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  • East La Celebrity Tree Site Development Project Sparks Controversy – Kabc-tv

 February 9

by Carolina

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The Chicano ’90s film “Blood In, Blood Out” featured many stars; among them was an Australian Bunya Pine tree in East Los Angeles. The tree is now a community dubbed landmark known as ‘El Pino’ or ‘The Pine Tree.’

The property where the tree is located has been empty. But that will soon change; the owner of the land plans to break ground in March for a new duplex home – which will surround the iconic tree.

“I grew up around there, and then obviously the movie, ‘Blood In, Blood Out’ and there’s just been other movies. So, there’s a lot of history,” said Art Gastelum, owner of the property.

Gastelum said his initial plan is to lease out the duplex. He also plans to add a plaque to honor and preserve the tree’s history and said the tree will still be available for photo ops.

“I didn’t know how important the tree was. I knew it was important, but I didn’t realize how important it was to so many people around the world,” said Gastelum.

But there has been resistance from some community members who are against the duplex project. One of their concerns is gentrification.

“My primary concern as a homeowner here is that on this project it’s going to have a huge impact on the community that I came to live in and then I bought my home. And so for us in the community, we’d rather see it remain a public space, declared a historic landmark, and really have created a public park there,” said Miguel Paredes, who lives near the tree.

Yet Gastelum said he specifically chose this duplex.

“I elected to do something that would be the minimum amount of intrusiveness in the community, builds something that I’m going to be proud of, and I think that the community would be proud of,” said Gastelum.

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillos, who represents the area, said in a statement:

“L.A. County sold the property where El Pino is rooted half a decade ago, and as someone who grew up in East L.A., I want El Pino to remain healthy for generations to come. I want El Pino protected and appreciate that there is a commitment from the new property owner, Mr. Gastelum, to ensure its preservation.”

Gastelum said he plans to create a foundation rooted to maintain the tree’s history and its significance in the community.

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Original posted at abc7.com

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