Public Land for Public Good Campaign

Public Land for Affordable Homes in South Central Los Angeles

The United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD) Coalition calls on the City of Los Angeles to prioritize public land for public good by committing to use the site of the former Bethune Library, a vacant, 34,000-square-foot city-owned parcel located at 3685 S. Vermont Avenue, for the development of affordable housing.
For the past decade, community members and local residents have fought to ensure this land is not sold to corporate developers, but instead used for community serving benefits including affordable housing. The need to preserve public land for housing is even more important now, as Los Angeles faces a housing crisis, a homelessness crisis, and ongoing economic devastation from the pandemic.
Sign Our Petition calling for elected officials to build affordable homes at the Bethune site in South Central Los Angeles. We need affordable housing, not luxury hotels! Read our letter signed by over 20 South LA organizations calling on elected officials to prioritize public land for affordable homes and ensure that the Bethune site is not sold to a luxury hotel developer. Open Letter to Elected Officials, July 29, 2020 Update on the proposed hotel development at the Bethune site, December 2022

History of the Bethune Library Site

The site of the former Bethune Library has a long-standing history in the community. The former Bethune Library opened in 1975, and was named in honor of Mary McLeod Bethune, a prominent entrepreneur, philanthropist and leader in civil and women’s rights. Like its namesake, the Bethune Library exemplified the value of equal access to education and equity for Black communities.The library offered crucial resources and a vibrant community meeting space to the South Central community until it was demolished in 2009. In the absence of this integral community asset, the city and other local entities have over the years supported an affordable housing project in its place. In 2016, the city sought approval to convert the site into permanent supportive housing. Still, in 2019, City Council voted to prioritize this land for commercial development, and is in negotiations with a developer, to develop a luxury hotel. The Bethune site had previously been slated for an affordable housing development:
In 2011, TRUST SOUTH LA and Abode Communities successfully submitted a proposal for affordable housing. The process of community engagement and outreach results in various community meetings to ensure that the proposal for affordable housing is what the community wanted. Then, a developer stepped in to buy the site from the city to build a hotel. In February 2012, the community held a press conference and rally at the Bethune site to express outrage at the loss of the 55 permanent affordable homes and a fresh-food grocer that were planned for the site.
In 2019, the city Council voted to approve an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement between the developer of a hotel and the city to develop this precious public land into a luxury hotel. Other applicants were at the table including an affordable housing developer, but the city chose a hotel developer despite the current housing crisis in South Central LA.

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