Baez and Butterfly in LA tree sit
Three stories follow
SINGER BAEZ IN TREE SIT
From Reuters correspondents in Los Angeles
FOLK singer Joan Baez and a woman who once spent two years perched atop a giant California redwood took up residence today in a tree in a Los Angeles community garden that is threatened with demolition.
Baez, who gave voice to Vietnam War protesters, and Julia "Butterfly" Hill, whose anti-logging protest in the late 1990s drew widespread attention, said they would occupy the tree in shifts.
The 5.7-hectare garden in the middle of gritty south Los Angeles is tended by some 350 farmers, many of them immigrants, who have been growing fruits and vegetables there since 1992.
The farmers are threatened with eviction after the Trust for Public Land failed in its efforts to buy the site from the owner, who plans to build a warehouse there.
A small group has gathered on the site in a bid to prevent the garden from being wiped out.
Hill ended her Northern California "tree sit" protest in December 1999 after Pacific Lumber agreed to preserve the tree she dubbed Luna and a 61-metre buffer zone around the tree in exchange for a $US50,000 ($66,670) payment from Hill and her supporters intended to save the tree in perpetuity.
The 65-year-old Baez has a long history of political activism.
Last year she joined anti-war protesters near US President George W Bush's ranch to meet with military families who want troops pulled out of Iraq.
From the Los Angeles Times
UP A TREE TO PROTEST LOSS OF LAND
By Jesus Sanchez and Hector Becerra
Times Staff Writers
12:19 PM PDT, May 24, 2006
Folk singer Joan Baez sat in a tree today to protest the pending eviction of more than 300 urban farmers from a community garden in South Los Angeles.
Baez was joined on her perch by two other famed tree sitters: Julia Butterfly Hill, who in the late 1990s lived in a redwood in Northern California for more than 700 days, and John Quigley, who spent more than 70 days in 2002 in an oak in Santa Clarita.
Meanwhile on the ground, a large group of news photographers and camera operators strained to get a shot of the trio and other celebrities, including actress Daryl Hannah, who showed off her tent.
Efforts to save the 14-acre garden at 41st and Alameda streets suffered a serious setback last week when a nonprofit group trying to acquire the parcel said it was still $10 million short of the owner's asking price.
The owner, developer Ralph Horowitz, wants $16.35 million for the property. The option to purchase the property was to have expired Monday. That means that as many as 350 families and individuals, many of whom have been growing fruit and vegetables on the site for years, could be evicted as soon as this week.
Earlier this spring the nonprofit Trust for Public Land said it would try to acquire 10 acres on the site from Horowitz and then turn the land over to another agency to manage as a garden.
The Trust for Public Land negotiated a 45-day period to raise money, but is $10 million short of the goal.
The site has a contentious history. The city acquired the land from Horowitz through eminent domain in the 1980s for a planned trash incinerator -- the infamous Lancer project -- that was stopped by neighborhood opposition.
After the 1992 riots, the city leased the land to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which began the South Central community garden. In 2003, the city sold the land back to Horowitz for about $5 million.
But the farmers did not leave and in the last three years -- and particularly in recent weeks -- the farmers and their representatives have frequently pleaded with the City Council during public testimony to intervene and save the land.
The office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been trying to help the farmers move to other sites. The largest is an eight-acre plot at 111th Street and Avalon Boulevard, which can accommodate 200 farmers.
Thirty are already farming there, and the city, with the nonprofit Los Angeles Community Garden Council, will probably develop a lottery system to help divide up the land.
Times staff writer Steve Hymon contributed to this report.
JOAN BAEZ IN TREE TO HELP SAVE GARDEN
May 24, 2006
LOS ANGELES --Folk singer Joan Baez and tree-sitter Julia "Butterfly" Hill have taken up residence in a tree to raise awareness about a 14-acre urban farm threatened with demolition.
Hill, who lived in a redwood in Northern California for more than two years to prevent loggers from cutting it down, said Tuesday that she, Baez and others will occupy the tree in shifts.
Two door-sized platforms have been placed in the tree for the sitters, and a support group has set up an encampment on the ground.
Hundreds of farmers could face evictions after The Trust for Public Land came up $10 million short in its bid to buy the site. The nonprofit group was not able to raise the $16.35 million required by the time the purchase option expired Monday.
The trust signed a contract in April with landowner Ralph Horowitz to buy 10 of the 14 acres in south Los Angeles where about 350 families, most of them working-class immigrants from Central America, tend small plots of fruits and vegetables.
Hill said she was protesting now because Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has pledged support for the farmers but has not come through yet.
Villaraigosa's spokesman did not immediately return a message left after business hours Tuesday.
Deputy Mayor Larry Frank has said the city was trying to help the farmers move to other sites, including an 8-acre plot which can accommodate 200 of them.
2006 The New York Times Company
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