*East Los Angeles cartoon map from Amoeba
Esteban Torres's political self-determination approach:
Due to his background in the UAW, Torres approached self-determination from a political standpoint. Linking the ballot box to the bread box, he argued that social and economic stability depended on political advancement. In order to develop the Maravilla Housing Plan, Torres sought political backing from Cleland House, a East Los Angeles Presbyterian program. Because most residents in Maravilla resisted urban renewal change, Torres drafted an elaborate political campaign to win their support. By first earning the approval from a prominent group like Cleland, TELACU slowly gained coalition and community support for the project. This political self-determination applied to TELACU’s physical presence as well. To establish TELACU as the umbrella organization of East Los Angeles, Torres supported programs that aligned with the organization’s self-sufficiency ideology. Collaborating with the Chicana Service Action Center, Torres incorporated “dozens of organizations that ...wanted to become 501(c)(3)s (tax-exempt nonprofit organizations)” (Torres, 0:38:51.4). He also worked alongside the Euclid Foundation to mitigate warfare between “gangs in the East Maravilla area” (Torres, 0:41:07.8). By applying political self-determination to expansion and consolidation projects, Torres helped TELACU experience exponential growth in its beginning years.
Because of the lack of a central government in East LA, Torres applied the principle of political self-determination to his integration campaign. The integration campaign aimed to create “equitable taxation, improved land use, and responsive education” (Chávez, 97) for Eastside residents. Knowing that TELACU lacked the resources for controlling East Los Angeles, Torres suggested partnering with the municipality to exchange private and public services. Yet, many property owners and companies opposed the integration movement, arguing that “East LA could not support city government without higher taxes” (Chávez, 98). Caught up with these legal complications, TELACU not only failed to achieve its integration goal but also wasted much of its resources on the campaign. Because of this decline as well as Torres’s executive director resignation, TELACU experienced shifts in organization ideologies.
David Lizarraga's economic self-determination approach:
Under the new leadership of David Lizarraga, economic self-sufficiency gradually replaced political activism. To promote economic advancement, Lizarraga enacted multiple subsidiaries in East Los Angeles. At the forefront of this development, real estate construction provided new spaces and jobs for Eastside residents. Due to the lack of traditional family homes in the neighborhood, TELACU utilized youth help for the construction of City View Terrace, a “600 single-family unit” complex (Lizarraga, 2). Similarly, demand for senior housing spurred TELACU to consult prospective elderly tenants before beginning the construction process. This community participation extended towards commercial development as well. To mitigate economic losses following the closure of B.F. Goodrich’s manufacturing plant, Lizarraga utilized the company’s 2,300 displaced workers for TELACU’s Industrial Park Project. This process not only enabled TELACU to transform the “broken-down tire site” into an industrial landscape, but also attract new companies to the local area. By following such an economic approach to self-determination, Lizarraga secured jobs and investments for Eastside residents.
Financial institutions also enhanced economic development in East Los Angeles. Because Latinos had experienced “financial stagnation for generations” (Torres, 1), TELACU created the Community Commerce Bank to serve the credit needs of the community. In addition to supporting successful families and small business owners, it also assigned credit to “previously “un-banked” customers” (Lizarraga, 2). The Community Thrift and Loan Bank, another financial institution chartered by TELACU, similarly fought redlining through profitable means. By allocating 50 percent of bank loans for mortgages, the bank enabled moderate and low-income families to become property owners. Through these bank establishments, TELACU laid out the stepping stones for economic self-sufficiency in East Los Angeles.