The City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) have taken a critical step forward in the development of two publicly owned parcels in the Little Tokyo community.

The city-owned Mangrove site at First and Alameda streets, and the Metro-owned Regional Connector site at First Street and Central Avenue, will be the subject of a proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two parties.

Kevin de León

“The development of these parcels presents an invaluable opportunity for the City of Los Angeles and Metro to collaborate with the Little Tokyo community in promoting justice and correcting the wrongs of the past,” said City Councilmember Kevin de León of the 14th District. “Meaningful development at these sites offers an opportunity to demonstrate the city’s and Metro’s commitment to supporting social equity, affordable housing, economic sustainability, and cultural preservation.”

The MOU was approved unanimously by the Los Angeles City Council on April 19, marking a renewed commitment to the preservation of the historic Little Tokyo community for future generations.

Little Tokyo has been the central hub for the Japanese American community in the U.S., and the community has long been involved in the planning process for the development of these parcels.

The MOU will allow the city and Metro to move forward in collaboration with the Little Tokyo community to develop these parcels in a culturally appropriate manner that preserves the history of the neighborhood and promotes the economic development for future generations.

The motion also specifies the Economic Workforce Development Department to serve as the lead city department for the proposed future development of the city’s Mangrove site in collaboration with Metro and its Regional Connector site. The proposed future development of the Mangrove and Regional Connector sites is part of the community’s Sustainable Little Tokyo vision, which seeks to preserve and maintain neighborhood character of Little Tokyo while also offering affordable housing.

When Executive Order 9066 was signed in 1942, it had an immediate and devastating impact on the Japanese American community in Little Tokyo and beyond. Over 120,000 Japanese Americans – the majority of them U.S. citizens – were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to concentration camps during World War II. Their incarceration and the subsequent sale of Little Tokyo land resulted in the loss of businesses, homes, and community institutions. Many Japanese Americans were unable to return to their homes or businesses after being released from the camps.

This project represents an ongoing effort to restore a long-term historic injustice, said de León.

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