

The $2 billion Wyvernwood redevelopment project's contentiousness has reached as high as city advisory meetings, and as low as town halls. 15 Group, the Wyvernwood developer, expects the project to be an economic stimulus by replacing the rent controlled housing with multiple affordable housing units. Opponents including El Comité de la Esperanza and Frente de Apoyo del Comité de la Esperanza (FACE) argue that the project would displace its residents.

Members of el Comité felt the neighborhood council's decision to abandon the vote was a victory, said Roberto Mojica, El Comité's public relations officer and 25-year wyvernwood resident. Yet when the executive committee decided to strike the motion, 15 Group Principal Steven Fink didn't object the decision.(15 Group representatives did not respond to our request for comment in time for publication.)

When the neighborhood council  discussed changing the location of the meeting from the Boyle Heights Senior Center to Lou Costello Junior Youth Center, the developer and some board members were concerned about safety. Lou Costello Junior Youth Center is within walking distance of Wyvernwood Apartments.

Padilla said that since the motion on the Wyvernwood redevelopment came to the neighborhood council, it has caused a division within the council and at its meetings. Some council members have told Padilla they have felt personally attacked throughout this process, including Padilla himself who has been harassed by telephone. Padilla has referred those members to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to file their grievance.

Local community voices have been drowned out of the process, Padilla added, because both the opposition and proponents intimidated each others residents from coming forward.

Maybe it's best, Padilla said, that the conversation go to City Hall. "That's where it needs to go ultimately."

For  tomorrow's Boyle Heights neighborhood council general board meeting, here's the agenda.

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