Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
A Los Angeles blog
from Echo Park

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Little guys win again II

It was bold of the Right Site Coalition to challenge the juggernaut in court. Tiny grassroots organizations like this one don't scare the LAUSD. But on Friday they officially beat the bully in court -- again. (The judge's decision unofficially was written about a month ago). A talented lawyer, Robert Silverstein, worked pro bono for many months. And the coalition, led by Christine Peters, worked hard to keep him working. Yard sales and a small-scale auction for minimum, good-faith downpayments for legal services.

If you're just tuning in: The LAUSD stomped into Echo Park four years ago, selected a "site" for a new elementary school (and called it 9A). It then ordered 50 houses on a bun with cheese. A low-income part of the neighborhood that housed mostly immigrants. Anyone not willing to sell right away was told all kinds of stories about how they had to sell or they'd be eaten etc etc. LAUSD didn't have the time to conduct a proper environmental impact review -- from the beginning, its argument for not considering alternative sites always had been that too much work already had been done. It was hungry and lazy. It seemed indifferent to opposition from the district's city councilman, Eric Garcetti, who said he would oppose giving the project an existing city street in the center of "the site." As soon as it got the last residents out of their homes, it tried to raze the houses immediately. The court ordered stays and extensions of stays for demolition. LAUSD let the empty houses rot. The area is now blight, the houses probably beyond repair and businesses long decamped.

Friday's ruling orders the LAUSD to conduct a proper environmental review. Evelyn Larrubia wrote about the court's decision in Saturday's L.A. Times.

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