The City Council temporarily backed away from a $335-million redevelopment of the Bristol Street neighborhood Monday after Latino residents and business owners protested that they had not received notice of the project in both Spanish and English.
"There are a great deal of people who don't know what's happening here," Councilman John Acosta said. "They don't even know that they could lose their homes."
The council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, voted 4 to 3 to continue the discussion to their next meeting, in two weeks, with Mayor Daniel H. Young and council members Daniel E. Griset and Patricia A. McGuigan opposing the continuance.
"I'm really mad," Young said. "Bristol Street is a failure, a traffic nightmare. We had a plan ready to go, and here are these four council members who want to dilute it. I'm absolutely disappointed."
The targeted area extends from the Santiago Creek bridge near Memory Lane south to Central Avenue. It would involve 783 acres along and near Bristol Street and would affect portions of 1st Street and 17th Street as well.
Bristol Street, which bisects the city, is dotted with neon-lighted convenience stores, one-story houses and pockets of dilapidated buildings. It is one of the city's most congested streets in one of the most crime- and drug-ridden areas.
The project could uproot hundreds of residents and businesses. But under state law, the city must pay fair market price for homes taken by the redevelopment project and must pay to relocate anyone affected.
Although the city spent $30,000 to send notices to residents along Bristol Street, critics of the plan Monday night angrily charged that the notice was insufficient.
Councilman Miguel A. Pulido, whose own family almost lost its muffler shop when the city made the property part of a redevelopment area, called for the council to postpone a vote on the project until its next meeting in two weeks.
"I think it's common courtesy to inform anybody and everybody of what will happen here," Pulido said. "Frankly, as a person who has faced eminent domain more than once, if it can help people avoid their property being taken from them, it would be worth waiting two weeks." Pulido said he supports the redevelopment project but he wanted residents and business owners to have more time to learn about it.
But Councilman Griset said residents and business owners have had enough time. The project, he said, has been planned for 2 1/2 years.
"I think we have all we need to know to vote on this. We have a big dream we can step on, or we can wait for the dream to diminish."
Under the plan, property taxes from the affected area will be placed in a special fund for 35 years to help pay for the redevelopment, Patricia Nunn, project manager, said.
The plan also calls for the widening of Bristol Street by one lane in each direction, which is expected to cost between $45 million and $73 million.