Regarding “Eastward Expansion
,” [News, April 10]: The article starts off by saying that the residents have been decrying gentrification for years. I would say it has been more like decades. Also in this piece, Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte says that the “community was a little slow in recognizing” this whole gentrification thing. Chicanos have been complaining about all this encroachment and intrusion since the Seventies. And, we have been aware of this segregation between the west and east sides of town since the early Thirties, which is when most Mexicans and African-Americans had already been relocated east of town. By the way, the Old West Downtown neighborhood was a slum where Mexicans lived and worked like slaves.
Also in the article, the owner of Cenote Cafe on East Cesar Chavez said that he is sensitive to the community. But it seems like almost all of these new eateries only hire their white friends. And, this was not just a building, an old structure; it was a house, a home to families, including my relatives. It was important to the history of this community, just like the old Tony’s Tortillas structure that stood on East Seventh Street like an ancient pyramid, and where recently, outsiders came in and desecrated it by turning it into a modern, expensive restaurant. And, it was hopeful thinking on my part that the historical landmark La Loteria
mural on East Cesar Chavez would remain there forever for the sake of old sentimental residents. So you see, this care and protection of our community certainly goes back more than a few years. For example, when I was at UT from 1969–73, us Chicano students joined forces with the Eastside Chicanos to deal with injustices in the community. And, I remember as a kid in the Fifties, there was a subtle animosity toward the wealthy whites who owned property and lucrative businesses in the hood. And back in 1999, El Concilio and PODER were against the plan to change the city code that allowed outside developers to come in and build office buildings and condos. Back to the article and in regard to this new “cottage industry” thing, yes longtime residents are being adversely affected by these short-time rentals. And the article is correct in saying that the people who demolished the piñata store were tone-deaf and completely lacked an understanding of minority communities. I believe this type of rampant gentrification demonstrates a total lack of consciousness and smacks of racism.