Educators, parents, and community members rallied Thursday at a public lot in the Pico-Union neighborhood to stop it from being taken over by the Bright Star charter company. The vacant lot is public land owned by LAUSD and is primarily zoned for residential housing. On Tuesday, Bright Star will have a hearing to appeal for the school board’s approval to bypass City Council and rezone the land for a new school building. Instead of serving private interests, the public land could become designated affordable housing through City Council action to prevent more Pico-Union residents from being priced out of their neighborhood.

“I’m tired of corporations who use loopholes to circumvent laws and regulations, then have a direct impact on our communities. Nearly 20,000 students are facing homelessness and housing insecurity. We should be focusing on allocating land for affordable housing in an expensive city like ours.” —Gloria Martinez, UTLA Elementary Vice President

As part of contract bargaining, we successfully pushed the district to commit to joint work on converting unused LAUSD property into affordable housing. By appealing to the school board to waive the rezoning process, the Bright Star charter company is effectively calling on the school board to ignore the input of UTLA educators and the Pico-Union community.