Crews working for the Los Angeles Unified School District didn’t waste anytime scraping away a block-long section of Marathon Street in Echo Park. After a lengthy legal battle with residents and opposition from Councilman Eric Garcetti, the school district blocked off Marathon west of Alvarado Street in early June for a new elementary school. But that public school will most likely end up in a pool of new campuses that will become available for privately-run charter school under a plan endorsed by the school board earlier this week.
Jesus Villanueva, 37, lived around the corner from Marathon Street in a house he and his family had lived in for 26 years. When district employees came calling to buy their home, the Villanuevas were told the property they were being forced to sell under the threat of eminent domain would be used for a public school. Not only did his family have to buy a new home at the peak of the real estate market, Villanueva says his family now face the prospect of paying higher property taxes to pay for the bonds the district used to build the new public schools.
“We are angry, of course, but we are not surprised,” said Villanueva said of the district plan to allow 50 new schools to be operated by charters and other groups. “We are worse off.”