City of L.A. Considers Bill to Offer Reparations to Families Evicted for Dodger Stadium Construction

Families were evicted so Dodger Stadium could be built

Dodgers Stadium

Dodger Stadium is seen during the first inning of an opening day baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

Anyone who lives in Los Angeles knows the special bond that exists between the “Doyers” baseball team and the Latinx community. Every summer, we can be found at Dodgers Stadium sporting our trademark blue jerseys and hats while lining up to get a Dodger Dog and cheering on a team that means so much to our city and community. In fact, 43 percent of the team’s fanbase last year identified as Latinx. But the truth is that there’s another side to that relationship. The stadium only exists because in the 1950s, 1,800 Mexican American, Italian American, and Chinese American families were forced off the land to make way for the development. This past March, Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, who is notably the first Salvadoran immigrant and the first formerly undocumented immigrant to be elected to the State Assembly, announced that she authored and introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1950, the Chavez Ravine Accountability Act. Sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the act will demand compensation and reparation for the descendants of the displaced families, a comprehensive and publicly available report of the events that transpired, and a permanent memorial to honor the families and their descendants, according to a press release from her office.

“For generations, Chavez Ravine stood as a beacon of hope and resilience, embodying the dreams and aspirations of families who built their lives within its embrace. With this legislation, we are addressing the past, giving voice to this injustice, acknowledging the pain of those displaced, offering reparative measures, and ensuring that we honor and remember the legacy of the Chavez Ravine community,” Carrillo said in the press release. 

The 315 acres of land where the stadium now stands is known as the Chavez Ravine, situated between the San Gabriel Mountains and downtown L.A. Originally purchased in the 1800s by Los Angeles councilman Julian Chavez, it would be a hundred years later before it would become the site of three majority Mexican American neighborhoods: Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop. Alongside families of Chinese and Italian descent, the community was able to band together in the face of local housing discrimination and grow their own produce and even raise livestock. But in 1950, the city began to consider the possibility of redeveloping the area and were planning to build public housing, promising the residents that they’d be able to return and live in this improved space. Then, in 1958, voters decided instead to use the land for the baseball stadium, causing residents to be forcibly evicted from their own homes. The stadium would debut four years later in 1962, continuing the complicated history between the team and the Latinx community.

In the decades since, there have been efforts from the residents and their descendants to receive acknowledgement and compensation from the city of L.A. Melissa Arechiga, whose aunt Aurora Vargas was evicted during the land acquisition, co-founded the nonprofit Buried Under the Blue, which preserves, educates, and raises awareness about the history of the Ravine.

“Today marks the start of the journey to correct the injustices that were done to the people of Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop,” Arechiga said in a news conference in response to the news of the bill. “We must hold all city, state and federal agencies accountable for their part in the destruction of the three communities—plus stealing all the future generations from their wealth as owners and renters. The stories of the three communities can never be told without us.”

Moving forward, the measure will be heard in the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee at an unspecified date, as well as the state Senate, before being considered by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Dodger Stadium and the Dodger team are not involved.

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