Community Interview: How Does a Vacant Lot Affect a Neighborhood?

The vacant lot sits in between two apartment buildings with only a chain link fence as a barrier.

Youth Voices is working with students from the Los Angeles River School to re-imagine the L.A. River and the surrounding communities as part of the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative. The students have formed teams to explore and investigate their communities, map assets, collect and share stories, data and community input for their projects. This includes conducting interviews with local residents and experts. All the while they are learning and expanding their knowledge of digital media and civic engagement. Follow their work here, on Twitter @Burnthesnail and on Instagram by using #kcetyv.


Our team's community cause is to improve an empty lot in the Fletcher Square neighborhood, located at 3324 Chapman Street. This is important to our community because the lot has been empty for a very long time.

We interviewed community member Raul Serrano. He has been living in this neighborhood for many years. We selected him because he lives close to the lot and has been observing the lot since 1987.

What do you think about the empty lot in Chapman Street?
It is ugly to look at and makes our community look bad. It attracts many animals, like rats, cats, and snakes. Inside the lot there are things that are dangerous to kids. Many kids go inside the lot play.

How long has the empty lot been at Chapman Street?
The lot has been empty since 1985.

Was it something before?
There used to be a duplex but it burned down. Since then the lot has been empty.

Does this empty lot affect the way you live?
Yes, because the lot attracts rats and the rats go inside the apartments from downstairs. I feel that the lot gets dirty everyday. I see people throw away their trash on the lot like if it is a big trash can.

What would you like it to be?
A place where kids can play and families can gather for mini family reunions.

Would you like to see a garden or a resting place?
Yes, having a garden or a resting place sounds like a good idea

How can a trash strewn lot be transformed to benefit a community? Tell us your thoughts here.

Large trash items as well as smaller trash litter the lot

This shows one vision for the lot, a community garden for the community

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