Whittier Boulevard arch photo illustration

Welcome to East LA Weekly

In this issue, we bring you stories about affordable housing, a jump in coronavirus cases and holiday cruising on Whittier Boulevard. Puede leer una versión en español de este boletín aquí.

We welcome your feedback. Please contact me with ideas and suggestions at antonio@theeastsiderla.com.

Antonio Mejías-Rentas, Editor | East LA Weekly

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Affordable housing boom in East L.A.

Whittier Boulevard Downey Road Apartments in East LA

Puesta del Sol includes 71 apartments at the southeast corner of Whittier Boulevard and Downey Road. The same developer is building a new project on the northeast corner of the intersection.

Close to 300 new apartments will open over the next several months, thanks to a cluster of housing complexes being built by nonprofit developers within a two-mile section of East Los Angeles.

All five are affordable housing projects destined for low-income families, veterans or homeless individuals. All five will offer social services, as well as a number of amenities.

Currently under construction

Rising on the northwest corner of East 1st and Rowan, in Wellington Heights, is the 61-unit El Nuevo Amanecer complex.

Developed by the East Los Angeles Community Corp. (ELACC) at an estimated cost of $40 million, the four-story building will include 10,000 square feet of street-level commercial space. 

As reported by Urbanize, the design will be Spanish Colonial Revival, with balconies and a pedestrian plaza at the corner. Rents for the one-, two- and three-bedroom units will range from $545 to $1,260 per month, including utilities.

El Nuevo Amanecer is one of several Eastside properties being built or developed by ELACC, which revealed in May that it’s facing a financial shortfall. At the time, the organization said the shortfall "will not [have] any impact on our housing developments or their financing."

About a mile and a half away, Meta Housing Corp. is building the second phase of a housing development that will occupy two of the corners across from the historic Calvary Cemetery, at Whittier Boulevard. and Downey Road.  

Urbanize reported that the developer broke ground in April on the $23.8 million project, known as Whittier/Downey Northwest. The three-story, 42-unit building will rise on the site of a former parking lot. It will include 1,161 square feet of what Meta describes as “community serving retail.”

The project will offer studios, one- and two-bedroom dwellings that rent between $509 and $604 per month. Amenities will include a community room with full kitchen, on-site laundry and gym, and an outdoor BBQ area.

Recently completed

On the southeast corner of the same intersection, Meta Housing has completed a larger, 71-unit complex. Puesta del Sol is a four-story building that includes 3,400 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and a parking garage.

According to Urbanize, about 15 percent of the one-, two- and three-bedroom units are destined for disabled residents and are equipped with mobility, auditory and visual communication features. Manager The John Stewart Company says half of the units will go to households experiencing homelessness referred by the county's Department of Health Services.

The complex was built at a reported cost of $31 million. Rents at Puesta del Sol will range from $507 to $1,405 per month.

In development

An even larger project is being planned on an empty lot about two blocks east of the Maravilla Gold Line Station. In June, LA County gave developer National CORE the green light to purchase the lot at 3rd Street and Dangler Avenue for $1.4 million. There it will develop a $42 million, four-story complex with 78 residential units and a 39-car garage.

Urbanize said the development will cater to formerly homeless people and offer on-site supportive and work development services.

A smaller project is expected to replace a familiar East LA landmark: the former site of the El Pedorrero Muffler Shop at Whittier Boulevard and Record Street. There, ELACC will develop a second phase of its Whittier Place Apartments – a two-story, 34-unit building with studios, one- and two-bedroom units for special needs populations.

No construction costs were available for the development, which is just two blocks west from the Meta developments at Downey Rd.

East LA Scene

A Good Day for East Side Women

A mural by East L.A. native Sand One at Marianna and Union Pacific avenues in East Los Angeles.


Cases rise among the young

County Health authorities warned this week of an increase of coronavirus cases among the younger population, which now represents about 50% of all cases.

Tuesday saw the highest number of new cases reported countywide. Authorities said it was due to a backlog of cases from a major lab that reported results dating back to July 2. Tuesday also saw the highest one-day number of new cases reported in East LA.

