BOYLE HEIGHTS : Appraisals for Relocation to Begin
Residents of the Marengo Heights neighborhood received letters last week asking them to meet with appraisers to start the process of making way for construction of the new hospital at County-USC Medical Center.
Officials conducted workshops Tuesday and July 30 for home and business owners and will schedule another meeting for renters. About 25 attended both meetings, which were designed for residents on Cummings, Marengo and Chicago streets and Zonal Avenue who will be affected by the project’s first phase.
“We’ve heard rumors about us only paying 60% of the property value or that you can only relocate in a certain area,” said Nancy Manzanares, project administrator for the county Community Development Commission. “We’re holding these workshops to stop the rumors.”
At Tuesday’s meeting at the County Department of Health Services, 2032 Marengo St., some homeowners said they were concerned about whether the home appraisals would be fair. The county promises the “fair market value” of their property.
“We have maintained our property well but whatever they offer us will not include what we have already paid on the house,” said Salvador Ramirez, who attended the meeting with his wife, Yolanda. They have lived in their home on Chicago Street for seven years.
Ramirez said he was concerned that the move will force him to start all over on a mortgage on a new home. Manzanares and other county officials assured him that they will look into a shorter-term mortgage or a reduced interest rate so the years the Ramirezes have paid on their current home are not lost in the process.
The County Board of Supervisors approved $20.7 million in July to initiate the first phase of buyouts and build an eight-story parking garage. This week workers will begin clearing out a recently vacated lot south of Marengo Street to start construction on the parking garage. They will also begin tearing down the AIDS outpatient clinic, which will be moved to the north side of the hospital at Mission Road and Zonal Avenue.
All this represents the first phase of the county’s effort to replace General Hospital and consolidate other hospitals into one 2.1-million-square-foot building. The $1.1-billion construction project is to be completed in 2002.
Residents east of County-USC will have about 10 months to review appraisals of their homes, accept offers and find new homes. Demolition is not expected until all the residents who live in the first-phase construction zone have moved out, Manzanares said.
“I know this is a real difficult task for you,” Carlos Jackson, executive director of the Community Development Commission, told the audience. “The hospital is a very important project and you are important to us. What we promise is we really want to work closely with you. We want to make this as comfortable as possible. No one’s going to lose on this.”