Sitting amidst warehouses, garment factories, and train tracks in Los Angeles’ rugged and intimidating industrial district is an unexpected fourteen-acres of community gardens. The South Central Community Garden is split into 350 plots farmed by local families and community members who grow crops like cabbage, cactus, brussel sprouts, and medicinal herbs. The land, however, doesn’t belong to the farmers or to the city, but to a private developer who has now decided it is time to do away with the Garden. After more than a decade of legal struggles and uncertainty, the South Central Community Garden may be at its most decisive moment. If current negotiations are successful, the farmers may be able to buy the land. If not, they could face almost immediate eviction.The South Central Farmers, as they call themselves, are facing the $18 million price tag of the land that they hope to continue cultivating while an eviction notice has already been issued, though County Sheriffs have yet to take action. As a last resort, the city could choose to exercise eminent domain and force developer Ralph Horowitz to sell the land to a non-profit third party. City Hall has, in fact, already used eminent domain once before to force the sale of the land, in 1986 to build a waste to energy incinerator. But after community outrage and at least one other fizzled city proposal for use of the land, Horowitz sued the city and won the right to buy the property back.
Since then, the legal legacy has thickened, with the Farmers suing the city for misuse of tax dollars and Horowitz suing the Farmers for close to a million dollars in damages. Court decisions as early as Monday the 20th could determine the fate of the South Central Community Gardens. :: South Central Farmers
(Photo Credit: Tasha McCauley)