Frequently Asked Questions
What's this all about?
A real estate development company has purchased three empty lots on the corner of N. Eastern Avenue and Lombardy Street in El Sereno and is now attempting to get the land rezoned to build a café, a 20-unit apartment complex and a 500-student charter school.
That doesn't sound so bad. Why are the residents opposing it?
This plan raises a lot of issues (which are outlined in a fact sheet), but here are a few of the big ones:
- This area is zoned for single-family homes.
And it was zoned as such for a reason. A lot of bad things happen to neighborhoods and their infrastructure when they're suddenly transformed from low residential to commercial and high-density residential.
- The landscape will be permanently altered.
Building a few single-family homes or condos on the empty land would fit right in with the rest of the area. But a monstrous school and apartment complex built up on the hill will tower over the entire area.
- Traffic, safety and pollution.
There are two other schools at the same intersection as the proposed build site, and high traffic volume already presents safety hazards for the children in the area. The government studies conducted for the developers have said that these issues will only get worse if this project goes through as planned.
Who's behind the Eastern Lombardy development project?
The developers that have purchased the land are Bancomer Construction & Development, Inc., City Terrace, LLC, and Paramount Villas, LLC.
Okay, but seriously, who is that?
The matrix of holding corporations and LLCs is actually owned by a local family. Alvaro "Al" Banegas is the President of Bancomer Construction & Development, a Member at City Terrace, LLC and a Principal at Paramount Villas, LLC. Claudia Pichardo Banegas, the wife of Al Banegas, is also Member at Paramount Villas, LLC as well as a Member at Bancomer Construction & Development, Inc. Erika Banegas Morales, the daughter of Al Banegas and Claudia Pichardo Banegas, is the Director of Development at Bancomer, Construction & Development, Inc. and has been the face of the project at public hearings. Jorge Morales, the husband of Erika Banegas Morales, is a Legislative Deputy with Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. Molina is the Supervisor for LA's 1st District, which includes the Eastern & Lombardy project site.
Kate Bartolo is the President of Kate Bartolo & Associates, a former aide in the District 2 City Council office, and is now a Development and Land Use Consultant. Bartolo was hired by Bancomer to obtain a CUP (Conditional Use Permit), as she has for many of her other clients. Bartolo is registered as a lobbyist with the City of Los Angeles and her reported list of clients include Bancomer Construction & Development, Inc. and Avance Schools, Inc.
Ricardo Mireles is the Executive Director for Avance Schools, Inc. and was contracted by Bancomer to advise them on the design of their proposed charter school. Claudia Pichardo Banegas is also the Secretary of the Executive Board for Academia Avance, which is run by Mireles' Avance Schools, Inc.
This does sound pretty messed up. What can I do to help?
- Educate yourself.
We've posted numerous resources on this site to help make the public aware of what's happening in their backyard.
- Talk to your neighbors.
The public has been generally unaware and your community may have no idea this is going on.
- Show your support.
There is a petition you can sign to share you opposition to the project. Write a letter expressing exactly why you don't approve of this project.
- Contact the politicians that represent you.
We have a list of the local and city politicians that will have a say in this matter. They need to hear from you.