On Saturday, March 5, City Heights residents protested governor Jerry Brown’s plan to abolish redevelopment agencies. The rally, organized by the Fox Canyon Neighborhood Association, took place in Auburn Park, a site chosen for its relationship to the cause.
Ginger Hitzke, who acted as project manager of the Auburn Park project in its development stage three years ago, came down from Temecula to support the community.
“Because this was a redevelopment project, the public was able to have a little extra strength in the process,” Hitzke said. “I was able to see firsthand how the public has much more of a voice, particularly a poorer community. They’re able to exercise that strength through their public funds.... This [park] is really the outcome of what happens when you have a public-private partnership with the private developer, the redevelopment agency, and also with the community.”
Fox Canyon Neighborhood Association president Jose Lopez pointed to the creek behind the park and said, “We fought tooth and nail to be able to have this redevelopment right here.” Before the redevelopment of this area near 50th Street and University Avenue, the creek was full of “mattresses, stoves, appliances,” he said, “and now we have a park instead.”
Ricky Brown, manager of the 69-unit apartment complex adjacent to the park, said, “Auburn Park Apartments was built with redevelopment money, and it affords people who can’t afford expensive [housing] nice apartments.... If the money [isn’t there] where are the people going to go live?”
Jenny Davenport, manager of a similar apartment complex downtown, said, “We have 25 to 60 percent units that help low-income families afford housing, and they want to take that away.”
A drum-and-dance troupe dressed in hummingbird costumes donated their time to perform at the rally. A jewelry vendor and a cookie vendor set up tables to sell their products. Though the crowd fluctuated in numbers through the afternoon, at one point Lopez counted 68 people in attendance.