Via Eric Richardson
This morning, Metro held a media event for the Gold Line Extension, an event which saw a lot of reporters and cameramen squeeze into a subway car with the Mayor, Supervisor Gloria Molina, City Councilman Jose Huizar, just-departed Metro Exec Rick Thorpe, various other Metro executives, and local businesspersons. Molina was still talking safety issues on the six-mile light rail through Boyle Heights, telling us the $4.7 million allocated for safety improvements is only going to the pay for new fencing around the line, and that she's requesting additional measures, including safety gates. "I'm excited, but I'm anxious," she said about the line's opening. Huizar was talking development (per our request). He said that there are three plots near the Gold Line where mixed-used housing is planned: 1st and Soto, 2st and Lorena, and 1st and Boyle. Other than those areas, Huizar isn't interested in seeing the kind of (planned) transit-oriented housing that's gone up along Wilshire Boulevard, for instance. "I wouldn't support any large-scale residential development," he said. "It's too dense and you wouldn't be able to achieve it because there are no large parcels."
While there may be some opportunities to add housing above the mom and pop stores in Boyle Heights, the improvements that have come to neighborhood--the new police center, the schools, the Gold Line extension--are really meant to cater to the existing community, said Huizar.
Ron Mukai, a lawyer who has worked to develop the neighborhood--he's behind the East LA Civic Center Plaza in Boyle Heights--believes that developers aren't going to be embraced by the neighborhood. "People who live in East LA love it, they are very ingrained in the neighborhood," he said. "But because of the freeways, Cesar Chavez Ravine, the prison, there's this perception that people want to come in and take their stuff...they don't want to sell their homes."
Meanwhile, the Mayor was talking transit in regards to his afternoon announcement, but we wanted to know his favorite restaurant near the line. "Serenata De Garibaldi," he said, referencing the 1st street venue. Indeed, knowing the best restaurants in Boyle Heights is key. Besides La Serenata De Garibaldi (1842 E 1st St), some other restaurants to hit (per everyone on the train): Teresitas Restaurant (3826 1st S), Birrieria Jalisco (1845 E 1st St), La Parrilla (4619 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue), La Placita Del DF, and Tamales Lillanas (4619 E Cesar E Chavez Ave).
The Gold Line officially opens November 15th.