These are the East LA numbers:

  • 91 new cases were reported on Tuesday.
  • As of Tuesday, a total of 2,890 cases have been reported in the community.
  • Total number of deaths is now 61.

Food delivery service available for seniors

Certain East Los Angeles residents may qualify to participate in the county’s Great Plates Delivered program, which provides three free meals a day to older adults and adults at high risk from COVID-19.

Adults who live in unincorporated East LA must meet one of two age requirements to qualify for the program: they must be 65 or older or be between 60 and 64 and have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, or are at high risk (as defined by the CDC).

They must also:

  • Live alone or with one other program-eligible adult
  • Not be currently receiving assistance from other state or federal nutrition assistance programs, like CalFresh/SNAP or Meals on Wheels
  • Earn between $25,520 to $74,940 (single adult) or between $34,380 to $101,460 (two-person household) a year
  • Have difficulty accessing food resources or preparing your own meals

To apply, qualified applicants can go here.


Cruising alive and well on Whittier Boulevard

The decades-long tradition of classic lowriders cruising on Whittier Boulevard is going strong, judging from a number of social media posts this week. Photos and videos showed a number of vehicles lining up for the Whittier Boulevard Cruise event on Sunday, July 5.

“One memorable and still alive trend along Whittier Boulevard is the usage and showings of lowriders,” reads a post published on eastsidemediatv, which offers an extensive visual recap of a May 23 cruise. At that event, dozens of cars took over the boulevard to the delight of spectators – some, but not all, wearing protective face masks.

The post does not offer details, but shows the involvement of Sheriff’s deputies, who apparently closed the street to traffic to allow for the cruising to go on.

Cruising is actually forbidden by a 1997 county ordinance which is rarely enforced. In 2017, County Supervisor Hilda Solis was criticized for asking the Sheriff’s to look into enforcing the ordinance. At the time, the supervisor said she received numerous complaints from businesses on Whittier.

Lowrider enthusiasts maintain that the ordinance is unnecessary and often use the phrase “Cruising is Not a Crime” with their social media posts.

Vigil marks 1st anniversary of teen shooting death by Sheriff’s deputy

Family, friends and activists attended a vigil last month to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of 18-year-old Paul Rea, shot and killed by a Sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop in East Los Angeles.

The June 27 vigil was reported by Fight Back! News. The outlet said the vigil at the site of the shooting – the 300 block of S. Gerhart Ave. – included statements from family members of other Black and Latino men killed by police, a prayer and the release of balloons.

The teen was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by deputies. According to the Sheriff’s department, Rea was shot during a violent altercation with deputies. The family claims there was no altercation and that the teen was shot when he fled the scene, out of fear.

Rea was shot several times in the upper body and was taken to a local hospital, where he later died. The deputies involved in the shooting were cleared and the family is now suing the Sheriff’s department for wrongful death.


73-year-old woman sentenced to more than 12 years in for role as Mexican Mafia secretary

A Whittier woman who grew up in East LA and was convicted earlier this year on charges relating to her role as secretary to an imprisoned Mexican Mafia member was sentenced last week to 151 months in federal prison.

Sylvia Olivas, 73, was sentenced for playing an active role in the affairs of the Canta Ranas street gang, which operates in Santa Fe Springs.

According to a Justice Department release, Olivas was convicted in February after a 2 ½ week trial. Prosecutors allege that, for at least a decade, Olivas served as the secretary to her brother, David Gavaldon, and helped him exert control over Canta Ranas and other Mexican Mafia gangs.

The sentencing judge refused the 73-year-old woman’s plea for clemency.

In a sentencing memorandum, The Daily Breeze reported, a prosecutor wrote that although Olivas had a rough time growing up in East LA, that did not excuse her “involvement in the [gang] as an adult for at least nearly a decade, her unwillingness to accept responsibility for her actions, and her lack of respect for the court and for the justice system, as evidenced by her perjury on the witness stand.”

Thanks for reading the East LA Weekly!

Don't forget to contact me with ideas and suggestions at antonio@theeastsiderla.com.

Puede leer una versión en español de este boletín aquí

See you next week!

Antonio Mejías-Rentas

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